RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – May 18, 2011

fire.jpgTODAY: Medvedev to hold major press conference; election strategy to be revealed? Music critic faces up to two years in jail for Agata Kristi ‘poodle’ insult; gay rights march banned; Khodorkovsky demands criminal investigation into judge. Results of Libya talks remain cryptic; fire in Moscow highlights perilous living conditions of workers

Today President Medvedev will hold his biggest news conference since taking office at the Skolkovo School of Management, with reports stating that more than 800 journalists will be present.  According to the Moscow Times, the delay of the appeal trial of Khodorkovsky and his fellow defendant, Platon Lebedev, is to ensure President Medvedev does not face questions about the trial at today’s press event.  Will he reveal his election plans‘Medvedev will try to show he is not simply a ‘yes man’ but that he is almost an equal to Putin’.  On the subject of electioneering, Brian Whitmore argues here that Mikhail Prokhorov’s entry into party politics is simply one prong in the authority’s strategy to consolidate the ruling elite.  The Vladimir Putin-backed All-Russia People’s Front will apparently enjoy the cooperation of right-wing movement, the Congress of Russian Communities.

Music critic Artemy Troitsky goes to court today to face the suit brought against him by the guitarist of rock band Agata Kristi, who claims he was slandered when Mr Troitsky referred to him as a ‘trained poodle for Surkov’.  Troitsky could face two years in jail for suggesting the axe man has links with the First Deputy Chief of Staff.  Russia’s most prominent gay rights activist, Nikolai Alexeyev, says Moscow City Hall has banned a gay rights rally on the grounds that various ‘religious denominations, public organizations’ and ‘the Cossacks’ have demonstrated strong opposition to the idea.  Ria-Novosti reports that Mikhail Khodorkovsky and business partner Platon Lebedev have sent ademand to the Russian Investigative Committee to instigate acriminal probe into Judge ViktorDanilkin.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has reportedly stated that an envoy of Moammar Gadhafi told Russian diplomats that the Libyan leader would consider obeying the terms of UN resolutions on the North African country.  The Foreign Minister has asserted that Russia is not a mediator in cease fire talks, but rather a ‘proactive negotiator’.   A chilling warning for Russians from North Caucasus Islamic insurgency leader Doku Umarov.

A fire in a Moscow apartment building in which seven Central Asian workers died has raised the issue of safe housing for migrant laborers.  RFE/RL reports that a young Armenian man has died near Moscow following a violent attack by Russian ultranationalists.

PHOTO: A migrant worker carrying belongings out of a fire-ravaged building on Bolshoi Afanasyevsky Pereulok, May 18, 2011. (Igor Tabakov / MT)