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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Dec 3, 2010

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TODAY: Russia wins World Cup bid; EU wants human rights element of agreement with Russia; Tolyatti protest; Voronezh seeking information on Islamists; Strategy 31 protesters will not budge; WikiLeaks continue but is anyone surprised? 55 killed in fires, Akhmadulina, tourism.
Russia has won its 2018 World Cup bid with nine votes in the first round and thirteen in the second.  The win will ‘swell chests already full of national pride over winning the right to have the 2014 Winter Olympics‘, and reinforce Putin’s image, says this AP report.  FIFA President Sep Blatter said he was ‘happy‘ about the news because ‘never has the World Cup been in Russia and Eastern Europe, and the Middle East and Arabic world have been waiting for a long time‘, but some UK sources (to whom the news is a disaster) says that the winning bids are ‘high risk‘, and allege that Blatter had previously called the infrastructure challenges posed by the two countries as a ‘doomsday scenario‘.  The European Parliament wants its relations with Russia to have an integral human rights element.  A December 1 protest was held in Tolyatti’s Severny district over officials ignoring requests for pedestrian crosswalks and street lights.  Why is the Voronezh prosecutor’s office gathering the personal information of those who attend its local Islamic center?  Strategy 31 protesters are rejecting (on grounds of custom) the Moscow mayor’s proposal that they reschedule their December protest in order to avoid inconveniencing ‘people coming home from stores‘.

The WikiLeaks refutations continue.  The documents are ‘at the gutter press level and verge on madness,‘ says Putin.  But it isn’t as though allegations of high-level corruption are a stretch of the imagination, says The Independent.  This Guardian editorial says that the emerging picture of Russia reinforces the need for solid strategic partnerships with the Kremlin, in particular with the US.  Many of the political experts quoted in WikiLeaks documents are the same ‘that are widely quoted by national and international media‘, says the Moscow Times, suggesting that ‘US diplomats in Moscow […] have trouble tapping government sources for information‘.  The Guardian suggests that Vladimir Putin may be ‘revelling‘ in leaked suggestions that he knew about the operation to murder Alexander Litvinenko. Mikhail Fradkov is pointing out that the Foreign Intelligence Service should be judged by its ability to maintain a stable inflow of classified information, rather than on individual operations, which he says are classified in any case. 
Cold weather in Russia has seen a high number of fires, with 55 fire-related deaths reported this week.  Here’s another obituary for Bella Akhmadulina, the ‘treasure of Russian poetry‘.  Translation issue of the day comes from a Moscow Times report about the city’s new tourism committee head: ‘There is a frigging load of problems to deal with in the tourism industry in Russia.‘ 
PHOTO: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at a press conference in Zurich, Switzerland, after Russia was announced as the host for the 2018 soccer World Cup, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010. (AP Photo/Alexei Nikolsky, pool)