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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – August 26, 2009

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TODAY: Russia pushes for recogition of breakaway regions; Ukraine denies allegations of involvement in war; USSR plan to invade Manchester revealed; Russia’s silent monuments to nuclear victims; Arctic Sea, dark spots.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has reiterated a request that the sovereignty of breakaway Georgian regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia be internationally recognized.  Traditional partners Belarus and Kazakhstan have been silent on the matter; only Nicaragua has joined Russia’s call.  Georgia’s minister for refugees and accommodation has granted refugee status to a Russian soldier who deserted on July 1.  According to Bloomberg, Ukraine has denied claims that its soldiers fought alongside Georgian troops in last year’s war.  


We do not rule out the possibility that [the Arctic Sea] might have been carrying not only timber, says piracy investigator Alexander Bastrykin.  According to Ria-Novosti, no suspicious cargo was found on board the hijacked vessel.  Reports continue to abound on the ship’s mysterious voyage.

A report on the Sayano-Shushenskaya plant accident will be released by the industrial safety watchdog Rostekhnadzor by the end of September.  The New York Times has a feature on monuments to Chernobyl victims in unlikely places, a testament to Russia’s traditional reticence regarding the scope of national disasters such as the 1986 nuclear meltdown, where for all of Gorbachev’s talk of glasnost, the exact nature of the disaster was far from transparent.  NASA’s top official in Russia has suggested that the U.S. and Russian space agencies consider a joint manned mission to Mars.

President Medvedev will conclude his two-day state visit to Mongolia by attending festivities dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the joint victory on the Khalkhin-Gol River, a mark of ‘combat brotherhood’.  Could Manchester have been the unlikely jewel in the crown of the USSR?  The Guardian examines a 1974 Soviet map planning an invasion of the city.  Audio on the subject here.  Apparently crisis-hit Russians are eschewing gloommongering political journalism: the Moscow Times reports that house and home magazines are proving to be the reading matter of choice in the current period.

PHOTO: President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia and Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, Mongolia’s president, reached a nuclear deal on August 25, 2009.  (Pool photo by Dmitry Astakhov)