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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Feb 16, 2010

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TODAY: Israeli prime minister praises Russia’s understanding of Iranian situation; nuclear nonproliferation; Russia to hold joint military exercises with Nicaragua; strange Russia Today; children confiscated over debts?; Justice Minister weighs in on corruption; Kremlin political strategist defends state control; Putin congratulates Yanukovych.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is applauding Russia for ‘understanding‘ the need to prevent Iran from developing nuclear capabilities – this comes a day after Russia said it would implement a contract to supply Iran with its S-300 air defense systems, and in spite of other reports that Russia is resisting sanctions for Iran.  The New York Times says that Moscow will want to leverage its position into maximum yield.  A Telegraph blogger questions the ‘strange propaganda outfit‘ that is Russia Today.  The Other Russia is reporting that a woman in St Petersburg has had her four children confiscated over a $4,600 debt to the housing authorities.  Vladislav Surkov, the Kremlin’s political strategist, has defended his system of state control, saying that ‘consolidated power is the instrument of modernization.  Some call it authoritarian modernization.  I don’t care what they call it.

A former deputy foreign minister of Germany looks at the question of nuclear nonproliferation.  In a move that ‘could anger the US‘, Russia and Nicaragua will hold joint military exercises as part of Russia’s ‘intense courting‘ of Latin American countries.  Moldova’s region of Transdnestr has offered to host Russian tactical missiles.  The Justice Minister, Alexander Konovalov, is the latest official to add his voice to the growing public commentary on corruption, saying that it is rife in the prison system, where prison workers are poorly paid and taking bribes to boost their incomes.  He also spoke about the death in prison of Hermitage laywer Sergei Magnitsky: ‘the state is taking certain steps to ensure that the situation with Magnitsky will never be repeated‘.  Human rights group Memorial says that four civilians killed during recent operations against Islamist militants were not killed in cross-fire, as was officially reported.  
The Foreign Ministry’s vice chancellor of research writes: ‘Accusations that the CIA alone caused the Soviet Union to collapse are ridiculous. Why do Russians seemingly hold the CIA in such high regard?‘  This Moscow Times writer looks at Russians’ conflicting demands in terms of state media content, and another explains why the recent military doctrine was just ‘so much hot air‘.  
Vladimir Putin has offered late congratulations to Viktor Yanukovych on winning Ukraine’s presidential election, presumably to avoid a 2004-style embarrassment.  The Bolshoi ballet has performed in Cuba for the first time in 30 years.  Marina Litvinenko appeared at Boris Berezovsky’s hearing in London yesterday to give a statement in his defense.  
PHOTO: Medvedev and Netanyahu introducing delegations in the Kremlin on Monday. The Israeli prime minister called for “crippling” sanctions against Iran. (Vladimir Rodionov / Ria-novosti / AP)