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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – July 17, 2009

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TODAY: Medvedev dismisses Kadyrov involvement in Estemirova killing; EU criticizes Medvedev trip to South Ossetia; former eastern European leaders urge Obama to respect their interests; Merkel and Medvedev discuss energy, trade. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Russia to clarify the circumstances surrounding the death of Natalya Estemirova.  ‘Such a crime should not go unpunished, it will be most thoroughly investigated’, Medvedev has responded.  He has called the accusation that Kadyrov was behind her killing ‘primitive’ and suggested that it was more likely a plot to discredit the Kremlin.   ‘Did one of Estemirova’s most recent statements or ongoing investigations trigger an alarm signal within the upper echelons of the Chechen leadership?’ asks RFE/RL.  ‘The latest killing and the murder of Politkovskaya and Markelov are all links in one chain, says Chechen ombudsmen Nurdi Nukhazhiyev.  The New York Times reports that Estermirova’s funeral procession was broken up by police telling mourners a permit was required to march.  The Independent has an extract from an article that was written by Natalya Estemirova in August 2008 on the situation in Chechnya.  The Times features a ‘death in the line of duty’ list. 


The EU has criticized Medvedev’s recent trip to South Ossetia, calling it ‘incompatible with the principle of territorial integrity’ and suggesting it may jeopardize ‘international efforts to stabilize the region’.  Abkhaz leader Sergei Bagapsh has claimed adamantly that ‘Abkhazia will never again be a part of Georgia’.  At a press conference with Chancellor Merkel, Medvedev has fended off suggestions that there may be ‘foul play’ in his proposals for a new security pact, asserting that it would bind ‘all Euro-Atlantic structures’ including NATO.   The latest test of the Baluva missile has failed.

A group of 22 prominent former eastern European leaders have penned a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama expressing concerns about the interests of eastern Europe in the ‘reset’, particularly if the proposed missile defense shield is abandoned, which could undermine the credibility of the United States across the whole region’.  The letter states that Russia uses ‘bribery and media manipulationamong other unsavory practices ‘in order to advance its interests‘.  The Telegraph examines the necessity for Russia to keep control over the Far East region, which is scantily populated but highly exploitable.

Taking on justice single-handedly: a website has started a competition for pictures drawn at the Khodorkovsky trial.

PHOTO: A woman places a candle near a portrait of slain Russian human rights activist Natalya Estemirova, during a rally in her honor in Moscow. (AFP/Oxana Onipko)