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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – July 23, 2010

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TODAY: Medvedev says heads will roll in the Caucasus if terrorist attacks are not contained; US apologizes to Russia over pilot dispute; Khimki protesters detained; Natalya Estemirova; recent bill to curb protesters ‘could have been worse’.  Belarus; new ethics code for government employees and regulations for the police force; cooperation with Japan?
In a public meeting with Deputy PM Igor Sechin, President Dmitry Medvedev threatened that law enforcement, security, and energy heads would lose their jobs should there be any further terrorist attacks on ‘economic structures in the Caucasus‘.  His warning was promptly followed by a bomb blast on a Dagestan railway.  RFE/RL suggests that prosecutors are trying to downplay the initial attack by calling it ‘sabotage‘ instead of ‘terrorism‘.  The US has issued an apology to Russia over the kidnapped pilot dispute, admitting that the delay in communications on the pilot’s situation was due to an administrative error that sent the relevant fax to Romania instead of Russia. ‘We pressed the wrong button on the fax machine, to be brutally honest.‘  Five environmental protesters out of an estimated 50 were detained outside the St Petersburg White House as they rallied against the logging of the Khimki forest.  This piece remembers human rights activist Natalya Estemirova one year after her death.  The Washington Post suggests that the recent bill to expand FSB powers against potential criminals ‘could have been a lot worse‘, and notes the key role of rights groups in mediating some of the bill’s more extreme provisions.

The Guardian examines the ‘unlikely political alliance’ of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili against Russia, while the Independent looks at Lukashenko’s currently shaky position and ponders the likelihood of Russia staging an intervention to remove him (unlikely given the current lack of credible opposition figures, says the concluding analyst).  The Health and Social Development Ministry has developed a new ethics code for government officials that will be included in their employment contracts, which lists tips on corruption, conviviality, and dress.  New legislation to reform the police force will prevent former convicts from joining the force, says RFE/RL.  A new bill will enforce a zero alcohol limit for drivers.  Vladimir Ryzhkov calls for Russian monuments that remember ‘crimes against Russia’s own citizens‘. 
Yuriko Koike suggests that Russia should cooperate more extensively with Japan to modernize its economy, and criticizes the ‘self-defeating occupation‘ of the Etorofu island.  Orthodox Patriarch Kirill’s campaign to create religious youth groups across Russia is sparking conflicting responses
In case you were worried, the parasailing donkey has been found and examined by vets
PHOTO: A man being carried away by police near the White House on Thursday. (Igor Tabakov / MT)