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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Jan 19, 2011

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TODAY: Poland blames Russia for Smolensk; psychiatrist dies after detention; journalist released from prison; Nemtsov describe attack; church says drunk women are to blame for attacks; Medvedev reiterates support for independent Palestine; Russia delaying UN vote on Ivory Coast troops; Luzkhov banned from Latvia.  HIV, A Just Russia, Epiphany.
Polish investigators are blaming Russia for the Smolensk crash last April, saying that its air traffic controllers failed to warn the plane’s crew that it was off course.  Russia’s Transport Minister says that objective‘ conclusions should be made by both sides, and insisted that ‘it is up to the pilot to make the decision to land‘.  The case of a psychiatrist who died after spending two days in a detention center has sparked claims that Yevgeny Leonov was beaten by police.  Aigul Makhmutova, a 26-year-old journalist, has been released from prison after serving three years of a sentence handed down after her newspaper criticized local authorities, and says she plans to continue her work.  The Other Russia has a translation of Boris Nemtsov’s account of being attacked with a butterfly net on his release from prison.  The Orthodox Church is going after women who wear miniskirts, and saying that inebriated women who are sexually attacked have only themselves to blame.

President Dmitry Medvedev has reiterated Russia’s support for an independent Palestinian state (originally pledged in 1988), and criticized Israeli plans to build settlements on occupied land, but ‘stopped short of explicitly recognising a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders‘.  Russia is delaying a UN vote on sending extra peacekeeping troops to the Ivory Coast over the wording of certain paragraphs: ‘we’re not really sure what they are trying to accomplish‘. 
Not only has his residency permit been denied, but former Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov has been banned from Latvia entirely for ‘his wish to utilize Latvia for personal goals‘; the Prime Minister says the issue is not political.  If Russia wants to solve its HIV problem, it needs to treat its drug users, says Time.  Will a re-branding involving the ‘fashionable‘ Siberian tiger help A Just Russia increase its popularity ahead of Duma elections, and shake off memories of its previous association with the muskrat?  Russia celebrates Epiphany today, marked by the ‘valiant bravado‘ of its participants, who bath in ice holes. 
Torry Hansen, the Tennessee mother who sent her adopted son back to Russia with a note asking that his adoption be canceled, is ‘holding up the boy’s re-adoption by refusing to give up her parental rights‘. 
PHOTO: Orthodox priests conduct a service at the ice hole of the pound in the Kolomenskoe park on the outskirts of Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)