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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – July 14, 2010

Bashkortostan.jpgTODAY: Interior Ministry official rejects Hermitage accusations over Magnitsky case; more than 30% of prison population is ill, says new survey; Russian laws accused of being responsible for worsening HIV epidemic; curators appeal.  Regional strongmen on way out; another blow to mayoral voting; Russia-Ukraine abandon blacklist. SVR to interrogate returned Russia spies; Britain bids Anna Chapman farewell; preschool problem; road to Sochi pathed with gold  

Following the release of a new video on untouchables.com which accuses investigator Pavel Karpov of criminally profiting from the case against Hermitage Capital and complicity in the death of Sergei Magnitsky, Karpov has rejected the claims in a written statement and attempted to implicate Hermitage founder Bill Browder.  The Magnitsky case, and that of Vera Trifonova have put the spotlight on health in prison: apparently more than a third of all prisoners are suffering from illnesses, including AIDS, syphilis and tuberculosis, the Moscow Times reports.  If Russia eased its draconian laws on drug use the country could more than halve its rates of new HIV infections, says an expert in a British Medical Journal analysis.  Lawyers for Yury Samodurov and Andrei Yerofeyev, the curators who were found guilty of inciting religious hatred with the Forbidden Russia exhibition have filed an appeal to the Moscow City Court.  RFE/RL asks Elie Wiesel why he has spoken out on the Khodorkovsky case.  The chief executive of Rosneft has been summoned to give evidence


Evidence that the Kremlin’s desire to bring younger candidates to regional presidencies is succeeding as two ‘old-guard governors’ bow out: Bashkortostan’s Murtaza Rakhimov and Chuvashia’s Nikolai Fyodorov have announced they will resign after their terms expire.  The former, aged 76, has been seen as a relentless profiteer from the region’s rich oil resources, but has also delighted Kremlin critics with comments like, United Russia have ‘never commanded three chickens’.  The city of Angarsk is the latest to vote for abandoning mayoral elections in favor of a hiring system, RFE/RL reports.  Russia and Ukraine have apparently ended a mutual ‘blacklist’ of undesirable visitors from the other country, underscoring the warming of relations.  Ilya Milshtein on RFE/RL sees histrionics in the behavior of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenka.  Yevgeny Kiselyov describes all Russian interaction with its neighbors as belonging to ‘the theater of the absurd’.

The Guardian reports that the ten deep cover spies now back in Russia will face interrogation from security officers to determine whether their discovery by the FBI was the work of a double agent.  The 12th detainee, Alexey Karetnikov, 23, who was apparently a Microsoft employee, has been deported.  Disappointment for the tabloids: Anna Chapman’s British citizenship has reportedly been revoked.  Most of the ‘intelligence’ the Russian agents might need from the US is ‘in the National Archives: the Bill of Rights, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence’ says Thomas Friedman.  ‘[O]ne of those absolutely beautiful post Cold War coincidences‘: how the great granddaughter of Nikita Khrushchev met suburban spy Richard Murphy.

Russian parents are apparently up in arms about the inadequate number of preschools in the country.  The Other Russia reports on the money-sucking Sochi Olympics with the astonishing fact that the building of one road cost over four times more than the entirety of the Vancouver games.

PHOTO: Bashkortostan President Rakhimov at a United Russia event on June 11, 2010.   (Sergei Porter / Vedomosti)