RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – June 23, 2009

capt.f178ac7650df4e03ba1747e34b387cd1.russia_putin_mosb132.jpgTODAY: Yevkurov stable, investigation into assassination attempt opened; Medvedev about to take on Africa; US and Kyrgyzstan broker new deal on transit at Manas base; lack of OSCE monitors in Georgia may allow tension to boil over; Russia marks Day of Sorrow

Investigation is underway into the suicide bombing that gravely injured Ingush President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov.  The explosion was reportedly caused by a vehicle packed with explosives colliding with the President’s car.  Medvedev has vowed a ‘direct and severe’ response and Putin called the terrorists ‘on a par with the Nazis’.  The BBC reports on why the incident is such a worry for Russia.  Is Ingushetia the ‘new Chechyna’?  asks the Telegraph.  The Guardian has a Q&A.  A Brussels-based think tank has suggested that the lack of UN and OSCE observers in Abkhazia and South Ossetia could increase tensions and could ‘create a dangerous atmosphere in which extensive fighting could erupt again’.

An op-ed piece in the Moscow Times examines how the Kremlin has recently turned to think tank reports as a tool in its elaborate ‘propaganda’ machine.  The New York Timesreports on Medvedev’s trip to Africa, where he will reinforce ties withEgypt and attempt to establish influence among the resource-richsub-Saharan nations.  It is expected that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be a main talking point.   Russia has announced that it considers all matters connected to the Presidential election in Iran as the internal affair’ of the Islamic Republic.  The US and Kyrgyzstan have reportedly drawn up a new agreement for US troops to continue using the Manas air base as a center of transit shipments’ to Afghanistan.

Unpopular former Health Minister Mikhail Zurabov is reportedly the ‘most probable candidate’ to become Russia’s new ambassador to Ukraine.  Russia has said that it may offer Moldova a $500 million loanand pledged support to outgoing president Vladimir Voronin.  The EU’sexternal relations commissioner has said that Belarus does notneed to choose between the EU and Russia, but needs good relations’ with both.  The Council of Europe and the European Union have announced a $3.8 million program to preserve minority languages in Russia.  

Yesterday marked the 68th anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union: the Independentlooks at Soviet self-image with the release of Polish director AndrzejWajda’s Katyn.  To see an interview with Alexander Lebebev, explainingwhat fatherhood has to do with the Moscow city elections, look here.

PHOTO:Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin speaks with World War II veteransas he lays flowers at a war memorial to mark the Day of Remembrance andGrief in Barnaul, about 1,850 miles east of Moscow, Siberia, June 22,2009.  (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)