RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – March 8, 2011


TODAY: Popularity of International Women’s Day started in Russia; Kadyrov defends headscarves; Putin Party angers Kremlin; Moscow traffic laws will restrict right to protest; Peskov chases Blueberry Hill funding; Sevastopol one year on; Sochi terrorism hurdles; Biden in Russia; Lavrov says no military intervention in Libya; Voina loses nomination; journalist Shermatova dies.
The first ever International Women’s Day was 100 years ago, at which time its popularity was most pronounced in Eastern Europe, Russia and the former Soviet bloc.  Was it the symbolic ‘early ties to socialism and the Russian Revolution that made it deeply unpopular in the United States‘?  Chechnyan leader Ramzan Kadyrov denies that the forced wearing of headscarves for women in his republic contributes to an atmosphere of intimidation: ‘no hair style, no color could make such beauty‘.  Despite increased rhetoric from Britain, France and the US on a no-fly zone over Libya, Russia continues to oppose foreign military intervention.  Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insists that Libya needs political solutions to deal with current violence and unrest, rather than intervention, and that Russia’s stance is to support the providing of humanitarian aid.

New legislation on traffic jams, to come into effect in Moscow, will directly threaten the right to protest by limiting the numbers permitted to gather near transportation facilities, reports The Other Russia.  Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, has provided details of the ‘three concrete medical institutions‘ that will benefit from the prime minister’s Blueberry Hill fundraiser.  The BBC reports on the current situation in Sevastopol one year on from Ukraine’s agreement to extend the lease for the Black Sea Fleet: ‘for Russia, Sevastopol is not just another port, it is a symbol of Russia.‘  A ‘Putin Party‘, held at a Moscow nightclub over the weekend to celebrate ‘the coolest, most respected man in all of Russia‘ was apparently ornamented with ‘striptease dancers writh[ing] with signs saying “I want the prime minister”.‘  But Putin’s team are not pleased. ‘It is important for us that no one uses the premier’s name for commercial goals without his permission.
The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics are facing huge security hurdles because of its geographical location, between breakaway Abkhazia and the volatile Caucasus. But never mind that: a deputy prime minister is alleged by the New York Times to have said that ‘the Sochi Olympics would be a target for extremist groups around the world, not just those from the Caucasus.‘  US Vice President Joe Biden will meet with Russian leaders this week to discuss accession to the World Trade Organization, but all eyes are on Georgia, which still has the power to veto such a move, and for whom the issue is ‘a double-edged sword‘. 
Russian-Uzbek journalist Sanobar Shermatova has died in Moscow, aged 59.  ArtForum reports on Voina’s exclusion from the list of nominations for the Innovacija art prize. 
PHOTO: A woman takes a photo of Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev (R) during his visit to Vnukovo airport outside Moscow February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Vladimir Rodionov/RIA Novosti/Kremlin