TODAY: Georgia accuses Russian secret services of fomenting military plot; Kremlin retaliates to NATO spy row with expulsion of Canadian diplomats; Russia extends pork ban to Britain; gay pride march to take place in tandem with Eurovision
Georgia has accused Russia of backing a foiled mutiny at a military base on the eve of the NATO exercises. The claims that Russia is accumulating troops near the Georgian border are ‘libelous’ according to the Foreign Ministry. Armenia has withdrawn from the NATO war games following the attempted ‘coup’ in a show of support to Russia. The Foreign Ministry will withdraw accreditation from two Canadian NATO envoys, in retaliation for NATO’s expulsion of two Russian diplomats. Sergei Lavrov will not be attending a NATO-Russia Council meeting this month. The Eastern Partnership summit is, according to officials, to ‘prevent the emergence of some vacuum between the union and Russia’, not to build up a European influence in the region. Reuters features an analysis of US-Russian relations in advance of Sergei Lavrov’s meeting with Hillary Clinton. American opinion of Russia has apparently worsened in the past two years.
‘This is typical behavior by Moscow to use food safety as a protectionist measure‘, an EU official has said on Russia’s ban on pork imports. The latest blacklisted country is Britain; recent additions to the list include the whole of Spain, and certain parts of Canada. The European Commission has sent a letter to Russia challenging the ban.
Medvedev has come down hard on gamblers, asserting that ‘the activities of gambling establishments must cease on June 30’. According to a new report, policemen, teachers and doctors are the most active bribe-takers of all professionals, ahead of bureaucrats. Despite repeated refusals from Mayor Yury Luzhkov, activists are determined to hold a gay pride march on Saturday, to coincide with Moscow’s first time hosting of the Eurovision Song Contest. ‘Fascism asserts that a given people or race are superior to others and that enemies surround the state. If the ideology taught to Nashi is not fascism, then what is it?’ Yulia Latynina asks in the Moscow Times.
Russia’s first election for a ‘supreme shaman‘ has provoked a outcry among the country’s traditional spiritual healers. A communist group in St. Petersburg will seek $30 million in compensation for moral damages caused by the color reissue of a famous Soviet spy series which they consider an insult to their ‘sense of patriotism’.
PHOTO: Georgian security forces personnel on board buses move in convoy along a road outside Tbilisi. (AFP/Vano Shlamov)