RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – May 11, 2009


TODAY: Victory Day parade and a stern warning from Russia; Putin suggests financial crisis will determine who is to run for President; NATO games prove a spanner in the works of US-Russia restart; ‘sorry’ not good enough for ex-Standard editor

Sergei Lavrov’s meeting with Hillary Clinton has apparently reaped ‘reassuring’ results.  Putin has said in an interview with the Japanese media that NATO’s military exercises are a sticking point in US-Russia relations and hopes that America willhit the brake hard.  The Prime Minister has made clear that for Russia the issues of nuclear disarmament and Washington’s planned missile-defense system are ‘inseparably bound up’.  The Guardian finds Russia’s policy of polarizing Europe and NATO ‘baffling’.  Putin has urged against upping the ‘emotional temperature’ and risking a renewed arms race with North Korea.

‘I know that he is a decent man, who will consider his political future through the prism of national interests and results of our joint work’: Putin has implied that the management of the financial downturn will effect who will run for President in 2012.  The Prime Minister has added that criticism of the government is welcome ‘particularly in the time of the crisis’.  Is this Putin planning a 2012 comeback? asks the Guardian.

President Medvedev did not desist from adopting a hawkish tone at Putin’s restoredVictory Day parade, saying, ‘Defense of our homeland is our holy duty…We are sure that any aggression against our citizens will be decisivelyrebuffed, and thatmilitary adventures (widely taken as a barbed reference to Georgia) would not betolerated.  The Other Russia reports that the law criminalizing denial of a Soviet victoryin World War Two may be used to clamp down onattempts to honor anti-Soviet resistance movements in other parts of the former USSR. The Times wonders if the military fanfare, more extravagantthan that of last year, can hide the weaknesses afflicting Russia’sarmy?  In other outlandish displays of nationalism, Vladimir Putinjoined a schoolgirl in a rendition of a famous war time song and was seen to draw a smiley face on a blackboard.

The former editor of London’s Evening Standard has slammed owner Alexander Lebedev’s ‘Pravda-style’ approach, commenting, “Saying ‘sorry’ for the past smacks of a Soviet courtroom ‘confession’“.  To read an interview with Tanya Lokshina, deputy director for Human Rights Watch and friend of murdered human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov, see the Washington Post.

PHOTO: Russian World War Two veterans sing wartime songs while celebrating Victory Day, May 9, 2009, at a park in Moscow.  (AFP/Yuri Kadobnov)