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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Nov 12, 2010

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TODAY: Reporters gather in Saratov to protest attacks; 100 police working on Kashin case, but answers are scarce; raft of attacks dominating the news; Medvedev to meet Japanese PM who denies that stalled economic agreement is related to Kuril dispute; Medvedev to hold Q&A online; Kremlin set a contract killer on double agent. 
Novaya Gazeta reporter Elena Milashina writes on the murder of five of her colleagues in the last decade and Russia’s ‘shrinking community of independent reporters and human rights defenders‘.  A flash mob‘ demonstration was held by independent journalists in Saratov yesterday, to protest the recent attacks on Russian journalists.  Proposals to toughen the law and impose stronger penalties on those who perpetrate such attacks are ‘a bluff and a cheap distraction‘, says Aleksandr Podrabinek.  The Economist comments that, ‘although the Kremlin can have a magic sway over television news, its powers to investigate attacks on journalists and bring criminals to justice are less impressive.‘  Vedomosti reports say that over 40 people have been questioned thus far over the beating of Oleg Kashin, and that over 100 policemen are working on the case.  The wife of Konstantin Fetisov, an environmental activist currently in a coma after being attacked last week, has blamed Khimki officials for the incident.  The Wall Street Journal evaluates the decoration of the officials who put Sergei Magnitsky in jail, quoting a leader of the Moscow Bar Association’s response: ‘amazed‘.

President Dmitry Medvedev is to meet Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan on the sidelines of this weekend’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Japan to discuss the former’s visit to the Kuril islands that ‘trampled on the feelings of the Japanese people‘.  The dispute is apparently contributing to Kan’s current low level of public support.  Contrary to the claims of earlier reports, the Japanese government insists that a delay in signing an economic cooperation deal with Russia is not connected to the Kuril dispute.  Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is anticipating that Russia’s Lisbon meeting with NATO ‘will put an end to the post-Cold War period‘, and has pledged to work with NATO on missile defenseon the basis of equal cooperation‘.
Medvedev will hold a question-and-answer session online next week, possibly because he wants to differentiate himself from Vladimir Putin, and to demonstrate his commitment to modern technologies, analysts suggest.  The current spy story buzzing around the internet is that a contract killer (‘a Mercader‘) has been set on the heels of the Russian double agent who blew the whistle on the Russian spies operating in the US earlier this year. ‘We know who he is and where he is.‘ 
The Health Ministry estimates that 40% of Russiansdrink to excess‘, with 2% of the population registered as alcohol addicts. 
PHOTO: Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev and Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan pose during a family photo session at the G20 Summit in Seoul November 12, 2010. (REUTERS/Dmitry Astakhov/RIA Novosti/Kremlin)