RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – June 3, 2010

sub.jpgTODAYEU to consider visa relaxation, but fast resolution unlikely; Shuvalov acknowledges bribery problem; commemoration for victims of a Soviet protest rally crackdownMedvedev optimistic on birth rate rise; FSB reports on terrorist activity; Saakashvili victory. Taxi drivers find new flock; mission to ‘Mars’ begins

The EU has pledged to ‘study‘, using a ‘step-by-step approach’, the Russian plan to introduce visa deregulation; the union has warned it may be a lengthy process.  Russia’s first deputy Prime Minister, Igor Shuvalov, has told the BBC that bribery in Russia is an ‘awful problem’.  Konstantin Sonin in the Moscow Times examines why Medvedev’s new laws to protect business people from illegal treatment from prosecutors have met so much resistance.  Moscow Human Rights Ombudsman Aleksandr Muzykantsky has complained that pro-Kremlin youth activists can be found holding rallies on the 31st of each month, when Strategy 31 marches take place, thus providing an pretext for banning the opposition rallies.  Residents of Novocherkassk in Rostov Oblast are today commemorating the 26 people who were killed during a police crackdown on a peaceful demonstration in 1962.  Medvedev has announced that there has been a 1.5% increase in the number of births during the first quarter.  Eight couples have been awarded Motherhood Gloryawards by the President for their child-bearing capacities.

RFE/RL comments on why the EU’s abolition of special representatives to the South Caucasus and Moldova has caused consternation.  Vladimir Putin has apparently intervened infrozen relations between South Ossetia’s President Eduard Kokoity andPrime Minister Vadim Brovtsev.  Mikhail Saakashvili’s party hasreportedly won the first post-war elections in Georgia by a landslide.  The head of the FSB has warned that terrorists are attempting to gain access to nuclear materials across the former Soviet Union and that there is possible terrorist threat to the Sochi Olympics.  The Bureau also claims it has foiled 23 terrorist attacks since the start of 2010.  Last year’s $3.2 billion submarine deal with Vietnam was, Ria-Novosti reports, the largest deal in the history of Russian naval exports.

Taking Medvedev’s image in vain?  Advertisers who have used a man resembling the President to sell gardening equipment are in trouble with anti-monopoly officials.  The Moscow Times reports on why a taxi service for the devout is causing outcry.  ‘To boldly go – well, nowhere’: the Guardian looks at the 520-day simulated mission to Mars that six men will endure from a Moscow car park.  The New York Times reflects on ‘that ecstatic thaw era’ :the heyday of modern Russian poetry.

PHOTO: Medvedev posing with children for a photo Wednesday, June 2, 2010, at a Kremlin ceremony for parents with many children.  (Sergei Karpukhin / AP)