RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – June 22, 2011


TODAY: Kashin cleared of defamation charges; Russia blames pilot of Karelia crash, sources imply Tupolev fleet is to blame; 4-day Khimki occupation; 2,000-strong Rubtsovsk utilities protest; Putin reiterates joint project with Medvedev; Russia outraged over U.S. exercise with Georgia; Khodorkovsky appeal judges justify themselves; Tajik children may be banned from worship.
Kommersant reporter Oleg Kashin has been cleared by a Moscow court in connection with the defamation lawsuit brought against him by Kremlin youth policy chief Vasily Yakemenko.  Kashin’s speculation regarding Yakemenko’s involvement in his March attack was an opinion, not a factual statement, the court ruled.  The plane that crashed in Karelia yesterday was provided by a U.S.-affiliated charter airline, to replace a smaller jet that was overbooked; the pilot apparently ignored instructions to abort the landing.  Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov says that pilot error was the most likely cause of the crash.  This Reuters factbox notes that both the Karelia plane and the plane that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski were Soviet-era Tupolev models.  The New York Times says that, had the planes not been banned in Europe for being noisy, ‘they would almost certainly be banned for their safety record,‘ offering a catalogue of Tupolev errors.  Police apparently used ‘jammers‘ to block mobile phone reception at a four-day Khimki Forest opposition protest.  The Washington Post likened the gathering to a Russian Woodstock.

2,000 protesters marched in Rubtsovsk against utility fees which continue to be levied despite a Prosecutor-General’s Office ruling earlier this year.  Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has reiterated the tandem aspect of his rule with President Dmitry Medvedev, making reference to their ‘joint program‘ and citing ‘absolutely no differences‘.  The Independent suggests that ‘[s]ome close to the Kremlin say the two men have not decided yet‘ on who will run in 2012.  Russia is ‘outraged‘ after a U.S. cruiser arrived off the coast of Georgia for a joint exercise.  The three judges in the Mikhail Khodorkovsky appeal last month have held a press conference to justify their decision to reject the appeal. 
Children may be banned from worshipping in mosques and churches in Tajikistan ‘to prevent the spread of religious fundamentalism‘.  Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the USSR (the BBC provides a history lesson). 
PHOTO: Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sits in his car as he leaves after a ceremony to inaugurate a monument dedicated to the collaboration between French Army and Russian Army during the First World War, in Paris June 21, 2011. REUTERS/Charles Platiau