RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – May 2, 2011


TODAY: Duma member slams NATO; May Day demonstrations draw thousands; Medvedev to run next year? Putin’s culture boost; Medvedev on internet regulation; Roskosmos head replaced; Domodedovo needs to come under Russian control; Soviet theme parks; Russian figure staking coaches.
The alleged killing of Muammar Gaddafi’s family members by a NATO air strike is evidence of the coalition’s ‘indiscriminate use of force‘, says Duma member Konstantin Kosachev. Moscow saw a number of May Day demonstrations over the weekend, including 3,000 (or 4,500 depending on your source) Communist party members carrying portraits of Lenin and Stalin, and pro-Putin supporters marching with trade unionists.  RFE/RL estimates that ‘hundreds of thousands’ of Russians took to the streets.  Moscow police, who deployed 7,000 officers to cope, said that the day passed without serious incident, although several people were detained.  The Guardian reports that a senior United Russia official says President Dmitry Medvedev wants to stay on in his role next year, and alleged that, contrary to a prior agreement, Medvedev’s allies are ‘waging a campaign to undermine the prime minister‘.  Medvedev’s announcement that he will hold the televised press conference observed annually by Vladimir Putin during his presidency supports this suggestion.

Putin’s latest popularity drives include a proposed boost for culture funding and museum workers’ wages, and a plan to make the space industry a top priority. (The head of Roskosmos, Anatoly Perminov, has been ordered to retire, and will be replaced by former deputy defense minister Vladimir Popovkin.) The Washington Post compares Ukraine PM Viktor Yanukovych to Putin, ‘his political model‘.  Medvedev has made an ambiguous comment on internet regulation, saying only that Russia will ‘make the right decision‘ on the matter.  An attack on Kommersant journalist Dmitry Andryushchenko is not thought to have been connected to his professional work.  Putin has apparently criticized Japan for its ‘slow‘ reaction to the Fukushima disaster, and its building of nuclear plants in areas vulnerable to earthquakes.  The latest criticism to hit Domodedovo Airport is based on the fact that it is operated by foreign companies ‘registered in off-shore zones‘, which makes them unaccountable and outside of Russian jurisdiction. 
Nostalgic for the Soviet days?  Lithuania’s theme parks should bring it all back.  Failing that, Moscow film company Mosfilm has agreed with YouTube to make 50 of its ‘legendary’ Soviet-era films available on the internet.  Russia only won two medals at the world figure skating championships, but many of the other winners had Russian coaches.  The New York Times looks at Igor Shpilband and Marina Zoueva in particular, who coached US and Canadian winners. 
An interview with novelist Vladimir Sorokin
PHOTO: Members of of the left wing movement ‘Left Front’ march during a rally to mark May Day in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, May 1, 2011. Banner shows Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, left, holding Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, depicting then in a pose as a religious icon, and reads ‘Out with the tandem’. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)