RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – June 19, 2009

capt.a2b93cf95f0b407fac6a1313154cb9a3.netherlands_hermitage__pdj101.jpgTODAY: Positive feeling in run-up to Obama meeting; Russia says only US President respects Red Army contribution in WWII; WTO motives analyzed; oligarchs in the spotlight; Hermitage museum arrives in Amsterdam

US-Russian negotiations on the START replacement treaty are apparently taking place in a constructive and businesslike manner’.  The Kremlin has reportedly declared that Barack Obama is the only western leader who has not denigrated the role of the Soviet army in defeating the Nazis.  In a town in Kazakhstan, people have gathered to commemorate the twenty-year anniversary of the closure of a Soviet nuclear testing ground, where, in the words of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, ‘millions of Kazakh citizens fell victim to this nuclear madness’.  Russia has reportedly played down the nuclear threat from North Korea, arguing that its belligerence is principally rhetorical.

Vladimir Putin has said that Russia wishes to safeguard the progress already made in its 16-year bid to enter the WTO.  According to Reuters, the WTO is ‘uncertain’ as to how Russia will execute its new plan to pursue a joint bid.  For the Economist the reasons as to why Moscow was never ‘truly comfortable’ with the idea of WTO accession are clearer.  The Kremlin hopes that Minsk will sign the documents drawn up at the CSTO summit in Moscow.  Another soldier from the Kamenka unit in St Petersburg has killed himself, the second in a week, highlighting the practice of humiliation and violence within the unit.

Moscow has decided not to build the Lord Foster designed £1.2 billion Russia Tower; the space may be used for a car park.  The Hermitage has opened a museum in Amsterdam which will exhibit art from the St Petersburg parent collection.

The Moscow Times features an article on contraband at Moscow’sCherkizovsky Market, a trading ground controlled by a company run by businessman Telman Ismailov, a close friend of Mayor Yury Luzhkov.  Meanwhile an investigation has begun in Turkey into the construction of a luxury hotel built by Ismailov.  Alexander Lebedev has launched a stinging attack on Moscow’s Mayor and has announced that he will run in the elections to the Moscow City Duma, to save the ‘city from collapse’.

PHOTO: Visitors are seen during a press preview of the Hermitage Amsterdam museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Thursday June 18, 2009.  (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)