RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – June 12, 2009


TODAY: Russia declines offer of hosting US shield; the Kremlin letting the military down; Moscow vexed by Japanese bill; Medvedev claims his reforms offer a ‘modern, more democratic political system’; democracy not crucial says think tank

The New York Times reports that, according to a Foreign Ministry spokesman, Russia will not collaborate on US missile defense, except on the condition that plans to deploy parts of the shield in Poland and the Czech Republic are abandoned.  RFE/RL says that Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko has suggested that a compromise may still be reached.  The Washington Post reports that Russia is willing to increase cooperation with the US in the battle against international terrorism.  Kremlin envoy Anatoly Safonov has said that drug trafficking and the situation in Afghanistan are of special concern.  Russia has argued that a recent bill by Japan on the much-disputed Southern Kuril islands seems ‘to escalate its illegal territorial claims to Russia.  The Foreign Ministry claims that a return of the islands to the Japanese is inconceivable.

The military has turned us into vagrants’: the New York Times reports upon how the Kremlin’s plan to streamline the military is destroying the lives of soldiers; already put up in substandard lodgings, thousands of officers face imminent unemployment in an unforgiving economic climate.  Russia has dismissed its ambassador to Ukraine, former prime minister and ex-Gazprom chief, Viktor Chernomyrdin, who has been critical of Ukraine in the past.  Reuters features an analysis of the growing problems Russia faces in the North Caucasus following the violence of the past week. 

President Medvedev has met with leaders of minority political parties in a show of support for pluralism and defended his attempts at reform, dismissed as ‘decorative’ by critics.  Public Projects Institute, a think tank closely linked to United Russia, has published a report that suggests that democratization should not be a top ‘priority’ for the government, in tacit approval of Putin’s power vertical.

Abkhazia is proud to claim ownership to Stalin’s favorite residence, a custom-made mansion overlooking the Black Sea, which now hosts the Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh.  To what extent can the breakaway republic really claim to be out of the shadow of Russia? asks Reuters.

PHOTO: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev seen at his meeting with during a meeting with leaders of minor political parties at the Barvikha residence outside Moscow, June 11, 2009.  (AP Photo/Sergei Ilnitsky, Pool)