RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Jan 24, 2011

22VOINA-popup.jpgTODAY: Voina artist in hiding; the sinister side of social media; Memorial fears for safety of Muslims in Moscow; Blue Buckets group incensed over traffic accident. Georgia fighting Russian influence with English?  Bout trial date set; Khodorkovsky’s possible future charges; gangland slaying hits Stavropol.  FIFA optimistic on Russia’s hosting abilities; Chapman’s mysteries; voting for Lenin

The New York Times has an interview with arch art provocateur Aleksei Plutser-Sarno of the police car-tipping, penis on bridge-drawing Voina collective, whose fear of arrest by the authorities has led him to devise extreme methods of evasion.  Propaganda, censorship and surveillance are three tools which the security services have gained from Facebook, amongst other new social media outlets, says Evgeny Morozov, author of ‘The Net Delusion: The Dark Side Of Internet Freedom’, in an extensive interview on RFE/RL.  Memorial has accused law enforcement agencies of kidnapping and torturing at least eight ordinary Muslims in Moscow as part of a government crackdown on Islamic extremism.  The Blue Buckets group plans to hold a rally this week in solidarity with a driver hospitalized after her car collided with that of a Kremlin official sporting migalki.  

The New York Times reports on how Georgia is using mandatory English language classes in schools as a possible way of undermining Russian authority.  Andrew Reitman on EU Observer examines how breakaway Moldovan territory Transniestria has fallen under Russia’s spell.   Polish opposition party leader Jaroslaw Kaczysnki has fanned the flames of tension with Russia over the plane crash which killed his brother, by calling the Russian report a ‘gigantic scandal’.  A New York City judge has set September 12 for the start of the trial of alleged Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Apparently additional charges could still be brought against Mikhail Khodorkovskyand his former business partner Platon Lebedev, should any newinformation come to light in the search for the duo’s 18 wanted’accomplices’.  What does the arrest of General Alexander Bokov have to do with Yukos case? Find out in the Moscow Times.  Eight people have been killed in what appears to be a criminal gangland massacre in Stavropol.

Despite there being ‘much work to be done’, FIFA apparently seemed upbeat as it signed the formal declaration awarding the hosting of the 2018 World Cup to Russia.  As Anna Chapman unveils her new TV mystery show, the Independent tries to fathom the former spy’s appeal.  Russian citizens will have a taste of democracy as they gain the chance to decide upon the fate of a political heavyweight.  Shame he’s a dead one.

PHOTO: ‘I never spent the night in the same place twice’ says Alexey Plutser-Sarno of Voina Art Collective.  (Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times).