RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – August 24, 2009


TODAY: Ingush President returns to work; concerns about dam surfaced decade ago; Georgian minister retracts comments on US aid; Medvedev in Mongolia.  TB alert; anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact sees debates resurface.

President Medvedev is, according to ITAR-TASS, confident that Ingushetian President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, who is returning early from convalescence, will institute order in the region.  Yevkurov has expressed a desire to see an increase in the number of police following an upsurge in violence.  The Kremlin has rejected claims from a Chechen website that separatist group the ‘Battalion of Martyrs’ was responsible for the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydrodam disaster as part of an ‘economic war’ against Russia.  Apparently no explosives were found at the site.  According to the Washington Post, the Kremlin had been advised in 1998 that the plant had fallen into desuetude and was unsafe to work in.

The Guardian reports on the PR battle that has raged between Russia and Georgia aided by a vanguard of powerhouse media firms.  Georgian defense minister Vasil Sikharulidze has been forced to retract comments that US training of Georgian soldiers could be useful in the event of an attack from Russia, after Washington balked at the implications.  Georgia’s policy on blocking commercial traffic heading to Abkhazia seems to be working – a Turkish tanker operator says risks are too high to try to deliver to the breakaway state.  An op-ed piece in the Moscow Times suggests that ‘devious businessmen will continue trying to break the embargo as long as they can still make some money out of it’. 

Russia is apparently expectant that the change in Mongolia’s leadership will not affect the Kremlin’s plans for improving bilateral trade, to be discussed by Medvedev on his trip to Ulan Bator.  Poland reportedly expects a US decision on missile defense as early as next month.  The Washington Post suggests that rates of TB could be about to skyrocket with a drug-resistant strain hitting populations rendered vulnerable by the crisis. 

Russia has reportedly declassified certain top secret documents which will be published in an attempt to clarify the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact.  RFE/RL examines current day interpretations of the fateful deal, reporting that only 6% of Russians in a July poll condemned the pact outright.

PHOTO: A helicopter pours oil-fighting chemicals on the polluted waters of the Yenisei river downstream from the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric power dam in Cheryomushky. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday called for checks on all Russia’s major infrastructure as hopes faded of finding any survivors of an accident at the country’s largest hydroelectric plant. (AFP/Alexander Nemenov)