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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – July 1, 2009

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TODAY: Skepticism about re-set; opposition activist dies in prison; Russians largely unaware of events in Pikalyovo; Klebnikov family urge Obama to push for justice; government to act on Russian dipsomania

Ria-Novosti reports that Russian analysts are apparently more skeptical than their American counterparts about the nature of the ‘re-start’, with Russians considering the American changes ‘cosmetic’. Reuters conveys the thoughts of one Washington analyst who is scarcely more hopeful: ‘the prospects are gloomy for a dramatic turnaround in this relationship’‘Isolationist motifs in Moscow’s policies toward the West are palpable‘: a Moscow Times commentator looks at the Kremlin’s deep lack of trust towards rival nations.  In an article entitled ‘Russian-U.S. Relations: Reaching New Heights’, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called Barack Obama’s forthcoming visit a ‘landmark’ and added that it is time for the two nations to ‘to make up lost ground’.  Reuters has a factbox on US-Russian issues.


Amnesty International has said that stability in the North Caucasus is contingent upon the investigation of human rights violations.  The Guardian reports on the Kremlin’s crack down on Internet use and employment of blogs for dissemination of pro-United Russia sentiment.  Apparently only 41% of Russians have heard about the events in Pikalyovo as the story was only featured once on state television, which is the main source of information for Russians.  A member of the opposition movement the Other Russia has died in prison under suspicious circumstances, after reportedly falling from a window, says RFE/RL.  The family of the US journalist Paul Klebnikov, the editor of Forbes Russia, who was killed in 2004, have urged Barack Obama to ensure the investigation into his death is reopened, after detectives informed lawyers that the enquiry had been suspended.

President Medvedev has ordered Health and Social Development Minister Tatiana Golikova to draw up a national program for the prevention of alcoholism.  Ex-Soviet President Gorbachev has also advocated anti-alcoholism measures.  The Culture Minister has said that people in Russia are speaking worse Russian and literacy rates are declining, partly as a result of the ‘migratory process’.

The Belarussian President Aleksander Lukasheno has pardoned an American lawyer held for industrial espionage, in a push to restore relations between the two countries.  A group of U.S. congressmen have called the trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev politically motivated.

PHOTO: An entrance to a casino is seen in downtown Moscow, on June 29, 2009.  (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)