RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – March 2, 2011

police.jpgTODAY: Lavrov urges caution on Libya; Russia will deploy missiles to Kuril islands; Vitaly Churkin defends Belarus on UN’s Ivory Coast accusations.  Khimki forest activist claims threats to her children; new police law met with a new stunt from Voina; Russian Nobel Peace Prize?  Gorbachev’s legacy examined as last Soviet leader turns 80; nightclub takes Putin’s name in vain.

As pressure mounts for an international response to the situation in Libya, Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has described the idea of a no-fly zone as ‘superfluous’.  A ‘living political corpse who has no place in the modern civilized world’ is apparently one Kremlin source’s verdict on the restive nation’s embattled leader Muammar Gaddafi.  According to the New York Times, Russia will arm the Kuril Islands, the subject of a territorial dispute with Japan, with P-800 rockets.  Russia’s $650 million rearmament plans are a signal to China that it takes the Asia-Pacific arena seriously, says a Reuters analysis.  Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, has criticized Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon comments accusing Belarus of violating an arms embargo on Ivory Coast as ‘regrettable’ and ‘premature’.  As Great Britain tightens its purse strings, Russia will no longer be a recipient of aid.  The parliament of the Karachayevo-Cherkessia Republic has approved Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s proposed candidate, Rashid Temrezov, to succeed Boris Ebzeyev as the republic’s president – find out whose camp he’s is in on RFE/RL

Khimki forest activist Yevgenia Chirikova claims that an investigation by local authorities into her alleged mistreatment of her children is just one part of a wider harassment campaign led against her by the powers that be.  The Moscow Times examines one aspect of the Kremlin’s new police reform law, the ‘massive purge’ of staff, with more than 100,000 officers set to be laid off by May.  The BBC has a video report.   Art collective Voina have their own unique way of greeting the new law.  A Moscow poet has expressed fears he may face ethnic hatred charges over a poem describingDecember rioting near the Kremlin.  A founding member of the Memorial human rights group, Svetlana Gannushkina, who has assisted people from Nagorno-Karabakh to Chechnya, is among the 241 nominations for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize

On the eve of Gorbachev’s 80th birthday, a Washington Post op-ed argues that ‘[i]f democracy eventually returns to Russia, Gorbachev will be remembered as the greatest reformer in that nation’s tormented history’.  A Moscow Times piece also draws lessons from Gorbachev’s legacy: ‘Looking back at his domestic record, the three mantras of Gorbachev’s tenure — perestroika, khozraschyot and glasnost — can serve as hints on how to progress’.

Russia may cancel visas for foreigners, in an effort to encourage tourism, a senior Federal Border Service official has told the Moscow Times.  A reprieve for Moscow’s stray dogs.  A Moscow nightclub named Paradise may have fallen foul of the Prime Minister’s office with plans to hold an event entitled ‘Putin Party’.

PHOTO: Officers stumbling while breaking up a Left Front protest against the police law Tuesday, March 2, 2011 at the Justice Ministry.  (Alexander Natruskin / Reuters)