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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – March 21, 2011

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TODAY: United Russia member calls out state TV bias; Moscow protest leads to beatings, arrest; Strategy 31 rally blocked; Russia urges end to ‘non-selective’ attacks on Libya; Robert Gates in Russia; Lenin killed by Brits? Blueberry Hill charity to pay up; Putin sees Olympics mascot as a sign of modern Russia; ‘Russian Kenneth Starr’ dies in Moscow.
A member of United Russia is calling for a public council that would improve and prevent bias on state television, an appeal which was dismissed by some as a populist stunt.  A 300-strong Moscow protest against rising gas prices drew police attention, with two participants beaten and opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov arrested.  Eduard Limonov’s request to hold a Strategy 31 rally in Triumfalnaya Square has been rejected, apparently because a pro-Kremlin group will be using the square for a blood drive instead.  The fact that Russia didn’t use its veto in the U.N. Security Council resolution on Libya indicates that, ‘for the first time since the early 1990s, Russia has something resembling a positive foreign policy agenda,‘ says Dmitry Trenin.  All the same, the country has expressed regret about the violence seen thus far in the new war, and is calling for an end to ‘non-selective attacks‘.  A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said that 48 civilians had been killed and 150 wounded in the air strikes thus far (current numbers are slightly higher).

It was initially thought that the rumor that Britain was responsible for the death of Lenin was ‘mere Soviet propaganda‘ – but it may be true, says the BBC.  Federation, the St Petersburg charity behind Putin’s Blueberry Hill gig, will donate $6 million worth of equipment to three hospitals in order to dispel rumors following complaints that it had failed to send any funds in the wake of the fundraiser (which, it insisted, was not a fundraiser to begin with).  Moscow to build an Orthodox cathedral next to the Eiffel Tower?  The 2014 Sochi Olympics mascot is ‘a sign of modern Russia‘, says Vladimir Putin: ‘the fact that one of the symbols of the Olympics has become an animal that we are reviving, and which was destroyed by humans […] of the last century, suggests that Russia is becoming different.‘ 
Viktor Ilyukhin, a Communist prosecutor nicknamed ‘the Russian Kenneth Starr‘, has died in Moscow.  The 25th anniversary of Chernobyl is coming up: ‘the Chernobyl experience still contains lessons for Japan and other countries‘.  The Guardian reviews a book that, it says, ‘will become the definitive account in English of the Soviet experience in Afghanistan‘.  U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is in Russia to discuss arms control, Libya, and Iran.  With regard to missile defense, Gates says that cooperation with Russia on missile defense could include setting up a joint data center.  
PHOTO: An activist of an anti-Kremlin opposition group, The Left Front, holds a poster reading ‘Hands off Libya’ during his picket at the NATO representative office in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, March 19, 2011. The Left Front is an outspoken, Moscow-based coalition of Communist and anarchist groups. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)