RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – May 13, 2009

4_2.jpgTODAY: Anti-corruption initiatives fail to ‘dizzy’ so far; Sochi faces IOC inspection and reports of ecological violations; governor’s official earnings’ declarations raise eyebrows; Lavrov finds US approach to arms issue ‘constructive’; same sex marriage denied

President Medvedev seems to have no illusions about the efficacy of his anti-corruption measures: ‘there is actually no success so far’.  Is this a reflection of Medvedev’s ‘glasnost-lite‘ as a Guardian commentator would have it?  Or a further indictment of the President’s lack of power, the subject of an op-ed piece in the Moscow Times?  Authorities are reportedly refusing to look into the harassment faced by an United Civil Front party leader who has been bombarded with death threats.  Kaliningrad Governor Georgy Boos has revealed the highest earnings of 20 governors who have announced their salaries, declaring an income of $3.8 million, whilst St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko has reported the lowest, at $53,600.  She may be making up for it in furnishings; the Telegraph balks at the £650,000 budget the city’s mayor submitted to decorate four rooms at her official home.

Sergei Lavrov has hit an optimistic note on the US-Russia arms negotiations, reportedly confident a deal can be met by the end of the year.  The Foreign Minister has canceled his appearance at a Council of Europe meeting due to a scheduling clash; the Georgian Foreign Ministry says, ‘Lavrov just did not want answer critical questions at the meeting’.  Russia has no objection to the participation of Hezbollah representatives in the Moscow conference on the Middle East should the movement win the election in Lebanon.  Read an interview with OSCE Secretary-General Marc Perrin de Brichambaut here.

The head of the Sochi Olympics has done his utmost to assure the International Olympic Committee that preparations for the games are on track.  The Guardian examines reports that Gazprom and other contractors constructing facilities in Sochi have ‘flouted environmental regulations’.

In an attempt to counteract the recent drop in foreign tourism, the government will allow a number of tourists arriving in Russia by ferry to stay in the country without a visa for up to three days.  The lesbian couple attempting to hold the first gay marriage in Russia have, unsurprisingly, had their request denied. 

PHOTO: Irina Shepitko and Irina Fedotova-Fet posing with gay rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev, right, after trying to register for a same-sex marriage on May 12, 2009.  (Igor Tabakov / MT)