RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – May 6, 2011


TODAY: Medvedev cancels Beslan meeting; United Russia ‘poster boy’ quits for A Just Russia; party member calls for Mironov’s resignation; Stepanova’s bank accounts frozen; Khimki activist beaten; Markelov/Baburova killers sentenced; Kasparov calls for visa restrictions instead of sanctions; Russian faith, spy case dropped. 
The Kremlin has given no explanation for President Dmitry Medvedev’s decision to cancel a meeting with mothers who lost their children in the Beslan crisis; analysts suggest that the President didn’t want to face the inevitable criticism of Vladimir Putin.  United Russia member and ‘poster child‘, Joaquim Crima, has left the party to join the opposition A Just Russia, blaming his defection on broken election promises and failed efforts to send aid to the Moscow region during last year’s wildfires.  A United Russia official is calling for the resignation of Duma speaker Sergei Mironov over the latter’s criticisms of St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko.  The Moscow Times suggests that the new charges against Hermitage Capital partner Ivan Cherkasov could simply be an attempt by Oleg Silchenko to ‘show who’s boss‘.  Credit Suisse has frozen the bank accounts held by Olga Stepanova following Hermitage Capital’s allegations that she was involved in a $230 million tax fraud.  Police torture victim Vitaly Rubtsov has been awarded $12,500 in compensation.  Activist Aleksei Belykh was beaten by ‘several people‘ for protesting tree felling in the Khimki Forest, says Left Front member Sergei Udaltsov.

Moscow City Court has sentenced the two convicted killers of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova: Nikita Tikhonov was handed the maximum life sentence, while his girlfriend Yevgenia Khasis was given 18 years.  Two Moscow region prosecutors are wanted on suspicion of taking bribes.  Garry Kasparov wants the United States to impose visa restrictions on Russian officials accused of corruption, rather than perpetuating ‘sanctions‘ like Jackson-Vanik. 
Recent polls by the Public Opinion Foundation indicates Russians’ strong faith.  The case against suspected spy Platon Obukhov, which many suggest was fabricated, has been dropped. 
PHOTO: Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) meets his China’s counterpart Yang Jiechi in Moscow, May 6, 2011. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin