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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – July 20, 2009

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TODAY: Kadyrov to sue Memorial head Oleg Orlov for Estemirova accusations; tributes to the murdered activist pour in.  CIS summit not a full house; Poland concerned about reset.  Medvedev lauds Gorbachev’s anti-alcohol drive.

To see the details emerging of Natalya Estemirova’s last meeting with Ramzan Kadyrov, see the Moscow Times. A spokesman for Kadyrov has said that he will file a lawsuit against Oleg Orlov, head of Memorial, for saying he was responsible for the murder.  Orlov has asserted that he will not retract his remarks.  The Telegraph examines the work of female activists in Russia.  One of the activists interviewed, Tanya Lokshina, has a written an article in the Washington Post remembering her colleague.  The New York Times also features a video report.   Memorial has halted operations in the North Caucasus as the situation has become ‘life threatening‘.  ‘For the country, these crimes are a disgrace; for the leadership in the Kremlin, they are an indictment the Washington Post adds to the swell of condemnation.  The FT suggests President Medvedev could demonstrate his willingness to adhere to rule of law ‘by appointing a prosecutor to investigate fully Memorial’s claim’.


The CIS summit at Moscow’s hippodrome saw only six out of eleven of the groups’ leaders appear. Apparently Medvedev did score a promise from Kazakh President NursultanNazarbayev that their joint customs union would be set up on January 1.  The President of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, has urged the US to take a strong stance on Russia.  US Vice President Joe Biden will arrive in Georgia and Ukraine today to assure the two countries that ‘efforts to reset relations with Russia will not come at the expense of any other countries.  The EU has reasserted that European monitors must be given access to Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  The Union has delayed the publication of an investigation into the war in Georgia to avoid inflaming tensions in August with the anniversary of the incursion.  Kyrgyzstan has apparently denied reports that Russia may build a second military base in the country.

Medvedev has praised Gorbachev’s 1985 anti-alcohol drive in light of recent revelations about the extent of Russian dipsomania.  An op-ed piece in the Moscow Times suggests that Moscow’s new yuppies ‘wholly embrace the Kremlin’s official interpretation of national ideologies’.  ‘Lenin would be turning in his grave’; how Moscow turned from consumer graveyard into billionaire’s playground.

PHOTO: President Dmitry Medvedev speaking with Ingush President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov in a Moscow hospital on July 18, 2009. The President’s condition is believed to have improved considerably following the attempt upon his life.  (Mikhail Klimentyev / RIA-Novosti / AP)