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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Nov 4, 2009

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TODAY: Activist lawyer faces stripping of status;  Lyudmila Alekseyeva to receive German award; Tsibili to name street after Politkovskaya; Gorbachev and Havel reminisce; new poll shows generation gap; extremism on the up; Medvedev cracks down on organized crime; leeches.

Solidarity member Evgeny Arkhipov is facing the threat of being disbarred by the qualifications commission of the Moscow City Bar, according to a November 3 press release from the Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights.  The press release reports that the commission is of the opinion that lawyers do not have the right to undertake activism.  According to the Other Russia, Arkhipov believes that his status as a Solidarity member, and his role in organizing a local rally against widely-decried toll roads have impacted the decision.  The head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Lyudmila Alekseyeva, will be honored with the German Commander’s Cross for services to the Federal Republic of Germany.  An article in the Telegraph about Georgia’s use of the Russian language informs us that Tsibili authorities allegedly plan to name a street after slain activist Anna Politkovskaya.


More reflection on the fall of the Berlin Wall across the press as the 20th anniversary approaches: Mikhael Gorbachev, Reuters reports, has said that had he used troops to quell the opposition movement behind the wall’s fall, it could have been the start of WW3.  The Telegraph is running an interview with playwright and Velvet revolutionary Vaclav Havel, who expresses chariness regarding Vladimir Putin, suggesting the current President ‘is playing a far more sophisticated kind of politics’ than predecessor Yeltsin and is ‘far more dangerous’.

RFE/RL informs us that a new poll supposedly has suggested that unlike young people, the older generation feel less satisfied with their lives now than under the USSR, fanning the belief that there is some degree of Soviet nostalgia latent in the Russian population.  The poll also shows that a more than half of Russians agree with the statement, ‘Russia should be for Russians’ compared to a quarter who did in 1991.  Apparently Russia has noted an increase in extremism-related crimes of 6% against the same January-September period of last year, ITAR-TASS announces, a figure which, according to the head of the department on combating extremism, ‘really grows every year’.

Medvedev has introduced more draconian sentences for criminal overlords.  Crime bosses, known as ‘thieves-in-law’,  will now face the maximum jail sentences.  Ukrainian police in the Crimea have stopped a Russian truck carrying anti-ship missiles in the fifth incident of this kind this year.  And finally . . . leeches are apparently making a comeback – good news for Russia’s International Medical Leech Centre, apparently the largest leech-growing facility in the world.

PHOTO: Evgeny Arkhipov.  (The Other Russia)