TODAY: Authorities sweep in on Troitsky concert venue; Orlov refuses to resile from Kadyrov comments; elderly residents decry care home abuse; anti-abortion tactics borrowed from US; Izvestia make-over. Russia opposes UN action on Syria; missile shield disagreement is a stutter for START; EU-Russia relations under spotlight as summit begins; tensions with Georgia increase. Fears of wildfires spread; leather jacket tender causes blogosphere upset
In a sign of increasing pressure on the supporters of embattled music critic Artemy Troitsky, Russian officials have unexpectedly inspected a Moscow rock club that has agreed to host a tribute concert for the journalist who is facing up to two years in jail for affront charges. Memorial head Oleg Orlov has stood by comments against Ramzan Kadyrov, in which he held the Chechen president responsible for the murder of fellow activist Natalya Estemirova. Five residents of a Vladivostok home for the elderly have made a YouTube appeal in which they expose systematic abuses. Russia’s religious right is, the New York Times reports, drawing inspiration from the campaign tactics of US pro-life activists. From broadsheet to tabloid: the transformation, or as some would have it, degradation of historic newspaper Izvestia.
According to the Moscow Times, a Foreign Ministry spokesman has told journalists that it will oppose any U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria, as the situation does not ‘present a threat to international peace and security’. Mikhail Margelov, Russia’s special envoy to Africa, has said he will imminently meet with members of the Syrian opposition in Moscow. Margelov also told reporters that the Libyan opposition has requested Russia to join the contact group on the war-torn state. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has voiced disappointment over delays in reaching an agreement with Russia on a U.S.-led NATO missile defense system. ‘Still, you can’t help but wonder whether the premise of these negotiations was flawed from the start. How do you design an effective European missile defense that the Russians would really be willing to swallow?‘ says RFE/RL’s Christan Caryl. The Economist considers the development of relations between the EU and Russia: ‘from enthusiastic engagement through mistrustful rancour to weary resignation’.
Georgia is, it would seem, perilously close to walking away from talks with Russia over claims that Georgian nationals are being paid by the Kremlin to plant bombs, which have overshadowed the 16th round of talks. Meanwhile Russia is urging the UN to reject a Georgian-backed draft UN resolution recognizing the rights of refugees from Georgia’s breakaway regions to return to their homes.
After devastating wildifres ravaged the Russian countryside last year, Greenpeace has a pessimistic prognosis for this summmer. Costume drama: a state tender by the Federal Guard Service for 60 long black leather coats has caused fashion nightmares by stirring memories of Stalin’s henchmen.
PHOTO: Anders Fogh Rasmussen welcoming Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, left, in Brussels. (Francois Lenoir / Reuters)