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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – August 20, 2009

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TODAY: Medvedev admits terrorists have strong hand in Caucasus; proposes sidestepping trial by jury for special cases; technological breakthrough to solve missile defence situation?  Ukraine-Russia issues still making waves; church reacts on exposé article.

At a security conference on the North Caucasus, Dmitry Medvedev has said that terrorists must be killed ‘without emotion or doubt’, and that they should be tried elsewhere in Russia if a ‘quality trial’ cannot be assured in the region itself.  He also told police officers that police safety must be ensured at all costs: ‘Chiefs of any rank will be taken to task, or even fired, for failing to provide such [security] measures’.  Medvedev has pledged a commitment to regaining stability in the North Caucasus through ‘other methods’ if necessary.  The President has suggested the creation of special professional courts for certain crimes that jury panels ‘don’t cope’ well with, such as crimes committed by criminal groups.


The world’s biggest missile maker, Raytheon, may have come up with a solution that could put an end to the US-Russia dispute over missile defense in Europe.  A new system could function with or without the 10 interceptor missiles that Washington had planned to set up in Poland, much to Russia’s dismay.  A Russian-U.S. agreement on military transit to Afghanistan will be operational as of September 6, although the United States has reportedly not made any requests as of yet.  An article in the New York Times suggests that for NATO to maintain its strength as an agent of change in global affairs, its next step should be re-defining relations with Russia.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has urged Moscow to push for improving relations between Ukraine and Russia.  The Times notes that Medvedev’s declaration of hostilities with Ukraine’s current leadership, reiterated in the presence of Angela Merkel, roused no reaction from the German Chancellor.  RFE/RL reports that Ukrainian opinion appears to be split on Medvedev’s tirade, with citizens of Lviv and Kyiv reacting negatively, but eastern cities showing less disapproval.

The Russian Orthodox Church has cursed and excommunicated a journalist for ‘satanic lies in reporting on what journalist Oleg Dementyev maintains is a case of corruption and intimidation at a monastery.  An article in the Guardian looks at the way in which the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact has been remembered and reviled in the Baltic states.

PHOTO: Relatives of the hydropower plant victims reading accident information in the village of Cheryomushki on August 19, 2009.  (Ilya Naymushin / Reuters)