RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – May 17, 2011

emb.jpgTODAY: Opposition festival of resistance to take place today; will Mikhail Prokhorov make a difference to the Right Cause? Russia criticizes Minsk’s draconian treatment of opposition; Sochi posters cause a stir. Khodorkovsky’s prison attacker claims to have been forced; Yukos lawyer attacked. Could Russia negotiate Libyan ceasefire?  Moscow peeved over missile defense

According to the Washington Post, Russian opposition groups plan to hold a ‘festival of civil resistance’ in Moscow today to mark the debut of a campaign against the dominant United Russia party.  The Moscow Times ponders whether Russia’s third richest man Mikhail Prokhorov will have any tangible impact on the Right Cause party, which, according to one analyst, ‘doesn’t really exist’ at the moment.  Certain analysts argue that the move is certainly not a sign of autonomy: ‘Major businessmen are under the authorities’ control […] If the government says you have to head a party, you head a party.’  The Other Russia has an amusing feature examining how the Kremlin’s website explains the notion of the political opposition to children.  The Kremlin has criticized the Belarusan government for the ‘harsh’ sentences handed down to opposition activists, saying they ‘cannot fail to raise questions’.  The latest news from Minsk reports that journalist Irina Khalip, the wife of opposition presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov, has received a two-year suspended sentence.  A set of promotional posters linked to the 2014 Winter Olympics have caused controversy for their usage of seemingly Third Reich-inspired imagery. 

Despite the advice given by two jailed former Yukos executives,indefatigable whistleblower Alexei Navalny has maintained that he will not leave the country to avoid criminal prosecution: ‘If I leave,everything will come crashing down’.  Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s former cellmate has said that prisonauthorities forced him to attack the Yukos founder and falsify a sexual harassment suit.   Defense attorney Vadim Klyuvgant was set to begin his campaign to overturn Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s conviction today, but the court has delayed the hearing of the appeal.  Ria-Novosti reports that one of Khodorkovsky’s lawyers was attacked near her Moscowflat on Friday evening and had important papers snatched from her.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has told reporters that representatives of Moammar Gadhafi’s government are expected to arrive in Moscow today, and the Kremlin also hopes to host Libyan rebel envoys in the very near future.  It has been anticipated that representatives of the Tripoli government may ask the Kremlin to mediate the ongoing conflict in Libya.  This report says that Moscow has taken umbrage with the fact that the White House has failed to provide guarantees that its prospective missile defense shield would not be directed against Russian missiles.  A Reuters analysis considers why the prospect of a power vacuum in Afghanistan is a fearful one for Russia.  Russian lawmakers have offered a group of Circassian activists support at a meeting held on Monday, stirring tensions with Georgia.

A rare piece of good news for architecture in Moscow. 

PHOTO: Journalist Viktor Shenderovich holding a poster of Sannikov and his family during a one-man picket at the Belarussian Embassy in Moscow.  (Vladimir Filonov / MT)