RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Nov 24, 2010


TODAY: Lavrov warns of Korean peninsula’s ‘colossal danger’; motion to block Magnitsky officials to go to EU Parliament for vote; Nabiullina hopeful on WTO bid; Georgia wants reconciliation; Russia and Serbia, Russia and Belarus; Putin’s tiger summit continues; Kremlin to return Church property; Litvinenko, World Cup, Perm.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned of the ‘colossal danger‘ that could arise from escalated tensions and fighting between North and South Korea.  A motion to block entry to the EU for 60 Russian officials implicated in the death of Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky will now go to the European Parliament for a December vote, after it was unanimously approved by the EU’s Foreign Affairs Committee. The head of the Duma’s foreign affairs committee, Konstantin Kosachev, says the move ‘violates the presumption of innocence‘ and ‘causes bewilderment‘.  Kosachev also commented on the untimely‘ decision to hold a UN Security Council meeting on the Korean situation before evidence had been properly collected.

Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina is hopeful that the remaining outstanding issues pertaining to Russia’s WTO bid will be resolved in a matter of months, despite reports that Georgia’s veto still remains a sticking point; although Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has just publicly sworn not to use force in Abkhazia or South Ossetia, part of a broader campaign to reconcile with Russia.  ‘We cannot end up like Afghanistan,‘ he said.  The New York Times reports on Russia’s relationship with Serbia, and this Chatham House report looks at troubled relations with Belarus.  ‘If, as Medvedev emphatically said, Russia does not exclude eventually raising the issue of NATO membership, it will have to become a Western-style democracy or at least show its firm desire to become one.‘ 
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s newest tiger summit spectacle was a celebrity-studded news conference at which he proudly commented, ‘We have put the tiger on the agenda of the international community.‘  Putin (accidentally referred to as ‘president‘ in this Guardian piece – an easy mistake to make, it could be argued) has promoted his own image at this week’s tiger summit, but China’s ‘vague‘ commitment to boosting its tiger population is the voice that will really count, says Jonathan Watts.  The Kremlin is planning to redistribute property seized from the Orthodox Church in Soviet times. 
A new development in the Litvinenko case, as documents supposedly showing the provenance of the polonium used to kill him emerge in the British press.  On Russia’s ‘audacious‘ World Cup vision and hefty $6 billion bid.  On the city of Perm as a forum for debate about the role of culture in public life. 
PHOTO: In this Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010 photo Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin speaks to U.S. actor Leonardo Di Caprio, right, after a concert dedicated to tiger conservation in St. Petersburg, Russia. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)