RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Jan 20, 2011


TODAY: 21 arrested at Markelov/Baburova memorial; Solidarity activists fined over leaflets; Medvedev meets Oleg Kashin; visa-free travel between Russia and Chile; Smolensk crash transcripts released; education reforms will cut curriculum in favor of patriotism; A Just Russia is not rebranding.
Hundreds‘ of people attended an after-dark memorial rally in Moscow to mark the murders of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova two years ago, and a reported 21 of these, who were apparently wearing masks or lighting flares, were arrested.  Two further activists with the Solidarity movement in Buryatia have been fined for ‘inciting hatred‘ by distributing leaflets critical of the police and army.  During his Middle East peace-boosting visit to Jericho, President Dmitry Medvedev ‘bumped into‘ journalist Oleg Kashin, who was violently beaten in November, and promised to ‘tear the hands off‘ his attackers.  Kashin is currently in Israel for treatment, and says that ‘he does not see any other reason for the attack than his activities as a journalist.

Russia and Chile’s tourism-boosting visa-free travel policy comes into force this week.  In response to Polish complaints, Russia has released the air traffic control transcripts of the Smolensk crash.  A Finance Ministry official says that he would like Russia’s financial assistance programs to receive more media attention.  Boris Kagarlitsky criticizes newly proposed education reforms that will cut ‘the educational portion of the curriculum‘ and boost patriotic studies such as visits to battle sites, warning of ‘a protracted period of slumber and degradation.‘  
A Just Russia denies earlier reports that it plans to rebrand. 
PHOTO: Protesters hold portraits of human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and opposition journalist Anastasia Baburova during an anti-fascist rally in central Moscow January 19, 2011. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin