RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Dec 1, 2010


TODAY: Medvedev’s state-of-the-nation address addresses with social issues, threats of arms race with NATO backed by Putin; new WikiLeaks; Igor Izmestyev wrongly charged? Kasparov on Khodorkovsky; art, poetry.
President Dmitry Medvedev’s ‘bland‘ state-of-the-nation address kept mainly to social issues, was ‘rich in generalities‘, and was attended by a ‘bored‘ looking Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, says the Moscow Times.  Medvedev’s priorities included the ‘demographic crisis‘ (pledging bonuses for large families), law enforcement, and corruption (Reuters has some key excerpts).  ‘I did not feel the fervour and ambition of a person who is going for a second term,commented one analyst.  Yulia Latynina criticizes the President for ‘continually promis[ing] to start working and never does.‘ And somewhat contradicting the general view that Russia’s recent talks with NATO amounted to a breakthrough in relations, Medvedev warned that, if the two cannot agree on missile defense, it could spark a new arms race, comments swiftly echoed by Putin who promised ‘new strike forces‘ and ‘new missile, nuclear technologies‘.  He also said that US legislators would have to be ‘very dumb‘ not to ratify the new START treaty.  Contrary to earlier nonchalant reports from the Kremlin, Putin’s line on the WikiLeaks was less relaxed, warning the US not to interfere in Russia’s domestic affairs.  Meanwhile a new WikiLeak of anonymous provenance suggests that Russia views Pakistan as a threat: ‘Russia assesses that Islamists are not only seeking power in Pakistan but are also trying to get their hands on nuclear materials.

Rights activists insist that former Federation Council Senator Igor Izmestyev, charged with terrorism, is innocent and has not received a fair trial; the senator claims the charges are political and relate to his refusal to sell a mansion near Putin’s Moscow home.  Garry Kasparov writes in the Wall Street Journal on the ‘martyr‘ Mikhail Khodorkovsky. 
In images: winter in the Oymyakon district, Sakha province.  On the politicized art of Oscar Rabin, whose work is being exhibited in London.  RFE/RL has a piece on the poetics of Bella Akhmadulina
PHOTO: A customer passes a display with TV sets with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev delivering an address at a Moscow shop on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)