TODAY: Russia confirms allegations of soldiers plundering Polish crash site; Medvedev breach with Putin on ecology? Gazprom tower appeal rejected; Yabloko active on Gen Plan and Lake Baikal; anniversary of journalist murder. Georgia threatens Sochi boycott, local residents continue to complain; Brazil-Russia tourism to increase; new rule on Duma truancy; Orthodox holiday recognition causes upset
Apparently Russia has confirmed that at least three Russian soldiers (not OMON police officers, as first reported) have been detained on suspicion of stealing from the Smolensk crash site where the Polish President died. A court in St Petersburg has approved plans for the Gazprom tower, despite well-advertised disapproval from Dmitry Medvedev. The President has told lawmakers to draw up a draft framework for the country’s ecological policy for the next 20 years – in tacit disapproval of Putin’s environmental record as Ria-Novosti suggests? The Yabloko party has lodged a law suit in Moscow demanding the annulment of the architectural ‘General Plan’ for the town’s development. Four Yabloko activists who held a small protest in Red Square against what they view as negligent treatment of Lake Baikal have been detained by police. Moscow prosecutors have suspended the demolition of a number of historic buildings in the Kadashi district after activists protested. RFE/RL has a video on the feelings of abandonment prevalent in a Siberian village which has become isolated due to flooding.
Members of the Yabloko party have gathered in Kalmykia to commemorate the 12-year anniversary of the slaying of journalist Larisa Yudina, who was killed whilst investigating official corruption. The Jackson-Vanik Amendment should be used as leverage ‘against Russia’s deplorable human-rights record’ argue two contributors to the Seattle Times. Read here an interesting op-ed on why TV channels, normally locked in ratings wars, have shown solidarity of late.
Georgia says it may boycott the 2014 Winter Olmpyics in Sochi in protest over the ‘occupation‘ of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The Moscow Times reports on local anger at state compensation for land claims by the government for Olympic facilities. ‘The president is far from proving he can breathe life into the shattered Ukrainian economy’: critics analyze Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych’s first 100 days in power. Paraguayan Foreign Minister Hector Lacognata has said that it will cooperate with Russia in matters of security and defense. Tourism between Brazil and Russia is expected to rise as an agreement on short term visa-free travel comes into effect.
The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, has, according to RFE/RL, proposed a law that would allow young men to buy their way out of the draft. Medvedev has said that to enact reforms of the police force considerable federal funds will be required. Alexander Golts argues that however many funds are allotted, the results are inevitably the same: ‘The money disappears without a trace’. Rules to ensure that deputies cannot play truant will apparently be introduced in September.
PHOTO: A construction worker handling a frame at the building site of the Bolshoi Ice Palace on June 3, 2010 in Sochi. As the host of the 2014 Winter Olympics, the southern city has been dotted by controversial infrastructure projects. (Igor Yakunin / AP)