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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Feb 26, 2010

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TODAY: Round table discusses police reforms; Estemirova’s murder solved? Medvedev bemoans NATO enlargement; Putin’s model dead? France defends warship sale; neo-Nazis sentenced; Yanukovych sworn in; Olympic match takes on Cold War tone, Russia loses golden ice skating reputation.
A round table organized by the Moscow police has been held to discuss possibilities for reform with the public, with many activists focusing on the need for officers to serve the public, rather than the state.  Law enforcement authorities claim to have solved the murder of human rights activist Natalya Estemirova, but their findings are being refuted by her former colleagues.  ‘Investigators know the name of the criminal.‘  President Dmitry Medvedev has bemoaned NATO’s ‘endless enlargement’, and says the organization is not the ‘main military threat‘, but that its ‘absorbing‘ of former Soviet countries ‘is of course creating problems‘.  Anders Aslund in the Washington Post says that ‘the Putin model of crony state capitalism is dead,‘ citing rising government opposition and his assertion that ‘big state corporations accounted for much, if not all, of the decline in Russia’s GDP last year‘.  The Economist notes that ‘EU leaders who clashed most with Mr Bush swooned over Mr Putin‘, and examines more broadly the notion of EU-Russia partnership.

France’s defense minister is defending the sale of a warship to the Russian Navy: ‘[W]e cannot build a partnership of peace and security in Europe if we continue to view Russia as if it were the Soviet Union.‘ Human rights activists have praised a court decision to give the maximum prison terms allowed to a group of neo-Nazi gangs responsible for a number of racist murders.  Read some highlights from Viktor Yanukovych’s first presidential speech in which he spoke of Ukraine’s collapsing economy, the legacy of the Orange Revolution, and rival Yulia Tymoshenko.  
The Cold War, of course, is old history now. But on the hockey ice, it never really ended. “Da, da, Canada. Nyet, nyet, Soviet” read placards waved by fans in Canada Hockey Place on Wednesday.‘ Russia’s golden reputation in Olympic figure skating is over, says the Moscow Times.  Bloomberg has a breakdown of daily medal winners across the board for this year’s Games.  
PHOTO: Russia’s Ksenia Makarova performs her free program during the women’s figure skating competition at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)