TODAY: Opposition leaders petition the President; journalists fear for freedom of press; Lake Baikal paper mill angers locals; monument to Sakharov; Khodorkovsky on corruption. Russia concerned about US Patriot deployment; Ukraine changes name of Victory Day. Deputies who failed to declare income will not face punishment. Olympic fix; cybercyrillic
Opposition leaders have presented President Medvedev’s chief of staff with a petition asking him to assist them in having their rallies sanctioned. The Other Russia reports that Oleg Ptashkin, leader of an independent journalists’ trade union, has told a press conference that journalists’ rights are decreasing and censorship increasing. A Moscow court has thrown out a defamation lawsuit filed by Vedomosti against Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov for accusing the newspaper of empathizing with terrorists. Demonstrators have assembled in Siberia’s city of Irkutsk to demand the protection of Lake Baikal and the closure of the paper mill which they say is polluting the UNESCO protected lake. Three activists in Russia’s eastern Irkutsk Oblast have begun a hunger strike to protest high utility prices and corruption in the region. Police have said that the stories of criminal gangs attempting to extort money from a widow of the Raspadskaya mine disaster cannot be proved true. A monument to prominent human rights activist Andrei Sakharov will be erected in the northwestern Russian city of Kirov. RFE/RL has an interview with Anatoly Karpov, as he ups the ante in his bid to become the president of the World Chess Federation. ‘Many Russian ‘corruptioneers’ are shifting their ill-gotten gains to China, clearly hoping that the Beijing government will ignore international crime’: Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky has penned a piece in the Washington Post on the effects of corruption in Russia.
A foreign ministry spokesman has apparently said that the deployment of a Patriot battery to Poland does not ‘help to strengthen our mutual security, to develop relations of trust and predictability in this region’. Russia has urged that both Koreas show restraint as tensions mount between the two nations. Iran’s ambassador to Moscow has expressed frustration that Russia is showing support for tougher sanctions. Residents in Lvov, in Western Ukraine, have voted to celebrate the end of World War Two not as Victory Day, but as the Days of Memorial to the Victims of World War II. Stalin refrained from having killed Hitler when he could have, Reuters reports.
The 23 deputies who failed to post their income declarations for the May 14 deadline will not face punishment. United Russia is planning severe penalties for Duma absenteeism. Olympic Committee President Alexander Zhukov has apparently enlisted the services of Steve Roush, the Olympic fixer, to revivify the Russian sporting mentality. Russia is seeing its first cyrillic domain names; with around 200 registered so far.
PHOTO: President Dmitry Medvedev, right, with his point man on modernization, First Deputy Chief of Staff Vladislav Surkov, left, during a business trip earlier this year. D. Grishkin / Vedomosti