RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – May 27, 2010

veb.jpgTODAY: Amnesty disappointed in Medvedev’s human rights stance; EU questions Russia over Magnitksy; detention rules to be changed for ill suspects?  Crack down on bribe booty.  Russia-Iran spat escalates over Kremlin’s sanction backing; 7 die in Stavropol bomb attack; Georgia Independence Day parade; Russia will not deploy Iskanders; chess; bunking off at the top.

In its annual report on human rights abuses, Amnesty International claims that President Medvedev has failed to improve the human rights situation in Russia, with the report claiming that ‘the legal system seems utterly ineffective‘.  Russia’s interior and justice ministers have faced questioning from a senior EU official concerning the death in custody of Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.  Meanwhile prison officials have suggested that if suspects in pretrial detention have one of a list of 40 illnesses, they should not be held in custody.  The Interior Ministry is urging changes to the law that would mean assets illegally acquired by corrupt officials could be seized by the state.  A high-ranking Moscow investigator has been caught receiving the final installment of a $1.5 million bribe.  The Federation Council has agreed with a law which significantly increases the fines for officials who try to restrict public access to information about state activities.  This report looks at Russia’s alleged reluctance to help victims of sex trafficking.  The Financial Times reports on the interaction of Vedomosti’s editor-in-chief, Tatyana Lysova, at the Khodorkovsky trial.  Boris Kagarlitsky explains why he believes that politicians’ attempts to co-opt social movements have such little success.   Why is United Russia suffering in Siberia?

Reuters describes the clash between Russia and Iran over sanctions as ‘one of the worst rows between the two powers since the Cold War’.  The Kremlin’s chief foreign policy adviser has told Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to desist engaging in ‘political demagoguery’ after the President called Russian support for sanctions ‘unacceptable’.  A Kremlin aide has defended the Kremlin’s right to stand on the fence, arguing ‘our position is the position of Russia, it reflects the interests of all Russian peoples, that is why it can be neither pro-American nor pro-Iranian’.

Seven people have died in a terrorist attack in Stavropol in southern Russia.  At Georgia’s first independence day parade since the war with Russia, President Mikheil Saakashvili asserted the republic’s sovereignty whilst lambasting threats from ‘the empire‘For Russia, Georgia is unfinished business’: the Times examines simmering tensions.   Apparently a session of the foreign affairs committees of Russia and Poland will discuss the Patriot missile situation.  Despite censure from Russia, Poland maintains the deployment is important for its national security.  Russia apparently does not plan to deploy Iskander systems in Kaliningrad as a riposte.  Washington has lauded Russia’s decision to examine the South Korea warship sinking which killed 46 sailors.

The New York Times covers the ongoing chess battle.  The Times reports on the video that brought Duma deputies’ truancy problem to the attention of the public.  See the testament to democracy inaction here.

PHOTO: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, center, beginning a May 26 meeting with VEB’s leadership in Moscow. VEB’s board convened to approve funding for Sovkomflot tankers and other initiatives.  (Mikhail Metzel / AP)