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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Jan 18, 2010

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TODAY: Russia ratifies European Human Rights Convention’s Protocol 14; Yanukovych leading Ukraine’s exit polls; Medvedev’s photograph sells for $1.7 million at charity auction; video cameras to monitor rail route; NATO likely to reject Russia’s treaty; meet the Georgian version of The Simpsons; crumbling dachas. 
Russia has ratified Protocol 14 to the European Convention on Human Rights, breaking a long-standing blockade.  United Russia said the change was the result of concessions made by the Council of Europe, although officials at the organization insisted that no changes to the protocol had been made.  Protocol 14 is designed to speed up the work of the court and reduce its backlog.  Kremlin whispers suggest that Russian leaders would prefer to see Viktor Yanukovych (‘the archenemy of Ukraine’s pro-democracy movement‘) win Ukraine’s presidential elections ‘because he is tied to the pro-Russia sentiment of his supporters‘, says the Moscow Times.  Yanukovych is currently leading the exit polls, but reports suggest that a second round of voting may be required to determine a clear winner.

A St Petersburg businessman has paid $1.7 million at a charity auction for a photograph by Dmitry Medvedev, making headlines because the price tag beats Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s record for a painting previously sold at the same event.  Video cameras will monitor the entire high-speed rail route from Moscow to St Petersburg in an effort to control terrorist attacks.  Still no replacement START treaty…  NATO is unlikely to accept Russia’s proposal for a bilateral security treaty, viewing it as ‘a ploy to regain lost influence over eastern Europe‘.  New Duma measures reported by The Other Russia would require protesters to request government permission to hold solitary protests – the only remaining form of protest that does not require official approval.    
The creator of The Samsonadzes, a Georgian cartoon, says that it was his team’s ‘civil and moral duty‘ to depict Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev in Simpsons-style graphics. Click here for video.  On the Abkhaz inhabitants apparently longing for the Soviet Union.  The Independent is running photographs of St Petersburg’s crumbling art nouveau dachas.  
PHOTO: A black-and-white photograph taken by President Dmitry Medvedev being sold by charity auction organizer Igor Gavryushkin in St. Petersburg on Saturday. (Dmitry Lovetsky / AP)