RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Nov 16, 2010

Nashi_1762536b.jpgTODAY: Interior Ministry accuses Magnitsky of fraud one year on from lawyer’s death; Politkovskaya investigator to take on Kashin case; the decline of trial by juryA new era of NATO-Russia cooperation with Afghanistan at core?  START hanging in the balance; Bout will be extradited to US; Lebedev sees Wikileaks interviews as possible cause of bank raid; Nashi turns to Goebbels for inspiration

On the one year anniversary of Sergei Magnitsky’s death in pretrial detention, the Interior Ministry has turned the tables on the corruption-battling lawyer, and accused the dead man of being complicit in a Hermitage Capital scheme to embezzle 5.4 billion rubles in federal funds.  The accusations are apparently based on the confession of one Vyacheslav Khlebnikov, general director of a Tatarstan-based company who has confessed to the crime, which he claims Magnistky was involved in.  See Hermitage Capital founder William Browder’s incensed response in the New York Times.  The hedge fund manager says that the company will not pay its alleged tax debt of $16 million to the Russian authorities.  Meanwhile a probe into the death of Magnitsky has reportedly been prolonged until February, 2011.  ‘In addition to using violence against journalists, the authorities also bring criminal charges against them’, says this Moscow Times op-ed.  The investigation into who attacked Kommersant journalist Oleg Kashin has been passed to Investigative Committee official Sergei Golkin, who previously probed the murders of Anna Politkovskaya and Paul Klebnikov (for whose slayings no one has been brought to justice.)  The Prosecutor General’s Office has dropped a case against a Russian deputy finance minister accused of embezzling $43 million from public funds in November 2007, due to an apparent lack of evidence.  ‘Where money and politics are mixed up […] there is no justice‘: Ellen Barry reports on the systematic undermining of trial by jury in modern Russia.

The Guardian’s Simon Tisdall is excited by the prospect of the upcoming NATO summit where deepening Russian involvement in Afghanistan is on the cards.  According to the New York Times, NATO and Russia are apparently ready to seal certain agreements to increase cooperation in the Afghan War.  ‘[A] fresh start’, foresees an optimistic Anders Fogh Rasmussen.  NATO and the US are apparently nearing an agreement on the Russia-displeasing missile shield over Europe; Russia is expected to be invited to join.  According to the New York Times, despite some positive progress, key Republican Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona is apparently doubtful as to whether the START treaty can be ratified this year.  Despite pressure from Russia, Thailand will extradite ‘merchant of death’ Viktor Bout to the US to face terrorism charges.  Iran has thrived off ‘Russian-American division’, so how is it coping with the missile-deal breaking reset? wonders RFE/RL. 

Alexander Lebedev has suggested that the raid on his National Reserve Bank may have been prompted by interviews the Lebedev-owned Novaya Gazeta newspaper held with the founder of Wikileaks, possessor of sensitive information about Russian authorities.  A Just Russia has lost its lawsuit against the Moscow City Court: the opposition party hoped to have the 2009 City Duma elections annulled on the basis that city officials helped United Russia secure victory. 

Prejudice against HIV sufferers is analyzed the Moscow Times.  The Other Russia looks at claims that the ‘Putinjugend’ (otherwise known as Nashi) have apparently co-opted selected writings of Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels for their own patriotism drive.  

PHOTO: Nashi activists in Moscow  (AP)