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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Feb 17, 2010

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TODAY: Police force struggling with negative reputation; Novosibirsk mayor arrested; Abkhazia to host military base? Russia delays defense system delivery to Iran; no drinking water in Krasnokamsk; activist given German award; sources debate Yanukovych’s role vis-à-vis Russia; Samara rally organizers could face criminal charges.
The Moscow Times looks at current, negative public opinion on the police force, as well as the ‘perverse‘ system of rewards and ‘meager salaries‘ that supposedly inspire corrupt practices.  A drunken policeman who went on a shooting rampage last year (setting off the wave of public outrage over corruption in the police force) should be given a life sentence, say prosecutors – with a verdict expected next week.  The mayor of Novosibirsk has been arrested on suspicion of being involved in organized crime.  Russia is poised to sign a deal on a new military base in Abkhazia.  RFE/RL comments on the discrepancy between the Kremlin chief of staff’s defense of centralized power, and the recent INSOR report recommending a new method of rule. ‘We’ve been here before. In fact, we’ve been here many times before in Russian history.‘  Russia says the current delay on the delivery of its air defense system to Iran is due to ‘technical problems‘.

Vladimir Putin wants Russia’s army to have ‘at least 30% modern weapons by 2015, and at least 70%  by 2020‘.  The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists includes three Russians on its 2009 list of journalists killed as a result of their reporting.  Arseny Roginsky, chairman of the Moscow-based International Memorial Society, received Germany’s Order of Merit for his contribution to the protection of human rights.  56,000 residents of Krasnokamsk are on their third day of no drinking water after supplies were halted over fears of contamination.  
This article looks at Moscow’s concerns about NATO, as expressed in its recent military doctrine – Moscow’s fears ‘are linked to ambitions the alliance held several years ago, at the end of the 20th and start of the 21st centuries. But that period has ended.‘  The Other Russia reports on the weekend’s anti-Kremlin protests in Irkutsk and Samara, and says that rally organizers could face criminal charges
 
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, due to hand power over to Viktor Yanukovych in nine days, says that his newly elected successor’s victory ‘is a Kremlin project‘, and that his policies will increase Ukraine’s dependence on Russia, but the FT suggests that there are ‘hidden dangers for Mr Putin‘ in the coming appointment.  Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, meanwhile, has filed an appeal against the election result.  
Thanks to Google maps, you can now virtually ride the Trans-Siberian railway.  
PHOTO: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and World Bank President Robert Zoellick (L) meet in the presidential residence outside Moscow for talks, February 16, 2010. REUTERS/RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Dmitry Astakhov