RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – July 7, 2010

putin-1-storypic1.jpgTODAY: Hermitage Capital executive receives death threats; Moscow police pursue Memorial chief for Kadyrov comments; FSB extra power measures dropped by Duma after protests; Putin suggests hanging as punishment for corruption. Russia says US missile defense shield unjustified; Japan irked by war games.  Major investment plan for North Caucasus; infrastructure woes to burden taxpayer; tips for the ladies

A senior executive at Hermitage Capital Management leading the investigation into corruption in the Interior Ministry has received death threats, the Telegraph reports.  Moscow police have charged the head of the Memorial rights group, Oleg Orlov, with defamation for connecting Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov with the disappearance of rights activists in Chechnya, despite the fact that the President dropped his lawsuit against the activist five months ago.  The Duma has abandoned the protest-prompting measures that were to give new powers to the FSB, which activists said would undermine civil liberties.  Dmitry Medvedev has urged that reforms to the police, designed to improve their besmirched image, be expedited, Ria-Novosti reports.  Vladimir Putin has joked that ‘hanging’ should be the punishment for corruption but since that is not Russia’s ‘method’, he has urged instead than anti-corruption laws be observed effectively.  The Duma is currently drawing up legislation that would mean people taking bribes of a maximum of 3,000 rubles would not face prison, but rather a 30,000 ruble fine.  ‘The Kremlin’s undermining of direct mayoral elections is a step in the wrong direction that will make the country’s system of governance more ineffective and unstable’:  Konstantin Sonin sees the power vertical wobble.

The Foreign Ministry has claimed that the US is ignoring its ‘justified interests and concerns’ with plans to build a missile defense system skirting Russia’s borders.   John F. Kerry vociferously rebuffsMitt Romney’s anti-START op-ed in the Washington Post, arguing hisconcerns are unfounded.  The US government is in talks withlawyers for the suspected Russian spies over a rapid resolution of thecase, which could allow them to plead guilty to lesser charges andreturn to Russia, the New York Timesreports.  Viktor Ivanov, the head of Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service, has suggested that Russian border guards could return to duty in Tajikistan to combat drug trafficking and monitor the Kyrgyzstan situation.  Japan apparently views the holding of Russia’s Vostok-2010military drills on Iturup Island, one of the disputed Kirill islands, as regretful.

In a bid to quell unrest, Vladimir Putin has revealed plans to battle chronic unemployment in the North Caucasus, which he views as the region’s ‘most acute […] disaster’, with 400,000 jobs in ski resorts and oil.  Car-owners may have to foot the bill for maintaining Russia’s crumbling and mud-swathed highways through $1000 a year in taxes, says the Other Russia, which provides a link to an astounding photo essay on the state of one road leading to the town of Yakutsk in Siberia.  Yulia Latynina in the Moscow Times views ‘last week’s transportation debacle on Leningradskoye Shosse’ as ‘a good example of the possible collapse of Putin’s Russia’.

The Kremlin continues its sterling work in erasing cultural stereotypes with a new guidebook to Moscow providing tips for provincial women looking to snare a husband in the capital city, entitled, ‘The Code of a Charming Countrywoman’.

PHOTO: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attending a session of the United Russia party inter-regional conference in the southern city of Kislovodsk on Tuesday, July 6, 2010.  (Alexei Nikolsky / Reuters / RIA-Novosti)