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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Jan 21, 2011

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TODAY: Russia denies that UN Human Rights Council will probe Magnitsky investigation; RuLeaks posts pictures of ‘Putin mansion’; Bout’s Kremlin ties; Nemtsov supporters detained; footage of Markelov march; Poland will take Smolensk grievances to EU; police reforms bill ‘crippled’ by cuts; mammoth tusks seized; time to bury Lenin?
Human rights experts appointed by the UN have announced plans to explore the ‘dire conditions‘ and ‘general failures apparent in the Russian legal system‘ exposed by the death of Sergei Magnitsky; but the Foreign Ministry says that a UN investigation would be impossible under Russian law, and denies that members of the Human Rights Council have launched a probe. The Telegraph has a timeline of the Magnitsky investigation.  RuLeaks, which presents itself as Russia’s answer to WikiLeaks and said to consist of members of the anti-copywrite Pirate Party, is causing a stir with photographs of a $1 billion Black Sea mansion that, it says, belongs to Vladimir Putin.  The Moscow Times looks at the safety of leaking information on the internet.  Viktor Bout had ‘close relations‘ with Kremlin officials dating back through Putin and Yeltsin’s rules, reports the BBC.  RFE/RL has footage from marches and memorials held this week to mark the deaths of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasya Baburova.  Two supporters of Boris Nemtsov have been detained in Moscow for a courtside protest.

Poland intends to take its complaints about the Smolensk crash to the EU, to ‘raise awareness‘ about ‘problems in co-operating […] so that people in the EU know that it’s not so easy to work with the Russians.‘  A book of Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s writings is winning praise from popular Russian novelist Boris Akunin, who calls it ‘a “black-and-white” story of good and evil‘.  The latest anti-corruption lip service from President Dmitry Medvedev pertains to the courts. 
The draft police reform bill has had many of its ‘crucial‘ amendments cut, effectively crippling‘ it, with minority parties accusing United Russia of cheating them.  A former policy advisor for the Canadian government has spoken out against various Russian injustices such as ‘lawlessness‘ and state control, questioning why the country is ‘accommodated by Western powers‘.  Three tons of mammoth tusks, preserved for thousands of years in Siberian permafrost, have been seized from a criminal gang in St Petersburg. 
Lenin may finally be granted burial, if United Russia has its way: ‘his presence in the heart of our country is an absurdity.‘  Mikhail Gorbachev argues againstforcing things‘. 
PHOTO: Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with lecturers and professors of Higher School of Economics State University in Moscow, December 30, 2010. REUTERS/Alexei Nikolsky/RIA Novosti/Pool