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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – March 11, 2010

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TODAY: Medvedev calls for LUKoil crash investigation; police force apologizes over human shield incident; Daghestan calls for dismissal of top investigator; Medvedev to form new political party? Protests across Russia as utility prices rise; Berezovsky wins libel case over poison allegations; hiring foreign teachers could be made easier.
President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered the Interior Minister to investigate the fatal car crash involving a LUKoil vice president after an apparent police cover-up caused public outrage, a flood of online protests and an open letter signed by many public figures calling for an investigation.  The Investigative Committee is looking into allegations that traffic police formed a human shield out of civilians’ cars last week.  The head of Moscow’s police force has apparently issued an apology for the incident, which has been picked up by the Western press today.  Daghestan police want the Kremlin to fire its top investigator for proposing to create a database containing the fingerprints of the entire North Caucasus population.  Medvedev’s administration has reportedly been charged with the task of creating a new, ‘business-oriented‘ political party to rival United Russia.

100 protesters gathered in Chalyabinsk yesterday over unchecked utility prices and low pensions, reports RFE/RL, which also examines citizens’ motivations for the ‘tide of protests‘ happening across Russia in recent weeks.  Russia to ban late night liquor sales?  Actor Aleksei Devotchenko’s blog statement urging Russian artists to take a stand against the government ‘will undoubtedly spell the end of his official career in Russia‘.  
Boris Berezovsky won his London High Court libel case against state-owned All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting (VGTRK), for a savage‘ accusation that he organized the 2006 poisoning death of former security agent Alexander Litvinenko. VGTRK called the ruling ‘illegal‘.  The United Russia-led Moscow City Duma has passed the second reading of a widely-criticized bill outlining construction plans for the city.  Critics say the bill puts corporate interests first.  
The process for hiring foreign teachers, currently hampered by bureaucracy, could be streamlined this month. 
PHOTO: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin welcomes King Abdullah II of Jordan during in Novo-Ogarevo March 10. (AFP/Pool/Sergei Chirikov)