TODAY: Russia detainees attract unwanted UN attention; corruption monitoring; fight for right to assembly in court. Increase in economic crimes; drop in hate crimes. Russia and NATO increase cooperation in Afghanistan; START almost complete (apparently); jets to be approved; arms exports on the increase. Klebnikov suspect cleared; journalist fined for USSR snub. Stalin soda. Putin’s favorite rocker in Duma.
According to the Other Russia, a new UN report, destined for the Human Rights Council, reveals that Russia is on the list of countries that persists in holding detainees in secret. Transparency International, which apparently regularly places Russia among the most corrupt countries in the world, intends to monitor corruption closely both in Russia and in the US. The Other Russia group is going to court to defend its right to hold a rally on January 31 as part of Strategy 31, a campaign which tests the right to freedom of assembly. The Interior Ministry’s Investigative Committee claims it saw an eightfold increase in economic crime in 2009. Moscow human rights group Sova reports that racist attacks dropped dramatically in 2009.
At Tuesday’s meeting between Russian and NATO officials, Russia apparently underlined the necessity of a ‘successful outcome’ in Afghanistan, whilst NATO pressed Russia for ‘logistical support’ in the country. According to the Washington Post, a telephone call between Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev saw the pair agree that a deal on nuclear reduction is very near completion. Russia’s highly anticipated Sukhoi Superjet should be given flight certification by the summer. Russia plans to test flight its new, fifth-generation stealth fighter, which it hopes will be on a par with US jets, on January 29. Russia’s military exports reached $7.4 billion in 2009, according to Ria-Novosti, an increase of 10% on 2008, and this year’s sales will match those figures. Rosoboronexport would not comment however on whether it will fulfill plans to sell S-300 anti-aircraft systems to Iran.
A Chechen suspect has been cleared of suspicion of killing Forbes Russia editor, Paul Klebnikov, in 2004. Journalist Aleksandr Podrabinek, whose ‘anti-Soviet’ article in September raised a storm of controversy, has been fined $16,500 by a Moscow court. Soviet veterans are reportedly up in arms about the release of novelty soft drink to commemorate the 67th anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad.
The New York Times looks back at the life of architectural heritage battler David Sarkisyan. Does Putin have absolutist urges? wonders Robert Coalson on RFE/RL. In an unrelated story, the Prime Minister’s favorite rock musician, Nikolai Rastorguyev,has just gained a seat as a United Russia deputy in the stateduma, despite no previous political experience.
PHOTO: RusAl’s Oleg Deripaska, left, toasting Ronald Arculli, chairman of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, on Wednesday, January 27, 2010. (Bobby Yip / Reuters)