RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – May 20, 2010

BIZ-1-garden.jpgTODAY: Strategy 31 thwarted again; journalist attacked in Siberia; police psychology; crimes against children; mine head to face criminal charges.  Khodorkovsky hunger strike over;  Gref summonned to trail, Putin not.  Lavrov lambasts OSCE; Russia looking for visa relaxation; hobbies.

For the ninth time in a row Moscow City Authorities have refused to sanction a march in defense of the right to protest organized by the Strategy 31 movement.  A New York Times editorial follows up the stories of journalists under attack:  ‘The only recourse for Mr. Beketov and others is to tell their terrible stories to the world.  President Obama made that a little easier this week when he signed the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act, requiring the State Department to identify countries that allow or participate in attacks on journalists’.  Prominent Russian journalist Mark Minin has been attacked near his home in Tomsk in western Siberia, RFE/RL reports.  According to a new study, nearly 10% of senior police officers have psychological problems that compromise their behavior in the line of duty.  A re-trial has begun for a traffic policeman who was given a paltry 15-month sentence for murdering a teenager.  The children’s ombudsman has announced that more than 100,000 crimes were committed against infants last year, (2,000 among them killed).  According to the Moscow Times, the director of the Raspadskaya coal mine has been charged with criminal negligence after methane explosions saw 90 fatalities.  Konstantin Sonin explains why a lack of political representation is driving the people to despair.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky has ended his two-day hunger strike after confirmation that President Medvedev had been informed about his complaints regarding detention.  Sberbank chief German Gref has been summoned to the trial as a witness; the court refused to summon Vladimir Putin as a witness.  The eldest son of the Yukos founder has told an interviewer that he fears returning to Russia over possible political pressure: to see a video interview with him click here.  Pictures from the ‘Sketches of (in)justice: The Khodorkovsky Trial From Putin to Medvedev’ have arrived in New York.   ‘The Yukos affair was and remains characterized by an almost total breakdown in legal process and judicial independence’.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has launched a stinging attack on the OSCE for being ‘incoherent’ and interfering: the Moscow Times has the lowdown.  Russia and Ukraine have signed an agreement regulating the presence of Russian security officers at the Black Sea Fleet facilities in Ukraine.  Apparently Russian officials are keen on initiating ‘concrete negotiations’ with the EU on visa liberalization.  Rejuvenated Syria-Russia relations: a Cold War throwback?

New leisure activities for Muscovites: allotment gardening and the Disney channel.

PHOTO: Kozlovskaya, a renter of a garden plot, visiting the Ogorod garden near Kursky Station with her son Wednesday, May 19, 2010.  (Igor Tabakov / MT)