RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – May 23, 2011


TODAY: Small gay rights parade in Moscow; Right Cause seeks parliamentary representation in December; Lavrov is against Belarus sanctions; criticisms of Medvedev continue; journalist describes FSB attention; Sakharov celebrations; Senate puts forward Magnitsky officials sanction bill; Lenin, dog food, Putin’s Heminway moments, hip Moscow.
A small group of activists staged a brief, unauthorized gay rights march in Moscow on Sunday – with no detentions.  Mikhail Prokhorov has vowed that, with his pro-business backing, Right Cause, the only party to back Dmitry Medvedev for a second term, will win the second-largest majority after United Russia in the December elections and thereby gain representation in parliament.  The chief executive of VTB has dampened rumors that Prokhorov will run for President.  Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is opposed to further European sanctions against Belarus, saying that they would be counterproductive to the goal of achieving democratic reform.  Vladimir Frolov is one of the few writers to defend Dmitry Medvedev‘s news conference last week, saying that the President sent the ‘right‘ signals in an ‘impressive and likable‘ public performance.  He’s a lone voice, however. ‘It’s clear that now there are two new political camps in Russia — Putin’s party and Medvedev’s party. Unfortunately, it’s not yet clear which party Medvedev belongs to.

Valery Panyushkin describes the government’s ‘interest‘ in his activities and the perils of being a Russian journalist.  Celebrations to be held held this week in celebration of what would have been the 90th birthday of nuclear physicist Andrei Sakharov will serve as a reminder of Soviet oppression.  At a conference held to mark the date, Garry Kasparov claimed that, if Sakharov were still alive, Vladimir Putin’s regime would never have been created.  A Democrat in the U.S. senate has submitted a bill that would sanction Russian officials implicated in the death of Sergei Magnitsky and address ‘the overall issue of the erosion of the rule of law and human rights in Russia‘. 
Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin wants the government to acknowledge formally that the Katyn massacres were politically motivated and declassify all of its related documents in order to put an end to ongoing disputes ‘through complete transparency‘.  Read an interview with Vladimir Lenin from 1919, in which the former Soviet head lamented literary censorship in Europe.  The Interior Ministry is blaming the dog food scandal on ‘the officer in charge of food supplies at the Vladivostok military unit‘, claiming that he stole over 1 million rubles worth of food.  100,000 hectares of forestland in Siberia are currently on fire.
Vladimir Putin’s interview last week with Outdoor Life is still generating column inches, presumably for its occasional ‘Hemingway territory‘ moments of natural splendour: ‘All that surrounded me — the low sky, the stormy sea and, of course, the whales — was magnificent.  Besides, these elegant giants showed us a real performance, leaping out of the water in front of our boat.‘  The Washington Post writes on Moscow’s hidden ‘hip‘ side
PHOTO: Gay rights activists carry banners and placards during a protest in central Moscow May 22, 2011. The message on the sheet reads, “My bed, my choice”, and the banner reads, “For equal right without compromise. ” REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov