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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Dec 7, 2009

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TODAY: Perm mourns 112 victims of nightclub fire; START treaty expires with no replacement; salary caps for governors?; racial killings see first drop in seven years; policeman suicide; tabloid hacked; is Russia behind climate change email theft?
Russia is observing a national day of mourning today after a fire at a nightclub in Perm killed 112 people.  President Dmitry Medvedev demanded that Russia tighten ‘notoriously lax fire codes‘, although it is also being reported that the club’s owners had been fined twice before for breaking fire safety regulations, and four of them have now been arrested.  The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, expired over the weekend, with no replacement treaty having been agreed on. Both sides insist that they will continue ‘in the spirit of the treaty‘ and that there are no security risks.  ‘But the expiration deals a blow to those in the Obama administration who hoped to achieve at least this one tangible step before the president receives the [Nobel Peace Prize].‘  The Times is pessimistic: ‘We can’t assume that Russia and the US will manage to sign a new version of the Start arms reduction treaty.‘  On Dmitry Medvedev’s draft treaty for global security.  

Proposed legislation would give the federal government the power to set salary caps for governors, who currently earn up to $11,000 per month – more than the president.  ‘Mr. Putin — who first became president in 2000 and would be eligible to run again in 2012 — could conceivably stay in power until at least 2024.‘  Despite a recorded 54 racially-motivated killings this year in Russia, The Sova Center says this year actually represents the first dramatic decline in Russia’s racist killings in seven years.  This report says that five Russian policemen have committed suicide in the past three weeks.  
Moskovsky Komsomolets is the second Russian tabloid newspaper to have had its archives destroyed by a computer hacker this week.  Were Russian hackers, or indeed its secret service, behind the theft of emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit?  
PHOTO: Workers dig graves for today’s burial at a cemetery outside Perm, 1,150 km (720 miles) east of Moscow, December 7, 2009. REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov