RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – May 21, 2009

155053512.jpgTODAY: Georgia, energy and human rights on the agenda for a tense EU-Russia summit; US-Russia arms talks conclude positively; Kremlin insistent on US missile defense issue; will US soldiers in Poland provoke friction?; revered actor Oleg Yankovsky dies

A handful of issues await delegates at the EU-Russia summit; RFE/RL focuses upon the potential sources of disagreement and the despondency of Brussels diplomats regarding all matters Russian.  A Moscow Times commentator looks at the advantages for Russia becoming closer to the EU, and the main divisive points between them, with ‘energy and human rights at the top of the list’.  EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana has said that despite the tensions, the EU would like to have a policy of dialogue and engagement’ with the Kremlin, even though last year’s incursion into Georgia put relations ‘under heavy stress’.  Kremlin aide, Sergei Prikhodko, has also focused upon the Georgia issue, promising that Russia will ask EU delegates: ‘What will their protracted, promiscuous support of comrade Saakashvili materialize into?‘  RFE/RL looks at the vagueness of the ‘progress’ made at the Geneva security talks on Georgia in a Caucasus report.

The first round of Russian-US nuclear disarmament talks have ended in Moscow, and are considered ‘successful and constructive’ by the Kremlin. Nonetheless Sergei Lavrov has repeated that coming to a new agreement on START ‘definitely cannot be achieved’ without Washington conceding on certain issues such as missile defense.  According to the Financial Times, the US will send 100 soldiers to Poland as part of a US Patriot missile unit, despite Russia’s disapproval. 

A lack of experience in jury trials meant that prosecutors were unable to win convictions in the murder of reporter Anna Politkovskaya, says the Investigative Committee chief.  The Moscow Arbitration Court has rejected an appeal by the Moscow Times over a defamation case filed by billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.  President Medvedev has said in his video blog that to decrease corruption it ‘must be not only illegal, it must become improper.  In the town of Pikalevo, where unemployment is rife, local residents have stormed the town hall as tensions peak.

Famed actor Oleg Yankovsky, who was the last Soviet People’s Artist, and star of many a Tarkovsky film, has died at the age of 65.

PHOTO: President Dmitry Medvedev arrives in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk for a Russia-EU summit set to focus on natural gas supplies and problems over relations with Georgia.  (RIA Novosti Alexey Danichev)