RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – March 16, 2011


TODAY: Putin declared honorary citizen of Kosovo; Russian Patriots Party; Putin urges opposition not to get angry; Strategy 31 could move its protests; footballer says he was beaten into terminating his contract; still no Russian support for a no-fly zone over Libya; Kremlin think tank wants Medvedev to run in 2012; regulations to protect brown bears.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has been declared an honorary citizen of Kosovo for ‘safeguard[ing its] territorial integrity‘, to the disdain of its Interior Minister, who called it ‘a pathetic move‘.  Elections in Russia ‘are always won by United Russia‘, says The Economist, which also hones in on the relatively new Russian Patriots party winning almost 8% of the vote, and wonders whether the party is a Kremlin-backed project, designed to act as ‘a spoiler for the Communist Party‘?  Putin is urging his own opposition not to ‘get angry […] or curse anybody‘ in the wake of the regional elections, although he acknowledges that, whilst the policy of the leading political party should always be problem-solving, it is the opposition’s role to criticize.  Strategy 31 organizer Lyudmila Alexeyeva may try to move the group’s monthly protests to Pushkin Square in a bid to gather more protesters (and possibly to avoid confrontations with the unsanctioned faction of its own group under the direction of Eduard Limonov), having run into so much trouble attempting to gather in Triumfalnaya Square, which is now surrounded by a construction barrier.

Nikola Nikezic, a Montenegrin football striker with the Russian Premier League club Kuban Krasnodar, says he was beaten for 20 minutes after declining an offer to terminate his contract.  In response to his claims, the club’s sporting director is threatening to sue him.  A Constitutional Court aide has resigned after publicly criticizing Kremlin plans to soften punishments for certain crimes.
Russia is still holding off on offering its support for a no-fly zone over Libya, requesting further details and clarity about what the move would entail.  The Institute for Contemporary Development (INSOR), a Kremlin think tank, hopes that its new ‘reset of democracy‘ political proposals urging ‘systemic and deep‘ modernization will prompt Dmitry Medvedev to run for re-election.  According to a co-author, ‘This report was not done on an order [from above], and I can say for sure that it is not addressed to Putin.‘  This Reuters piece says the report calls for an overhaul of the police and security services, which gained power under Putin. 
Russia will introduce new regulations to protect hibernating brown bears, and mother bears with cubs, from hunters. 
PHOTO: Belarus Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich (L), his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin (C) and State Secretary of the Union of Russia and Belarus Pavel Borodin toast during their meeting in Minsk March 15, 2011. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko