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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Jan 14, 2010

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TODAY: Criminal case against rights advocate; whistleblower supporter detained; activists plan to go ahead with banned march.  Kuzmin case dropped; changes rung in upper echelons of military; START coming soon apparently.  Ukraine election race fraud allegations; Kiev seeking genocide ruling for famine.  TV school drama controversy

In the city of Krasnodar, a criminal case has been opened against human rights activist Anastasia Denisova, for use of unlicensed computer software, which carries up to a six-year jail term.  A deputy of the Omsk City Council has been detained for his support of corruption-blasting ex-policeman Aleksei Dymovsky.  Activists are apparently determined that their march in commemoration of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova will take place, despite a city authority ban.   A piece by the President of the International Federation of Journalists in the Guardian highlights the toll paid by Russian journalists for freedom of expression.  The criminal case against former A Just Russia leader and Stavropol Mayor Dmitry Kuzmin, who was charged with embezzlement and libel but a few months after a party victory in 2006, has been dropped.  The State Duma has given preliminary support to a bill designed to offer state assistance to socially oriented nonprofit organizations.  The last of RFE/RL’s three parter on the political leanings of the Eurasian middle classes examines the influence of Putinism


The Moscow Times reports on the number of high-ranking military officials, including the head of the ground forces, who have been replaced in the midst of a corruption row.   Military might is the topic of an op-ed written by former U.S. assistant defense secretary Joseph S. Nye in the Moscow Times.  US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control Ellen Tauscher has expressed hope that START will be replaced ‘soon’, but has insisted that Washington will not make a deal that would involve Russia monitoring US missile defense receptors.

Ukrainian Prime Minister has accused her principal rival, Viktor Yanukovych, of planning to orchestrate electoral fraud via home voting at this weekend’s presidential elections.  A Kiev court has found the Bolsheviks guilty of genocide against the Ukrainian people during the 1932-1933 Holodomor famine.   RFE/RL has an interview with former OSCE Chairman in Office Alexander Stubb wondering whether the new Kazakh chairmanship will mean Russia enjoying increased influence within the assembly.  Georgia’s Defense Ministry is apparently planning to establish Soviet-style military training in school.

Putin has agreed to an alcohol-battling strategy that plans to reduce consumption by half by 2020, and suppress the illegal alcohol market.  Channel One’s gritty new show ‘School’ which paints a reportedly realistic view of teenage life has sparked a plethora of complaints.  An unlikely televisual phenomenon here

PHOTO: Prime Minister Putin gesturing during a news conference with his Turkish counterpart, Erdogan, on Wednesday, January 13, 2010.    (Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP)