RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Dec 10, 2009


TODAY: Perm administration resigns as death toll rises to 128; Medvedev warns journalists about how to tell the truth; Russia blocking European Court of Human Rights reforms; Medvedev to be given authority over deploying troops?; START treaty almost ready; conservatives, communists, rebranding, Putin’s waning popularity.
Perm’s entire regional administration – including its mayor – has resigned in the wake of criticism from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin over the nightclub fire that has now killed 128 people, with 103 still in hospital. ‘This is a logical step to ease tensions inside the region and in relations with the federal authorities,‘ said one analyst.  President Dmitry Medvedev had a cryptic message for journalists during his speech at the fourth European and Asian media forum yesterday: ‘A journalist’s main responsibility is to speak the truth. But how you do it depends on you‘.  Of the 120,000 cases waiting to be heard at the European Court of Human Rights, Russia is involved in 28%, which may explain why it is the only country to continue blocking a package of reforms that would streamline the court’s procedures.  

Medvedev is to be given ‘increased personal authority‘ over the international deployment of armed forces, which is usually only permitted in relation to terrorism or international agreements, says The Other Russia.  RFE/RL says that the president ‘requested‘ this right.  A successor to the START treaty will be signed ‘soon‘, says Sergei Lavrov.  Could a seeming openness regarding Georgia-Russia travel indicate a softening of relations?  
On the ultra-conservative views of influential blogger Mikhail Kalashnikov, and the Communist party’s ‘unlikely‘ support of Medvedev’s modernization plan.  Russia needs a rebranding, suggests this columnist, noting that a recent associative word game with Californian undergraduates found that words students most associated with Russia were ‘communism‘, ‘vodka‘, and ‘corruption‘.  
The Levada Center is now the third polling agency in Russia to note waning confidence in Vladimir Putin’s ability to revive the economy. 
PHOTO: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin listens to explanations as he visits the Uralvagonzavod plant in the Urals city of Nizhny Tagil December 8, 2009.  REUTERS/RIA Novosti/Pool/Alexei Druzhinin