TODAY: Tusk speaks out on crash report; Lavrov conveys solidarity with Poland; says no further nuclear reductions in immediate future; Russian anger at treatment of Bout’s wife; OSCE steps up pressure on Belarus; Gibbs vs ITAR-TASS; Murder charge possible for Khodorkovsky? Shooting Medvedev
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has reportedly called the Russian IAC report into last year’s presidential plane crash ‘incomplete’ that stated that his government would not accept a ‘unilateral account of the crash’. Tusk did however emphasize that favorable relations with Russia were ‘too good to throw away’. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has claimed to have ‘full solidarity’ with the Polish Prime Minister and Polish feelings. Regarding relations with the US, Lavrov has suggested that it will be difficult to consider further nuclear arms reductions before the terms of the START treaty itself are fulfilled. According to RFE/RL, Lavrov has however praised reset ties between Russia and the US as responsible for the ‘increasing healthiness of the international situation’. The Foreign Minister also emphasized that the construction of a common European missile shield with NATO would be a principal ingredient to ameliorating relations with the West.
The Kremlin has chastised US authorities for their treatment of the wife of suspected arms dealer Viktor Bout, which it deems ‘unacceptable’. Apparently Russia is not discussing any possible swap deals with the US regarding the man known as the ‘Merchant of Death’. A former member of the pro-Georgian South Ossetian leadership, Vladimir Sanakoyev, tells RFE/RL that the Georgian leadership needs to initiate discussions with Russia at once to stave off potential conflict. The new head of the OSCE has called upon Belarus to free those imprisoned after disputed elections. The New York Times reports on the fate of a three year old child whose opposition politician parents remain jailed. A war of words broke out between White House press secretaryRobert Gibbs and Andrei Sitov of Russia’s official news agency ITAR-TASSat a press conference after the latter implied that an excess of ‘freedom’ may have contributed to the Tucson shooting.
A lawyer for Mikhail Khodorkovsky has said he would not be surprised if the authorities decided to charge the Yukos founder with murder. The lawyers are said to be determined to continue contesting the charges against their client.
The Moscow authorities have authorized a peaceful rally on January 15 to commemorate the death of football fan Yegor Sviridov. Prosecutors have launched an inquiry into a telecoms website which offers users the opportunity to shoot a likeness of President Medvedev.
PHOTO: Foreign Minister Lavrov summing up the past year to reporters Thursday, January 13, 2011. (Sergey Ponomarev / AP)