RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – May 17, 2010

pol.jpgTODAY: Miner protests broken up by OMON officers; senators declare incomes; blue bucket police to be punished; corruption investigation into Luzhkov’s deputy re-opened.  Israel concerned by weapons to Syria; Medvedev in Ukraine, Eastern Europe cast aside by NATO? Russia eager for Europe visa relaxation;  EU positive on Eastern partnership; Moscow metro reaches 75

A protest in Mezhdurechensk, where explosions at the Raspadskaya coalmine killed at least 66 workers last weekend, has been broken up by riot police and a number of workers have been detained.  Regional governor Aman Tuleyev has suggested the protest was contrived, arguing that the ‘young people had been purposefully stirred up‘.  ‘None of the managers came to ask for forgiveness, not one of them’, said one angry demonstrator.  The disaster-hit mine will be rebuilt, say authorities.  Apparently Senator Sergei Pugachyov earned more than any senator last year, with a salary of $99 million, whilst Russia’s fourth richest man, Senator Suleiman Kerimov, claimed to have earned but a paltry $247,000.  Moscow Police officers who detained blue bucket protestors could face punitive measures, says RFE/RL.  Moscow Deputy Mayor Aleksandr Ryabinin is under investigation (again) for allegedly taking a commercial property as a bribe.  A blogger who worked with murdered Ingush opposition journalist Magomed Yevloyev has been detained in Moscow on suspicion of drug trafficking, charges which his supporters suggest are trumped up.  A Russian army officer has been fined for giving a lecture on white supremacy.  The region of Samara has introduced a ‘children’s curfew’.  Under new law, imams will now be allowed to enter Russian prisons and work with its prisoners.

Israel is apparently not very happy with Russia’s plans to provide jets, armored vehicles and air-defense systems to Syria.  What will come of Medvedev’s trip to Ukraine today? wonders the BBC.  Eight documents are apparently waiting to be signed by the leaders of both countries.  Medvedev has claimed that improved relations between Russia and Ukraine do not present an obstacle to Ukraine’s bid towards EU membership.  The President has defended Russia’s naval base in Sevastopol as a guarantor of ‘safety in Europe’.

A report has stated that Eastern Europe apparently feels neglected by NATO, to such an extent that some states are seeking individual bilateral arrangements with the US.  David J. Kramer in the Washington Post argues that his predictions that the US-Russia rapprochement would leaves Russia’s neighbors out in the cold have proved correct.  Apparently Russia is trying to queue-jump Ukraine and Georgia in new attempts to make visa liberalization the focus of the next EU-Russia summit.  The EU’s commissioner for enlargement and neighborhood policy has rebuffed suggestions that the Eastern partnership has failed, calling it ‘absolutely’ a success.

Andrei Zolotov Jr., the chief editor of Russia Profile, argues thatRussia ‘dealt pretty well with this latest Victory Day anniversary’.  The Moscow metro celebrated its 75th birthday on Saturday.  Civil servants vary their snacking.

PHOTO: Coal miners and their families clashing with riot police in Mezhdurechensk, in the Kemerovo region, Friday, May 14, 2010.  (Andrei Lednev / AP)