TODAY: Anti corruption blogger will not seek parliamentary immunity in criminal probe; receives support of Kirov Deputy Governor; Khimki activists arrested; Putin guarantees state housing for WW2 veteran. Medvedev sees bin Laden death as beneficial; new arms for the Kurils; NATO chief asserts need for cooperation with Russia; prosecutors arrested; days of spam mail numbered.
Whistleblowing blogger Alexei Navalny has told reporters that he will not avoid a criminal case by seeking parliamentary immunity, adding that he achieves more through his independent activities than he would as a legislator. The 34-year-old-lawyer has reiterated his belief that the charges against him are trumped up: ‘the investigative committee is communicating with me only through television. It is without any doubt politically motivated’. The Deputy governor of the central Russian Kirov region Maria Gaidar dismissed the charges against Navalny as ‘complete nonsense’. RFE/RL reports that police have detained at least seven activists from the indefatigable Defenders of the Khimki Forest protest group, among them protest leader Yevgenia Chirikova. A trip to state automaker AvtoVAZ’s Tolyatti factory provided Vladimir Putin with the opportunity to endorse his ‘People’s Front’ idea at a meeting with the country’s Engineering Association. The Prime Minister has apparently continued to refine his public image by reprimanding local officials who failed to provide state housing to a World War Two veteran. ‘Those who held out under the hail of bullets from the Wehrmacht’s elite divisions are mockingly used by a government rolling in gold as a decoration for ritual presentations’: Garry Kasparov lambasts the manipulation of World War Two by the Kremlin for its own political purposes on the Other Russia.
‘The liquidation of terrorists, even on the level of bin Laden, has a direct relationship to the level of security on the territory of our state’: President Medvedev has extolled the benefits of the al-Qaida leader’s death at a security conference. In a move unlikely to please fellow territory claimant Japan, the Defense Ministry apparently plans to send missiles and other artillery to the Kuril islands in 2012, where it will also initiate the construction of two new military posts. According to Ria-Novosti, NATO General Secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen has underlined the importance of cooperation with Russia on the thorny issue of a European missile defense shield, but provided no proposals for how to break the stalemate.
In the ongoing turf war between the Investigative Committee and the Prosecutor General’s Office, it seems that the former might have gained the upper hand, by arresting two former senior Moscow region prosecutors as part of a probe into an illegal gambling ring which it claims was protected by the prosecutors in question. If a new draft bill becomes law, Russians may need to look in places other than their inbox for cheap Viagra.
PHOTO: AvtoVAZ director Igor Komarov, left, showing the Granta’s trunk, which, the prime minister noted, can ‘hold two sacks of potatoes.’ (Alexei Nikolsky / AP)