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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Jan 15, 2010

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TODAY: Overhaul of electoral legislation proposed; rights activists seek Markelov-Baburova memorial; Sochi Olympic construction allegedly impinging on citizens’ rights. Turnaround on Protocol 14?  Damning judgment on social equality from economist.  Foreign terror concern; Lavrov and Nagorny-Karabakh dispute; Ukraine election to herald improved ties with Kremlin?  Film extremism row; a helpful translation

The head of the Moscow Electoral Commission has proposed rebuilding Russia’s electoral legislation ‘from scratch’.  Russian rights activists are petitioning for a memorial plaque for lawyer Stanislav Markelov and reporter Anastasia Baburova who were gunned down in Moscow last year.  Residents of a Moscow suburb have sent a letter of complaint to the International Olympic Committee decrying the destruction of ‘private homes with people inside‘ to make way for a highway to serve the Olympic Games.  A Communist Party deputy has been stripped of his speaking rights after his request for a financial inquiry into Russian regions’ representations to the federal government was deemed ‘unethical’ by fellow deputies.  Is Russia about to change its stance on the European Court of Human Rights reform, Protocol 14?  An article by Paul Goble examines the claim of academician Nikolay Shmelyev that Russia has become the most socially unjust’ country in the developed world.


Deputy Interior Minister Arkady Yedelev has reportedly claimed that foreigners are training up terrorist groups in Georgia to prepare attacks on Russia.  Armenia and Russia are not in a stalemate in talks on the Nagorny-Karabakh dispute, says Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.  Lavrov has been quoted as saying that Russia has ‘no special interest’ in resolving the conflict.  The Moscow Times suggests that Armenia won favor from the Foreign Minister. 

Farewell to the ‘Orange nightmare?  Certain that incumbent Viktor Yushchenko will be packing his bags, Moscow is apparently ready to send its new ambassador to Ukraine, Mikhail Zurabov, to Kiev.  The election is expected to go to a second round, but the fight likely, reports suggest, to be between the two Russia-leaning candidates.  An op-ed in the Moscow Times reads the Ukraine election through the optic of Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations.

A Moscow police lieutenant colonel has killed a 60-year-old snow plow driver in an incident of apparent road rage.  An award-winning film depicting a fictional gang of skinheads may face being banned for extremism.  Michele A Berdy translates some of the text accompanying Putin-Medvedev’s cartoon Christmas dance here.

PHOTO: A worker pasting up a poster of Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in Kiev on Thursday, January 14, 2010.  The Kremlin prefers Tymoshenko and Yanukovych over Yushchenko.  (Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP)