RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – May 20, 2009

capt.photo_1242719386590-1-0.jpgTODAY: Russia rejoins Georgia talks; US-Russia nuclear talks constructive so far; policy report recommends US cancel plans for missile defense in eastern Europe; Medvedev creates body to counter ‘revisionist’ readings of Russian history

Encouragement from international mediators, and receiving a delayed UN report, have seen Russia return to talks on Georgia.  Apparently the talks have been ‘constructiveso far and will continue in July.  The Georgian Foreign Ministry believes that the UN report was changed under pressure from Russia, as the amended version makes no reference to Georgian sovereignty over Abkhazia.  Russia will deploy fewer troops in Abkhazia and South Ossetia than had been originally envisaged after last year’s conflict.  Again concerns are emerging about consensus at the upcoming EU-Russia summit in far-flung Khabarovsk. ‘I have no high hopes of a united EU position at the summit’, comments one British politician.

The Moscow Times says negotiators for Russia and the US are seemingly positive about the discussions for nuclear disarmament.  Russia hopes for constructive dialogue and . . . practical results’.  Perhaps tensions over US plans to construct a missile defense system in Europe will be eased by the recommendations of an EastWest institute policy report that suggests such a system would not be able to protect the US from a nuclear attack by Iran.  The New York Times says Obama should put Jackson-Vanik to rest to step up to the restart, in an article examining the 1974 amendment which, it claims, remains a policy relic from the Cold War era.

President Medvedev plans to establish a commission charged with preventing the falsification of history against Russia’s interests; a practice which he says has become ‘increasingly harsh, depraved and aggressive’.  World War Two occupation of the Baltic states is a particular area of contention.  A Moscow human rights activist says the creation of such a body is, ‘to halt any objective view of what really happened in Russia’s past’.

The head of the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service has said that officials who make statements that affect stock market prices should be prevented from holding government jobs for up to three years.   A Moscow Court has ruled that the British Council may have to pay as much as $4 million in taxes, which the organization claims it never shirked paying.  Chasing Olympic gold has never been so profitable; Russia plans to double bonuses for athletes winning medals at the Vancouver Winter Olympics next year.

PHOTO: US Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller with Anatoly Antonov, head of Rusia’s foreign ministry department for security and disarmament, during a meeting in Rome in April.  (AFP/File/Alberto Pizzoli)