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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Jan 22, 2010

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TODAY: Hammarberg counsels Medvedev on human rights; presidential forecast for 2012; Kremlin ‘undaunted’ by Polish missiles; Dejevsky on Politkovskaya; diplomatic row with Kiev; riot police and bulldozers evict mansion owners; figure skaters in trouble.
Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner, met with Dmitry Medvedev yesterday, urging him to address the issues of abduction in the North Caucasus and the unsolved murder of activist Natalya Estemirova.  He also spoke about the political influence of judges, and proposed that the Kremlin appoint regional rights ombudsmen in all of its territories. Yukos was not discussed at the meeting, although Hammarberg spoke later of his hopes for the Strasbourg hearing of the case.  RFE/RL is running an interview with Gleb Pavlovsky, a high-profile political consultant to the presidential administration.  Pavlovsky suggests one scenario for the 2012 elections – another win for Medvedev, but only if he can successfully implement his modernization policies.  ‘[] in the end, Putin will have to leave, but he can only leave if there are no catastrophes in the Kremlin.‘  Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the Kremlin is ‘undaunted‘ by Poland’s plan to base US missiles near the Russian border, but that he will seek ‘full information‘ about the deployment, as he was unable to comprehend the need ‘to create the impression as if Poland is bracing itself against Russia.

Mary Dejevsky at the Independent reviews Anna Politkovskaya’s ‘Nothing But The Truth‘. Moscow and Kiev: a new diplomatic row over the appointment of a new Russian ambassador?  Lavrov hopes not. Read The Economist on the decline of the orange revolution.  
Health authorities, not policemen, should deal with drunks, says a prosecutor, in the wake of Konstantin Popov’s death.  Bulldozers demolished a neighbourhood of mansions on the outskirts of Moscow after riot police detained (and in some cases, reports say, injured) residents trying to guard their homes.  The authorities, who say construction in the environmentally protected area is illegal, reportedly see the move as a clampdown on corruption, but human rights activists have condemned the methods used to carry out the demolition.  
Russia’s world champion figure skaters are in trouble over their latest ‘world dance‘ routine in which they dress as Aboriginals.  ‘From an Aboriginal perspective, this performance is offensive.  It was clearly not meant to mock Aboriginal culture, but that does not make it acceptable to Aboriginal people.‘  The Guardian’s video has been removed, but another version is up here
PHOTO: Models and the Burger King celebrating the opening of the U.S. fast-food chain’s first Moscow store on Thursday. (Moscow Times)