TODAY: Reports says START deal made, Prague to host signing ceremony; Russian aircraft frequent visitors to British airspace. PACE monitors lambasts Kremlin approach to freedom of assembly; Putin-loyal parties in dispute. UR toning down amnesty plans; protesters in Barnaul call for Putin’s resignation. Compensation for red-tape victims?; Interior Ministry encourages public suggestions for reform; modernity in Ukraine. Cheap vodka; maths genius recluse; Tolstoy.
Reports are circulating that the START replacement treaty will be ready for an April 8 signing ceremony in Prague; the Washington Post states that the deal has been made. Each side will reduce its long-range nuclear weapons from a ceiling of 2,200 to between 1,500 and 1,675: the Guardian has a full overview here. A Q and A on why the deal is important can be found on Reuters. In spite of the reset, apparently almost 75% of Russians still view the US as a possible aggressor. According to the Telegraph, RAF jets have been scrambled 20 times in the past year to intercept Russian aircraft. NATO has rejected Russia’s criticisms over poppy field eradication (or lack thereof) in Afghanistan.
‘It is not apparent to the Russian government that the right to free assembly is a basic human right and should not be a topic for debate’: members of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly have lambasted Russia’s treatment of the political opposition. The Moscow Times has a profile of Viktor Kondrashov,the new opposition mayor of Irkutsk. A war of words has broken outbetween A Just Russia and United Russia: but how deep can bickeringbetween Kremlin loyalists really go, asks this article. Apparently United Russia is attenuating its amnesty plan, reducing it from 333,200 people to around 100 war veterans.
Moscow City Hall is firmly backing Mayor Yury Luzhkov’s deputy Alexander Ryabinin in the corruption investigation against him, which it says will ‘come to nothing’. Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev has called on the public for suggestions as to how to reform the police department. ‘Casual and endemic’: the Times highlights corruption. Judges in Ingushetia have complained that President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov presses them on what verdicts they should deliver. Could there be compensation for those who have got caught up in red tape?
500 protesters have gathered in the city of Barnaul today to protest against utility-price increases and call for Putin to step down. ‘Conducting reforms is not women’s business‘: good to know that Ukraine’s new Kremlin-friendly Prime Minister is keeping up with the times. The affordability of vodka is doing little to encourage abstinence in Russia, researchers say. Much today about Russian maths genius and recluse Grigory Perelman, who is being offered the Clay Millenium Prize. Tolstoy forgotten?
PHOTO: Cadets of the State Firefighting Academy, including one holding a portrait of the chief of the Moscow firefighting service, Col. Yevgeny Chernyshev, lining up during a civil funeral ceremony in Moscow on Wednesday, March 24. (Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP)