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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – July 26, 2010

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TODAY: Russia gets its first black politician; Putin rides motorbikes and sings patriotic songs with spies; Baksanskaya terrorists killed? Weather breaks records; Khimki forest activist interview; pickets against Kirill banned in Ukraine; Strategy 31 to concede to government demand; Scientology center charged; Belarus; Soviet street names.
Russia has its first black politician – Jean Gregoire Sabo has been elected one of Novozavidovo’s ten municipal councilors.  Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made a trip to Ukraine this weekend, addressing a gathering of 5,000 bikers in Crimea (‘The bike is a symbol of freedom‘ / ‘the most democratic transport vehicle‘), and revealing that he had met with the ten Russian spies recently deported from the US, and sung patriotic songs with them.  ‘I met them.  We talked about life. We sang, not karaoke, but to live music. We sang From What the Motherland Begins.  I’m not joking, I am serious. And other songs with a similar content.‘  Putin’s comments contradict the ‘impression that the country’s leaders wanted to brush the scandal under the carpet and move on‘, says The Independent.  It is being claimed that two of the men killed in a Sunday shootout were the attackers who bombed the Baksanskaya power plant last week.  Moscow’s weather last Friday broke the 1936 July temperature record, and it is thought that it will break the all-time record of 36.8˚C this week.

Yevgenia Chirikova, the Khimki Forest activist who was attacked and threatened for her work to save the forest earlier this month and caught up in Friday’s confrontation with ‘100 masked thugs‘, is interviewed by the Moscow Times.  David J. Kramer notes that Medvedev has been lacking in his previously promised action on the cases of Natalya Estemirova and Sergei Magnitsky.  Ukraine’s National Party says that a ruling to ban pickets during the visit of Russian Orthodox leader Patriarch Kirill was ‘antidemocratic and against the law‘.  Strategy 31 will comply with Moscow authorities and exclude National Bolshevik leader Eduard Limonov from its organizers, to much criticism
A Scientology center in Shchyolkovo has been charged with inciting hatred and promoting extremism, further to a ruling earlier this year that added the works of the organization’s founder to a federal list of extremist material.  ‘It is clear that Russia would prefer a Belarus without Lukashenko, but it has done nothing to prepare the ground for a transition in Minsk that Moscow could control.‘  Putin denies that Russia is in an ‘information war‘ with Belarus.  RFE/RL reports on Homecoming, a Russian NGO that wants St Petersburg’s original street-names reinstated in place of their Soviet-era ones. ‘I live near Bela Kun Street — [named after] a Hungarian communist who served in the Bolshevik army and was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Crimeans.‘ 
PHOTO: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin riding a Harley-Davidson at a biker convention in Crimea on Saturday, July 24, 2010. (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin)