RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Jan 18, 2011


TODAY: EU wants to impose sanctions on Khodorkovsky officials; Nemtsov criticizes Kremlin; Putin should let Medvedev run for President, says aide; rights activist attacked; Strategy 31 protesters apply for permits; United Russia in crisis of confidence? Medvedev in Palestine; ultranationalist icon arrested; trade union head elected for fifth term; Luzhkov applies for Latvia permit.
The EU parliament is considering imposing sanctions that would ban all officials involved with the Mikhail Khodorkovsky case from entering Europe, and freeze their bank accounts – a decision that apparently could have direct implications for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin – although the parliament ‘cannot introduce the sanctions on its own‘.  The news would be welcomed by Boris Nemtsov who, speaking at a press conference to mark his release from prison, called for Putin to be refused entry to Western countries.  Nemtsov also commented that the dictatorial practices of Russian authorities amount to ‘the Lukanization of Russia‘, a reference to the Belarusian president.  Violations in the trial against Nemtsov make President Dmitry Medvedev’s legal reforms ‘look like a sham,‘ says a Moscow Times editorial.  A presidential aide says that Putin should let Medvedev seek re-election in 2012, suggesting that Putin’s return to the Kremlin could risk unrest similar to that faced by Tunisia this month. ‘Everyone is fed up at seeing the same face.‘  Moscow rights activist Konstantin Voyevodkin, a campaigner for cuts in utility tariffs, has been injured in a gunfire attack on his car.  Strategy 31 activists have applied for official permission to hold a demonstration in Moscow at the end of this month, expecting 1,500 people to take part, with the operations two main leaders, Lyudmila Alekseyeva and Eduard Limonov, planning as they did last month to hold separate gatherings due to an ongoing rift.

United Russia will face a crisis of confidence if it enters the next elections without the leadership of Vladimir Putin, says this piece.  Russia’s Minister of Communication and Mass Media says that the authorities have no current plans to tighten controls over the Internet.  President Dmitry Medvedev is in the West Bank today to discuss the Israel-Palestine peace process.  The president is calling for a crackdown on far-right nationalists, amid recent racial clashes and burgeoning membership for neo-nationalist groups.  Vladimir Kvachkov, an ‘ultranationalist icon‘ and former colonel, has been arrested on suspicion of ‘preparing an armed coup with crossbows‘, although his lawyer insists that the arrest is an act of revenge for alleged attacks on Rusnano chief.
Russian society derives little, if any, benefit from Mikhail Shmakov’s trade union‘ – which begs the question, why has he been re-elected for his fifth consecutive five-year term as leader of the Independent Trade Unions Federation?  Former Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov says he has applied for a residency permit in Latvia, not for purposes of relocation (provided, at least, that his country does not ‘abandon‘ him), but to give him increased mobility in Europe.  But if reports are correct, the Latvian authorities have placed Luzkhov on a blacklist of those whose presence would be ‘undesirable‘, and therefore are unlikely to approve his application
Is Moscow City Hall rigging its own online polls?  Historians say there is no clear link between Vladimir Lenin and the death of the last Tsar and his family.  Tanning beds and chocolate gifts for inmates? 
PHOTO: Russian opposition leaders Boris Nemtsov and Eduard Limonov attend a news conference in Moscow January 17, 2011. REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov