RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – May 13, 2010

senators-3-storypic.jpgTODAY: Trifonova arrest extension deemed unlawful; whistleblower ex-policeman to hold rally; Luzhkov in precarious position?  Russia to consider following US example on nuclear transparency; START ratification process begins; Lavrov rebuffs US warning on weapons to Iran; adoption issue settled.  Eastern Neighborhood Project; dark days for Russian worker safety

The Moscow Regional Court has ruled that the decision to extend the arrest of Vera Trifonova, who died while being held in pretrial detention on fraud charges, was unlawful.  Trifonova’s lawyer wishes to open a criminal case against the judge who extended the custody ruling.  Former Russian policeman and corruption whistleblower, Alexei Dymovsky, has announced plans to hold a nationwide rally on June 12 against abuses in law enforcement.  Just how much is a senator worth?  A group of bloggers and rights activists have picketed the Russian Embassy in Yerevan to urge President Dmitry Medvedev to assist an Armenian-born journalist jailed in Moldova’s Transdniester region.  There is a piece by Brian Whitmore on RFE/RL suggesting that Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov is perilously close to losing his job, but the Kremlin remains uncertain as to how to fill the political power vacuum that he would leave behind.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko has lauded the US’s transparency regarding its nuclear arsenal and said that Russia will consider doing the same, once the START treaty has been ratified.  As the Senate sets hearings on the long-awaited treaty, the Washington Post suggests that it is likely to be approved by a reasonable margin.  More than half of Russians have apparently never heard of START.  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has rebuffed US warnings against selling the S-300 anti-aircraft system to Iran.  Russia and the United States have apparently reached a new bilateral agreement on the thorny issue of adoptions.  The BBC has a video interview with a Russian adoptee.  Medvedev has congratulated the new British Prime Minister David Cameron, and suggested that ties between the two nations should improve.

Ukraine’s opposition has won a resolution summoning the government to discuss agreements which President Viktor Yanukovych plans to sign imminently with Dmitry Medvedev, which Ukrainian detractors claim have ‘sold’ their country.  How Russia became pivotal in Poland’s new election.  South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity has backed down on attempts to force the government out following pressure from the Kremlin.  Whilst doubts still hover over the success of the EU’s Eastern partnership project, the European Commission is, RFE/RL suggests, apparently ebullient about its Eastern Neighborhood Policy.

An explosion at the Lower Kama hydropower station in Tatarstan has killed two people and wounded ten.  The search for survivors in the Siberian coal mine has been suspended due to fear of further explosions.

PHOTO: Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov, pictured in this file photo, will be insured to the tune of 2.8 million rubles ($93,000) under a policy held by the administration of the Federal Council.  (D. Grishkin / Vedomosti)