RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – July 15, 2010

front-1.jpgTODAY: No closure on Estemirova case one year on; Medvedev disappointed on results of corruption crackdown; encourages harsher penalties for graft offenses; ex-cons deemed unfit for service in police force.  Magazine found guilty of defamation over single word; Kremlin attempts to negotiate with Strategy 31; Memorial denied access to Katyn info; Black Panthers cause RT/Fox News war.  The fall of the regional Titans; drownings rise as heatwave and vodka prove dangerous combination

The Guardian reports on the delays and oversights in the investigation into the murder of human rights campaigner Natalya Estemirova, one year ago today.  On the anniversary of her death, Amnesty International has called upon Russia to show political will in bringing her killers to justice.  President Medvedev has, the Moscow Times reports, admitted to lawmakers that his program to curb corruption has gleaned no ‘meaningful successes’.  ‘Often efforts toward fighting corruption are limited to energetically signing papers’, the President has lamented.  It is perhaps this kind of transparency-promoting bill that the President is referring to.  Medvedev has also urged the Federal Assembly to contemplate the introduction of multiple penalties for corruption offenses.  Bloomberg says that a new law will prevent anyone with a criminal record from joining the police force and the ex-cons who are already working in the sector will be dismissed.  The speaker of the Moscow City Duma has voiced his support for the idea of drawing up lists of most corruption-prone posts.

In what activists have decried as a blow to freedom of speech, a Moscow court has found opposition magazine ‘New Times’ guilty of defaming a United Russia deputy by writing that he ‘supervised’ an ultranationalist youth group.  Apparently the Kremlin offered to make a deal with Strategy 31 organizers, rejected by opposition leaders as ‘obscene’, that would allow rallies to take place as long as National Bolshevik Leader Eduard Limonov be ousted from the event’s organizational committee.  Moscow authorities have refused to allow a pro-Kremlin youth party’s blood-donor rally to take place on the 31st of the month.  Following the example of a similar rally in St Petersburg earlier this week, 100 Solidarity activists have led a protest in Moscow against what they consider to be the unfair jailing of a man who claims to have defended an elderly woman against a police officer during a freedom of assembly rally.  The government has apparently refused to allow Memorial access to classified information about the Katyn massacre.  Thanks to RFE/RL’s Transmission you can can watch a hot-under the-collar Glenn Beck launch into searing criticism of Russia’s English language network RT.  An Oxford Analytica overview of the Yukos trial can be read here.

Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov is apparently ensuring he receives a sweet retirement package to speed his exit: exacting personal and financial immunity by the local legislature.  Robert Coalson looks at the ‘dinosaurs’ exiting regional positions of power; will Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzkhov be the last man standing?  Was the Kremlin’s calm reaction to the spy scandal evidence that an Obaman reserve has rubbed off on the Kremlin, asks this op-ed.

The New York Times has an article on the socio-political context of Russia’s sexual revolution –  or lack thereof.  With more than 200 people drowning in the last week alone, the Emergencies Ministry is apparently deeply concerned about the dangers of inebriated Russians escaping the scorching heat with ill-advised jaunts into lakes and ponds.

PHOTO: Federal and regional lawmakers attending a Kremlin meeting on Tuesday, July 13, 2010.  (Misha Japaridze / AP)