TODAY: Bomb threat forces train evacuation; is it really possible to ‘uncorrupt’ the police?; analysis of new crackdown on traffic-blocking protests; survey says Uzbeks main victims of race hate crimes. Putin-Medvedev TV satire smoke screen: Georgia launches Russian language channel; Sochi delays. Tolstoy – underrated among Russians?
A bomb threat, which proved to be false, has forced the evacuation of 400 passengers from a Russian train in the city of Orsha in Belarus. ‘Everything is rotten to the core, from the top to the bottom’: RFE/RL has a disturbing feature on the difficulty of reforming law enforcement when a ministry drive for solved crimes means that some police officers regularly entrap innocent people to rack up brownie points. ‘I am against blocking traffic; I don’t consider it a peaceful method of protest. But why are they forced to pass such a law? Because all the peaceful methods are prohibited, and this forces people to extremes‘: Lyudmila M. Alexeyeva gives her verdict on the road-protest crackdown in an in-depth analysis in the New York Times. According to the Moscow-based Bureau on Human Rights, Uzbecks are the ethnic minority most frequently attacked by extreme nationalist groups.
An article by Lilia Shevtsova in Foreign Policy considers what she views as a dangerous trend among European thinkers to give increasing berth to Russia’s lawlessness. Why the Medvedev-Putin cartoon appearance may be a liberalization red herring, in the Financial Times.
Georgia has finally launched its new Russian language TV channel, First Caucasian, seen by some as a ‘provocation’ potentially escalating tensions with Russia. Apparently 15 out of Sochi’s 235 projects are behind schedule, a delay which, according to Medvedev, is ‘not critical’. The Russian authorities have promised to transfer the full authority over the celebrated Novodevichy Convent in Moscow to the Russian Orthodox Church in 2010.
As an American film, ‘The Last Station’, is released to celebrate the centenary of the death of Tolstoy, Luke Harding wonders why Russia is less effusive about one of its literary geniuses. An upcoming ‘unsovietized’ version of Sergei Prokofiev’s opera ‘War and Peace’, never performed before, is set to wow audiences in Glasgow.
PHOTO: An ice sculpture festival, Kremlin-Art, on Moscow’s Poklonnaya Hill, January 3, 2010. (Ria-Novosti – Mikhail Fomichev)