RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – March 14, 2011


TODAY: United Russia wins regional elections as opposition complains about dirty tactics; Russia to help Japan with energy supplies; Putin’s visa-free US travel suggestion was also made by Medvedev days earlier, says the Kremlin; Shavenkova suspended sentence means ‘no justice’; Limonov criticizes opposition for meeting with Biden; ultranationalist chemists, Sergei Korolev. 
Latest reports indicate that United Russia has won resoundingly the regional elections. ‘This tells us that the country’s political system … works in the voters’ favour and that they they trust it,‘ commented party leader Boris Gryzlov, amid ‘more violations […] than in 2010 regional elections‘, according to this report, and a ‘smaller […] number of complaints‘ than in previous elections, according to the Deputy Chairman of the Russian Central Election Commission.  RFE/RL lists the parties that were not even allowed to register, and notes an overall fall in United Russia’s approval ratings.  The Communist Party says it documented numerous violations including pro-Kremlin rallies and ‘crude measures to block election observers’ view of ballot boxes‘.  A Just Russia says its billboards in Tver were taken down.  Russia says it is ready to help with energy support to Japan in the aftermath of its earthquake and tsunami, pledging to increase liquefied natural gas and coal supplies.  ‘[D]espite different problems we have to be reliable partners,‘ said Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who has ordered extra energy shipments and humanitarian aid for Japan.

Putin’s curveball‘ proposition to Biden on visa-free travel was apparently preempted by Dmitry Medvedev, who sent a proposal on the matter to the US before Biden met with the Prime Minister.  Biden wrote in yesterday’s New York Times on the next steps for a reset between the two countries, praising recent deals but insisting that ‘our trade and investment relationship is nowhere near where it could or should be‘. 
[T]here is no justice in Russia,‘ says a representative for the victims of a car crash caused by Anna Shavenkova, the daughter of a former official, who has been given a suspended sentence for her role in the deaths of two women in December 2009.  Eduard Limonov has criticized the Russia opposition leaders who met with US Vice President Joe Biden last week: ‘Politicians who get close to the American administration traditionally have problems with our people. We’re an independent people, after all. Appealing to Uncle Sam Biden is shameful and kind of childish.‘ 
Are ultranationalist chemistry students behind the recent attacks on the FSB?  The Guardian writes on Sergei Korolev, the ‘brains‘ behind the space journey of Yury Gagarin. 
PHOTO: Flowers are seen in front of the Japanese Embassy in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, March 13, 2011. Japan was hit by a massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake and a following tsunami. The disaster has killed many and devastated the country’s northeastern coast. (AP Photo / Misha Japaridze)