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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – March 25, 2011

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TODAY: Other Russia member threatened by authorities; Medvedev says progress on Kashin case; BBC’s Russia service ends today; perestroika-era newspaper to return; metro chief investigation; Putin’s approval rating drops; Obama supports WTO bid; Chamov stokes Libya tensions; Israel says faces a common threat with Russia; prosecutors and investigators row; metro chief on charges.
Other Russia party member Olga Zhukova could have her children taken away from her, if police threats are anything to go by.  Party members say the threats are motivated by an upcoming March of Dissent in St Petersburg that will call for the Mayor’s resignation. ‘Threatening to take children away from opposition activists is not an uncommon tactic used by the Russian authorities.‘  When pressed, President Dmitry Medvedev said that progress has been made on the inquiry into the attack on journalist Oleg Kashin, ‘but I can’t talk about it‘.  Bloggers including Kashin, meanwhile, think that pro-Kremlin youth groups are to blame.  The BBC’s Russian Service ceases radio broadcasts today, due to budget cuts by the British government, leaving only a Russian-language website.  The Moskovskie Novosti newspaper will return to publication after a three-year absence, with ambitions to ‘join the ranks of the country’s leading media‘.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s approval rating is at its lowest level since mid-2005, says a poll that counts economic stagnation as the driving factor.  U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged his support for Russia’s World Trade Organization bid, as Medvedev called for an end to civilian deaths in Libya.  Vladimir Chamov, the former ambassador to Libya who was fired by the President last week, insinuated that Russia has betrayed its interests in the country by backing an arms embargo that guarantees its loss of $4 billion in weapons deals.  The Guardian says Chamov’s comments have ‘stoked new tension‘ between the ruling tandem.  The New York Times reviews the implications of the recent Putin/Medvedev spat over the U.N. security council resolution: ‘Even a man and his wife in one family have different views on the same subject.‘  The Foreign Ministry is to ‘cut the number of employees‘ stationed in Libya. ‘We do not speak of evacuation.‘  Whilst Russia seeks to broker a reconciliation between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (‘a bid to bolster its role in Middle East peacemaking‘), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that Russia and Israel face a common threat in the ‘radicalization of Islamist regimes‘, urging that Iran must not be permitted to acquire nuclear weapons. 
Now that Medvedev has split the prosecutors’ and investigators’ offices into autonomous agencies, disputes like this one, relating to an illegal gambling operation, could become commonplace.  Moscow is the new host of the world figure skating championships, taking over the role from Tokyo.  A case has been opened against former Moscow metro chief Dmitry Gayev on charges of abuse of authority, after the metro ‘misspent 3.3 billion rubles‘.
The Telegraph reports on Maria Gruzdeva’s recent photographs of Russian space facilities.  Pirates! 
PHOTO: Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev visits an exhibition of art objects and installations at Moscow House of Photography March 24, 2011. REUTERS/Dmitry Astakhov/RIA Novosti