RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – May 14, 2009


TODAY: Energy war a real risk says Kremlin security report; Gorbachev complains Russia misunderstood on international scene; more talk of Putin comeback; Russia vetoes OSCE mission in Georgia; gay demonstrators risk violence at Saturday march

A new security policy paper has highlighted espionage and the fragility of the economy as threats to Russian security.  Energy is however the main issue: ‘in a competition for resources, problems that involve the use of military force cannot be excluded’, the paper warns.  According to the Times, the Arctic is cited as the focal point for energy conflicts.  Is the fact that the Kremlin’s report was published on the same day as the UN’s deadline for filing claims to the seabed coincidence or publicity stunt?  Russia has vetoed a plan to salvage the OSCE mission in Georgia, as the Kremlin demands that South Ossetia be recognized as an independent state.  Putin has said that a peace deal with Japan can only be concluded if the terms ‘meet the national interests of the Russian Federation.’

Mikhail Gorbachev is reportedly to create an ‘independent social-democratic party’.  The last president of the USSR has called United Russia ‘a worse version of the Soviet Communist Party’, and said ‘all monopolies are rotten‘.  President Medvedev has also taken a shot at Russia’s foremost political party, saying it should be compulsory for all parties to participate in debates – something United Russia has previously refused to do. 

The parliamentary majority will reportedly support a proposed change to the Constitutional Court.  The Telegraph suggests that these amendments are part of Putin’s comeback plan: ‘if there are early elections it would be necessary to ensure that Medvedev’s departure is not challenged‘.  ‘I would be pleased to meet him but Obama is the partner of the Russian president, says Prime Minister Putin on Obama’s visit.  Many would debate the meaning of president here; Garry Kasparov among them, who has written an article on Putin’s ‘Ninth Year in Power’ which is reprinted here.

The number of metro users in Moscow has encountered it sharpest fall since the Second World War due to the rise in unemployment.  Russia will charge U.S. astronauts $51 million per return trip to the International Space Station from 2012.  A civil rights activist in Yekaterinburg has been detained on suspicion of taking part in a robbery five years ago.  ‘They won’t be safe’,  says a gay rights spokesman on people planning to attend this weekend’s pride march in Moscow.

PHOTO: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev at a news conference at his charitable foundation in central Moscow, May 13, 2009.  (REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin)