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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Nov 30, 2010

TODAY: Kashin attackers post video, journalist writes first column since attack; Parfenov’s ‘magic touch’; Kremlin unperturbed by Wikileaks; has Russia broken long-standing pledges to NATO? Nashi founder, officials accused of crimes including murder and fraud; Shavenkova back in court, poet Akhmadulina dies.
A bizarre twist in the case of Oleg Kashin; those who claim to be his attackers have made a YouTube video claiming that the ‘influential people‘ who ordered the attack have turned on them, and that they may be willing to cooperate with the authorities.  Kashin meanwhile has written his first column since the attack, comparing himself in the surreal experience of media attention surrounding him to Yury Gagarin, and vowing not to let the incident silence him.  He has also given a radio interview on Russia’s dwindling media freedom.  The Economist writes on the ‘magic touch‘ of Leonid Parfenov, the Newsweek editor, as demonstrated by his lambasting of Russia’s television stations during an award speech over the weekend.  The Kremlin does not seem bothered by yesterday’s Wikileaks revealing US diplomats’ comments on the country’s ruling tandem, oligarchy, and lack of democracy: ‘We found nothing interesting or deserving comment in the material‘; Sergei Lavrov called the documents ‘entertaining trash‘, and insisted that Russia’s diplomacy would be ‘guided by the concrete actions of our partners‘.  Although Russia may come to welcome some of the leaks, such as documents in which a US official blames Georgia for provoking Russia ahead of the war in 2008.

Has Russia moved short-range tactical nuclear warheads closer to NATO allies?  US officials say so, implying that Russia has broken its long-standing pledges.  The New York Times offers a handful of further reasons why enthusiasm for recent ‘historic breakthroughs‘ between NATO and Russia should be curbed, including a high level of ‘noninformation‘.  Russia meanwhile has met just 6 of the 26 anti-corruption targets outlined in a 2008 agreement with Europe, says Vedomosti.  Nikolai Petrov evaluates the various claims made by President Medvedev during his video address last week, finding him a little short on modernization; and Vladimir Ryzhkov criticizes the President’s ‘superficial measures‘. 
Nashi founder Vasily Yakemenko denies reports linking him to a ‘vicious Tatarstan mafia‘ in the 1990s.  It is unclear whether Mikhail Lysenko, the head of the Saratov region, is guilty of murder or victim of a political attack; either way he is being held on suspicion of ordering a killing.  Vladislav Skvortsov, the mayor of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, is suspected of a $63,000 property fraud
Olga Shavenkova, the driver who was caught on video running her car into two women, is back in court, amid talk that the family of the victims may drop their criminal case in exchange for damages.  Poet Bella Akhmadulina has died at the age of 73. 
PHOTO: Cranes are silhouetted against the sunset in the Arctic seaport of Murmansk, 1,450 km (906 miles) north of Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010. (AP Photo/Andrei Pronin)