RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – June 17, 2010

bel.jpgTODAY: Kremlin inaction on Kyrgyzstan scrutinized as domestic military alleged to be incapable of retaining order; Poland maintains friendly position on Russia.  ‘Putin: Results’ pamphlets seized; presidential immunity extended to presidential aides; rally against education changes; Strategy 31 organizers offered negotiation on Moscow rallies; Magnitsky play; art collective criticizes phallocratic society; Moscow City Hall tries its hand at integration techniques

[W]hat is holding Russia and the CSTO back?’ is the question posed by Simon Shuster in today’s TIME magazine on the ongoing Kyrgyzstan crisis.  The inexperience of Moscow’s NATO-style military alliance and a lack of domestic support are some of the theories proferred.  Former Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev has urged Russia to send in peacekeeping forces to the Central Asian country on the belief that the interim government cannot control the situation unaided.  Meanwhile a Kyrgyz military convoy is attempting to maintain order in Osh, with limited success this report suggests: ‘citizens reported that some soldiers also were looting food aid’ ‘It is clear that the provisional government will not be able to quell the riots without external help’ argues Erica Marta in the Moscow Times.  An article in the Washington Post argues, as others have done this week, that the crisis in Kyrgyzstan is an opportunity for Russia and the US to exercise its ‘reset’ relationship.  Whilst many media pundits may be promoting this view, Brian Whitmore suggests that ‘it’s probably too soon to say the events of the past week mark a turning point in Russian policy or a watershed in Moscow’s relations with its neighbors’.

Poland’s Foreign Minister has penned an article in the New York Times arguing that it is in the EU’s interest to support Russian modernization.  Former Kremlinophobe Jaroslaw Kaczynski, a candidate to succeed his brother as Polish president, has pledged that were he to win the elections, he would foster stronger bilateral relations with Russia.  The Washington Post notes a favorable mood towards Russia in the Baltic states.  Turkey may be about to receive S-300 missiles from Russia.

100,000 copies of Boris Nemtsov’s ‘Putin: Results’ leaflets have been impounded by police in St Petersburg, RFE/RL reports.  The brochures, which draw conclusions such as ‘corruption reached a catastrophic scale’ were apparently destined to be handed out by activists at the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum.  About a dozen activists have rallied in central Russia to protest the ‘commercialization of education‘.  The President’s men may benefit from his immunity from prosecution, the Moscow Times reports, after a complaint against a member of the presidential administration was rejected by a Moscow court on the basis that it would contravene presidential immunity.  Strategy 31 co-organizer Eduard Limonov has told the Other Russia about an apparent attempt by government negotiators to strike a ‘face-saving’ deal on the monthly protests.  

Mikhail Ugarov and Teatr.doc have posed the harshest, most pointed questions I remember encountering in a Russian theater’: a Moscow Times reviewer describes the new play about the death in detention of Sergei Magnitsky.  Subversive art collective Voina have emblazoned a St Petersburg bridge with an eye-catching image to welcome guests to the International Economic Forum, in a critique of security measures employed for the event.  City Hall is reportedly currently drawing up an etiquette handbook to be distributed to all foreigners integrating into Moscow life: beware sheep slaughterers and fans of national dress.

PHOTO: Medvedev meeting with Gazprom CEO Miller on Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at the presidential residence.  (Dmitry Astakhov / RIA-Novosti / AP)