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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – May 25, 2011

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TODAY: Khodorkovsky appeal rejected, international figures respond; Medvedev on extremism; Putin dismisses bureaucracy and registration for his People’s Front; protesters can look forward to ‘the Tornado’; Lavrov supports Palestine; aid spending; Georgian opposition linked to Moscow; former police officer Boiko on trial. 
The Moscow City Court has rejected appeals by Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, and reduced their sentences by one year (‘a carbon copy of its ruling in the first Yukos trial‘).  Khodorkovsky made a ‘bold attack‘ on the justice system in his statement, citing ‘venomous Stalinist spiders‘.  The EU’s chief of foreign policy expressed ‘deep disappointment‘ over the news, saying it reflects ‘systemic problems within the Russian judiciary.‘  Amnesty International has declared both of the men ‘prisoners of conscience‘; the British Foreign Office has also expressed concern.  President Dmitry Medvedev has called for a crackdown on extremist crimes.  Vladimir Putin does not see a need for his All-Russia People’s Front to be registered, dismissing ‘bureaucratic obstacles‘ and saying that, ‘in my opinion, it is not important whether a public organization is registered or not.‘  Mikhail Prokhorov says his pro-Kremlin Right Cause party will not join the organization, as he wants his party to function independently.

Engineers are apparently working on a vehicle called the Tornado, complete with armored body and water jets, which would be used to break up public demonstrations.  Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has voiced his support for Palestine, praising it for seeking to create a state ‘in accordance with U.N. resolutions‘. The Guardian discusses the recent increase in Russia’s aid spending: whilst significantly less than its 2009 spending, current levels give it the status of a ‘re-emerging donor‘, particularly in countries in its immediate range.  Yulia Latynina draws links between the Georgian opposition’s recent ‘absurd‘ protests and the Kremlin: ‘Back in 2009, any link between protesters and the Kremlin was covert. Not anymore.‘  This reporter speculates on whether former Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili will seek Russia’s help to stage a re-integration into Georgian politics. 
RFE/RL is following the trial of former policeman Vadim Boiko (the ‘Pearl Ensign‘), who is accused of beating demonstrators.  On WWF Russia’s program to restore Russia’s forests from ‘catastrophic decline‘; and Russia’s middle class exodus.
PHOTO: Yandex founder and CEO Arkady Volozh (front, 2nd R) celebrates as Yandex is listed on the Nasdaq exchange during their IPO at the Nasdaq market site in New York May 24, 2011