Russia’s new ambassador to Ukraine, Mikhail Zurabov, has arrived in Kiev, but not without some tensions over whom his diplomatic documents should be addressed to. Exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky has told RFE/RL that the Ukraine elections are of paramount importance to the situation in Russia, a fact he believes is disregarded by the Western media. Putin’s speech at the State Council meeting has gained a lot of media attention: was it all about upstaging Medvedev? Vladimir Ryzhkov offers a post-mortem of the Prime Minister and President’s speeches in the Moscow Times. Why the Dymovksy case is problematic for many Russians. Apparently Russia plans to re-introduce the Soviet-era mental screening of police officers as violent incidents among law enforcers make regular headlines (see today’s example).
START negotiations will apparently re-start on February 1. David J. Firestein analyses the obstacles to the treaty that lie across the Atlantic in the Moscow Times. At three-party talks, Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed the preamble to an agreement on Nagorny Karabakh, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has reportedly told the press. Russian veterans of the war in Afghanistan have some advice for the US and NATO in the Telegraph. Is Russia about to throw a spanner in the works of the US-UN’s new Taliban strategy? Foreign Policy thinks so.
The New York Times examines the Liberty of Conscience Institute’s annual report on religious freedoms, which expresses concern that the state-sponsored hegemony of the Orthodox church is quashing the rights of other denominations. Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov’s stance on gay rights parades shows no signs of changing: his banning of them is apparently ‘an axiom, not a theorem’. Was the stepping down of Tatarastan president Mintimer Shaimiyev a warning to Luzhkov and other veteran leaders? A protest organized by a member of the youth group of United Russia has been held in St Petersburg against corruption in universities. An HIV-positive woman has won a landmark legal victory, in gaining custody of her younger brother, previously denied because of her illness.
A Moscow exhibition is celebrating the life and works of Ballet Russes creator, Serge Diaghilev. Yegor Gaidar’s friends fear that the contributions of the recently deceased economic reformer to post-Soviet Russia are misunderstood. Holy water with hellish results.
PHOTO: Medvedev giving Armenian President Serzh Azati Sargsyan, left, and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, center, a tour of the Krasnaya Polyana ski resort near Sochi on Monday, 25 January, 2010. (Dmitry Astakhov / RIA-Novosti / AP)