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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – June 23, 2011

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TODAY: Party of People’s Freedom denied registration; OSCE request to send hundreds of observers to Duma elections; Chaika re-appointed; rights activists call for action on Belarus; Kremlin angered over Sofia vandalism; Karelia death toll rises; alleged mafia boss interviewed.
The Justice Ministry’s predictable‘ rejection of the registration application of the opposition Party of People’s Freedom ‘all but ensures that no anti-Kremlin forces will run in the State Duma elections in December‘.  The Ministry cited various violations, saying that some of the party’s listed members were underage or dead.  The EU has expressed concern at the news, a ‘real obstacle to political pluralism in the country‘.  Russia has not yet responded to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s request to send several hundred observers to monitor this year’s State Duma elections.  The re-appointment of Prosecutor General Yury Chaika for a five-year term is no surprise, but many anticipate that Chaika will lose his post following the presidential elections next March.

Human rights activists from the Moscow Helsinki Group are calling for the country to react to the repression of protesters in Belarus.  Members of the Kremlin are apparently ‘seething‘ after a street artist painted over a Soviet war memorial in Sofia, Bulgaria, urging the government to punish the vandals.  The death toll of the Karelia plane crash has risen to 45 after a 9-year-old boy died of his injuries. 
RFE/RL interviews alleged mafia boss Alimzhan Tokhtakhunov (‘Taivanchik‘).  Norilsk, a city in the Siberian Arctic, has been awarded the dubious title of Russia’s most polluted city in 2010.  
PHOTO: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (L) and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin talk after a remembrance ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow, June 22, 2011. REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov