TODAY: Protestors thwarted on Russia Day; Russia’s only convicted war criminal slain; Moscow fares badly in rule of law report; Magnitsky-linked officials fired; Khodorkovsky dispatched to unknown location. Russia ignores UN talks on Syria; raises complaints over US cruiser’s entry into Black Sea; Vanauti recognizes Abkhazia. Russia’s celebrity cheerleader, Sharon Stone.
28 people of a crowd of 150 who gathered on Moscow’s Teatralnaya Square on Saturday to stage an unsanctioned Day of Wrath rally have been detained, with opposition leader and rally organizer Sergei Udaltsov among them. The protest was designed to coincide with ‘Russia Day’, a national holiday which marks the country’s re-birth as an independent state after the Soviet collapse. This year the holiday falls exactly twenty years after Boris Yeltsin was first elected president of Russia: Will Englund in the Washington Post suggests that the feeling of democratic euphoria which swept the nation on that day in 1991 has long since faded. Blaming a lack of progress on bureaucrats is just one tactic the ruling duo employ to deflect attention away from the failing of the power vertical, says RFE/RL. On election fervor: ‘[A]s everyone listens for the latest whisper from the Kremlin or waits for the next somewhat contrived photo-opportunity, no one is much asking what is best for Russia.’ A former Russian colonel who served a jail term for murdering a Chechen girl in 2000 has been shot dead in Moscow. The killing has been seen as an attempt to stoke tensions between nationalists, who sympathized with the disgraced colonel, and minorities in the capital.
An annual survey on the rule of law around the world has flagged up ‘seriousdeficiencies’ in Russia’s judicial environment which ranks lower than that of the other BRIC nations. Jailed Yukos founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been transferred fromMoscow to a prison camp in an unspecified location, which his lawyers say is an attempt to block his parole hearing. According to the Kremlin’s website, President Medvedev has fired Alexei Anichin and Yevgeny Shkolov, deputy interiorministers allegedly linked to the death of Hermitage lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.
Along with China, Russia has refused to attend U.N. Security Council talks designed to draw up a draft resolution on Syria’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. With issues on missile defense remaining unresolved, Russia’s Foreign Ministry has taken issue with the entry of a U.S. guided missile cruiser into the Black Sea for naval exercises with Ukraine. The Pacific island of Vanuatu has clarified its position on Abkhazia, saying that it will join Russia in recognizing its independence. According to RFE/RL, one of Russia’s counterterrorism officials has been killed and one officer wounded during a gun battle in the North Caucasus.
Bad news for farmers – apparently African Swine Fever virus has been detected in the Kalininsky district of Russia’s Tver region. Shaun Walker ponders the ubiquity of Sharon Stone: ‘At anything Russia-related these days, her grinning face seems to put in an appearance, like some kind of recurring nightmare’.
PHOTO: Unsanctioned Day of Wrath rally in Moscow, June 12, 2011. (AFP/ANDREY SMIRNOV)