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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – March 28, 2011

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TODAY: Yakemenko to protest Kashin claims in court; hazing rises by 16% year-on-year; Rogozin criticizes U.N. operation; Chirikova’s family threatened; Putin think-tank releases pro-Putin report; daylights savings forever; missile defense, Artur Stepanyants, racism and football; Petrov comes third in Grand Prix.
Vasily Yakemenko, the head of a pro-Kremlin youth group, will file a defamation suit against Oleg Kashin over claims that he was involved in an attack on the journalist last year.  According to the chief military prosecutor, thousands of soldiers suffer ‘hazing‘ abuses (including ‘some‘ deaths), with 16% more cases reported this year than last, numbers which cannot be blamed entirely on an overall higher number of conscripts.  NATO envoy Dmitry Rogozin criticized the U.N. intervention in Libya, warning that the operation could go full-scale: ‘Just as we forecast, NATO is being drawn deeper and deeper into war in North Africa.‘  In an Ekho Moskvy radio poll last week, 80% of respondents apparently said they would consent to military intervention if Russia got the same treatment as Libya: this writer comments.  A Washington Post blog reports on the authorities; intimidation of the family of Khimki Forest activist Yevgenia Chirikova.

A United Russia, pro-Putin think tank has released a pro-Putin reportjust days‘ after a pro-Medvedev group did the same for its own preferred 2012 presidential candidate; the Center of Conservative and Social Policy’s report calls for the return of direct gubernatorial elections.  ‘Medvedev has no future opposing Putin,‘ says Vladimir Frolov.  Daylight savings time began in Russia yesterday – and is never going to end.
[P]rogress in transforming Nato, improving US-Nato-Russia relations and nuclear threat reduction is dependent on developing a cooperative approach to missile defence,‘ says The Guardian.  The Moscow Times reports on the case of Artur Stepanyants, the Russian defense engineer charged with espionage in Ukraine.  Russia’s reputation for racism in football needs to be dealt with before the 2018 World Cup, says the BBC, investigating whether or not Zenit ‘has fostered a culture in which managers have been discouraged from signing black players.‘  Vitaly Petrov has become the first Russian ever to stand on an F1 podium, coming third in the Australian Grand Prix. 
Olga Ulyanova, the niece of Vladimir Lenin, has died in Moscow aged 89.  Anna Chapman has been ‘thrust upon the Russians‘…and the weekend newspapers
PHOTO: A member of the local chapter of the Communist Party waves a flag and holds a banner during a rally to protest against education reforms, in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod March 26, 2011. The incomplete message on the banner reads, “reform of education”. REUTERS/Konstantin Chalabov