TODAY: Medvedev addresses Davos with anti-terror message; fires ‘lax’ transport officials; Putin denies airport attack connected to Chechnya. START sails through upper house; Medvedev encourages ongoing arms reduction; Putin-Medvedev approval rate falling? Other Russia party registration denied; President emphasizes internet freedom; Mount Putin in jeopardy
‘By targeting citizens of many countries the perpetrators of this evil act wanted to bring Russia on its knees’: Medvedev has used his World Economic Forum address to send out a defiant message to terrorists. The President has dismissed the official in charge of the Moscow transportation police and the three police officials in charge of security at Domodedovo Airport, after lambasting their lackadaisical approach to surveillance. Police were too busy extorting bribes from foreigners arriving from Central Asia to be vigilant about security, says one airport worker quoted in this op-ed. Vladimir Putin has apparently said that the bombing is not connected to Chechnya, but did not elaborate upon this statement. RFE/RL wonders if Daghestan Jamaat was behind the operation. According to Ria-Novosti, police have identified the first suspect behind the attack as a Russian resident of the southern Stavropol region, a member of the now supposedly defunct Nogai Jamaat. Garry Kasparov has added to the deluge of criticism of Putin’s anti-terror policy adding that, alarmingly, many Russians see the airport attack as ‘preparation for the presidential election next year’. Was a New Year’s Eve attack averted due to the inexperience of Black Widow bomber? The President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, has told the Independent that the attack was ‘payback’ for Putin’s support of separatists, an issue which he claims to have discussed personally with the Prime Minister.
Russia’s upper house has unanimously approved the START treaty, leading the chairman of the international affairs committee in the Russian senate to speak of a new ‘disarmament race’. President Medvedev has urged Washington to continue bilateral strategic arm reduction. The chief of Russia’s General Staff has emphasized that Russia must have parity in its involvement in the development of the European missile defense network. Why has Russia come round to this once heavily opposed scheme, wonders a comment piece in the Moscow Times.
President Medvedev said he will decide this year whether he will stand for re-election in 2012. A recent poll has shown that approval ratings for the tandemocracy appear to be slipping, though their popularity as individuals remains stable. The Other Russia, an opposition party created by stalwart Kremlin adversary Eduard Limonov, has been denied registration by the Justice Ministry in a decision that its leader has called ‘repressive’. The President has told Davos attendees that Russia is firmly opposed to controlling public use of the Internet, and said that he sometimes feels tempted to use Twitter to respond to negative stereotypes about Russia circulated by the media. Memorial has lost its battle to declassify documents from a probe into the 1940 Soviet massacre of Polish officers at Katyn. ‘A dependent court is in no way better than a bandit’s club’: the IHT has question and answers with Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
PHOTO: Medvedev and World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab standing Wednesday, January 26, 2011 for a moment of silence in Davos for Domodedovo blast victims. (Michel Euler / AP)