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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Nov 6, 2009

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TODAY: Markelov murder suspect reportedly confesses; vengeance a possible motive?  Activist abducted in Moscow.  Spy chief issues warning on Georgia; Lavrov surprised at Poland soliciting US help.  Medvedev reserves army use for emergencies. Luzhkov lays into Abramovich; new vodka pricing; toy story.

The Moscow Times reports that revenge may be the motive behind the shooting of human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov.  Apparently the alleged gunman Nikita Tikhonov may have been a suspect in the stabbing of anti-fascist activist Alexander Ryukhin in 2006, whose mother Markelov was a lawyer for.  The other suspect, Eugenia Khasis, 24, appears to have no prior convictions.  Apparently the killer has confessed – the Other Russia reporting it to be Khasis who made the confession.  Russian Rights Group Memorial has said that Kadyrov-loyal gunmen have abducted Arbi Khachukayev of rights group LAW in Moscow and flown him to Chechyna.  Chechnya’s interior ministry claimed that Khachukayev had been seized for taking part in an ‘armed assault’.  A group of prominent journalists and activists have drawn up a petition demanding that the case against rights activist Grigory Solominsky, who was detained and beaten on October 9th, be dropped.


The head of the military’s Main Intelligence Directorate, Alexander Shlyakhturov, has expressed his belief that Georgia could attack South Ossetia.  The Russia-Georgia PR war continues, as Georgia intends to establish a Russian language TV channel, with the aim of surmounting Russia’s media influence.  Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has expressed surprise at reports that Poland is seeking US protection.  President Medvedev has said that Russia will only use its troops abroad if the case if absolutely necessary, with the safety of Russian nationals under threat.

In contrast to the successes in the East and West, Russia — the country that did so much to inspire all these changes — has ended up the biggest loser in the post-Cold War era’: Vladimir Ryzhkov says in the Moscow Times.  One article in the Economist traces the fragmenting of a bi-polar pre-wall fall world into a multi-polar one, another examines Mikhael Gorbachev’s personal trajectory towards perestroika.

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov has apparently launched a stinging attack on Roman Abramovich for replacing piety with profit drive, in front of Russian Orthodox Church head Patriarch Kirill, who seconded the criticisms.  Russia may establish a minimum price for the selling of vodka in an attempt to curb alcoholism.  Ex-KGB and Shin Bet double agent Shabtai Kalmanovich has been laid to rest in Israel.  Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery illustrates the history of Russian art via toys.

PHOTO: Nikita Tikhonov attending a Moscow court hearing on Thursday. Sova said he had reason to hate Markelov after the lawyer linked him to a murder in 2006.  (Sergei Karpukhin / Reuters)