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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Feb 23, 2010

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TODAY: Mironov’s dissent won him fan mail; Clinton wants Russia to work with NATO; new opposition party launched in Moscow; police accused of using slave labor; Abramovich to fine ill-behaved players; Medvedev calls for new weapons; Deputy PM wants more medals.  Tymoshenko continues to slam Yanukovych.
Sergei Mironov’s recent public critique of Vladimir Putin and subsequent feud with United Russia ‘brought him more fan mail than at any other point in his career‘, and one commentator suggests that the critique was not pro-democracy but a fight for ‘personal physical existence‘.  Russia’s Deputy US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, wants Russia to collaborate with NATO on the missile defense of Europe and in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.  ‘While Russia faces challenges to its security, NATO is not among them.‘  A new left-wing party, the United Russian Labor Front, has opened in Moscow.  An elite police subdivision denies reports that it forced migrant workers into slave labor.  It seems that Roman Abramovich is fed up with the sleazy reputations of his Chelsea footballers, who have been issued with ‘strict instructions to clean up their act‘ or face fines.

Today is Russia’s Defender of the Fatherland Day, held to honor the military.  President Dmitry Medvedev, speaking at celebrations, called for new weapons for the army and navy and for an end to ‘patching up holes in old weapons‘.  The Kremlin will be ‘angered‘ by a British human rights representative’s comments following a recent visit to Chechnya.  James Corum says the Russian purchase of a French warship ‘will likely make the world a much more dangerous place‘.  Deputy Prime Minister Anton Zhukov is looking forward to Russia winning more medals in the Olympics: ‘our athletes have not enjoyed as much success as we would’ve hoped‘.  Russia has won a gold in the men’s biathlon.  The New York Times considers Russia’s Olympic ‘image problems‘ in relation to antidoping efforts, and the criminal conviction of biathlete Alexander Tikhonov. 
Yulia Tymoshenko has accused Ukrainian president-elect Viktor Yanukovych of ‘already beginning to sell off Ukraine’s gas pipeline network‘ and insists that she will not be part of a coalition government.  US scientists suggest that there is a link between violence in Russian society and a historical lack of ‘bar or pub culture‘.  Russian film director Vladimir Motyl has died in Moscow, aged 82.  
PHOTO: Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev speaks during a celebration on the eve of Defender of the Fatherland Day at the Russian Army Theatre in Moscow February 22, 2010. REUTERS/Ria Novosti/Kremlin/Vladimir Rodionov