RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – March 15, 2010

front.jpgTODAY: High turn-out in regional elections clouded in allegations of fraud; United Russia victory looks likely; spoof TV show showing Russian invasion sends panic across Georgia. START replacement deal imminent (apparently). Mass protest against toxic fumes; police confiscate newspaper run; Russia hits back at US rights report; ex-police chief lands new job; Orthodox church courts controversy with new building plan; night time drinking under fire

Turnout was high in the weekend’s elections; meanwhile accusations of fraud are flying between United Russia and opposition parties.  A cash-for-votes scandal involving frontrunners United Russia has hit the town of Tula, according to the Other Russia.  All of which bodes ill for Medvedev’s promise of a commitment to democractic procedures, which these elections are widely believed to test.  Early reports say that United Russia are, unsurprisingly, heading for victory.  A spoof television show announcing that President Mikheil Saakashvili has been assassinated in a Russian invasion of Georgia, backed by opposition leaders Nino Burjanadze and Zurab Nogaideli, has provoked mass panic in Georgia.  The opposition politicians concerned are reportedly outraged and have accused the government of being behind the fake report.  Mr Saakashvili, whose own grandmother is reportedly among the terrified, has apparently defended the program as a maximally close’ representation of Russia’s intentions.

This time, apparently, it’s true: Presidents Obama and Medvedev are allegedly closer to a deal on START, with a ‘high level of consensus’ reached.  NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has called Russia’s new military doctrine ‘very outdated’.  To see an overview of the deals between India and Russia, look here.  Is a trip to the moon next?  The New York Times examines why Russia is buying weapons abroad. 

 ‘I agree with the president. I agree with his goal of modernization […] What’s holding Russia back is fear’: Mikhail Gorbachev argues in the New York Times.  A demonstration has taken place in Slavyanka in protest against what citizens believe to be an emission of toxic fumes from an oil storage firm.  Police in Ryazan have apparently appropriated some of the print run of the special edition of ‘Vechernyaya Ryazan’ which features Communist material.  The Foreign Ministry has attacked the US state department report on human rights claiming that the dossier is an implement ‘to forward quite concrete, material foreign policy interests’.  Ex-Moscow police chief Vladimir Pronin, who lost his job in the wake of the supermarket killing spree incident, has been appointed aide to deputy Mayor and construction supervisor Vladimir Resin.  How the blogosphere is tackling corruption in Russia.

Russia’s chief sanitary doctor has chimed in with calls for the banning of night time liquor sales.  Why some believe one of the Russian Orthodox Church’s new projects involves desecration.  Soviet singer Eduard Khil is enjoying a Youtube renaissance.

PHOTO: Georgian opposition supporters using loudspeakers in central Tbilisi onSunday, March 13, 2010, to protest a fake news report aired on pro-government Imeditelevision.  (David Mdzinarishvili / Reuters)