RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – June 25, 2009

capt.599e6307dec443fe94388f2c10feda66.russia_total_mosb108.jpgTODAY: Conflicting voices on air base deal; US hits back at Shuvalov’s comments on WTO accession; fears of new Russian incursion prevalent in Georgia; Putin goes to supermarket; priests find new role in crisis; Communists present Stalin as economic inspiration

The Kremlin claims that the US deal with Kyrgyzstan to continue using the Manas air base was approved by Russia in ‘support all steps aimed at stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan’.  A Russian diplomat would appear to differ; saying that the news was ‘a very unpleasant surprise for us — we did not expect such a trick‘.  The US has hit back against Igor Shuvalov’s claims that Washington and the EU were to blame for Russia’s decision to back out of its WTO bid, asserting that ‘this is a Russia-created crisis’.

With military exercises about to begin in Georgia and noobservers, there is growing consensus among citizens that Russia is ‘preparing for war’, the Times reports.  Mikhail Saakashvili has told journalists that Russia began the war to gain access to energy resources.  The State Duma has called peace talks with Japan ‘senseless’ if the country persists in claiming the Southern Kuril Islands as theirs.

An official in charge of preparations for the 2012 APEC summit in Vladivostok is under investigation for abuse of office.  Former senior investigator Dmitry Dovgy has been found guilty of bribery and abuse of office.   Yevgeny Gontmakher in the Moscow Times analyzes the abuse he received from United Russia bloggers after he compared Kremlin first deputy chief of staff Vladislav Surkov to Mikhail Suslov, the Soviet Union’s chief Communist Party ideologist in the 1970s.  Murtaza Rakhimov, the president of Russia’s Bashkortostan Republic who openly criticized the degree of centralization in today’s Russia is the subject of a report on RFE/RL.

Vladimir Putin has gone on another vigilante style mission to improve Russia; this time unexpectedly entering a supermarket in Western Moscow and demanding that pork prices be cut.  The Communist Party has been using posters of Stalin as a promotional tool, claiming the dictator to have been a model for achieving ‘economic growth’.  Voronezh City Hall has decided the posters are illegal and will be removed.  Orthodox priests are the latest agents in the fight against defaulting on loans; an agreement between the Federal Court Marshals Service and the Moscow Patriarchate states that ‘priests will say that unpaid debt is the same as theft in Christianity’.  

PHOTO: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, second left, and French Total’s Chief Executive Christophe de Margerie, second right, seen during talks in Moscow, June 24, 2009. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Pool)