RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Nov 26, 2009


TODAY: Investigators deny knowledge of Magnitsky’s illness; protesters hold ‘funeral for democracy’; could YouTube complaint success lead to curbs?; Putin in France; customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan; expat communities, violence against women.
Irina Dudukina, speaking for the Interior Ministry’s Investigative Committee, said investigators did not know Hermitage lawyer Sergei Magnitsky was ill, and that his death was ‘completely unexpected‘.  Activists in Nizhny Novgorod held a ‘funeral for democracy‘ this week to mark the city duma’s decision to have mayors elected by a group of deputies, instead of by popular vote.  Boris Kagarlitsky writes in the Moscow Times about the rising number of ideological arguments being solved with firearms attacks in Russia.  Media freedom campaigners are concerned that the attention garnered by Alexei Dymovsky’s YouTube video, which led even Boris Gryzlov to call for an inquiry into his claims, could lead to more zealous monitoring of the web in Russia.  

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is in France today, looking to enlist new energy partners, to rally support for Russia’s car industry, and to discuss ‘a pioneering defense accord‘.  Putin’s approval rating has fallen to an eight-month low, according to the Public Opinion Foundation, with a public trust rate of 65% (compared with President Dmitry Medvedev’s 54%).  
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has bizarrely criticized Medvedev’s meeting with Belarusian media earlier this week, saying that the Kremlin ‘should have at least gotten our advice‘ on who to meet with.  Belarus and Kazakhstan are set to form a customs union with Russia this week at the Eurasec summit.  ‘If Poland and Germany established a much deeper relationship, it could break the EU’s logjam with Russia.‘  
Russia ranked 24th out of 26 countries in an HSBC survey of quality of life for expat communities – ‘but it places fourth in terms of making new friends, especially among locals.‘ A new report from the Anna Center says that a Russian woman is killed by her husband or partner every hour
PHOTO: Spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry’s Investigative Committee Irina Dudukina speaks at a news conference on the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in Moscow, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)