President Dmitry Medvedev and Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso have agreed on the need for a ‘serious response’ to North Korea and Moscow will apparently back sanctions. The European Union, the United States and Russia will hold in-depth ministerial talks this week on the Kremlin’s hopes to join the World Trade Organization. According to Washington, ‘a great deal of work remains, particularly by the Russian Federation, in order to take the accession process forward’.
‘The statement itself is very unfortunate‘: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon rebukes Georgia for its blackmail claims. Turnout has reached 70% in South Ossetia’s elections. Ria-Novosti reports that the ruling Kremlin-friendly Unity party has won, gaining 46.38% of the vote. Georgia has denounced the poll as illegal. Reuters has a factbox on the breakaway region. First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov has played down tensions with Belarus, whilst Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko employs his customary tact: ‘If they haven’t got the $500 million they promised us long ago . . . We will have to try our luck in another part of the planet’. ‘Transparency International rates Minsk as more corrupt than Moscow’; the Moscow Times looks at the future of the Stalinist outpost.
A Moscow rally organized by the Other Russia calling for Putin to resign has been broken up by police, who have also dismissed claims by the movement’s leader, Eduard Limonov, that a bomb exploded in his car. How the dissident movement is changing is the subject of an article in the Washington Post. The Financial Times argues that United Russia is failing to impress the provincial electorate. Russia needs a genius to redynamise the nation, suggests a commentator in the Moscow Times. ‘Ennobled by prison, Mikhail Khodorkovsky could play that role — which is one reason why he may be reconvicted’.
Moscow’s City Duma has supported the introduction of classes to teach children how to ignore the diffusion of ‘manipulative information‘. Russian dolls are under threat; not unlike the product itself, demand for the matryoshki is apparently getting smaller and smaller.
PHOTO: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev meets with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin outside Moscow in Gorki. (AFP/POOL/Dmitry Astakhov)