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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Dec 22, 2009

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TODAY: Communist Party asks Russia to hold the criticism on Stalin’s birthday, 30% of Russians would like a similar leader today, says VTsIOM; Moscow Mayor takes on the snow; Russia to revise its stance on Protocol 14? UN wants more Russian contributions to global food security; Yabloko party puts limitations on members; soldiers forced into service? Circus animals die; Cyrillic domains may not take off.
Yesterday was the 130th anniversary of Stalin’s birth, and the Communist Party asked the nation for a day-long moratorium on criticizing the Soviet dictator.  The party organized numerous marches to remember him, with one party member estimating the crowd at 3,000-5,000.  A VTsIOM poll says that more than 30% of Russians would like to see Stalin as a leader today, although, notes The Other Russia, this number is down 13% from 2005.  Moscow’s snowfall yesterday beat a 100-year record, and caused record-breaking traffic jams. Mayor Yuri Luzhkov is trying to implement a plan to seed clouds with liquid nitrogen to keep the snow under control.  ‘As we approach the end of the year, there is not much to celebrate on the political and economic fronts. In Russia, 2009 will be remembered for its increase in corruption and bloody catastrophes and for the country’s overall deterioration. Happy New Year, Russia!‘  

The Council of Europe’s new secretary-general is in Moscow today to discuss the Protocol 14 reform proposal for the European Court of Human Rights, which Russia has always rejected in the past.  The UN expects Russia to double its contribution to global food security on the back of its bumper crops, with one official saying he hoped Russia would enter the top 10 donators to the World Food Program.  Anatoly Bagmet will not be fired after all – at least, not by Yury Chaika, who reportedly wants someone else to do the dismissal.  If the present system of selecting gubernatorial candidates is ineffective, says Nikolai Petrov, why not change the system?  
The Yabloko party, which failed to win any Duma seats in October, is banning its members from participating in other organizations, a ban that ‘looks like a bid to get back in the Kremlin’s good graces and win seats in future votes‘.  Are Russia’s young soldiers being forcibly enlisted?  Eight tigers and a lioness from a Russian traveling circus have died during a 20-hour transit.  They’ve been a long time coming, but will Cyrillic domains take off?  ‘[C]omputer users are worried that Cyrillic domains will give rise to a hermetic Russian Web, a sort of cyberghetto,‘ says the New York Times.  
PHOTO: Russian Communists hold up a portrait of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin as they queue to lay flowers at his grave to mark the 130th anniversary of Stalin’s birth in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Dec. 21, 2009. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)