RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – August 28, 2009


TODAY: Putin’s imminent visit to Poland prompts goodwill feeling; Stalin reminder in metro station causes furor; Poland suggests US missile defense plan jacked; Ukraine and Russia disputes to come to a head over Sevastopol? Russia and Belarus attempt to retie the knot.  Ailing Yukos lawyer Vasily Aleksanyan to return to courtroomAuthor Sergei Mikhalkov dies. 

The New York Times suggests that Putin’s upcoming visit to Poland to mark the 70th anniversary of the start of World War Two may do considerable good to Russian-Polish relations.  Russia has requested that at its regular session the UN General Assembly refer to the 65th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.  The refurbished Kurskaya station, complete with Stalin inscription, has reopened to a storm of controversy.  ‘Revoltingly insensitive’ is how an article in the Economist describes some of Russia’s recent World War Two revisionism.

Russia’s Defense Ministry has denied reportsthat 3,800 troops will be redeployed to theCaucasus to reenforce counterterrorist operations.  28-year-old Bachana Akhalaia will be Georgia’s new defense minister.  Russia hasreportedly deployed an anti-missile defense unit close to its border with North Korea.  The Independent relays Polish mediareports that Barack Obama has almost entirely abandoned plans to create missile defense bases in the country, whilst a Pentagon spokesman has apparently said that no decision has been reached.

Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych has promised that should he win January’s presidential election he would prioritize ameliorating ties with Russia.  An article in the New York Times suggests that recent rising tensions between Kiev and Moscow could reach boiling point in competition for influence in Crimea.  Russia has accused Ukraine of attempting to seize navigation equipment belonging to its Black Sea Fleet, in a further index of escalating tensions.  President Medvedev described his Sochi meeting with Belarussian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko as very ‘substantial’: trade between the old allies decreased by 40% in the first half of this year in comparison with last year.  The Moscow Times argues that the meeting saw no substantive decisions on loans or energy, despite Belarus’ parlous financial situation.

The trial of terminally ill former-Yukos official Vasily Aleksanyan will recommence on September 21RFE/RL looks at the similarities between the Khodorkovsky trial and Venezuela’s Cedeno trial.  Moscow police have detained the deputy head of human rights group Justice on suspicion of large-scale money extortion.  Prize winning author Sergei Mikhalkov, who wrote the lyrics to the Soviet and modern Russian national anthem, has died at the age of 96.

PHOTO: Policemen standing near the criticized phrase “Stalin raised us to be loyal to the nation” in the Kurskaya metro.  (Vladimir Filonov / MT)