RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – June 26, 2009

26russia600.jpgTODAY: Politkovskaya suspects to be retried; NATO claims to be no rival to Russia; Medvedev says START negotiations still ongoing; extent of alcohol abuse deaths sends shockwaves; Duma speaker superhero

Russia has announced that the three men who were acquitted of being accomplices in the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya will be retried.  Her son Ilya says that the decision to retry will only delay the process of finding the real murderers.  The Guardian reports that Politkovskaya’s children have demanded ‘a genuine investigation’, and say, ‘we are convinced that the murder wasn’t properly investigated’.  Russia is in conflict with the rest of the G8 powers on the elections in Iran ‘No one is willing to condemn the election process, because it’s an exercise in democracy’, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said, and isolating Iran serves no purpose, whilst other powers are less lenient.

In its first meeting with Central Asian countries, NATO has said it is ‘not competing with anyone. … There are other nations and organizations involved in this region, and let the nations in this region decide for themselves what kind of a relationship they want’.  Russia’s NATO envoy Dmitry Rogozin is confident the organization poses little rivalry: ‘NATO’s expansion withered away.’  Medvedev has called Kyrgyzstan’s decision on the Manas air base ‘good for the common cause’.  The President has said that he hopes Central Asian nations will cooperate with the US on Afghanistan.  He has also said that arms reduction negotiations are continuing.  Opposition leader Boris Nemtsov has called Russia a ‘country of secrets and mysteries’, and says the biggest puzzle for Barack Obama is ‘who is really the president?’ 

RFE/RL tries to enter the psyche of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenka.  The State Duma has approved the nomination of ex-Health and Social Development Minister Mikhail Zurabov as the new ambassador to Ukraine.  According to Reuters, political commentators are unsure as to whether Zurabov will be able to heal the rift.

A recent report has revealed that in the 1990s, alcohol abuse accounted for 52% of deaths among Russians aged 15-54 and that Russians drink twice the global average.  A comic strip featuring State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlo as a superhero has apparently been the talk of the blogosphere.  Between chronic alcoholism and the financial crisis Russia’s SuperGryzlo should have his work cut out for him.

PHOTO: People in Amsterdam protesting a visit by Russia’s president last week hold photos of slain journalist Anna Politkovskaya.  (Toussaint Kluiters/United Photos, via Reuters)