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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Feb 9, 2010

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TODAY: What next for Kaliningrad? Lawyers accuse telecoms companies of treating dissent as extremism; US defense secretary criticizes sale of French warship to Russia; Medvedev refreshes regional leadership; Berezovsky case being heard in London; Browder v Markelov v Browder; IOC president warns Russia. 
The Moscow Times looks at the factors contributing to the massive Kaliningrad protests last month, and examines the Kremlin’s possibilities now for response – at very least, the article suggests, it should remove governor Georgy Boos, but must be wary of ‘set[ting] up such a precedent‘.  The Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights has seized on the news that telecoms company Beeline blocks access to opposition websites, calling it evidence of a growing trend in Russia ‘to persecute dissident activism as extremism‘.  French defense officials have announced that the country will sell at least one advanced warship to Russia, and potentially three more, in what will be the first, ‘symbolic‘ arms deal between Russia and a NATO member.  The US Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, expressed concern about the deal, but his French counterpart warned against a ‘double discourse‘ over Russia, which is supposedly viewed by the US as a partner.

President Dmitry Medvedev has proposed to ‘refresh‘ Russia’s regional leadership, proposing four new governors.  The High Court in London has heard that Boris Berezovsky suffered a savage‘ libel over the death of Alexander Litvinenko – the broadcaster accused is neither appearing in court nor has argued the allegations.  Bill Browder’s peculiar fraud case against Viktor Markelov has resurfaced – Markelov is apparently suing his ‘victim for ‘moral harm caused‘ by the allegations.  
The President of the IOC has warned Russia to get its anti-doping act together ahead of this months’ Vancouver Games, after a large number of positive cases.  
PHOTO: Policemen detain Yabloko party leader Sergei Mitrokhin (2nd L), protesting against the demolition of houses in the Rechnik neighbourhood, during a rally in Moscow February 9, 2010. The banner reads: “Respect property rights”. REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin