RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – March 23, 2010

putin.jpgTODAY: Journalist censored for critique of over-centralization; Council of Europe to assess human rights in Russia; a look at North Koreans seeking asylum.  Analysis of START slow down; Russian Defense Minister in Vietnam.  Smuggling-corruption case draws to a close; hackers arrested; penal reforms.  Paralympian success.

Journalist Maksim Sokolov has resigned from his job at newspaper Izvestia, after editors rejected an article which criticized Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov’s suggestion that the Russian Silicon Valley be located in a former car factory in Moscow, which Sokolov views as reflecting a dangerous trend of ‘geographical super-ultra centralization’.  Senior lawmakers from the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly have landed in Moscow to determine the extent to which Russia is complying with its human rights commitments.  Rapporteur Dick Marti’s first stop will be Ingushetia.  ‘In the end, the political spectrum has become more narrow and primitive’: why the ostensible opening of elections is little more than a smoke screen in an op-ed in the Moscow Times.  Tens of thousands of North Korean loggers apparently work in grim conditions in Russia’s Far East; the Moscow Times looks at the uncertain fortunes of those bidding for asylum.

To be ‘wrapped up in the coming days’: no prizes for guessing which treaty this diplomat is referring to.  Russia’s top military commander has said that the arms reduction agreement will be contingent on missile defense being included‘Some Russian analysts also have suggested that President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin have different interests in rapid conclusion (and ratification) of the treaty, which is related to their positioning for the next presidential contest’: from Time Magazine.  Obama’s Kremlin strategy is ‘drearily consistent with how past U.S. presidents have handled their relations with Russia’ and no recipe for success argues an article in Foreign Policy.  Russia is fostering military cooperation with Vietnam.

The Moscow Times looks at the once high-profile furniture smuggling case of Sergei Zuyev, which made waves for exposing apparent corruption within the FSB.   Prison barracks, which house 724,000 out of a total prison population of 862,000, placing first time offenders against career criminals, could be done away with under new reforms to the penitentiary system, according to the New York Times.  The FSB has jailed several people on suspicion of hacking into the Royal Bank of Scotland and stealing $9 million.  Could anarchy be the preferred choice for disgruntled Russians? 

Another blow to Russia’s airline safety record.  Triumph for Paralympians.

PHOTO: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his deputy Dmitry Kozak meeting in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Monday, March 22.  (Alexei Nikolsky / AP)