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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – March 4, 2010

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TODAY: Confusion over Olympic Head’s resignation; Yabloko beard protest leads to arrests; Stalin posters to appear in Moscow, but not Irkutsk; Yukos case to be heard at European Court of Human Rights; Sarkozy’s reasons for warship sale; LUKoil crash causing a stir.
Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov has announced that portraits of Stalin will be featured from now on as part of future city celebrations: ‘I am not an admirer of Stalin,‘ he said. ‘I am an admirer of objective history.‘  The mayor of Irkutsk, on the other hand, says that there will be no Stalin monuments in the city whilst he is in charge, despite calls from the Communist Party and veterans to the contrary.  Yukos and the Kremlin will meet in the European Court of Human Rights this week, six years after company representatives filed a complaint with the court.  Parts of former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s article in Nezavisimaya Gazeta have appeared in the Moscow Times, which focuses on claims about the ‘authorized violence‘ in Russia’s judicial system, and Reuters, which looks at Khodorkovsky’s comments about potentially violent unrest in Russia that could stem from a lack of judicial reform. What is behind Sarkozy’s sale of French warships to Russia? ‘[S]ome observers think the naval deal is being used as bait by Sarkozy to secure France wider-ranging business deals with Russia,‘ says Time.

RFE/RL looks at the scandal erupting over a fatal car crash involving LUKoil executive, Anatoly Barkov, who appears to be escaping justice – subsequently causing motorists to threaten boycotts of LUKoil gas stations and inspiring rap protest songs.  The usually ‘uncensored‘ Ekho Moskvy radio station apparently prohibited one of its ‘culture critics‘ from playing the song on the air earlier this week.  
Many reports yesterday indicated that Olympic Committee head Leonid Tyagachyov had resigned from his post in the wake of the ‘deep gloom‘ of Russia’s poor performance at the Olympics, but Tyagachyov’s personal spokeswoman, Darya Chervonenko, apparently denied the news as ‘premature‘.  Opposition party Yabloko staged a protest in front of the Central Election Commission building in Moscow, urging the chairman who swore on his beard that elections would be fair to go through with his promise. ‘Several members‘ were detained as a result. 
PHOTO: Russia President Dmitry Medvedev speaks with Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin during their meeting at the Gorki presidential residence outside Moscow on Wednesday, March 3, 2010. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Dmitry Astakhov, Presidential Press Service)