RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – June 28, 2010

FRONT-3-G20.jpgTODAY: Clinton voices concern over Magnitsky case; pro-Kremlin journalist found murdered; official throws cash away; ‘Etiquette for Foreigners’ guide under fire; 5 detained at St Petersburg pride rally; servicemen protest. Medvedev makes gloomy assessment of Kyrgyzstan referendum; Moldova irks with Soviet occupation day; Stalin firmly off his pedestal in Georgia; cigarettes and alcohol 

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has told a U.S.-Russia civil society summit that justice must be served regarding the death in detention of Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.  A 26-year-old journalist for the pro-Kremlin Expert cable television channel has been found stabbed to death in his Moscow apartment; apparently investigators currently believe that the crime has no link to his professional status.  Huguette Labelle, chair of the Transparency International watchdog group, is interviewed here about extirpating corruption in Russia.  An official from the Fisheries Agency threw $322,700 of out his car window during a police chase in an attempt to avoid bribery charges.  Students in Moscow have protested for greater autonomy in their education.  Meanwhile a small number of teachers in the Volga region are on hunger strike.  300 demonstrators, many of them servicemen, have demonstrated in Pskov against the reforms currently under way in the military.  The new Muscovite code for foreigners is less for foreigners as a whole, than for Central Asian migrant workers, this commentator on RFE/RL suggests.  Gay activists have managed to stage a brief rally in St Petersburg, despite a ban: at least 5 demonstrators were detained.  Prominent human rights activists and the liberal Yabloko party have voiced their support for ombudsman Vladimir Lukin, who has received harsh criticism from United Russia over the latest Strategy 31 rally.

Medvedev has told reporters at this weekend’s G8/G20 summits that he believes the format has a future.  Apparently Central Asia’s first parliamentary democracy, voted in by the electorate of Kyrgyzstan, has been met with skepticism by the Russian President.  Reuters reports that he told the G20 that it will lead to a ‘chain of eternal problems’ that may facilitate the rise ofterrorists.  The Kremlin has not taken kindly to Moldova’s decision to nominate June 28 ‘the Day of Soviet Occupation’, calling it a ‘sacrilege’.  Ria-Novosti has reported that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko believes his relationship with Dmitry Medvedev to be amicable and the one he shares with Vladimir Putin’s government more problematic.  Nonetheless the Belarusian President has said that the gas spat has not harmed ties.  The Power Vertical reports on which of Russia’s neighbors currently feels the most intimidated by the Kremlin.  Following his first meeting with the new British Prime Minister, Medvedev has said that bilateral relations ‘need a certain adjustment’.

Two monuments to Stalin have been pulled down in Georgia since Friday, with President Mikheil Saakashvili saying of the Georgian native and Soviet dictator: ‘a memorial to Stalin has no place in the Georgia of the 21st Century’.  Popular opinion is apparently divided‘Who will they put up a statue to now?’ said a disgruntled citizen, quoted by the New York Times, ‘Misha Saakashvili?  Reuters reports on the work of documentary maker Semyon Pinkhasov which has apparently shed light on life in Communist Russia.

The Kremlin is planning a new bill to ban late-night sales of alcohol.  Russian cigarette packets will now sport warning messages designed to reduce the 500,000 death toll from smoking each year.  President Medvedev turns to writing: he has co-authored a civil law textbook.

PHOTO: President Dmitry Medvedev using his iPad during a break at the G8 Summit in Huntsville, Canada. Dmitry Astakhov / AP/RIA-Novosti)