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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Dec 21, 2009

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TODAY: Russia to control names of non-profit-organizations; Putin offers services to national judo team; no new START treaty until February; Medvedev as Robin Hood?; Stalin’s grandson sues radio station; Perm death toll up; Gaidar funeral. 
President Dmitry Medvedev marked Russia’s state security agencies’ professional holiday by calling for them to work more effectively to prevent internal and external threats to the country’s security.  Russia’s Ministry of Justice will be able to control which non-profit organizations are allowed to use the word ‘Russia’ in their titles, reports The Other Russia; human rights activist Lev Ponomarev anticipates that the rule will extend to all opposition NPOs.  At a recent school visit, Vladimir Putin, who has a black belt in judo, offered to join the national judo team, ‘adding to his carefully-crafted macho image‘.  If the contradictory reports are anything to go by, an agreement on a new START treaty is a long way off. President Obama says Russia and the US are ‘quite close‘ to reaching an agreement, Russian sources say don’t expect a deal until February. 

Vladimir Frolov comments on President Dmitry Medvedev’s ‘Robin Hood’ tactics in his quick dismissals of senior government officials.  ‘While people still cannot remove bad officials through elections, they can now rely on a president with an acute sense of public justice to avenge their grievances,‘ he says.  The head of the Moscow branch of the Investigative Committee, Anatoly Bagmet, has been fired for violating his oath of office, although one committee member suggested that the dismissal is the result of an ‘internal fight between the prosecutors’ clans‘.  Stalin’s grandson is suing a Moscow radio station for ‘wrongfully dishonoring‘ the dictator, reportedly seeking 10 million rubles and an apology.  The BBC has photographs of an exhibition of 1940s drawings, allegedly defaced by Stalin.  
The Perm nightclub death toll reached 150 over the weekend.  Alexei Bayer writes on the corrupt practices that the fire has exposed.  Yegor Gaidar’s funeral, held over the weekend, drew 10,000 people.   Russian émigré writer Alexander Piatigorsky has died in London.  
PHOTO: Putin signing an autograph at a St. Petersburg sports school Friday. (Alexei Druzhinin / RIA-Novosti / AP)