TODAY: Pro-Kremlin youth group approach Boris Nemtsov; negative outlook for demonstrations; eyes turn to Belarus as government threatens to separate opposition family; EU considers sanctions. Viktor Bout’s wife claims to have been pressured by US; will appeal for his release on bail
Ria-Novosti reports on how pro-Kremlin nationalist youth movement ‘Stal”s overtures towards jailed opposition leader Boris Nemtsov have stoked rumors that he may have been sexually abused in jail. Left Front co-leader Sergei Udaltsov has told the Moscow Times that he foresees difficulties of the same ilk as those experienced last week for the opposition ahead of the State Duma elections in December and presidential vote in March 2012. The Guardian’s Simon Tisdall, alarmed by the ‘latest disturbing manifestation of Putin’s ever more menacing police state’ suggests that David Cameron should cancel his planned visit in protest.
In Belarus, reports have circulated that in the wake of thepost-election opposition crackdown, the three-year-old son ofpresidential candidate Andrei Sannikov and his wife, Irina Khalip, awell-known investigative journalist, may be seized by the state. ‘There is little hope for democratic change in Belarus unless Mr. Lukashenko is forced to pay a stiff price for his abuses’, says an editorial entitled ‘Lukashenko’s Gulag’ in the New York Times. ‘The situation of the democrats in Belarus today is a humanitarian disaster’, concurs an article by Joerg Forbrig, who emphasizes the necessity of the EU taking a stand. The FT reports that the Union is apparently preparing sanctions against Alexander Lukashenko and other members of his government.
The wife of the alleged Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout claims to have been subjected to ‘psychological pressure’ upon arriving in the US where her husband is jailed. She has also announced she will petition the U.S. Federal Court for his release on bail.
PHOTO: Workers cutting branches near power lines outside Moscow on Jan. 6, 2011. (Sergey Ponomarev / AP)