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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – March 5, 2010

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TODAY: Kaliningrad protesters to form coalition; Yukos case will keep its representative, Kremlin claims improper filing; US returns Russian silver pendant; Olympic Committee head confirms resignation; LUKoil crash continues to create problems; North Caucasus insurgency.
Anti-government protest organizers in Kaliningrad are forming a new coalition, with the aim of ‘break[ing] the political monopoly of United Russia‘.  Piers Gardner will continue to be allowed to represent Yukos at the European Court of Human Rights, despite Russia’s calls for the record €71 ($98) billion claim case’s dismissal.  Gardner presented a 90-minute introduction speech yesterday, explaining that Yukos was transparent in its tax dealings.  The company refers to the Kremlin’s bankrupting of the firm as ‘disguised expropriation‘.  The Kremlin claims that the case was improperly filed.  The US has returned home a stolen silver pendant that once belonged to Russia’s last tsar, in a ‘conciliatory gesture‘ that the US Ambassador thinks will help the two countries ‘build a better relationship‘.

Russian Olympic Committee chief Leonid Tyagachyov has confirmed that he is resigning his post, following some contradictory reports, and urged other officials to implement reforms. ‘I feel personal responsibility for each of our athletes; therefore, I decided to take the blame myself.‘  More on the LUKoil car crash that is the cause of a ‘public relations nightmare‘.  Is United Russia’s innovation scientist, who says he can turn radioactive waste into drinking water, the real thing, or a ‘master of bluff‘?  
Reuters investigates the jihadist roots of Russia’s North Caucasus insurgency.  
PHOTO: Russian servicemen take part in war games held by units of North Caucasus military district at a firing ground near the settlement of Tarskoye, about 20 km (12 miles) east of Russia’s city of Vladikavkaz March 4, 2010. Picture taken March 4, 2010. REUTERS/Kazbek Basayev