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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – August 7, 2009

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TODAY: Georgia and Russia, one year on, guns quiet but war of words blazing: who started it?  Opposition says democracy far off; humanitarian issues remain; strike on Twitter linked to conflict.  Chavez military deal; Russia to calm Uzbekistan; launch radar.  Bloggers detained.

‘Differing narratives of the war persist’:
the New York Times looks back.  ‘There’s even disagreement on what day marks the beginning of the five-day conflict’.  A 40-page report released by the Georgian government and a Russian Foreign Ministry statement highlight the different spins.  The Guardian outlines the arguments on both sides.  Georgia’s Reintegration Ministry has defended the actions of President Mikheil Saakashvili in relation to the war, whilst the Georgian opposition brand the ministry’s report ‘ridiculous.  Opposition candidate Levan Gachechiladze has written a piece in the Independent suggesting that Georgia is further from democratic advances than it was before 2003.  A Washington Post commentator says it is necessary that the US help Georgia ‘fulfill the promise of the Rose Revolution’.


The OSCE says it is needed more than ever in the region at this ‘highly sensitive time’.  Amnesty International reports that around 30,000 people are still displaced.  The status of refugees is considered by the Economist.  RFE/RL reports on how the paths of South Ossetia and Abkhazia are diverging.  Was a cyberattack against Twitter, Google and Facebook aimed at a lone Georgian blogger?  The prospect of NATO membership is receding into the distance – has Georgia gained anything from last year’s war? asks the Moscow Times. 

Russia’s envoy to NATO has said that the alliance is unlikely to expand further into the former-Russian zone.  The CSTO says Russia will deploy a battalion to ease Uzbekistan’s concerns about its new base in Kyrgyzstan.  The head of US intelligence has said that Russia is restructuring its ground forces into a unit that could ‘militarily dominate’ its neighbors.  Russia is set to commission a radar capable of monitoring rocket launches from Iran.  Hugo Chavez plans to buy Russian tanks to counter a bolstered US presence in Columbia.  How did a fighter jet worth $3.7 million end up being sold for $5?  Kiev has finally approved Russia’s new appointment as ambassador to Ukraine.  Patriarch Kirill’s Ukrainian tour for unity may have drawn attention to the fissures between the Russia and its neighbor.

Moscow’s Ninth Arbitration Court has thrown out the majority of the $6.4 million in tax it claims the British Council owes.  Four bloggers who followed incidents of official corruption in western Russia have been held for extremism.  The director of Die Hard 3 is reportedly in talks to make a film about the Georgia conflict.

PHOTO: Much of the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali is still in ruins from last year’s conflict. (AFP Photo)