RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Feb 4, 2011

putin.jpgTODAY: Domodedovo bombing suspects detained; Medvedev and Putin cavil over the case; rights groups fear the ascent of Orthodox Church; Khodorkovsky sentence to shrink by three months? Novaya Gazeta reporter wins case against Finance Ministry; ex-ballerina lambastes United Russia.  Lavrov sends out warning to Belarus; Defense Minster in Kurils; snail-paced approach to pollution

According to the New York Times, federal officials have stated that a number of people with information on the suicide bombing at Domodedovo airport have been detained, and purported that the bomber may under the influence of mind-altering drugs.  A difference of opinion has been noted between Putin and Medvedev on the investigation into the attack; the President denying the Prime Minister’s assertion that the case had been ‘solved’ in principal.  In an analysis written by democracy activist Garry Kasparov, Medvedev is firmly placed in the role of Putin’s legal adviser: ‘Any self-respecting mafia boss has his own consigliere to search out loopholes in the legal system, so as to justify their unlawful actions’.  The Russian Orthodox Church’s decision to allowed its clergy to enter politics in certain cases has human rights groups worried that the separation of the (highly influential) church and state is being undermined, says Reuters.  Pro-secularism group Zdravomysliye (Good Sense) has underlined the fact that Patriarch Kirill receives the privileges of a state official, once more signaling that the church enjoys unconstitutional rights.

It is reportedly expected that lawyers will rule today that the extension of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev’s jail terms by three months was an illegal act, a ruling which will, the pair’s lawyers say, provide a veneer of legality that should please the President.  Ex-ballerina Anastasia Volochkova has left United Russiawith a thundering diatribe against the ruling party amid claims thatshe was duped into signing a letter condemning the Yukos founder.  One of the Russian officials on the list of those allegedly connected to the Magnitsky case has scoffed at the idea that a EU visa ban would affect his life.  In an unlikely piece of good news for journalists, Russia’s Finance Ministry has been ordered to pay $15,200 to a Novaya Gazeta reporter for incorrectly charging him with using pirated software.  The Moscow Times reports that the Yabloko party has been refused registration in Kaliningrad.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has apparently called the detention of two Russian citizens in Belarus ‘unacceptable’ and has asserted that human rights violations in the state will not be ignored.  The Foreign Minister also argued that if negotiations with NATO are merely to serve US missile defense ambitions, Russia will take adequate measures to protect ourselves’.  Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov has visited one of the disputed Kuril islands, a move unlikely to win favor with Japan.  Russian scientists are apparently fearful that years of cooperation with Iran on its civilian space program could have provided the technology for the creation of long-range missiles.

Is Poland trying to cash in on Lenin?  Meet Russia’s newest migrant workers on the BBC.

PHOTO:  Channel One deputy head Kirill Kleimyonov, left, speaking to Putin and channel director Konstantin Ernst.  (Alexei Druzhinin / RIA-Novosti / AP)