RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – May 15, 2009

Sochi-Winter-Olympics-001.jpgTODAY: Russia willing to revive European Arms Control treaty; IOC praises Sochi but says task must not be underestimated; Russia pledges help to Abkhazia and South Ossetia; policemen on trial 

Russia has proposed a new version of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and believes that ‘chances to revive the treaty’, which it suspended over a year ago, ‘still exist’.  The original 1990 treaty imposed limitations on troop and weaponry movement to the West of the Ural mountains, a restriction Putin likened to the U.S. having ‘to seek Russian approval before it sent troops from California to Texas’.  The OSCE has ceased talks on keeping peace monitors in Georgia after Russia vetoed its proposals, but is apparently hoping that the Kremlin will reconsider ‘NATO’s patronage to Georgia has been interpreted as a license for permissiveness, says a Foreign Ministry spokesman.  Russia will apparently continue to offer South Ossetia all necessary economic, political, and, if necessary, military assistance‘ it may require, says the head of the Russian presidential administration.

Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh has said that Russia will make a deal to open military bases in the breakaway Georgian region within two weeks.  Russia will establish a $1 billion credit line to Abkhazia to help it improve its banking sector and railway systems, for ‘everything we need today for shipping cargos to Olympic Games facilities in Sochi‘.

International Olympic Committee head Jean-Claude Killy is undeterred by talk of  local residents’ rights being undermined and the environment damaged, and has praised the preparations for the Sochi Winter Games, saying ‘there are no failings’.   However, preparations must be undertaken in ‘a timely manner, so as to maintain its ambitious schedule’.  Putin has reassured the IOC that there is no risk of shortcomings.  The New York Times reports that Boris Nemtsov has filed suit in Sochi in a bid to overturn the results of the mayoral elections, citing ’40 violations of election laws, among them the destruction of campaign materials and the suppression of news coverage’. 

Law enforcement under fire: the Other Russia looks at the recent stream of high-profile crimes perpetrated by often senior members of the militsiya.  The Economist examines Russia’s perennial but evolving use of image: ‘inthe past Kremlinologists monitored Soviet leaders by their line-upabove Lenin’s mausoleum. Now it is by their appearance at Eurovision’.

PHOTO: Construction underway in Sochi.  (STR/AFP/Getty Images)