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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Dec 14, 2009

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TODAY: Medvedev fires prison officials connected with Sergei Magnitsky’s death; imposters cash in on Perm investigations; Medvedev’s European-Atlantic security body, NATO, what does failed missile test say about Russia’s defense strategy?; Abkhazia vote ‘invalid’; protesters mark Constitution Day.
Medvedev’s proposal for a new European-Atlantic security body is not receiving enthusiastic responses – which is unfortunate, says Reuters, as ‘this is one of the few occasions where Russia isn’t disagreeing but coming up with something constructive‘.  Some might say that the move is an attempt to sidestep Russia’s troubled relationship with NATO.  A US defense analyst says that Russia’s failed missile test last week indicates serious problems in the country’s strategic nuclear infrastructure, and suggests Russia’s leaders believe that ‘the ability to threaten the United States would bring Russia to parity with it‘.  EU monitors want Russian forces to pull back from the Georgian village of Perevi, saying that military presence there is raising tensions.  Protesters say that the result of Abkhazia’s Saturday elections is invalid.  

President Dmitry Medvedev’s firing of 20 prison officials, including Moscow’s top prison official, in connection with an investigation into the death of Sergei Magnitsky, has not placated Magnitsky’s colleagues.  A spokesperson for Hermitage Capital noted that ‘the penal system employees are merely the bottom of the feeding chain‘, and a managing partner at Firestone Duncan, Magnitsky’s firm, writes in the Moscow Times that ‘Judges Svetlana Ukhnaleva and Yelena Stashina also need to be investigated for making rulings that allowed the Interior Ministry to keep Magnitsky in detention in violation of law.‘ The Perm nightclub death toll is now at 146, and police have added more suspects to the case.  Imposters have reportedly taken advantage of the mass inspection of fire-safety requirements by visiting businesses in Kirov, posing as inspectors, and demanding that fines be paid on the spot.  
Self-proclaimed antifascists attacked the Moscow office of Russia’s popular Komsomolskaya pravda daily newspaper.  Saturday marked the anniversary of the approval of Russia’s constitution, sparking a wave of protest rallies calling for fair and free elections and freedom of expression.  Protests included mock funerals and led to some arrests.  
PHOTO: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin speaks to a group of schoolchildren during his visit to Hermitage Museum in St.Petersburg, December 12, 2009. REUTERS/RIA Novosti/Pool/Alexei Nikolsky