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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Nov 8, 2010

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TODAY: Journalists demand full investigation into beating of Oleg Kashin, who is still in critical condition; Medvedev vetoes protest bill; Communist demonstration draws 4,000, veterans protest against Serdyukov; census shows population drop; FT wrong on Russia? Luzhkov sends daughters to London.
A group of reporters and members of the public gathered outside Moscow police headquarters yesterday with a petition demanding protection for journalists, and top reporters have signed an open letter to President Dmitry Medvedev, published in Kommersant newspaper, calling for a full investigation in response to Saturday’s violent attack on prominent political reporter and ‘role model‘ Oleg Kashin, who was badly beaten and remains in critical condition in hospital.  ‘It’s obvious that the people who did this did not like what he was saying and what he was writing,‘ said Kommersant editor Mikhail Mikhailin.  Medvedev tweeted: ‘The criminals must be found and punished.‘ The Moscow Times has a detailed biography of Kashin’s career, including run-ins with various authorities and other writers.  Bloomberg links the attack to Kashin’s writing on the Khimki forest campaign, as does RFE/RL, which notes that another Khimki defender was attacked just two days prior.

President Medvedev surprised Kremlin critics by vetoing a bill that would have restricted the freedom of citizens to organize protests.  Yesterday’s Communist Party demonstrations marking the anniversary of the October Revolution saw ‘dozens‘ of the 3,000-4,000 protesters detained in Moscow and St Petersburg, and there was apparently a scuffle at the Moscow protest when members of the Left Front tried to join the Communists.  1,000 veterans and servicemen also demonstrated yesterday, against the defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov’s radical reforms.  Early census data suggests that the population has declined 4.8% since the collapse of the Soviet Union.  A deal between Moscow and NATO would be ‘an important symbolic step‘, but not much else, suggests Newsweek. Japan says it will ‘make a fierce effort‘ to regain the Kuril Islands.  
This article criticizes the Financial Times for its reporting of the Yevgeny Chichvarkin case, criticizing its eagerness to take up his ‘last-minute conversion‘ to the political opposition.  The Washington Post has a succinct summary of the Mikhail Khodorkovsky case, and calls on US President Barack Obama to add his voice to those supporting him.  Former Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov has sent his daughters to Russia, apparently over concerns for their safety.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin reportedly struggled to hold back tears at the funeral of Viktor Chernomyrdin. 
PHOTO: Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sits in a car of the Renault Formula One team as he test drives it at a racing track in Leningrad Region, November 7, 2010. REUTERS/Ria Novosti/Pool/Alexei Druzhinin