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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – July 31, 2009

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TODAY: Medvedev pushes for cooperation in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan.  Lavrov says no justification for Ukrainian expulsions; mortars rumble in South Ossetia as anniversary tensions brew; Russia puts the no in NATO.  Journalist denied entry to Lithuania. No smokes for soldiers.

In his meeting with leaders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan President Medvedev spoke of their common space’, ‘which should be filled with all sorts of projects’ emphasizing energy, trade and transport.  Will today’s CSTO summit be hindered by differences?  In the capital of South Ossetia two loud explosions have been reported, serving an a disturbing reminder of the imminent anniversary of last year’s five-day war.  South Ossetia apparently intends to demand the return of its former territory, the Truso Gorge, which was transferred to Georgia during the Soviet era.  South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity has said that he believes that there is no likelihood of an attack by Georgia.  Abkhazian Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba has met with the EU special representative for the South Caucasus to discuss the possibility of the EU opening diplomatic relations with the state.  There is talk in Bloomberg of the divisive elections in Moldova causing unrest in the agitated state.


U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Phillip Gordon has reportedly told Congress that the reset has already made significant achievements’Russia’s envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, has said that Gordon’s comments about Russia being able to join NATO, ‘are not serious enough’ and that the U.S. was trying to take advantage of our weaknesses’.  The US is apparently planning to strengthen security cooperation with Russia as part of the reset measures.  The Washington Post reports that the US is, internally, considering other options for missile defence in Europe, based ‘exclusively on the threat from Iran‘.

Sergei Lavrov has sharply criticized the Ukrainian government for the expulsion of two Russian diplomats, saying they ‘didn’t give us a single example of spying’.  The Russian Embassy to Lithuania has asked the country’s Foreign Ministry to explain why the editor-in-chief of the Regnum news agency was denied entry to the state.  A Kremlin foreign policy aide has said that the ‘use of the Russian language is in the interests of Tajikistan’ following moves by the Tajik President to consolidate the official use of the Tajik language.

Rates of criminality among the police have reportedly jumped by 10%.  The latest in military reform: soldiers will from now on receive sweets instead of cigarettes in their rations.

PHOTO: Medvedev speaking on a telephone during his flight to Tajikistan, 30 July 2009. (Vladimir Rodionov / Ria-Novosti / Reuters)