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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Nov 26, 2010

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TODAY: Russia planning naval expansion; Putin praises Tajik military base; Belarus accuses Russia of funding opposition; Merkel spiky ahead of talks; Lavrov supports UN statement on N Korea; Wikileaks to expose corrupt politicians? World Cup and Winter Olympics; EU court fines Russia over Chechen deaths; START is ‘irrelevant’; NGO says violence against women on the rise.
President Dmitry Medvedev has expressed Russia’s interest in expanding its global naval presence, and hinted that plans are already in the works. ‘We need to do complicated political and diplomatic work … so that [our bases] are seen by [other countries] as a reinforcement of their own image, their own security.‘  Diplomatic work such as Vladimir Putin’s praise of Russia’s military base in Tajikistan as ‘a serious sign of mutual confidence‘, perhaps?  The Belarusian President has accused Russia of bankrolling its opposition. ‘We know it.  We have evidence.‘  Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s trip to Germany has seen unexpectedly spiky developments: Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters that Putin’s German newspaper article, in which he denounced a new EU energy package, contradicted his aim to create a free trade zone between Europe and Russia; she also criticized protectionist Russian trade measures (‘import duties are being repeatedly raised without warning‘) and the CIS customs union.  Meanwhile the threat that EU visas could be denied to 60 officials implicated in the death of Sergei Magnitsky could face ‘harsh retaliation‘ if it goes forward.  Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is reportedly hoping that the UN security Council will issue a statement condemning North Korea’s attack on Yeonpyeong Island.

It is anticipated that the next Wikileaks release will include ‘thousands of diplomatic cables reporting corruption allegations against politicians in Russia‘, and may also contain ‘the US evaluation of the political situation in Russia and the unflattering characteristics of some Russian leaders.‘  Are Putin’s powers of persuasion up to the task of winning Russia’s World Cup bid?  Georgia’s deputy premier is defending his country’s campaign against the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, implying that the opposition was related to Russia’s ‘occupy[ing] a neighboring country’s territory‘ (Sochi being adjacent to Abkhazia).  The European Court of Human Rights has fined Russia €240,000 for the shooting for four Chechen residents in 2000. 
The Guardian reviews BBC Radio 4’s Crossing Continents: The Primorsky Partisans (listen here), which tells the story of a rare instance of villagers’ violent resistance to official corruption in a remote Russian territory. Following a lawsuit filed by the Interior Ministry, The New Times has been ordered to retract an article accusing a riot police unit of corruption.  The US must ratify START, says the FT, arguing that the costs of further delay are too high.  START?  Who cares?, says the Washington Post: ‘The problem is never the weapon; it is the nature of the regime controlling the weapon.‘ 
Non-government organization Anna released a report to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women yesterday, which indicated that domestic and police violence against women and children in Russia are rising.  A Soyuz Russia-US space mission has safely landed in Kazakhstan.  The New York Times has a nice piece on the life of Leo Tolstoy, marking this week’s centennial of his death. 
PHOTO: An image taken from a video released by the Russian website V1.RU shows a frame of an anti-terrorist cartoon, which was created five years ago on a state tender from Russia’s FSB security service and the Krasnoyarsk region administration in Siberia.The FSB has created an unexpected Internet hit by launching a series of black humour anti-terror cartoons. (AFP)