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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – July 1, 2011

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TODAY: Anti-corruption victory; Putin criticizes People’s Front for membership tactics as union members complain; 2012 election campaign to be dirty; Matviyenko taking first steps towards Council Speaker role; European Court decision delayed; Russia criticizes France’s arming of Libyan rebels; homophobic journalist sacked; scientology literature banned.
In a victory for the fight against corruption, the Constitutional Court has ruled that state employees (including police and tax inspectors) cannot be punished for engaging in whistleblowing activities, provided such activities concern ‘public interests‘.  Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has publicly criticized the membership drive of his All-Russia People’s Front, slamming the ‘artificial increase of large-scale participation‘, after several people complained that their unions had joined the front without consulting their members.  Ideally, Putin suggested, members of the front should be allowed to nominate candidates for political positions.  He also said that he would need a good wash after the inevitably unhygienic 2012 presidential election campaign (‘Putin’s remarks appeared aimed to portray the December State Duma elections and the presidential vote as hard-fought contests‘).

St Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko is running for councilwoman, the first step in her bid to become the appointed speaker of the Federation Council.  Her initial reluctance to accept this challenge relates to the fact that the speaker role is ‘largely ornamental‘, according to Brian Whitmore.  ‘Matviyenko is a crony of both Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin,notes Bloomberg.  A decision on whether or not to adopt legislation that would allow Russia to ignore rulings by the European Court of Human Rights has been delayed.  Communist Party members have been the first to officially contest the original bill.  Moscow’s Preobrazhensky district court will not reconsider Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s appeal against his parole rejection. 
Russia says that France’s arms drop to Libyan rebels is ‘a very crude violation of UN Security Council resolution 1970‘.  Today’s Moscow Times editorial questions the Public Chamber’s suggestion that public figures be prohibited from discussing the issue of North Caucasus separatism in the media.  RIA Novosti has sacked political commentator Nikolai Troitsky over homophobic statements made on his personal blog.  Following an earlier decision to overturn an initial ban, a Moscow court has decided to add scientology literature to a list of extremist materials
It’s not just the state that uses psychiatrists to coerce people into doing its bidding.  Is Russia pulling the plug on paunchy police officers
PHOTO: Young men relax near a fountain to cool down at the All Russia Exhibition Centre in Moscow June 30, 2011. The recently refurbished fountain is part of an exhibition complex built in Soviet times to celebrate the productivity of different parts of the Soviet Union. REUTERS/Dennis Sinyakov