RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Dec 29, 2009

sh.jpgTODAY: Official report condemns circumstances of Magnitsky death; Youtube policeman arrest warrant released; child laborers freed from sweatshop; Pikalyovo-style road blockers to face jail under new bill.  Medvedev talks of reform.  Tbilisi-Moscow flights resume; Putin voices concerns over US missile defense; petty theft; Isaac Schwartz

The Moscow Public Oversight Commission has released an officially mandated 20-page report which condemns the torturous’ conditions under which Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky died.  The report apparently suggests that the imprisoned lawyer was deliberately denied medical care, and that the investigation into his death was willfully obstructed.  One of the commission’s investigators has noted with fear that what appeared to be the neglect of Magnitsky, ‘was, to some extent, as terrible as it is to say, a premeditated murder’.   Prosecutors have issued an arrest warrant for Youtube corruption blasting police Major Alexei Dymovsky on charges of office abuse.  Fifteen Kyrgyz minors working in lamentable conditions in an illegal clothes factory outside of Moscow have been freed by police.  According to Russia Today, it is thought that around 2,000 children work in sweatshops in Russia.  A new government bill would establish fines and prison terms for protesters who block roads.

‘There is a need to considerably change both our economy and the social sphere, and certainly the political system’: President Medvedev espouses reform at a state award ceremony.  The President has also suggested that tighter checks need to be made to reduce the possibility of electoral fraud‘The reform drive is largely superficial. Indeed, there is less push than a decade ago. Vladimir Putin, now prime minister, has become more of an obstacle than a change-agent’, says Jason Bush in Reuters.

Vladimir Putin has said that US plans for a missile defense system are endangering talks on a new nuclear arms deal.  Apparently the Prime Minister has also said that faced with Washington’s missile defense plans, Russia must develop offensive weapons systems to ‘preserve the balance’.  Russia’s Ministry of Transport will allow a Georgian airline to resume charter flights between Moscow and Tbilisi, the first since the war of August 2008.

The Moscow Times informs us that President Medvedev was more frequently mentioned in the Russian media in 2009 than Prime Minister Putin (but who can forget his holiday photos?)  Shoplifters of Moscow unite.  Soviet soundtrack mastermind Isaac Schwartz has died at the age of 86.

PHOTO: Putin looking at scale models of shipyards planned to be built by Asian companies in Bolshoi Kamen on Monday, December 28, 2009.  (Alexei Nikolsky / RIA-Novosti / AP)