‘I would not like to specially recount what happened last year … and to what we were forced to give a tough and pretty effective response,’ Medvedev has repeated a warning to Georgia over South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Meanwhile a US warship has anchored off Georgia’s coast for joint war games. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has recently played down the threat of Russian military action: RFE/RL suggests US guarantees as an explanation, quoting sources claiming that Obama told Medvedev privately that any attack against Georgia would have ‘grave consequences‘ and that Washington ‘would not stand aside’ in such a conflict as it did during last year’s war. Apparently Russia will not agree to harsher sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program as part of the bargaining for the new START deal with Washington.
Uzbekistan has warned against Russia’s plan to open a military base near the Uzbek border in southern Kyrgyzstan. Russia has said that it does not intend to let go of its naval base in Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Sevastopol with an agreement in place until 2017. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry has stated that Russia is refusing to hold talks with Kiev on the demarcation of the disputed Kerch Strait. Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has called for a ‘resetting’ of Russian-Ukrainian ties. ‘Russians crave the status of being a velikaya derzhava (great power)‘ and it is this that makes foreign diplomacy a minefield, suggests an article in the Moscow Times.
The USSR’s last Minister of Culture, film director Nikolai Gubenko, will head the list of the Communist Party at elections to the Moscow City Duma. Analyst Oleg Kozyrev assures Muscovites, ‘there is still a chance to marry for love‘ – see the Other Russia.
Human right activists have criticized the Defense Ministry’s draft drive with officials cracking down on draft dodgers and even conscripting young men with grave health problems. The historical site Hrono.info appears to be back up; commentators suggest that it was not Mein Kampf that precipitated the site’s closure, having been online for two years, but an article that was critical of St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko. Are youth activists at the Nashi summer camp taking direct action on demographic decline?
PHOTO: President Dmitry Medvedev inspects paratrooper’s small arms and equipment at the Rayevsky firing range in Novorossiisk during his visit to the Southern Federal District, July 14, 2009. (REUTERS/RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Vladimir Rodionov)