RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – March 19, 2010

front_1.jpgTODAY: Clash over Iran nuclear plant clouds Clinton’s Moscow visit; US Secretary of State will meet with Putin for the first time; UN Secretary General agrees on cooperation with CSTO.  Afghanistan to ask for reparations? Opposition politician and Newsweek editor claim false implication in bribe giving; hunger strike in protest against persecution of opposition; profile of rights advocate Vyacheslav Lysakov.  Ingrained police brutality examined; Alyoshin goes in sports cull.  Goodbye caviar?

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have clashed over Vladimir Putin’s announcement that the Bushehr nuclear plant in Iran would be completed, a move that Clinton views as premature’ given that the US wishes to send an ‘unequivocal statementabout Iran’s nuclear program.  Lavrov believes that the plant’s presence will give the IAEA a platform from which to ensure no non-proliferation obligations are flouted.  Clinton will have an unplanned meeting with Putin, which this report suggests may give ‘fresh impetus’ to these somewhat strained ties.  ‘At the finish line‘ is the verdict the Washington Post reports on START replacement.  ‘Out of reach’ argues an article in the Moscow Times.  Could the nascent missile defense issue prove as complex as nuclear defense?  Vladimir Kozin’s op-ed here seems to think so.  U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has signed a cooperation agreement with the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Russia-led security group of former Soviet republics.  The EU is, an article on RFE/RL suggests, losing patience with the ‘increasingly authoritarian and erratic leadership of President Mikheil Saakashvili’ in Georgia.  Afghan MPs may demand compensation from Russia for the devastation caused during the nine-year occupation.

Robert Coalson notices the absence of Nashi during Putin’s recent rough patch – is the Prime Minister’s star fading?  Russian Newsweek editor Mikhail Fishman and opposition politician Ilya Yashin have decried as false a video which appeared on YouTube that seemingly showed them giving bribes to traffic police officers.  A group of opposition politicians have begun a hunger strike in protest against the alleged oppression of opposition forces in the Caspian city of Astrakhan.  An NGO representing Ukrainians in Russia faces closure after its co-chairman made comments about FSB surveillance in classrooms.  RFE/RL has an interesting look at the kind of activism practices employed by mechanic-turned-rights defender Vyacheslav Lysakov.

A candidate for the police special forces has been beaten to death during a sparring test.  ‘Daily reports of police violence read like wartime bulletins’: the Economist examines the problem of how to reform state-sponsored police brutality.

Gennady Alyoshin has resigned as Russia’s deputy sports minister.  Beluga sturgeon has been classified as ‘critically endangered’ by International Union for Conservation of Nature.

PHOTO: Clinton reacting before her talks with Lavrov on Thursday, which concluded with pledges to cooperate on Afghanistan but disagreement over Bushehr.  (Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP)