RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Nov 5, 2010

r.jpegTODAY: New Unity day holiday marked by major far-right demonstration; UN places Russia 65th on development list; Putin ranks 4th on Forbes power ranking.  Memorial to victims of Soviet repression praised by activists; Georgia arrests alleged Russian spies.  Obama urges Senate to ratify START; Kurils dispute continues; NATO Secretary General extends hand of Facebook friendship; Russia expresses concern at NATO’s Afghanistan tactic; farewell Chernomyrdin, long live Chernomyrdinisms.

At least 5,000 Russian nationalists celebrated Unity Day with cries of ‘Russia for Russians’ at a sanctioned anti-immigration rally in a Moscow suburb, in what reports have called the largest far-right demonstration in five years.  Pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi claims it mobilized more than 15,000 people for its march on the banks of the Moscow River.  The United Nations has ranked Russia 65th in its annual report on comprehensive human development: the country has only improved its ranking by three places since 2005’s report.  Brian Whitmore considers why comparing Putin to Brezhnev is tempting, but may underestimate the Prime Minister’s long-term game plan.  Putin has been named the fourth most powerful person in the world in Forbes magazine’s power ranking for 2010; President Medvedev trails behind number 12.  Georgian authorities have arrested 13 people, four Russians and nine Georgians, on suspicion of spying for Russia.

‘Not a traditionally Democratic or Republican issue’: President Obama rallies against party affiliations on the issue of START, expressing hope that the treaty will be signed before the end of this year’s congressional term.  As the Kurils dispute continues to drive a wedge between Russia and Japan, Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan has pledged to find a diplomatic solution to the problem.  Tokyo is, the Economist argues, looking ‘rudderless’ on the issue.  It is expected that Japan’s recalled ambassador will not return to Moscow until after the APEC forum. 

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has announced on hisFacebook page that the upcoming summit in Lisbon should allow theorganization and Russia ‘to bury once and for all the ghosts of the past’.  Eurasia.net has an analysis of the issues that will dominate the Eastward-looking meeting.  Moscow and the CSTO have criticized NATO’s Afghanistan counter-terrorist mission as ‘ineffective’.  Russia’s participation in last week’s Afghan drug raid exemplifies ‘economy of force, and considerable craft as well’, this commentator argues.

A monument to victims of Soviet-epoch political repression has been unveiled in the central Russian city of Barnaul, which opposition leader Vladimir Ryzhkov has heralded as a ‘breakthrough’.  A 1950 Soviet realist painting by Yuri Pimenov has fetched $1.5 million at Sotheby’s in New York.  Former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin is due to be laid to rest in a state funeral, RFE/RL reports.  ‘Tenses and cases rarely agreed when he spoke in public: not because he was illiterate, but because he was trying so hard not to swear’: the Economist offers an obituary.  FP has some of the ex-Gazprom chairman’s most memorable lines.

PHOTO: Supporters of the Kremlin-loyal youth organization Nashi (Our Kind) carry flags and banners of people they describe as “Russia’s Disgrace” during a rally in central Moscow November 4, 2010.  (REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin)