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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Feb 22, 2010

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TODAY: Putin calls for evolution, not revolution; 4,000 protesters gather in Arkhangelsk; activist jailed for supporting YouTube policeman; Lavrov wants to revive the OSCE; Russia against Iran sanctions; illegal gambling and corruption; shooting rampage officer jailed for life; Tymoshenko drops election result challenge; Moscow snowed under.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said in his Saturday speech that Russian society should develop in an ‘evolutionary, rather than a revolutionary manner‘, calling for ‘stable‘ developments and urging protesters not to ‘shake up society‘.  The following day, RIA Novosti reports, 4,000 opposition supporters marched in the northern Russian city of Arkhangelsk to protest rising energy and communal services prices.  Police reports estimate the numbers as ten times less.  An activist has been jailed for seven days after authorities said he took part in illegal rallies in support of Alexei Dymovsky, the police officer who made a YouTube appeal for a probe into force corruption.  Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with his Kazakh counterpart over the weekend to discuss measures for ‘how to turn the OSCE into an effective international organization‘, with a summit planned for later this year – it’s been more than ten years since its last one, and eight since its most recent declaration.  The Foreign Ministry says it is against imposing ‘crippling sanctions‘ on Iran, and that it will go ahead with its deal to supply the country with anti-aircraft systems.

Last year’s law banning casinos and slot machines in Russia’s towns and cities has caused an increase not only in illegal gambling, but in cases of bribery, according to this BBC interview, which blames corruption as a major cause.  Denis Yevsyukov, the policeman who went on a shooting rampage in a supermarket last year, killing two people, has been given a life sentence in Moscow.  Yevsyukov said he could not remember what had happened.  Read an interview with Russian model Natalia Vodianova on charity work in her home country.  
Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko on Saturday dropped her legal case challenging the election of rival Viktor Yanukovich as president.  Sochi planners are talking about snow storage and artificial snow production ahead of worries that sub-tropical temperatures could create havoc, as Vancouver struggles to maintain snowy mountain courses.  Moscow, meanwhile, is struggling to deal with heavy snowfall.  
PHOTO: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin seen visiting Mikhailovsky (St. Michael’s) or Inzhenerny (the Engineers) Castle after its restoration, St. Petersburg, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010. (AP Photo/Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)