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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Dec 4, 2009

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TODAY: Putin Q&A dominates press, hints at return to presidency; Medvedev establishes diplomatic relations with the Vatican; NATO and Russia working through problems; Lukashenko acknowledges reliance on Russia; hackers destroy tabloid archives.
A flood of highlights have emerged following Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s televised session of ‘carefully screened‘ questions and answers yesterday.  When asked whether he was planning to quit politics, Putin responded, ‘Don’t hold your breath!‘, and hinted that he would run in the 2012 presidential elections.  President Dmitry Medvedev responded to this comment from Italy: ‘Prime Minister Putin said he doesn’t rule out this possibility and I also say I don’t rule it out.The Telegraph says Putin cast himself ‘as a modest man of the people who had single-handedly saved the country from financial meltdown in the last year‘.  The Moscow Times describes the rigidity of assemblies of workers asking questions of Putin via video link: ‘someone would ask a question — usually starting with lavish praise for the prime minister’s efforts to help his or her company‘.  Putin made accusations against former Yukos head, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and failed to pass judgment on the matter of Joseph Stalin against a perceived backdrop of ‘Stalin’s return to Russian life‘ ahead of next year’s Soviet victory anniversary.  Also discussed: tigers, polar bears, stupid questions, and contention over WTO membership with the United States.  Reuters has a list of soundbites.  

Dmitry Medvedev has signed a document establishing full diplomatic relations with the Vatican – ‘a warming in previously tense relations‘.  Russia and NATO are working through their differences, and have reportedly resolved a key dispute.  Medvedev has pledged Russia’s support for the US in peacekeeping efforts in Afghanistan.  
Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko reportedly said his political career depends on his close ties with Russia.  Vladimir Putin already knows this, of course.  
Hackers have destroyed the daily archives of a Russian tabloid news website. 
 
PHOTO: Mr Putin’s performance in the live four hour televised appearance gave viewers the impression that he and not President Dmitry Medvedev ran the country. (Photo: AFP/GETTY)