RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Feb 9, 2011


TODAY: Transport official sacked; tensions over run-up to and fall-out from Domodedovo attack; Lithuania concerned about Russian warheads; Lavrov wants Japanese protesters prosecuted; Navalny to be investigated; Yabloko activists detained. Medvedev wants to keep daylight savings all year round; Valentine’s Day banned in Belgorod.
Gennady Kurzenkov is no longer the head of the Federal Transportation Inspection Service; his dismissal by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin comes ‘at his own request‘, but the Moscow Times reports that he was ‘singled out as a scapegoat‘ for security failures at Domodedovo.  Terrorist attacks are not just about strong fundamentalist movements, writes Yulia Latynina, but ‘the shameful weakness of the West‘.  The Guardian’s Simon Tisdall criticizes Putin’s ‘blinkered policy‘ of ‘unthinking aggressiveness‘ in the Caucasus for ‘turn[ing] a containable local insurgency into an escalating regional war‘.  The brother and sister of the suspected Domodedovo bomber have been arrested.  A man injured during the attack says the government discharged him from the hospital before he was healed in order to avoid paying compensation.  A Dagestani man wanted in connection with a football murder claims that Moscow is rife with nationalists and hostile to foreigners.

Lithuania’s Defense Minister wants Russia to reduce the number of short-range nuclear warheads it has deployed in Kaliningrad, which borders Poland and Lithuania, although Russia denies that it has moved tactical warheads to the area.  Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov wants the Japanese authorities to prosecute radicals who desecrated a Russian flag as part of a protest over the Kuril islands: ‘We were told that in Japanese law there is an article that forbids the mockery of foreign state symbols.‘  Alexey Navalny, who claimed that Transneft embezzled $4 billion in 2009, will be the subject of a criminal investigation in Russia relating to allegations that he put pressure on a state timber firm to sign a contract. ‘I think they’re trying to scare me,‘ he said.  A group of Yabloko activists were detained for three hours and will be tried for picketing the Central Election Commission office in Moscow, RFE/RL reports
President Dmitry Medvedev has proposed that Russia abolish the transition to winter time from daylight savings, believing the change to be bad for the heath.  ‘I wouldn’t even mention cows that just don’t get it, when milkmaids come at different times,‘ he said.  Valentine’s Day promotes ‘amorousness rather than love‘, according to the Belgorod governor’s spokesperson, and as such, has been banned in the region. 
The Sochi Mascot candidates can talk: ‘The Polar Bear claims that he must be chosen the games’ mascot because he is sporty and not afraid of cold.‘  
PHOTO: Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev meets with the staff and athletes of the Russian team to the 2011 World Winter Universiade in Turkey, at the Kremlin in Moscow February 8, 2011. REUTERS/Vladimir Rodionov/RIA Novosti/Kremlin