RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – May 18, 2010

aap28medvedev_1C_58_718405a.jpgTODAY: Journalists face the cost of free speech; Medvedev ousts governors; Stalin’s grandson lawsuit denied; Kremlin angered by Strasbourg ruling; black actor dies after attack.  Medvedev honors famine victims as ties with Ukraine improve; new NATO mission statement highlights Russia; Khodorkovsky hunger strike

The New York Times has a feature report on the fate of journalist Mikhail Beketo, and the punishment he endured for refusing to be silenced.  The newspaper also looks at the story of journalist Pyotr Lipatov, who was reportedly beaten and then interrogated: local police authorities vocally deny the accusations.  ‘We have a joke in Russia … there are two political parties, the problem is Medvedev doesn’t know which party he belongs to’: Garry Kasparov tells the Washington Post about his vision of Russia.  The President has decided to replace the governors of Rostov and Orenburg with unexpected candidates, in a move to apparently consolidate his authority in the regions.  Moscow City’s Presnya district court has denied a lawsuit by Joseph Stalin’s grandson against the pro-liberal Echo of Moscow radio.  The European Court of Human Rights has upheld the ruling of ‘guilty’ against a Latvian man who ordered the killing of nine civilians when fighting for the Red Army.  Whilst Latvia has applauded the move, Moscow has called it a ‘dangerous precedent’.  A dark-skinned Brazilian actor has been beaten to death in St Petersburg: authorities have not classed the attack a hate crime.

The thaw between Russian and Ukraine continues: Dmitry Medvedev’s trip to Ukraine has seen relations improve with the quickfire signing of a number of agreements, concerning issues such as border demarcation, nuclear cooperation, aircraft development.  Interestingly the Russian President lit a candle in memory of the victims of the Holodomor(the Ukrainian famine) which has been a traditional bone of contentionin Russian and Ukrainian historiography.  Vlad Filat, prime minister ofMoldova, has penned an op-ed in the Moscow Times in which he suggests that Moldova’s priorities should include moving closer towards the EU. 

Walter Pincus in the Washington Post trawls through START with a fine tooth comb.  NATO’s draft mission statement has, according to the Washington Post, emphasized expanding ties with Russia.  Will the report do enough to reasure smaller nations? asks RFE/RL.

The 28 miners who were arrested during the weekend’s protests have been released.  The director of the Raspadskaya mine has resigned after heavy criticism from Putin.  Paul Goble in Windows On Eurasia has an interesting analysis of the mining protests.  Jailed Yukos founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky is apparently on a hunger strikeThis reportclaims that President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton havepersonally petitioned President Dmitry Medvedev to consider the releasefrom prison of the ex-oligarch.

PHOTO:Cleaners wiping away water as a Ukrainian honor guard looks on beforean official ceremony to welcome President Dmitry Medvedev to Kiev onMonday, May 17, 2010.  (Efrem Lukatsky / AP)