TODAY: Polish anger at presidential plane crash report; Freedom House sees decline in Russia democracy; Slavic Force leader arrested; St Petersburg gives the go ahead to ultra-nationalist rally; Limonov and Nemtsov lose appeals. Norway-Russia relations less than rosy? New housing built to replace forest fire losses deemed uninhabitable by residents; Anna Chapman to grace Russia’s screens
Russia’s investigation into the plane crash which killed then Polish President Lech Kaczynski has apportioned a large amount of the blame to the ‘psychological pressure’ placed on crew members to land prompted by fear of the main passenger’s reaction to an aborted landing. The Russian IAC’s findings have prompted the deceased’s brother, the leader of the opposition party, to call the report a ‘mockery of Poland’. Reuters presents an analysis of the quandary Prime Minister Donald Tusk faces in response to the report, given that Poland and Russia have enjoyed somewhat improved ties since the accident.
Freedom House’s report on the decline in political rights and civil liberties worldwide has identified Russia as one of the countries which has heightened repression without great criticism from the rest of the world. The leader of the Russian movement Slavic Force has been sentenced to 3 days of administrative arrest after a court found him guilty of resisting police during disorders in Manege Square on January 11. Russia’s ultra-nationalist ‘Movement against Illegal Immigration’ has been given the green light from St. Petersburg city hall to hold a rally to commemorate the death of football fan Yegor Sviridov. Moscow police have denied detaining about 30 migrant workers during an unsanctioned rally against crackdowns on foreigners.
Ria-Novosti reports that opposition leader Eduard Limonov has lost his case against Moscow’s Gagarinsky District Court which has ruled that his arrest after a rally on December 31 was legal. Boris Nemtsov has not been any luckier, it would seem. In the latest move in a series of crackdowns on media outlets, Belarussian authorities have apparently closed down a popular private radio station.
The Moscow Times reports on recently released WikiLeaks cables which apparently unmask U.S. government opinion that Norway-Russia relations, despite a facade of bonhomie, are in fact relatively strained. Apparently the lower house of the state duma is one step closer to ratifying the START treaty. Houses built for Russian citizens who lost their homes in last year’s devastating forest fires have been called ‘entirely unfit to live in’ by residents. Anna Chapman’s new TV show will apparently allow her ‘to use all her talents to solve the world’s most complicated mysteries’.
PHOTO: Russian aviation safety official Alexei Morozov in front of a simulation of the polish plane’s last moments before it crashed at Smolensk. (Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images)