RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – June 8, 2011

putin.jpgTODAY: Police on hunt for rights worker attacker; Khodorkovsky seeks parole again; freedom for fines for economic criminals; NTV broadcasts program made by Magnitsky supporters.  Bomb in Siberia; Georgia-Russia tensions mount; Russia-NATO in counter-terrorism exercise; Russia’s envoy talks to Libyan rebels; Putin woos construction workers with song

Police in Moscow say they are searching for a group of unknown assailants who attacked Memorial human rights worker Bakhrom Khamroyev on Monday.  ‘Russia has an obligation to carry out a prompt, effective, and impartial investigation’ says Human Rights Watch.  Former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky has appealed for a second time to a Moscow court for release on parole.  According to the Moscow Times, a senior investigator who led the probe into the second Yukos case has been assigned to check reports that the verdict of the case was illegally imposed on the judge.  A court in central Russia has taken two months off the prison sentence of former Yukos executive Vladimir Pereverzin; his lawyers were aiming for a two year reduction.  A new bill liberalizing the Criminal Code would grant freedom to economic criminals if they pay a fine five times more than the value of the damage they have caused. In an unexpected move, state-controlled NTV television has broadcast a report condemning the luxury lifestyles of officials implicated in the case of Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.  The victories gained by Medvedev in his battle against graft.  Yulia Latynina suggests that if corruption continues, a devaluation of the ruble may well be around the corner.

Reuters reports that a bomb explosion on a railway line in Siberia has disrupted traffic but caused no injuries.  No one has of yet claimed responsibility.  Fears are mounting of increased tensions between Georgia and Russia as Tbilisi threatens to walk away from discussions with the Kremlin if Moscow refuses to halt its ‘terror campaign’.   Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin has been quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying Russia would study Georgia’s allegations of Kremlin-sponsored terrorism carefully.

Russian and NATO forces have participated in joint counter-terrorism exercises in Poland designed to deal with a September 11 style incident.  Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s ambassador to NATO, has penned a piece for the New York Times outlining Russia’s reservations about U.S. anti-missile defenses in Europe.  Charles A. Kupchan retorts: ‘Especially for NATO members hailing from Central Europe, sharing privileged technology or command authority with Russia is tantamount to letting the fox in the hen-house’.  Mikhail Margelov, Russia’s special envoy to Africa, has arrived in Benghazi for talks with Libyan rebels.  Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has reaffirmed Russia’s opposition to submitting of a resolution on Syria to the UN Security Council.

For his latest publicity stunt, Vladimir Putin has been seen bonding with a group of volunteer construction workers in Sochi by crooning Soviet- era music around a campfire.

PHOTO: Prime Minister Putin speaking with members of a volunteer construction group on a Sochi beach late Monday, June 6, 2011.   (Alexey Druzhinin / RIA-Novosti / Reuters)