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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Feb 25, 2010

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TODAY: Visa-free travel with Europe on the agenda; Medvedev and Putin have ‘same blood’; Akhipov to seek medical care abroad; uproar over United Russia consultant who has thus far escaped charges for killing a pedestrian with her car; more police firings; prison conditions; Yanukovych sworn in as Ukraine’s president.  Sochi preparations.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says that Moscow is committed to maximum cooperation with the EU on figuring out how to put visa-free travel between Russia and Europe into practice.  ‘We are ready to introduce visa-free travel with Europe tomorrow,‘ he said.  President Dmitry Medvedev said he and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin actually do have the same blood – ‘in the medical sense of the word‘, confirming Putin’s allegorical remarks last year that the two were ‘people of the same blood‘.  Medvedev also stated that he and Putin would make a joint decision on the future of their dual ruling.  A new paper from Andrew Wood, a former UK ambassador to Russia, investigates the contradiction between the power vertical and the need to modernize Russia’s economy.  The Other Russia has picked up on the story of Evgeny Arkhipov, the lawyer who alleges he was denied medical care despite evidence of poisoning, which the Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights believe is connected to Arkhipov’s work on an anti-corruption report.

Anna Shavenkova, the daughter of a high-ranking Irkutsk official and United Russia consultant, who killed one woman and paralyzed another after hitting them with her car, has not yet received any charges.  The incident is only drawing press attention now because it was caught on camera, and the outcry may force her to face an investigation.  Another two top Moscow police officials have lost their jobs, this time over accusations of kidnapping. This article looks at measure being undertaken in order to reduce Russia’s prison population and improve overcrowded prison conditions.  
Ukraine’s Viktor Yanukovych has been sworn in as president following his February 7 victory over Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is challenging her opponents to oust her from the government with a vote of no-confidence, certain that they won’t have enough votes to do so.  Yanukovych’s ambition is to conduct a successful foreign policy with the EU, Russia and the US. 
This article looks at Russia’s ambitious preparations for the Sochi 2014 Olympics.  
PHOTO: Relatives and friends wave to the Marshal Shaposhnikov anti-submarine destroyer as it leaves the harbour of Vladivostok February 24, 2010. A group of Russian ships of the Pacific Fleet head to African coast as part of efforts to curb piracy at the Horn of Africa. REUTERS/Yuri Maltsev