RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – May 19, 2009

5_2.jpgTODAY: Attempts to rescue Georgia security talks following Russia and South Ossetia walkout; compulsory income declarations extended; redefining US-Russia nuclear ties; Medvedev aide launches thinly-veiled attack on Putin

Russia and South Ossetia have followed the lead of Abkhazia, and walked out of the security talks between Russia and Georgia, claiming that they await a crucial document.  Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin reportedly said following Abkhazia’s departure, ‘to discuss serious questions about security without one of the parties would be a doomed exercise‘.  Russia may return to talks if the crucial document is delivered.  The EU, UN, and OSCE have expressed regret at the walkout.  According to Ria-Novosti, the delayed draft report has now been submitted and is being examined by Russia.  The news source also says that Abkhazia withdrew not because the report was delayed, as has been widely reported, but because of a bias that they felt was clear in it.  State Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov has visited Abkhazia to talk about bilateral cooperation.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller will meet with Foreign Ministry officials to discuss a replacement for the START treaty.  To see a Q+A on issues between Russia and the US regarding nuclear weaponry, consult Reuters.   Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that the replacement START treaty needs to consider anti-ballistic missile defense.  The Minister has also taken a more appeasing tone towards NATO, saying ‘Russia does not look upon the North Atlantic Treaty Organization a priori as a source of threatand that NATO is ‘one of the objective key factors determining the state of security in the Euro-Atlantic region, including near our borders’

Another group of state officials will have to announce their income according to Medvedev’s anti-corruption program, including heads of state corporations and civil servants.   The Telegraph reports criticisms made by a senior aide to President Medvedev, Igor Yurgens, about the Putin-established balance of power in Russia: ‘it is based not on institutions but on the mythological vertical of power’ and is showing ‘signs of overextension In an uncharacteristic concession to regional authorities, the government has replaced the tax chief of Dagestan, as locals blocked the previous candidate.

A St. Petersburg United Civil Front leader is facing up to two years in prison for possession of an illegally produced tin of caviar.

PHOTO: President Dmitry Medvedev meeting with Rosatom chief Sergei Kiriyenko at his Gorki residence outside Moscow.  (Dmitry Astakhov / ria-novosti)