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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Nov 1, 2010

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TODAY: Strategy 31 protest draws 800-2,000 supporters, some unsanctioned protesters arrested; diplomatic rows with Japan and Afghanistan over Kurils visit and drugs bust; Sobyanin makes surprise visits to Moscow districts; Putin promise on national parks; Frolov on tensions surrounding the Putin-Medvedev divide.
The highest number of protesters recorded for yesterday’s Strategy 31 rally in Triumfalnaya Square was 2,000, apparently in two separate rallies around Lyudmila Alexeyeva and Eduard Limonov, which later merged.  The latter’s unsanctioned demonstration, which took place on the periphery of the first, reportedly drew a number of arrests, fulfilling Limonov’s prediction that his supporters, who ‘used power tools to try to dismantle a fence around a construction site on part of the square‘, would be ‘hauled into paddy wagons‘.  Ellen Barry at the New York Times calls the march ‘a civics experiment for both sides.‘  Reuters and the Russian press are reporting roughly 1,000 protesters, the Moscow Timeshundreds‘. Many of those attending changed anti-Putin slogans, says this report.  A Halloween Parade of 200 people was held in Novosibirsk.

President Dmitry Medvedev visited the Kuril Islands over the weekend, promising to invest money there and improve living conditions to resemble those of modern central Russia.  But he appears to have sparked a diplomatic row, as Japan views the islands as its own territory: Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan called the visit ‘very regrettable‘. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s response: ‘The territory of the Russian Federation is the territory of the Russian Federation.‘  Afghan president Hamid Karzai says a Russian drug bust this weekend was a ‘violation of Afghan sovereignty as well as international law‘, saying that the operation was carried out without his government’s consent, much to the surprise of Russian officials who insist that Kabul knew about and was involved in the raid. 
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has fired two Moscow district heads after making surprise inspections over the weekend.  United Russia has come up with a new way of connecting with Russian citizens: ‘I think it is time for interaction between the party and the gaming community.‘  Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has promised that Russia will get 10 new national parks and 11 wildlife reserves in the next decade, according to plans due to be finalized in January. 
Vladimir Frolov thinks that ‘mounting tensions‘ around the Putin-Medvedev tandem ‘are threatening to upend the political calm in the nation‘.  On the four Russian exhibitions recently opened in Paris. 
PHOTO: Novosibirsk residents at a Halloween Parade, Sunday 31st October 2010. (© RIA Novosti. Ilnar Salakhiev)