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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Feb 11, 2010

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TODAY: Putin promises to clean up the Baltic Sea ahead of Nord Stream; EU visa regulations for Russians; NATO not concerned about French warship sale; inquiry into police beating of pianist; Rogozin takes to Twitter; alcoholism.
Speaking at a Baltic Sea environmental summit in Finland to persuade Finland to approve the Nord Stream project, Vladimir Putin promised that Russia would curtail sewage dumping and that the Nord Stream pipeline would not cause any damage to the sea; and offered the bargaining chip of extending low timber duties on Russian exports.  A clean-up of the sea is expected to be announced also, in order to remove toxic sediment on the seabed originating from a sewage treatment plant in Kaliningrad that failed ‘due to lack of political leadership and local corruption‘.  Russians offer their thoughts on the lengthy and complicated visa process for EU travel.  Russia is happy to accept economic and technological initiatives from Europe, according to Russia’s EU ambassador, but does not take kindly to being lectured on ‘European values‘.  NATO apparently does not object to the sale of a French warship to Russia.  

An inquiry has been launched into the police beating of a pianist in Yekaterinburg, apparently after he failed to produce identity documents.  This is ‘yet another high-profile scandal involving the Russian police,‘ notes The Other Russia, which also reports that the pianist claims he was robbed by the police, and that he had to file his complaint twice before it was accepted by authorities.  And the military are investigating a report that officers accused of hazing were given financial bonuses.  The Federal Guard Service has lifted restrictions on professional photo and video shoots in Red Square after President Dmitry Medvedev called the ban ‘stupid‘.  
This report looks at Russia’s love for vodka and the government campaign to target alcoholism.  Dmitry Rogozin on Twitter: Russia will ‘kick [America’s] ass‘…  
PHOTO: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen at the Baltic Sea Action Summit in Helsinki. (AFP/LEHTIKUVA/Markku Ulander)