RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Nov 10, 2010

storypic-1-smoking.jpgTODAY: Canada mulls sanctions on Magnitsky suspects; Mironov defends direct elections; Medvedev praises the economic advantages of democracy. Outcry over Kashin beating continues; journalist to face slander charges; Russia, nation of smokers

The US, Britain and Poland are already considering them: Canada can now be added to the list of countries currently contemplating legislation that would ban Russian officials suspected of involvement in the death of Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky from visiting the country.  Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov may have provoked the ire of United Russia after vociferously supporting the practice of electing senators, contrary to the ruling party’s preferences.  President Medvedev has been seen linking democracy to economic progress, telling journalists at a news conference that development can only be undertaken ‘by free people, people who are free in their actions and in their thoughts’.  Brian Whitmore sees these comments ‘as consistent with where I think Russia is heading as it moves ever closer to the crucial 2011-12 election cycle’.

Following the weekend’s vicious attack on Oleg Kashin, rights groups theCommittee to Protect Journalists and Amnesty International have joinedin calls upon the authorities to put a stop to the ‘chilling trend’ of attacks on reporters. Excerpts from a letter by the World Association of Newspapers and NewsPublishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum calling upon PresidentMedvedev to seek justice are re-printed in the Guardian.  Apparently ‘positive dynamics’ have been seen in the wounded reporter’s condition.  ‘[I]n all likelihood, a senior official was involved’ : Yulia Latynina considers who she believes was behind the Kashin beating in the Moscow Times:Khimki mayor, Vladimir Strelchenko, Vasily Yakemenko, head of theFederal Agency for Youth Affairs, or Pskov Governor Andrei Turchak? Wheelchair-bound journalist Mikhail Beketov, who was the victim of ahorrifying assault two years ago, will face slander charges from Strelchenko, after suggesting that mayor was involved in blowing up his car.  

According to a new WHO survey examining 14 countries, Russia has the biggest percentage of adult smokers, with 500,000 dying a year as a result of the habit.  Prison reform: Reuters reports that the Butyrka jail, where Sergei Magnitsky died,is having sunbeds installed.

PHOTO: With 44 million adults, or almost 40 percent of the population, Russia has the biggest percentage of adult smokers among the 14 countries surveyed by the World Health Organization.  (Vladimir Filonov / MT)