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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – July 30, 2010

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TODAY: Forest fires and heavy pollution; Khimki activists; Medvedev’s human rights chief resigns her post, Kommersant’s Mikhailin resigns from police council; murky business of stray animals; Russia could partner with NATO on missile defense? Investigation into misspending of Olympic funds; Lake Baikal.
Forest fires in central Russia have destroyed hundreds of homes and killed five, as temperatures reach an all-time record at 39C, and pollution in Moscow ‘is like smoking two packs of cigarettes every few hours‘ thanks to smoke from peat bog fires.  Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports on the rising profile of Khimki forest supporter Yevgenia Chirikova (‘I think the government is doomed‘…’your average person is ashamed to watch [state-owned] Channel One because it is for idiots, because it is not news‘) and Russia’s ‘new wave of civic activists‘.  Police are using the reported incident of an attack on a Khimki administrative office in which ‘police did not detain any assailants‘ as grounds to arrest nine environmental activists camping out in the Khimki forest.  Ella Pamfilova, the chief of Dmitry Medvedev’s human rights council, has resigned from her post, but remains reticent about her reasons for doing so.  Kommersant editor-in-chief Mikhail Mikhailin has also resigned from his post on the Moscow police’s public council over the failure to prosecute offers who ‘broke a journalist’s arm at an opposition rally‘.

The Economist reports on Russia and NATO, quoting Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s suggestion that the former come in as ‘a partner‘ on missile defense operations.  The Guardian reports on the new law that will grant new powers to the FSB: ‘The punishment for ignoring a warning was unclear, but 15-day jail sentences are envisaged for “obstructing an FSB officer’s duties”‘.  Following Dmitry Medvedev’s instruction, the Investigative Committee has already opened 12 criminal cases into the Olympic spending of state funds.  Stray dogs – ‘part of a lucrative and extremely murky business‘ – are allocated the equivalent of Russia’s minimum wage by the government, says this report, but animal activists say that the money is disappearing.  On the expeditions to study gas hydrates in Lake Baikal, ‘the world’s deepest, oldest freshwater basin and one of the most biologically diverse‘.  
Read a lengthy interview with Patriarch Kirill on religion in Russia and Ukraine. Here are the booking shots of the ten spies deported from the US. 
PHOTO: A local resident runs near a peat fire in a forest near the town of Lubertsi, southeast of Moscow in Shatura, late Thursday, July 29, 2010. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)