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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – August 21, 2009

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TODAY: Putin orders infrastructure overhaul; blogger charged; Rogozin praises cooperation with NATO. Abkhazia warns Georgia over blockade; criminal charges for ‘negligent’ Ingushetia police; fire at rights organization HQ.  Medvedev warns United Russia against complacency.  Flag owners beware.

Prime Minister Putin has ordered a review of all of Russia’s Soviet-era structures in light of the Sayano-Shushenskaya power station disaster.  Russia’s roads, airplanes, and pipelines have all shown signs of being dangerously outdated in recent times. Putin also promised payouts of $31,300 to each of the dead worker’s families, to be paid by Rushydro.  The New York Times reports that blogger Mikhail Afanasyev, who questioned the government’s handling of the disaster, has been charged with libel.  Envoy Dmitry Rogozin has lauded NATO’s role in the rescue of cargo ship the Arctic Sea.  Putin’s order that the government investigate the seizure of two Russian cargo ships in China has led commentators to wonder whether the government is attempting to move attention away from the Sea’s unresolved mysteries.


Boeing has announced a proposal to construct a mobile interceptor missile that would alleviate Russian fears of a US missile defense site in Eastern Europe.  ‘People have lost any respect for their own state‘ says Kiev journalist Yulia Mostovaya, quoted in an Economist article which considers why Medvedev’s poison letter has not caused uproar in Ukraine.  An analyst suggests that Viktor Yushchenko may use the hostility as fodder for an anti-Kremlin ticket at the upcoming elections. 

Criminal charges will be brought against Ingushetia Interior Ministry officials ‘accused of performing their duties improperly‘.  Abkhazia has promised a ‘proportionate response’ to Georgian authorities’ holding of a tanker delivering fuel and another vessel apparently containing scrap metal.  A fire which broke out at the headquarters of ‘Mothers of Dagestan for Human Rights’ could have been the result of arson, says the foundation’s head.  Akhmed Gisaev of Memorial has apparently left Chechnya under fear for his life.

In a meeting with United Russia, Mededev has warned the party that its predominance won’t last forever’, implying a loosening of the party’s grip on the regions?  Extremism laws have been extended to incorporate ownership of ‘a flag with a cross’ as an example of dangerous material – hide those Georgian flags.

PHOTO: A Rossia television image from August 20, 2009, of a suspected Arctic Sea hijacker being led to a bus on the Cape Verde island of Sal.  (Rossia / AP)