RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Nov 9, 2009

FEATURE-08-qc61474l09oj61472i.jpgTODAY: Policeman loses job after flagging up police corruption on Youtube address to Putin; Rusal harassing the press?; personal grudge alleged motive for Markelov murder; Moscow rights groups could lose premises.  Berlin wall collapse anniversary celebrations.  Medvedev interview with Der Spiegel tackles failed hopes of post-wall era, relationship with Putin.  Communists sweetening to the President? Land laws.

A whistleblowing police major from the city of Novorossiisk has been fired for posting an internet video appeal to Vladimir Putin urging him to tackle corruption in the police forces.  The police will launch an internal investigation into the accusations.  United Company Rusal is, according to the Moscow Times, leading a ‘terror campaign’ against journalists from the business newspaper Vedemosti, after it ran a story revealing the scale of the company’s monumental debts.  ‘Personal enmity’ is the reason that Nikita Tikhonov shot Stanislaw Markelov, according to the former’s lawyer, quoted here in the New York Times.  Journalist Anastasia Baburova was apparently not a premeditated target.  Moscow City Hall has asked the Moscow Arbitration Court to evict two Kremlin-critical rights groups, the Moscow Helsinki Group and Goryachaya Linia, the Moscow branch of the For Human Rights group, from their municipally-owned premises.

The Berlin Wall fell twenty years ago today; Reuters has a special report on nostalgia for the communist era in Bulgaria and other parts of eastern Europe which have not thrived since the fall of the wall.  Medvedev himself has said that some of the aims for the post-Soviet era were not realized, such as further integration into ‘pan-European space.  Vladimir Putin apparently believes that Germany-Russia relations were positively transformed by the fall of the Berlin wall, according to Bloomberg.  An op-ed in Forbes states that while the wall may have long fallen, 49% of Americans would still decribe Russia as more of an adversary than an ally.
Medvedev has told Germany’s Der Spiegel he does not wish to see the two halves of the diarchy become Soviet-style interchangeable statesmen.  The President has also tried to clarify a ‘funny’ statement by the Prime Minister regarding how the pair will decide who will become President.  Read the whole English transcript of the Medvedev interview here. “Modernization” should be Medvedev’s narrative, but the cautious and technocratic way that he talks about it makes it sound like a corporate business plan’ – why Medvedev lacks pizazz in an op-ed in the Moscow Times.  After a dip last week, Russia’s leaders have both regained the public’s trust accordingto a Public Opinion Foundation poll of October 31 – November 1 whichsaw Medvedev at 59%, and Putin at 70%.  At Saturday’s Communist march,criticisms were leveled principally at Putin,not at the President, the New York Times notes with interest. Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov even apparently conceded thatthe President has brought ‘certain hopes’ to Russia.

Apparently there is optimism in the air that a replacement START treaty can be signed before the December 5 expiration of the prior agreement.  Iran has reportedly cautioned Russia that bilateral relations may suffer if Russia fails to deliver the S-300 surface-to-air missiles Iran purchased two years ago.

One hundred years of cinema in Moscow.  The fall of the Berlin Wall is not today’s only story of bulldozers and bricks: the New York Times takes a perturbing look at Russia’s ambiguous land reclamation laws.

PHOTO:  Berliners singing and dancing on top of the Berlin Wall to celebrate the opening of the long-closed border between East and West Germany on Nov. 10, 1989.  (Thomas Kienzle / AP)