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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – June 22, 2009

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TODAY: Medvedev gives positive signs to US on START; Ingushetia President critically ill after assassination attempt; Surkov backs multiparty cooperation; political art unwelcome at the Kremlin 

Russia has announced that it is ready to ‘reduce by several times the number of nuclear delivery vehicles compared with the START-1 pact’, as negotiations with the US proceed.  This pledge is contingent upon Washington allaying Russia’s fears about missile defense in Europe.  Sergei Lavrov has asserted that the US is clear about Russia’s position on this issue.  Medvedev hopes for ‘more confidence in relations’.  On the potential problems awaiting Barack Obama in Moscow, a Moscow Times commentator argues that,  ‘If Obama takes a value-based approach, his opportunities on security will be limited’.


The President of Ingushetia has been critically injured by an explosion in his car, bringing recent violence in the North Caucasus to a head.  A Dagestan weekly newspaper, Chernovik, is facing closure on charges of conveying extremist statements in apparent sympathy with Islamic militants.  The New York Times looks at the Russian media frenzy surrounding recently defected Georgian soldier Alik D. Bzhania, who has appeared on Echo Moskvy radio and elsewhere.

Medvedev has said that Russia adheres to ‘civilized trade’ with all nations, including Belarus, and was ‘taken aback’ by Minsk’s reaction to recent events regarding milk imports.  Reuters analyzes the different agendas that beleaguer relations between the two countries.  Putin has indicated that it was a hike in Belarussian quotas on milk exports that precipitated the dairy war.  The Moscow Times suggests that the government’s new body to improve Russia’s image abroad was sorely missed during that particular diplomatic crisis.

Eyebrows have been raised by comments made by the Kremlin’s firstdeputy chief of staff and power vertical architect Vladislav Surkov, whohas apparently told young deputies that coalitions and compromises should be developed in the multiparty system.  Critics are doubtful about his sincerity.  Time magazine reports on the Kremlin’s repressive stance on political art.  If Vladimir Putin isn’t the one giving the art lessons, the work of many artists is unlikely to please

PHOTO: Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev shakes hands with Royal Dutch Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer for a meeting in Amsterdam June 20, 2009.  (REUTERS/Toussaint Kluiters/United Photos)