RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Nov 17, 2010


TODAY: Bout in detention in New York, Thailand fears Russia will cut ties; Kashin may give evidence today; one year on, US renews calls on Magnitsky case; Medvedev to reorganize Russian territory?  Military aid to Lebanon includes 31 tanks; Semin calls for crackdown on protesters before they protest. START ratification looking less and less likely. 
Viktor Bout is in a temporary detention center in New York after having been extradited to the US by the Thai government, and may be brought to court today.  Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is calling Thailand’s move ‘a blatant injustice‘, and blaming ‘unprecedented‘ US pressure.  The Bangkok Post suggests that Thailand should not have extradited Bout, due to the risks of Russia cutting ties and thereby threatening Thai export markets.  ‘You’d think that the Obama administration had kidnapped a national hero.‘  Time Magazine focuses on the case of Oleg Kashin, reporting allegations that police tried to sell a video of his attack to a news website for €20,000, and comparing the responses of the President and Prime Minister.  Kashin may give evidence to investigators today, says his wife.  Vladimir Ryzhkov writes on journalist attacks, business raids, and Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, as the US renews calls for Russia to prosecute those responsible for his death.  The current (and third) forensic medical investigation into the case suggests that Magnitsky died of heart failure, but ‘inconsistenciesmay warrant a fourth.

Is President Dmitry Medvedev planning to reorganize Russian territory by replacing its 83 regions with 20 ‘super-regions‘?  Russia will send military aid to Lebanon in the form of 6 helicopters, 31 tanks, cannon shells and various munitions, amid US concerns that such aid could come to be used against Israel.  A leaked letter (of disputed authenticity) thought to be from Moscow’s Prosecutor General Yury Semin, suggests that those planning to participate in unsanctioned protests could face a crackdown, even before they make it to the event.  A Left Front activist has been arrested for allegedly attacking a policeman during this month’s Day of Wrath protests in Moscow. 
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with Senate leaders today to try and win ratification for the new START treaty with Russia, although a deal by year end is looking unlikely in light of comments by Republican senator Jon Kyi.  Vice President Joseph Biden says that failure to ratify the treaty will cause havoc for national security operations in Afghanistan, and problematize sanctions against Iran. 
Andrei Soldatov looks at the latest spy story and the ‘mythology surrounding Soviet intelligence‘.  This article portrays Dmitry Rogozin as rather an odd duck.
PHOTO: Thailand’s government approved the extradition of alleged Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, pictured in February 2010, to the United States on terrorism charges. (AFP/File/Nicolas Asfouri)