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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – July 2, 2010

FRONT-1-sheremet.jpgTODAY: Vedemosti receives extremism warning; investigative committee turnaround on Magnitksy case; anti-Putin pamphlet released; Forbidden Art case could herald troubles for culture.  One ‘suburban spy’ apparently confesses; US approves Medvedev’s corruption crackdown; warm welcome for Clinton in Ukraine?  Georgia and Stalin; Nashi summer camp opens for lucky 25,000; traffic chaos in Moscow contrived by City Hall, says Sheremetyevo director

Business daily Vedemosti has received an extremism warning for publishing the article ‘Timeless Values. A Communication Breakdown’, by Maya Kucherskaya on the subject of the Moscow metro bombers.  If the newspaper receives another, the authorities will have the right to close it down.  Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin has reversed a decision by his subordinates not to initiate a case into the investigators who held Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in pre-trial detention.  The ‘Putin: Results‘ pamphlets which were impounded by police ahead of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum are apparently to be returned to their owners after no evidence of extremism was found in their contents.  The Economist reports on the ‘Forbidden Art’ trial; the article voices fears that a victory for the militant religious campaigners against the controversial exhibit’s organizers could set a precedent for further suppression of culture by the state.  Most court rulings must be published online in their entirety, including the names of all parties involved, except witnesses, in an initiative that advocates say will improve transparency, the Moscow Times reports.


Apparently one of the spy ring suspects, Juan Lázaro, has confessed to federal agents.  His wife, Peruvian journalist Vicky Pelaez, could be freed on $250,000 bail, the BBC reports.  Mr. Lázaro has raised the eyebrows of prosecutors by putting Russia first, telling officials that although he ‘loved his son, he would not violate his loyalty to the ‘Service’  even to protect him.  Irina Filatova in the Guardian suggests that the spy scandal is a victory for both US and Russian hawks. 

The U.S. Department of State has said that Washington supports efforts made by President Medvedev to battle corruption in Russia and that it belives that accession to the WTO and OEDC will help promote democracy and transparency in the country.  Alyona Getmanchuk suggests that Hillary Clinton will find a compliant Yanukovich in Ukraine as Kiev seeks to consolidate a link with the US.  RFE/RL on the removal of Stalin statues in Georgia, an issue of transforming national identity: ‘In the absence of Georgian statehood, his power was psychological compensation for the country’s weakness’.  James Kirchick offers some analysis of Georgia’s western leanings here.

The Russian space agency Roscosmos is constructing the world’s largest telescope.  Here’s the lowdown on Nashi’s annual Seliger summer camp/talent fest.  The Moscow Times reports on travel chaos in the capital: Aeroflot is losing €400,000 a day and hundreds of travelers missing flights as the main road to Sheremetyevo airport is blocked due to ‘roadworks’: airport chief Mikhail Vasilenko sees foul play on the part of City Hall who have interests in a rival airport. Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov is apparently exporting his brand of property expertisewith support for a redevelopment project in the Armenian capital ofYerevan: according to RFE/RL, some families already fear inadequate compensation for the homes they will be forced to leave. 

PHOTO: Passengers taking the Aeroexpress train to Sheremetyevo Airport from Belorussky Station on Thursday. Ticket sales have nearly doubled this week.  (Vladimir Filonov/MT)