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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Jan 17, 2011

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TODAY: Peaceful rally held to mark football fan’s death; Nemtsov released from jail, attacked with butterfly net, fails to attend small support rally; swine flu, HIV and crime on the rise; EU unlikely to lift visa restrictions; Melnikov house under threat.
A Yabloko-organized rally, held in Moscow on Saturday to commemorate a football fan killed last month, ‘ended peacefully‘ (despite 19 brief detentions) despite police fears over its reported 1,000 attendees (outnumbered 1 to 4 by police).  Boris Nemtsov has been released from a 15-day stint in ‘medieval conditions‘ in prison following his attendance at an anti-government rally, and was promptly attacked with a butterfly net, a repeat of a similar attack in 2007 in which the net was labelled ‘political insect‘.  Nemtsov failed to attend a 20-strong rally held on Saturday in his defense, says RIA Novosti, apparently due to ill health.  The Kremlin is reportedly ‘already making preparations‘ in case the rumors are true and Mikhail Khodorkovsky is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this year.

Contrary to government claims, the General Prosecutor’s research group says that the number of crimes has been growing by 2.4% a year, and that the total figures far outweigh Investigative Committee reports, with a supposed 30 million crimes having been committed in Russia last year.  Russia’s HIV problem is exacerbated by its drug problem, says the New York Times.  Is swine flu on the rise in Russia?  The EU has not responded eagerly to the Foreign Ministry’s appeal for it to lift visas for Russian citizens, despite the latter’s offer to widen its definition of foreign specialists eligible for work in Russia in exchange. 
The Guardian writes on the uncertain fate of the architecturally revolutionary Melnikov house (pictured here), currently the subject of ‘an intense and bitter feud‘.
PHOTO: A woman holds a poster saying ‘It’s terrible to live in the country where there is no trial’ during a rally against arrests of Russian opposition leaders in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)