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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Nov 22, 2010

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TODAY: NATO and Russia pledge mutual lack of threat, will cooperate on European missile shield; leaders urge START ratification; Beketov protests in Moscow; St Petersburg’s first gay rights demonstration ends prematurely following attack; tiger forum begins; Tolstoy centennial ‘virtually unnoticed’ in Russia.
In developments that German Chancellor Angela Merkel says ‘could be proof that the Cold War has finally come to an end‘, NATO and Russia have agreed to cooperate on a Europe-based US missile shield.  According to Anders Fogh-Rasmussen, the two sides also agreed in writing on their mutual lack of hostility (‘It is good that NATO does not regard itself as Russia’s adversary. But the real issue is whether some of its members still regard Russia as a potential threat to themselves‘).  Russia will also boost support for NATO’s Afghanistan mission.  US President Barack Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev used the summit as a platform to urge US lawmakers to approve the new START treaty which, if not ratified, will put the modernization of US nuclear weapons at risk, says Defense Secretary Robert Gates.  ‘Medvedev should not think that the Republicans are motivated by a contemptuous disregard for Russia. They are, in fact, primarily motivated by a wanton disregard for the United States.

A small gathering of 150 protesters, including Mikhail Beketov, was held in Moscow yesterday in defense of Russian journalists.  St Petersburg’s first sanctioned gay rights demonstration in which ten people held banners and flags ended early yesterday after participants were pelted with eggs.  The International Tiger Forum, hosted by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the president of the World Bank, began in St Petersburg yesterday, drawing pledges from various countries to establish new reserves and step-up conservation measures, with Russia promising to crack down on poachers, in a bid to reverse the last century’s 97% drop in global tiger population
This New York Times article says that the Mikhail Khodorkovsky case dramatizes Vladimir Putin’s ‘dictatorship of law‘.  Saturday marked the centennial of Leo Tolstoy’s death – but ‘seems to be passing virtually unnoticed in Russia‘, says The Independent
PHOTO: Journalist Mikhail Beketov in a wheelchair attends rally to support assailed civil activists and reporters in Moscow November 21, 2010.  (REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhi)