RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – July 8, 2009

capt.photo_1246979747022-1-0.jpgTODAY: Obama says trade comes with rule of law; criticizes Russia’s idea of being neighborly; Russians indifferent to the visit?; ‘less than what we wanted’ say opposition leaders; Klebnikov case to be reinvestigated

In Obama’s speech to students at the New Economic School, he referred to his ‘excellent discussions‘ with Russia’s leaders, but also told Russia, ‘the days when empires could treat sovereign states as pieces on a chessboard are over’ and that state sovereignty must be a cornerstone of international order’.  A move unlikely to prove popular with the Kremlin, as the Guardian suggests: ‘Russians bristle at Obama’s suggestion that the idea of “spheres of influence” is a 19th-century oddity‘.  Why was Georgia not a priority discussion during Obama’s visit? wonders Yulia Latynina.  ‘Medvedev and Putin will always support regimes that are antagonistic to Washington for one simple reason: to increase international tensions, drive up oil prices and give the Kremlin another chance to bask in its inflated self-image as a global energy superpower’.

The US President has appeared to offer a deal on missile defense in exchange for pressure on Iran.  According to the Telegraph, however, US officials say that this does not amount to an actual deal.  The Times reports on what Putin has been getting up to whilst Medvedev and Obama have taken center stage.  On Putin, Obama has said, ‘I found him to be tough, smart, shrewd, very unsentimental, very pragmatic…and on areas where we disagree, like Georgia, I don’t anticipate a meeting of the minds anytime soon’.

Is it ‘the question of race, which Russians view through a complicated prism‘ or a ‘jaded political culture’ which has apparently made Russians immune to Obamamania?  The Washington Post reports that in a recent poll, only 15% of Russians viewed the United States as playing a positive role in the world. 

The Other Russia has a transcript of Garry Kasparov’s statement to Barack Obama and an interview.  Opposition leaders have suggested that the President’s comments tended towards validating democracy rather than denouncing any particular instances of Russian legal nihilism.  The U.S. Justice Department will collaborate with the Prosecutor General’s Office to investigate the murder of US journalist Paul Klebnikov in 2004, as the US presses for justice.  Celebrated writer and dissident Vasily Aksyonov died on Monday at the age of 76.

PHOTO: US President Barack Obama shakes hands with Russian billionaire tycoon Viktor Vekselberg in Moscow.  (AFP/Ria Novosti/Pool/Natalia Kolesnikova)