RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – July 6, 2009

capt-1.photo_1246841297484-1-0.jpgTODAY: Obamarama begins with touchdown in Moscow today; the US President grants interview to opposition paper; Putin rebuffs suggestion he favors old ways; Obama trying divide and conquer on Medvedev and Putin?; missile defense may be a dealbreaker; Stalinism and Nazism compared

Putin has responded to Obama’s suggestion he has ‘one foot in the past‘, by saying,we stand firmly on our feet and always look into the futureand has reasserted that the US President’s visit is awaited ‘with very warm feelings’.  The Times suggests that Obama has made a ‘mistake’ in pitching Putin and Medvedev against each another, when the Prime Minister is really at the helm of the tandemocracy.  A commentator in the Moscow Times argues that ‘Obama was like a skilled chess player who unexpectedly makes a risky move, giving up the queen to gain control of the match’.  The Guardian reports on how Obama’s interview with Novaya Gazeta demonstrates a tough stance on freedom of speechOdd is how the President has described the new charges faced by Mikhail Khodorkovsky.  ‘There is nothing to discuss’ says Medvedev on a pardon for the Yukos founder.  Opposition leader Garry Kasparov has expressed optimism regarding the visit and will meet Obama during his trip.  Reuters reports on the first African-American President’s appearance in a country where ethinic minorities feel their safety constantly threatened.

According to Putin, if the US was to abandon the idea of missile defense in Europe it would be ‘a large step forward.  Obama has apparently asserted that missile defense is protection against Iran.  Medvedev is unconvinced.  Russia will allow US troops to fly over Russian territory to Afghanistan.  RFE/RL reports on nervousness among Russia’s neighbors regarding the summit as they see themselves as potential ‘bargaining chips’. 

The famously misspelled ‘re-set’ button is on display in Moscow’s Pushkin Square.  The New York Times looks at how virulent anti-American commentators such as Mikhail V. Leontyev have scaled down their diatribes ahead of Obama’s visit.  To read an extract from Sergei Lavrov’s article in Newsweek, look here.  The Guardian features an overview of past US-Russia summits.

In Ingushetia nine police officers have been killed.  The State Duma is threatening a ‘harsh’ response to the OSCE after the organization suggested equal roles were played by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in starting World War II.  Apparently investigators have established who killed human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov.

PHOTO: The symbolic reset button presented to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in March sits on display during a demonstration in Moscow.  (AFP/Alexander Nemenov)