RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – July 14, 2009

14russia-600.jpgTODAY: Medvedev visits South Ossetia in move called ‘provocation’ by Saakashvili, flouting US comments about unity of Georgia?; British academics bemoan closure of history website; Bolshoi’s musical director quits

Medvedev has made a surprise visit to South Ossetia to pledge support for its leadership, a move condemned by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who called the visit ‘the most immoral and shameful precedent in centuries’.   Medvedev and South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity visited a Russian military base in Tskhinvali.  The Russian President promised citizens that rebuilding would take place and announced that ‘there is a need to support and cooperate in the defense sphere‘.  Commentators suggest a rebuke to Obama who asserted the independence of Georgia on his recent trip to Moscow.  The New York Times argues that ‘the visit underlined the stark differences that remain between Russia and the United States after last week’s presidential meeting’.

‘Does Moscow really gain anything by having two bases to counter Manas’? – a commentator in the Moscow Times analyses the Kremlin’s bargaining with Kyrgyzstan.  President Medvedev has submitted a bill to the Duma creating a $10 billion crisis fund for former Soviet republics.  He has also said that, in spite of the crisis, the government would pay a large amount of attention to developing the Armed Forces.  For an overview of the upcoming Moscow City Duma elections, see the Moscow Times.

‘Perhaps the decision to hold off on renaming Leningradsky Station to Nikolayevsky was meant to be a demonstrative blow to those trying to falsify history: an op-ed piece in the Moscow Times looks at the symbolism behind its different names.  Several eminent British academics have heavily criticized Russia’s closing of the historical resource website www.hrono.info.  RFE/RL looks at the restrictions that have been imposed by the Kremlin on the use of the Tatar language, such as pupils who attend Tatar-language schools being required to sit university entrance exams in Russian.  The European Court of Human Rights will reportedly consider a complaint from emprisoned Yukos founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky in the fall.  

Hard times ahead for the Bolshoi Theater, as after eight years at the helm, the company’s musical director Alexander Vedernikov has resigned unexpectedly, citing the fact that ‘the theater is putting bureaucratic interests before artistic ones’.

PHOTO: Russia’s president, Dmitri Medvedev, with Eduard Kokoity, the president of breakaway South Ossetia, during a surprise visit on July 13, 2009.  (Vladimir Rodionov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)