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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – March 3, 2010

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TODAY: Medvedev in France, Sarkozy claims similar objectives; 5,000-strong rally in Kaliningrad; Rogozin on Russia’s ‘privileged interests’; Media rights group claims Sochi journalists are being pressured into blocking certain coverage; Sports Minister says he will resign; Orange coalition dissolved.
President Dmitry Medvedev is in France, where Nicolas Sarkozy urged him to follow through with his reform program and root out corruption ‘out of respect for your own promises‘, saying that the two countries have similar objectives.  Medvedev’s delegation is signing agreements in energy and transport.  Talks in France also touched on Iran sanctions, with Medvedev still hoping to avoid punitive measures.  Reports are now emerging that Kaliningrad held a 5,000-strong rally in Chernyakhovsk on Monday demanding improvements in social services – a smaller gathering than anticipated, apparently due to misinformation and threats from businesses for employees not to attend.  Dmitry Rogozin clears up the matter of the Kremlin referring to its ‘privileged interests‘ in the post-Soviet space.  Russia is famously wary of NATO’s expansion, but improved relations between the two are still a concern for Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

Reporters Without Borders, the Paris-based media rights group, says local journalists are being ‘press-ganged‘ into toeing the Kremlin line on preparations to host the 2014 Winter Olympics, blocking coverage of environmental problems and evictions.  Russia’s Sports Minister is the first official to react to Medvedev’s calls for post-Olympic resignations, leaving his post ‘peacefully if this was directed at me‘.  Bureaucracy forces the police to report continually growing crime-solving rates, leading to wrongful accusations, says this article.  The Constitutional Court is currently hearing a case on whether or not suspected terrorists will be permitted to receive jury trials.  
The killing of Ingush oppositionist Magomed Yevloyev has been ruled as ‘accidental‘, with the killer’s sentenced reduced to two years of house arrest.  In Ukrainian politics, the Orange coalition has been dissolved, making Tymoshenko’s ousting ‘inevitable‘, according to one political analyst. ‘The Orange forces have been defeated on every front.‘ Russian film-maker Vladimir Yakovlevich Motyl died last month, aged 82.  
PHOTO: France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy (L), his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy (2nd L), welcome Russia’s President Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) and his wife Svetlana (2nd R) as they arrive for a state dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris March 2, 2010. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen