RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – May 4, 2009

4a_2.jpgTODAY: Troops begin controversial Georgia border control; EU fears Russia not a ‘reliable partner’; Medvedev’s first year analyzed; Russians unimpressed by income anti-corruption drive; democracy dwindling but economy bolstered in Sochi?; ballet

Surveillance on the borders between Abkhazia and South Ossetia and Geogia has begun with hundreds of troops deployed; Russia apparently plans to construct a naval base in Abkhazia.  Russian Ambassador to Abkhazia Semyon Grigoryev has set up the country’s new Russian embassy.  Reuters has a list of ‘tipping points’ in relations between Georgia and Russia here.  The Chairman of the Duma’s International Affairs Committee has apparently reiterated that Russia was forced to intervene in Georgia due to actions undertaken by President Mikheil Saakashvili.  ‘Any hope for trust, which is vital, was destroyedby Russia’s move to protect the border areas, says current EU president Karel Schwarzenberg.  Russia will be ‘the ghost at the feast’ at the meeting of the Eastern Partnership, to be launched by the EU this week.

The head of the National Anti-Corruption Committee has suggested that Russia’s official revelations of wealth ‘didn’t make any real impact‘.  A new poll also shows that the number of Russians ‘who believe that the country is moving in the right direction’ dropped to 43% last month, from 59% a year go when Medvedev entered office.  ‘Genuine reformer’ or ‘puppet president?’:  the New York Times ponders Dmitry Medvedev’s political intentions and examines the differences in leadership styles between himself and his predecessor.  Will Dmitry Medvedev stand for re-election in 2012, despite Putin? 

25,000 United Russia supporters took to the streets on Friday’s May Day demonstrations; the Movement Against Illegal Migrants, the National Bolsheviks, and the Communists were also out in full force.  The Independent reports on the rise of right-wing groups in Russia.  Are the Olympic Games worth all the expense?  It would seem so, according to one commentator in the Moscow Times The New York Times returns to the Sochi election: ‘What the Kremlin wants, the Kremlin gets‘.

It is one hundred years since the inception of the Ballets Russes; the Guardian reflects upon the glories of Serge Diaghilev’s ground-breaking company.  The Russian army will continue to look ‘frumpy’; plans to give their army uniform a makeover have been abandoned due to lack of funds.

PHOTO: Communist supporter Yelena Saratova shouting as she participates in a May Day march in St. Petersburg, May 1, 2009.  About 4,000 Communists marched in Moscow.  (Dmitry Lovetsky/AP)