RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – June 10, 2010

med.jpgTODAY: Putin not ‘fussing’ over 2012 election; denies image cultivation; Stalin-era mass grave found.  Duma attendance increases; man faces 2 1/2 years in prison for rally incident with policeman; officials to lose migalki?  Yukos executive sentence reduced.  Russia serious on Afghan drug crackdown; vodka could double in price; communities disappearing; golden age ballet star dies

Vladimir Putin has told the French media that he is not making ‘too much fuss’ about the 2012 elections, but has already discussed with Dmitry Medvedev their roles in it.  The Prime Minister also told journalists that he does nothing ‘special’ to achieve his image of a strong leader, and rebuffed any suggestions that a Stalin-like cult of personality policy could re-develop in the modern era.  Vladimir Milov in the Moscow Times would beg to differ: ‘Soviet revanchism is alive and well’.  Workers digging a road outside of Vladivostok have unearthed 495 skeletons in a mass grave that is assumed to date from the dictator’s purges.  From vacuum to cacophony – is the Duma, with contrite deputies returning after the absenteeism scandal, becoming too noisy‘The document is a death sentence for universal access to education and health care’: this commentator believes that a new bill will have grave consequences for social equality.  A man sentenced to two and a half years in jail for allegedly breaking a policeman’s nose whilst assisting a protestor during an opposition rally, will, RFE/RL argues, have plenty of time ‘to mull over the oddities of the Russian justice system, which allows police to routinely batter citizens while punishing peaceful attempts to stop the beatings’. 

The Federation Council has proposed legislation which would remove the right of officials of all ministries and federal agencies to bear traffic-defying migalki on their cars.  A Moscow court has slashed three yearsoff the 15 1/2-year prison sentence of former Yukos manager AlexeiKurtsin.  It is reported that a 22-year-old Moldovan citizen who diedin a Moscow pretrial detention center over the weekend was probably killed.
‘We need concrete projects to replace suspicion with an atmosphere of cooperation’:
how NATO should approach Russia from the New York Times.  Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has apparently said that Russia will insist that Afghanistan’s drug industry be classified as a threat to global security.  The Moscow Times reports on Medvedev’s attempts to convince an unenthusiastic US of the need to combat the illegal drug trade.  Putin has said that Russia is only interested in purchasing the French Mistral class warship if it includes a technological transfer.

Russia is apparently considering doubling the price of vodka by 2013 (which would put it at $6.30) by increasing the excise tax on hard alcohol.  Manufacturers are worried that the move will stimulate illegal production.  The Russian Orthodox Church laments the ‘monopoly of Darwinism’ in education.  Apparently about 23,000 communities have disappeared from Russia’s map over the past 20 years.  The downfall of a noble breed: the caviar-bearing Tsar fish is apparently nearing extinction due to overfishing.  Bolshoi’s former ‘golden age’ prima ballerina, Marina Semyonova, has died in Moscow at the age of 103.

PHOTO: President Dmitry Medvedev visiting a “Lethal Harvest” exhibit during an anti-drugs conference Wednesday, June 9, 2010. He rolled out a global initiative to stem Afghan drug trafficking to include a comprehensive crackdown on opium poppy growing, but the United States gave a cool reception to the plan.  (Dmitry Astakhov / RIA-Novosti / AP)