RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – May 13, 2011

med.jpgTODAY: Medvedev’s first comments on Putin’s popular front; President agrees on security and economic cooperation with Pakistan; an obstacle for START?  Amnesty attacks Russia rights failings; nationalist group legalized; economic criminals to receive clemency? Putin reaches idol status

President Medvedev has spoken for the first time about Vladimir Putin’s All-Russia Popular Front, (seen as a move to strengthen the Prime Minister’s position pre-election) with a set of oblique comments: ‘All political battles are still ahead of us, and no single party can see itself as dominant‘.  Meanwhile Prime Minister Putin apparently told reporters he had discussed the idea with the President and received his support.   ‘Medvedev is addressing minorities and Putin is addressing majorities’: Gregory Shvedov tells the Washington Post’s Postpartisan blog about the psychology behind the ruling tandem.  Robert Coalson on RFE/RL argues that ‘Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is sending the strongest signals yet that he intends to return to the presidency in 2012′.  The FT offers an in-depth analysis of how Medvedev has negotiated the path between his own identity as a politician and his role within the diarchy.  The President and Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari have agreed on cooperation in the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking, at the latter’s first major foreign trip since Osama Bin Laden was killed on his territory.  Problems for START: a U.S. congressional panel has accepted a defense bill that would place limits on President Barack Obama’s authority to implement the arms control treaty.

Amnesty International has launched a stinging attack on Russia’s rights record, lambasting the President’s attempts at reforming a country riddled with ‘pervasive corruption’ as ‘piecemeal’.  According to RFE/RL, anti-graft blogger Aleksei Navalny has pledged he will face criminal charges head on and will make no attempt to flee Russia.  Kommersant has apparently reported that Russia’s Investigative Committee has again refused to file criminal charges in the case of the assault on Gazeta.ru journalist Aleksandr Artemev, whose arm was broken by police officers at a May 2010 Strategy 31 rally.  In a move criticized by liberals fearing the ascendancy of extreme nationalism, an ill-reputed nationalist group has unexpectedly won a five-year battle for registration with the Justice Ministry.  A new business amnesty proposal would see 15,000 inmates guilty of ‘minor economic crimes’ released if passed by the state duma.

Lithuania has published a set of reports relating to KGB activities in the state under the USSR, which the country’s Prime Minister claims vindicate grievances on the part of the Baltic nation. According to the Telegraph, Vladimir Putin has become the object of veneration for anall-female sect whose ‘followers are convinced that he is a reincarnation of Paul theApostle’.  On the subject of personality cults, read here for Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov’s most recent vanity project.

PHOTO: Pakistani President Zardari speaking with President Medvedev during their meeting in the Kremlin on May 12, 2011.  (Mikhail Klimentyev/AP)