RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Feb 10, 2011


TODAY: Russia to send navy ships to defend Kuril islands; Domodedovo shows flaws; Egypt unrest to spread to Russia?  US questioning Russia’s call for UN mission to the Middle East; Gontmakher fears investigation will kill him; Harding will be welcomed back, says the Foreign Ministry.  Early US silent films returned.
Tensions with Japan are escalating: the latest is that President Dmitry Medvedev has promised to send mistral navy ships to the Pacific to defend the Kuril islands.  Japan, meanwhile, continues to protest: ‘Whether Russia sends its leaders there or boosts its defenses, it still has no claim under international law to occupy the islands.‘  Japan says it is monitoring the region ‘with interest, in case of any deployment of weapons.  The investigation into the Domodedovo airport bombing has apparently ‘unveiled serious flaws in the work of Russian intelligence‘.  Garry Kasparov speculates that the ‘algorithm of action‘ in Egypt ‘is going to spread to Russia‘.

The US is questioning Russia’s proposal that a special UN Security Council mission visit the Middle East to bolster the peace process. ‘[W]hat is this meant to achieve? Why now? Why this itinerary? And, would it in fact have the stated intention of contributing to promoting greater peace and stability in the region at this quite fragile time?‘  US seafood mogul Arkady Gontmakher, under investigation and forbidden to leave Russia, says that he fears dying from heart problems developed during his time in detention if he is imprisoned again. 
The maze of information over journalist Luke Harding’s deportation continues.  ‘Nobody annulled his visa,‘ says Sergei Lavrov; but he is welcome to apply for a new one, says the Foreign Ministry; but it was indeed annulled, says Harding.  Todays’ Moscow Times editorial says: ‘The message the Kremlin and FSB want to send seems clear: If you write about sensitive issues, such as corruption among top officials or other government abuses, you could be kicked out of the country.‘ 
Russian archivists have returned 200 silent films to the US. 
PHOTO: The Paris Opera Ballet rehearse on the stage of the Bolshoi theatre in Moscow February 9, 2011. The Parisian troupe, one of the world’s finest, has not performed in the Russian capital since 1991. REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin