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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – May 10, 2011

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TODAY: Victory Day parade, Medvedev promises military boost, spat with Georgia; WTO accession; politicians critical of Putin’s People’s Front; wildfire worries; United Russia calls for Mironov resignation; authorities pull plug on historical buildings demolition; former US-Russia adviser on NATO expansion.
Moscow’s Red Square Victory Day parade (which was not open to the public) saw a record 20,000 soldiers marching, although there was less military hardware on show than in previous years.  The Guardian has images from the parade.  President Dmitry Medvedev marked the occasion with a pledge to reform the military to give troops ‘the most modern technology‘, and appealed to the global community to guard against new conflicts.  ‘Today Russia firmly upholds the principles of peaceful cooperation, consistently advocates for a security system and contributes to the overall effort to maintain global stability in the world.‘  The Georgian government rejected Medvedev’s congratulations as they were not addressed to President Saakashvili; the Foreign Minister said it was ‘no accident‘ that no Russian representatives had attended a Georgian wreath-laying ceremony.  Strained relations with Georgia are now the only obstacle to Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization: Tbilisi wants to be able to monitor trade along the borders between Russia and the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Non-United Russia politicians are critical of an initiative proposed by Vladimir Putin to form a nonpartisan people’s front ahead of the elections.  A co-leader of Right Cause called it ‘an attempt to create a single-party system‘; Boris Nemtsov called it a bid ‘to keep personal power‘.  A Moscow Times editorial sums up Putin’s people’s front thusly: ‘Putin clearly comes out the winner, while everyone else loses.‘  Greenpeace Russia is accusing the Emergency Situations Ministry of downplaying the seriousness of wildfires in the Moscow region.  United Russia’s ‘position‘ on Sergei Mironov is that ‘he must renounce his mandate as senator‘. 
The Moscow authorities are canceling previously-issued permits for demolition in areas containing historical buildings.  A former US-Russia adviser in the 1990s, Tobi Gati says that, initially, Russia was not opposed to NATO expansion. ‘The problem is that Russia did not know what it wanted. And to this day it does not know.
PHOTO: Veterans dance outside the Bolshoi Theatre, May 9, 2011. (Dmitry Kostyukov/AFP/Getty Images)