RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Dec 13, 2010

front.jpgTODAY: Ethnic tensions rise in Moscow as nationalists riot over football death; Beketov defamation ruling overturned; ‘Kushchevskaya model’ provokes continued fears; opposition parties’ brief foray into parliamentary discussions. Wikileaks suggest Russia tried to track Litvinenko killers?  Russia’s ‘own Assange’ under investigation; Medvedev hoping for a stab at 2010 presidency? Limonov interview; Putin sings.

The killing of a Spartak fan allegedly by a migrant from the North Caucasus last week sparked a nationalist rally in Moscow which culminated in violent disorder.   Several opposition activists were apparently detained.  President Medvedev praised the actions of police in quelling nationalist furor.  The President has signed a bill which would establish new minor restrictions on rally holding.  A court has overturned a defamation conviction against journalist Mikhail Beketov, whose investigations into the Khimki forest saw him viciously attacked.  Reporter Oleg Kashin recounts the chilling story of his own beating in the New York Times.  Michael Swartz examines the Kushchevskaya model’, in other words a ‘fusion of government and criminals’, prompted by November 5’s massacre of 12 people in the farming town.  RFE/RL looks into those who are seemingly profiting from collusion with criminal elements in the region.  Constitutional Court chief justice Valery Zorkin has apparently warned that if this kind of lawlessness continues, Russians may look to a ‘dictatorship’.  The Moscow Times reports on how three parties without representation were allowed to participate in a parliamentary discussion, for the duration of your average coffee break.

In the latest Wikileaks revelations, Russian authorities were apparently tracking the possible killers of Aleksander Litvinenko, but their efforts were discouraged by Britain prior to the former spy’s death.  Alleged spy Ekaterina Zatuliveter worked for the BBC before assisting MP Mike Hancock, says the Telegraph.  The Moscow Times reports that Kirov Governor Nikita Belykh has said that he has no complaints against lawyer and whistleblower Alexei Navalny (the ‘Russian Assange’, in Victor Davidoff’s words) despite the fact that the latter is now being probed by the Investigative Committee.  The BBC has reported that President Medvedev may run for a second term in the 2012 elections.  According to this op-ed, Wikileaks reveal that Medvedev’s camp are ‘almost openly agitating for U.S. support of their boss’s presidential run while making no secret of its disdain for Putin’.

A spokesman for Republican backers of START is apparently adamant that the treaty has enough GOP support to be voted through.  The Washington Post examines Republican concerns.  U.N. arms control data shows that in 2009 Russia delivered at least 1,800 shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles to Venezuela, a cause of considerable concern for the US. 

The Independent reports that Albert II of Monaco accepted gifts from Vladimir Putin prior to voting with the International Olympic Committee for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.  British graffiti artist Banksy has pledged to give proceeds from a print sale to Russia’s Voina art group.  The Guardian interviews ‘non-conformist from birth’, opposition politician Eduard Limonov.  Putin croons.

PHOTO: Thousands of football fans rallying with flares and Spartak flags on Manezh Square on December 11, 2010 to denounce the death of Spartak fan Yegor Sviridov.  (Denis Sinyakov / Reuters)