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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Feb 8, 2010

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TODAY: Putin scolds United Russia deputies over false promises; Lavrov fails to mount anti-NATO bid, Rasmussen suggests that Russia could help NATO in Afghanistan; Moscow to start up center to protect property rights; writers say they were hired by United Russia for smear campaign; toxic waste dumping ‘common practice’ in the 1990s; Yanukovich looks set to win Ukraine elections.
Vladimir Putin has given United Russia leaders a talking-to about making false promises. ‘You mustn’t become ‘promise makers,’ who just make promises to throw dust in peoples’ eyes so that you can get into power and start settling your own personal problems,‘ he said.  The scolding is thought to be a response to mass-scale anti-government protests in Kaliningrad, but reports suggest that the demonstration was not mentioned at the meeting.  Sergei Lavrov lambasted NATO and the OSCE but failed to win support for a new European security treaty, during his speech at a Munich security conference.  Russia’s NATO envoy, Dmitry Rogozin, says the idea is supported by the new German foreign minister, but most leaders have responded with only ‘general remarks‘.  NATO’s chief, Anders Rasmussen, responding on the sidelines of the conference, said that Russia’s military doctrine, identifying the security bloc’s expansion as a threat, did ‘not reflect the real world […] NATO is not an enemy of Russia‘; and suggested that Russia and China could help the alliance in Afghanistan.  In response to the demolitions in Rechnik, a Public Judicial Center is to be established in Moscow to help citizens protect their property rights.

A group of editors and writers in Saratov, who organized smear campaigns targeting political enemies of State Duma Deputy Vyacheslav Volodin, says that a ‘crisis of conscience‘ led them to go public with the news that they were hired by United Russia.  Alexei Bayer calls the Winter Olympics ‘an exclusive rich men’s club‘. RFE/RL reports that toxic waste-dumping in the 1990s was ‘common practice‘, and that last week’s allegations by the Swedish government are almost certainly accurate. 
Early reports suggest that Viktor Yanukovich has won the Ukrainian presidential elections by a slim margin – 48.7% to Yulia Tymoshenko’s 45.5%, but Tymoshenko has vowed to challenge the results.  This report blames Tymoshenko’s failure on Ukraine’s failing economy, and suggests that Yanukovich may take a firm stance against Russia over particular issues including gas prices.  ‘Ukraine will most likely move its orientation away from the United States and toward the EU.‘  The Moscow Times compares candidates’ policies.  
PHOTO: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin gestures during a meeting with leaders of the dominant United Russia political party in Moscow February 5, 2010. REUTERS/Ria Novosti/Alexei