RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – May 5, 2009

capt.3df2f2d4049b435ea9ec206099c6ec16.aptopix_russia_victory_day_mosb102.jpgTODAY: US flexible on delivery vehicle reduction; 10,000 troops apparently in Georgia breakaway regions; EU looks for stability in eastern bloc; Medvedev proposes piracy court; number of pilots tumbling

The US is reportedly ready to reduce their number of nuclear weapon delivery vehicles as part of the replacement START treaty, clarifying Washington’s position.  According to the New York Times, Washington has signaled it is open to Russia’s proposal to use radar based in Azerbaijan or Southern Russia, for its missile defense system, rather than in Eastern Europe.  Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, who holds the council presidency this month, has invited Security Council ministers to a meeting to give ‘new impetus’ to reaching a peace deal in the Middle East.  Attempts to bring North Korea back to six-party talks must be done ‘patiently and consistently’, Churkin has also said.

We have serious grounds to believe that Russia has more than 10,000 troops in the two regions, not 3,700 in each as they have claimed’ saysthe Georgian Foreign Ministry on Russia’s troop deployments tobreakaway regions South Ossetia and Abkhazia.  Georgia is likely to be ‘the primary Russian pressure point in a continuing effort to disrupt alliance unity’ says an article in New York Times. Georgia will hold its own alternative Eurovision song contest,following the country’s ousting from the Moscow-held officialcompetition for their politically-charged disco anthem ‘We Don’t Wanna Put In’Crisis management is, according to a New York Times article, the main objective behind this week’s EU summit with six former Soviet republics.

As the anniversary of Medvedev’s first year in power approaches, the New York Times wonders if there is ‘little cause for celebration’?  President Medvedev has proposed the creation of an international piracy court following Russia’s recent encounters with Somali pirates.  The President has dismissed his envoy to the Far East Federal District, Oleg Safonov, and replaced him with Khabarovsk Governor Viktor Ishayev.  More than 20,000 subscribers have signed up to Medvedev’s blog.

The army and airline industry is facing a crisis as Russia encounters a shortage of pilots, with 900 qualified pilots a year forced to resign as they fail medical tests.  ‘It was his ambition to subject the country to truly far-reaching social and political reforms that sealed his downfall’: the Moscow Times examines the Khodorkovsky trial.

PHOTO:A municipal worker fixes a billboard to mark the upcoming Victory Daycelebration at the Moscow Red Square on Monday, May 4, 2009, with St.Basil’s Cathedral at left. Victory Day is celebrated in Russia on May9.  (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)