RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Jan 5, 2011

PH2011010402113.jpgTODAY: How the Kremlin employs cyber control; Nashi involved in protest thwarting; further detentions of protesters in Moscow; Belarus releases some detainees; US and Russia enjoy anti-hijacking exercise; Shmatko recommends forest-razing to deal with blackouts; Arnie and Dima; Mount Putin

The New York Times has an interesting report on how the Kremlin and ‘[a]rmies of pro-government netizens‘ employ the Internet to promote government friendly ideology, through social control as opposed to formal censorship.  The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin examines the reset with Russia in terms of US acceptance of the Kremlin’s stance on human rights, quoting one analyst who says, ‘that not unlike Soviet times, the greater the internal oppression, the more “detrimental repercussions” there will be for Russian-U.S. relations‘.  Moscow law enforcement officers have detained seven people in Staraya Square who were attempting to hold a rally in protest at the jailing of Boris Nemtsov.  At least 20 supporters of a group of jailed opposition leaders have been arrested over the past two days: the Other Russia says Nashi has been heavily involved in criminalizing legal pickets by intervening and upping the numbers.  A deputy head of the Russian lower house’s international committee has suggested that the US respect Russia’s court rulings, in response to the State department’s criticisms of the December 31 crackdown.

Press freedom groups the International Press Institute, its affiliated South and East Europe Media Organization, and the Committee to Protect Journalists have urged Belarus to release imprisoned journalists.  The government has apparently released about 150 demonstrators detained after protesting against the results of President Alexander Lukashenko’s re-election last month.  An anti-hijacking exercise involving U.S., Canadian and Russian militaries has proved so successful that a second is planned for this year.  Future relations between Poland and Russia apparently remain contingent upon Russia’s handling of the crash investigation which killed president Lech Kaczynski and 95 others.

Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko has suggested razing about 8,000 hectares of woodland around power lines near Moscow to protect the city from blackouts.  The Russian emergencies ministry has said it plans to restore electricity supplies to effected areas outside Moscow by late Wednesday.

President Medvedev and Arnold Schwarzenegger are apparently considering a skiing holiday together.  RFE/RL’s photo album of Vladimir Putin’s exploits suggests Russia already has its own action hero.  The Prime Minister will doubtless be pleased to hear that his efforts have not gone unremarked: Kyrgyzstan Prime Minister Almazbek Atambaev has decided that a 4,500-meter peak in the northern Chui Province mountain will be named in his honor.

PHOTO: In this Monday, Oct. 11, 2010, file photo, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, left, takes the wheel of the Soviet-made Chaika sedan designed in the 1950s, to drive then-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, right, to Moscow’s suburb of Skolkovo, Russia. The Russian president and Schwarzenegger are tweeting, it is revealed Tuesday Jan. 4, 2011, and may soon go skiing together. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti Kremlin, Mikhail Klimentyev, Presidential Press Service)