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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Jan 13, 2010

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TODAY: Tribute march for Markelov and Baburova denied; Russia continues to be ‘repressive’ according to civil rights watchdog; how Berdnikov gets his way.  US Undersecretary of State in town for talks; Baluva tests to continue; submarine loan to India.  Turkey-Russia relationship in spotlight; analyses of Ukraine’s position in Europe; Yukos official jailed, Human Rights Court hearing postponed

Moscow city authorities have refused to approve a peaceful march for the one-year anniversary of the murder of lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova.  Freedom House, in its new report on civil liberties, the 2010 ‘Freedom in the World’ survey, has pinpointed Russia as one of the countries that has become more oppressive in the past four years.  The report also finds a ‘deepening of authoritarian rule throughout much of the non-Baltic former Soviet Union’.  Aleksandr Berdnikov has been approved for a second term as governor of Russia’s southern Altai Republic.  Yulia Latynina believes she knows why allegations that Berdnikov engages in illegal hunting have not hindered his political career.  The Power Vertical reports on how Russia Today’s new ad campaign based around the ‘question more’ slogan has been rejected by certain airports in the US.


U.S. Undersecretary of State William Burns will visit Moscow today for arms pact discussions; Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that START re-negotiations will begin in mid-January.  An op-ed in the Moscow Times suggests that Putin’s desire to rain on Medvedev’s parade is part and parcel of the stalling of START negotiations.  Russia may increase the number of test launches of its temperamental Baluva missile during 2010 and will reportedly lease one of its cutting edge nuclear-powered submarines to India.  Differing stances on the Energy Charter and Russia’s position on South Ossetia and Abkhazia do not problematize a new pact between Brussels and Moscow, Sergei Lavrov claims.  The nominee to be the European Union’s trade chief has voiced support for Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization.

‘Both are Eurasian countries. Both are on the outside. And both are trying to redefine their relationship with Washington’:
the strategic advantages (and sticking points) of the Turkey-Russia relationship‘Ukraine has gone from being a darling of the EU to a complete and utter nightmare’.  If you want to have your say on the matter, votes for the Presidential elections are currently for sale on the Internet.  Is Yulia Tymoshenko taking a leaf out of Putin’s book?

A Moscow court has sentenced former Yukos deputy manager Alexei Kurtsin to fifteen and a half years in prison for embezzlement.  A hearing in a suit filed in the European Court of Human Rights by former Russian oil giant Yukos, has been postponed until March 4, the unavailability of Russian officials being a reason cited for the delay.   Mikhail Khodorkovsky is set to receive a literary award.

PHOTO: Erdogan boarding a plane Tuesday with his wife, Emine, in Ankara for talks in Moscow with Medvedev and Putin.  (Umit Bektas / Reuters)