RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – May 18, 2009

capt.d362efc71b6b4c2384f48599524f75b7.russia_putin_s_car_mosb127.jpgTODAY: US disappointed with Russia’s stance on OSCE; Medvedev hopeful on Obama talks; Abkhazia’s President Bagapsh wary of Russian control; Russia suggests ruble reserve currency for G8; prognosis not good for Russia-EU meeting; gay rights parade broken up

Talks on replacing the START treaty will begin today, the Economist reports.  President Medvedev is apparently optimistic that in his upcoming meeting with President Obama even thorny topics will be discussed.  US defense missile sites in Eastern Europe, one such example, will apparently be on the agenda.  Will OSCE monitoring also be?  Washington is apparently frustrated with Russia’s veto of the security watchdog’s activity in Georgia.  ‘It is disappointing and we hope that Russia will reverse its stance‘,  says a State Department spokesman.  An article in the New York Times reports that despite close links with Russia, Abkhazia will not fall under the Federation’s thumb and intends to ‘defend its statehood.’  The breakaway region will not be attending the international peace talks on Georgia.  Ex-officials in South Ossetia say that corruption has been rife in the region since last year’s conflict and state aid been coopted by politicians.

President Medvedev is championing a ‘fairer’ financial system and suggests that the G8 take on the ruble as its reserve currency as well as creating a new global reserve currency.  Little progress is being forecast for this week’s Russia-EU summit: ‘if we get out of Khabarovsk with minimal damage, even without any breakthrough, this would be enough’, says one EU diplomat.  Following a meeting with President Berlusconi, Putin has said that Russia would like to enjoy the same kind of good relations with the EU.  ‘Zero progress on the Northern Territories issue’ was made during Putin’s trip to Japan; the decades-long island dispute is analyzed here.  Is ‘present-day Russia . . . a sort-of clone of the Soviet Union’ as its recent report on security threats would imply? asks the Other Russia.

Patriarch Kirill, ‘arguably one of the most influential men in Russia,’ reportedly on a par with Pope John Paul II in terms of scope of vision, is the subject of an op-ed piece in the Moscow Times.  The financial crisis is doing little to inspire Russian citizens to have more children, whilst population decline in itself threatens the stability of Russia’s workforce.  The gay rights demonstration to coincide with the end of Eurovision was broken up by police and certain activists, including veteran British campaigner Peter Tatchell, were arrested.  Moscow’s Eurovision was the most expensive ever, costing $42 million.

PHOTO:Prime Minister Vladimir Putin shows off his new car, a locally-producedNiva SUV, produced by Russia’s biggest car maker Avtovaz, as part ofhis bid to support domestic car makers in the face of a severefinancial crisis.  (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Pool)