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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – March 12, 2010

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TODAY: Regional election promise little advance for opposition parties; anti-Putin petition making waves. Close Yanukovych ally named Ukrainian PM; Russia suspicious of US presence in Kyrgyzstan; buying up land in Paris. US human rights survey flags up abuses in Caucasus; white supremacists jailed.  Kirillov takes notion of tiger adoption very seriously.
As this weekend’s regional elections beckon, the Moscow Times reports that despite Medvedev’s pledges to help increase representation for smaller parties in regional legislatures, United Russia is still enjoying its juggernaut effect.  ‘Medvedev understands something needs to be done, but on the ground, his words mean nothing […] For us nothing has changed, says Maxim Petlin, head of the barred Yabloko party.  Meanwhile A Just Russia is embroiled in controversy for its leaflets.  Following the bold public anti-government statements made of late by several leading figures in the art world, a petition calling for the stepping down of Vladimir Putin has reportedly received more than 2,000 signatures, from ‘intellectuals, cultural figures, and ordinary citizens’.  The Power Vertical has a translation of the anti-Putin manifesto here.


Ukraine’s newly appointed Prime Minister Mykola Azarov is, according to reports, firmly from the Yanukovych camp.  The state’s crumbling economyis to be one of the first items on his agenda.  Read about DmitryRogozin’s response to US plans to incorporate Russian technology intomissile defense in Europe plans here.  Russia is apparently bristlingat the arrival of the US military in neighboring Kyrgyzstan.  Russiaand France have formalized an agreement to see the Kremlin buy a 4,000 square meter plot close to the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Traffic police chief Sergei Kazantsev has been called before the duma to field questions about recent damaging allegations about traffic law enforcement procedures.  The Times reports on the furore.  The US state department in its annual human rights survey has called the North Caucasus an ‘area of particular concern’.   The report apparently concluded that number of race-hate crimes committed in Russia decreased last year, though ethnic discrimination is still a worrying trend.  Nine members of a white supremacist group have been jailed for the murder of a man from Cameroon.

Vladimir Kirillov, head of Russia’s environmental watchdog, has told WWF that supporters cannot ‘adopt’ a tiger, because tigers are federal property.  The BBC meets a Russian hacker. 

 PHOTO: Steel magnate Vladimir Lisin, ranked 32nd in Forbes’ annual list of the planet’s wealthiest people.  (Sergei Porter / Vedomosti)