White House spokesman Robert Gibbs has apparently played down the suggestion that US Vice President Joe Biden made a U-turn on the reset. Reuters analyzes the change in posture of an arguably more modest Mikheil Saakashvili? South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity has argued that the US, Ukraine and Israel bare grave responsibility for rearming Georgia ‘to the teeth’. The EU has extended a cease fire monitoring mission in Georgia for one more year, but the idea of other countries joining in the mission has not been raised. Kyrgyzstan’s opposition leader Almazbek Atambayev, who garnered just 8% of the vote in last week’s elections, has headed to Moscow to drum up Kremlin support. Russia has not as of yet made a statement on the election, although according to Reuters, President President Kurmanbek Bakiyev is favored by Russia’s leaders.
In the wake of existing Russia-China tensions, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry has criticized a Chinese river project as it ‘may make the Argun River shallow on Russian territory’. Russia and Venezuela have signed agreements on military, energy and agricultural cooperation.
The Prosecutor General’s Office has apparently stopped about 4,200 checks of small and medium-size businesses since May 1, although Medvedev suggests that anti-corruption is still an uphill battle. A Moscow court has cut the prison sentence for investigative journalist Oleg Lurye by half, to four years. A leader for the human rights group the Foundation Against Corruption, Deception and Dishonor has been shot in the face with a pellet gun in Khimki. The Other Russia reports that Albert Pchelintsev had received threatening phone calls, telling him to ‘shut his mouth’.
Patriarch Kirill is in Ukraine to endeavor to bolster the church against divisions. RFE/RL suggests that whilst Kirill claims he visits as ‘pilgrim’, one of the purposes of the tour is to increase Russian influence in Ukraine. Vladimir Nabokov’s final unfinished English-language novel ‘The Original of Laura,’ is to be published in Russian. A spoof song about Putin is proving a Youtube hit.
PHOTO: Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill is seen prior a religious service in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, July 27, 2009. The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church arrived in Ukraine Monday for a 10-day visit aimed reasserting Moscow’s dominance over a key Orthodox land whose leaders seek to shake off Russia’s spiritual and political grip. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)