RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – July 9, 2009

g8.jpgTODAY: Diplomats positive on Obama trip, analysts more sceptical on progress; Medvedev hits G8 summit.  Opposition discuss their meeting with Obama; Abkazhia accuses Georgia of spying

A high-level Russian diplomat has called the meeting between Presidents Obama and Medvedev ‘groundbreaking’.  According to the New York Times, White House aides have agreed that whilst challenges remain, ‘the progress eclipsed that of any Russian-American summit meeting in decades’.  Analysts and journalists appear to be less convinced.  An article in the Moscow Times is skeptical about the depth of the agreements – all of which are ‘non-binding’, and the fact that areas of disagreement, such as Ukraine and Georgia, remain as prominent as ever.  ‘The missile defense issue and Iran should not be mixed, no matter how the Americans insist on this‘, says the head of the international affairs committee of the lower house of the State Duma.  ‘During the Soviet period, Moscow’s negotiators would have been fired on the spot for even proposing these terms’ – an op-ed commentator considers why the START replacement negotiations were surprising, or perhaps just insincere.

RFE/RL has an overview of impressions from opposition politicians on their meeting with Barack Obama.  To see what Boris Nemstov has to say, click here, and to see the views of the public, consult RFE/RL’s vox pop.  A group of human rights activists have penned an open letter to Presidents Obama and Medvedev criticizing the appointment of Vladislav Surkov, architect of the power vertical, as co-coordinator of a bilateral committee on civil society.  Ten opposition politicians will stand in the Moscow City Duma elections this fall.

President Medvedev has met with Gordon Brown at the G8 summit.  On Medvedev’s faltering suggestion for a new security structure, a Moscow Times commentator says,he is acting like a pole vaulter who after failing five attempts to jump over 3 meters raises the bar to 6 meters on the sixth attempt.   The United States has said that Russia hinted it might still pursue a unilateral bid to join the WTO, but the Kremlin has refuted such claims.  US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has called the bid to join with Belarus and Kazakhstannot workable’.  Abkhazia has accused Georgia of spying in preparation for an attack, which Tbilisi has denied.  The Foreign Ministry has called the recent Amnesty International report on human rights violations in the North Caucasus politicized and inflammatory’.

PHOTO: President Medvedev with the French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian President Silvio Berlusconi at the G8 talks, July 8, 2009. (Peer Grimm / AP)