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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – July 27, 2009

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TODAY: Biden’s comments on ‘withering’ Russia cause consternation; Clinton steps in to smooth over reset cracks.  Medvedev interview; ‘bear’ needs to appear more friendly.  Russia threatens sanctions on firms helping Georgia re-arm; acknowledges Black Sea violation. 

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Joe Biden has suggested that pragmatism led Russia to accept better relations with the US, unreservedly citing the country’s numerous problems (including its ‘withering economy’) as reason for the thaw.  Russia has voiced its perplexity at the criticisms, and awaits ‘clarification’, with a foreign policy adviser asking, who is shaping the U.S. foreign policy, the president or respectable members of his team?’  Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has adopted a more appeasing tone, stating, we view Russia as a great power.  Russia and the US will have regular arms cut talks in August and September.
 


In an interview with NTV, President Medvedev has said that Russia needs to provide a comfortable’, less prickly image to the rest of the world and that modernization is key.  He added on NATO,  ‘we don’t think it is correct to drag other states into military and political alliances against the will of their people in a reference to Georgia and Ukraine.

Outgoing Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin has warned voters to support the ruling Communist Party as the only option against ‘chaos’, in elections described by the press as an ‘east-west crossroads‘.  Russia’s envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, has said that the Kremlin will place sanctions on foreign firms providing weaponry to Georgia, ‘wherever it is; in the Arctic or Antarctic region or in the United States’.  Sergei Lavrov considers the expulsion of a Russian diplomat from Ukraine ‘another step in a succession of unfriendly acts taken against Russia by the current leadership in Kiev’.  Russia has admitted breaking Ukrainian law by attempting to transport cruise missiles outside the Sevastopol base on the Black Sea. 

An op-ed contributor in the Moscow Times examines a new bill that may allow the Kremlin to avoid its unfavorable encounters with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.  A vigil for murdered rights advocate Natalya Estemirova ended with the detention of its organizer, 70-year-old Memorial activist Viktor Sotirko.  For a slideshow of Moscow’s architectural heritage under threat, see the Guardian.

PHOTO: Putin signing a diagram of MMK’s Steel Mill-5,000 at its opening on July 24, 2009.  (Alexei Nikolsky / AP)