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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Dec 8, 2010

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TODAY: Russia will join WTO next year; Rogozin to dispute secret NATO defense plans; WikiLeaks reveals Russia’s assistance on Libya’s uranium; Medvedev moves on child welfare, has enough public support for re-election; Volgograd and Moscow protesters detained, Ryazan mayor beaten; Zatuliveter case demonstrates British ‘Russophobia’; FIFA bid about politics and power?  Russia blocks UN statement on Ivory Coast. Lenin bombed.
Marking the end of a 17-year effort, WTO President José Manuel Barroso says that Russia will join the organization next year, after the two sides signed an agreement on various steps including reduced Russian timber export duties and railway freight fees.  Reuters has a Q&A on the implications of this decision.  Russia’s NATO envoy Dmitry Rogozin has spoken out against the organization’s secret plan to defend Baltic nations against potential Russian attack (revealed this week by WikiLeaks), and says he will challenge it during today’s meeting on grounds that the relationship between the two sides has improved.  The news is an ‘embarrassment‘, says the New York Times, due to recent emphasis from both sides on closer relations; the foreign ministry says it is ‘bewildered‘ by the leak.  Let’s not forget, however, that President Dmitry Medvedev had threatened a ‘new arms race‘ if the two sides could not see eye-to-eye on missile defense.  WikiLeaks also revealed this cover-up from last December: in a US-brokered deal, Russia was sent in to remove Libya’s weapons-grade uranium following concerns that a near disaster was possible.

Medvedev is backing some of his child welfare promises with construction orders and budget allocations, with Vladimir Putin apparently responsible for fulfilling 18 of the 28 orders.  A VTsIOM poll suggests that Medvedev would have no trouble getting re-elected if the presidential vote were held today.  A group of seven Volgograd protesters were detained for marching against organized crime in their village; a handful more were arrested in Moscow for protesting the construction of a new hotel.  A Ryazan mayor has been beaten with metal bars, and her driver shot.  Former FIFA vice-president, Vyacheslav Koloskov, provides details of Russia’s winning six-point World Cup bid.  FIFA ‘no longer bothers to pretend that the organization is above politics or persuasion by great wealth’, says the New York Times, citing Putin’s persuasion and Qatar’s money as key factors in the wins.
The latest spy scandal in the UK has provoked a stern response from Russia, comparing the possible deportation of political aide Katia Zatuliveter to a ‘vaudeville show about the tired old subject of espionage‘.  Zatuliveter’s father blames ‘Russophobia‘, and says that the case demonstrates British resistance to improved relations.  Georgia has arrested six of its own citizens on suspicion of having been recruited by the Russian military to carry out various attacks. 
Yezhednevny Zhurnal comments on what he views as a particularly egregious irony in Vladimir Putin’s assertion to Larry King that Russian security services are ‘not noted as having been involved in the organization of secret prisons, kidnappings, or the use of torture‘. Russia is blocking a UN Security Council statement endorsing the Ivory Coast’s opposition candidate as president, on grounds that such an endorsement is an interference.  ‘I don’t know why Russia is quibbling with resolutions that it itself voted for,‘ commented a UN ambassador, suggesting that Russia was the only council member to object. 
St Petersburg’s administration are still wondering who bombed their statue of Lenin. 
PHOTO: School children talk to each other at a playground named in honour of Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev in Vladivostok December 8, 2010. The banner reads, “Children’s playground named after President of RF (Russian Federation) Medvedev D.A. (REUTERS/Yuri Maltsev)