RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – June 27, 2011


TODAY: Prokhorov to head Right Cause Party; Medvedev backs Matviyenko as Federation Council speaker; Nagorno-Karabakh talks fail; Gay Pride, Khodorkovsky and Parnas protests; Karelia crash toll rises.
As the newly-elected head of the Right Cause Party, billionaire businessman Mikhail Prokhorov wants to make the party powerful enough to contend with United Russia. ‘Let’s forget the word ‘opposition.’ This is a word linked to marginal parties that have lost their connection to reality long ago.‘  Reuters suggests that Prokhorov’s appointment could be a boost for reformists.  President Dmitry Medvedev is backing St Petersburg governor Valentina Matviyenko as the new speaker of the Federation Council, praising his own choice of a female for this powerful Kremlin post as making the state ‘more modern‘.  Medvedev’s Nagorno-Karabakh talks in Kazan failed to achieve and breakthroughs, with Armenia and Azerbaijan blaming each other for the stalemate.  Russia is blocking the publication of a UN report detailing Iranian sanctions violations.

In solidarity with Gay Pride events held all over the world, 15-20 people managed to rally in St Petersburg on Saturday for ‘a couple of minutes‘, with some attacked by ‘thugs‘, and over a dozen of them arrested.  They have since been released, after being fined, and will have to attend court hearings next month.  Vladimir Ryzhkov writes on the Justice Ministry’s refusal to register the Party of People’s Freedom (Parnas), describing many of its claims of the party’s illegality as ‘tricks‘ and ‘total nonsense‘.  A 2,000-strong rally was held in Moscow over the weekend to protest the party’s exclusion.  Demonstrations were also held in Moscow yesterday to mark Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s birthday – roughly 10 activists were detained.  Lie detector tests will be voluntary, but police will have to comply with them if they want to safeguard their careers, according to an Interior Ministry spokesperson. 
The Karelia plane crash death toll has risen to 47.  The Orthodox Church has donated 25 2-meter-tall crosses to the Krasnoyarsk branch of the Emergency Situations Ministry to help deal with forest fires
PHOTO: A gay rights activist holds a poster reading ‘equality’ during a rally in St Petersburg
(Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images)