RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – June 18, 2010

putin_1660675c.jpgTODAY: Medvedev gives broad interview in Wall Street Journal; addresses Kyrgyzstan issue, states belief that Manas airbase should not be permanent; Russia to send security consultants.  President says relationship with Prime Minister effective; Putin vaunts news fighter jet;  adoption agreement to be fast-tracked.  More ‘Putin Results’ books seized; bill to grant rights to seriously ill convicts; ecologists lose Lake Baikal appeal; directly elected mayors to be a thing of the past? 

President Medvedev has given an interview to the Wall Street Journal covering a range of themes, which can be viewed here.  Among the topics discussed was the situation in Kyrgyzstan, which the President described as close to a ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ and voiced concerns over the possibility of Islamist extremists profiting from the state of instability.  He supported Russia’s non-interventionist stance, saying, ‘our Kyrgyz partners have so far recalled their request, in essence, because they should cope with this situation themselves’.  The CSTO will send ‘security specialists’ but not peacekeepers to Kyrgyzstan, RFE/RL reports, ‘a compromise that would allow Moscow to expand its influence in the former Soviet Union’, says Charles Clover in the FT.  The President apparently remains intransigent on the Manas air base, saying ‘it shouldn’t exist forever’.   The Guardian reports that a senior Kyrgyz official has threatened to close the US airbase if Britain refuses to hand over the son of the country’s ousted president Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who the interim government believes has incited the outbreak of violence.  Today there are reports that the death toll in the country is ‘ten times higher’ than previously estimated, and the number of refugees is reported to have swollen to 400,000.  The former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan has penned a long piece explaining the Soviet backdrop to the current crisis in the Telegraph.  

The President told the WSJ that his relationship with Vladimir Putin had changed from aformal point of view, but not from a personal oneReuters suggests that Putin’s signing of a major deal between Rosneft andChevron stole Medvedev’s Economic Forum thunder, underlining ‘ahidden rivalry between the men’.  According to a recent survey by the Washington-based Pew ResearchCenter, the President is gaining popularity in Europe:74%of Russians trust him, 50% of Germans and the number of Poles confident in him has doubled.

Upon watching a test flight of new T-50 warplane, Vladimir Putin has asserted that it could dominate over any rival US plane.  Whilst Russia and the US will never agree on missile defense, START must be accepted, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has reportedly told the Senate.  Russia and the US are apparently near to expediting an agreement on the long-disputed adoption issue. 

According to the Other Russia, another 100,00 copies of the Solidarity leaders’ anti-Putin book have been seized from its printing house.  In St Petersburg eleven suspects have been arrested in a series of killings and serious hate crimes.  The Supreme Court has rejected a complaint by Greenpeace against the reopening of the paper mill on Lake Baikal.   Leonid Nikolayev from the art collective Voina has received a small fine for painting a penis on a St. Petersburg drawbridge.  Photos may be used to keep track of Duma truants.  The Justice Ministry has completed the drawing up of a bill that will grant seriously ill suspects the same rights as convicts with serious diseases, including early release from custody.  Directly elected mayors could be a dying breed, the Moscow Times suggests.  The Guardian reports on United Russia’s alleged plans to create a textbook underplaying the horrors of the Stalin era.

PHOTO:  Vladmir Putin looks into the cockpit of the new fighter Sukhoi T-50, June 17, 2010.  (Reuters)