RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Nov 12, 2009

FRONT-WEB-Tiger.jpgTODAY: Medvedev to give state of the nation address, modernization presumed to be key theme; opposition members laud ousting of Governor Rossel; Moscow Mayor to sue opposition politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky over corruption claims. Lavrov interview on Vesti news, discusses EU, NATO, US; charges against Litvinenko witness dropped. Russia unlikely to hasten return of capital punishment. Saving tigers; Russia limits use of superlatives.

Modernization is expected to be the principal theme of the President’s state-of-the-nation address today, and specifically criticism of state corporations. Scientists have their ears pricked, hoping to hear President Medvedev talk of rejuvenating Russia’s lackluster scientific sector, says the Moscow Times. The President’s decision to dismiss Sverdlovsk strongman Eduard Rossel has been praised by opposition politicians, who say other governors should follow, some of whom have ‘outlasted Brezhnev’. Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov (arguably one such figure) has filed a defamation suit against Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party after he voiced corruption concerns about the Mayor. Zhirinovsky plans to sue back. Two Moscow police officers have gone on hunger strike after being accused of abuse of authority, a claim they say is fabricated. President Medvedev is ‘the only person in the country who has the power to remove anybody at any time’ – so why does the problem of corruption remain? asks Nikolai Zlobin in the Moscow Times.

Georgia has accused Russia of stirring tensions by detaining 5 fisherman off the Black Sea Coast. Russia has refuted statements by partners in Geneva regarding the stabilization of the situation in Georgian and South Ossetia. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko apparently claims that Russia’s Black Sea fleet jeopardizes Russia- Ukraine ties. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Russia and the US need to overcome the chill in relations established during the Bush era. Talks on the new EU-Russia are purportedly going ‘quite well’. Lavrov has criticized NATO’s enlargement, as it does ‘not take into account tectonic shifts in geopolitics on the turn of the 1990’s’.

RFE/RL reports that Tatar activist Fauzia Bayramova wishes to leave Russia because of intimidation by federal authorities for her works of activism.  The Hamburg prosecutor’s office has dropped all charges against businessman Dmitry Kovtun, believed to be the main witness in the Alexander Litvinenko case. Russia is apparently likely to extend the moratorium on the death penalty. The panic provoked by swine flu, which is ‘capable of extending a presidential term!’ is the subject of Boris Kagarlitsky’s op-ed in the Moscow Times today.

Russia is making efforts to save the tiger, with a summit to design a conservation strategy for the endangered Amur species. The case against the survivors of a helicopter which crashed during alleged illegal hunting activities, killing seven government officials and leaving five surviving, may be reopened. The editor of Forbes takes us through Russia’s 7 most powerful people. The FAS cracks down on superlatives in advertising.

PHOTO: Siberian tiger.  (Burt Herman / AP)