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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Oct 15, 2010

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TODAY: Alekseyeva calls for Germany to ban officials linked to Magnitsky’s death; new political party calls for direct elections; Duma to survey attendees; census begins; Putin to meet happy evictees; authors tour their FSB book; Georgia wants border agreement ahead of WTO decision; salad worm still ruffling feathers. Coming soon: Russian Formula One.
Lyudmila Alekseyeva, the chairman of the Moscow Helsinki Group, called on Germany’s President to ban Russian officials linked to the death of Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky from entering the country.  The new political Party of Action, backed by wealthy businessman Konstantin Babkin, has held its first congress, outlining its primary aim to reinstate direct elections for regional leaders.  The State Duma apparently needs ‘an expensive video surveillance system‘ in order to keep track of its deputies.  RFE/RL reports on the logistical challenges that ethnic diversity poses for Russia’s census, which is expected to show a 3 million population drop.  The Kremlin is denying earlier reports that President Dmitry Medvedev had nominated Sergei Sobyanin for the post of Moscow Mayor, blaming a ‘technical mistake‘.  Prime Minister Vladimir Putin only wants to meet happy Sochi evictees, says The Other Russia.

Reuters interviews the authors of “The New Nobility”, a book on the FSB, whose agents, they say, ‘resemble the old tsarist aristocracy‘ in their tastes for luxury but have a more ‘dangerous side‘ than their previous incarnation, the KGB.  In a more in-depth piece, Michael Stott, who co-authored the book, suggests that Russia’s corruption issues stem from the entitled behavior of the FSB.  ‘Modernization will never replicate perestroika — neither in its initial positive successes, nor in its tragic failure.‘  Georgia will insist on reaching an agreement with Russia over customs control on their border before agreeing to its accession to the WTO.  The two countries are in their thirteenth round of talks towards the prevention of violence. 
The Kremlin salad worm incident sparked by Tver Governor Dmitry Zelenin is getting out of hand, with talk of a lawsuit.  ‘A preliminary study of the photo shows that it represents neither the place, nor the serving of the table layout during this protocol event in the Grand Kremlin Palace.‘  Russia will hold its first Formula One Grand Prix in Sochi between 2014 and 2020. 
PHOTO: Russian Cossacks and cadets bless themselves during a religious service dedicated to the feast of the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God at a cathedral in the town of Novocherkassk, some 40 km (25 miles) northeast of Rostov-on-Don, October 14, 2010. REUTERS/Vladimir Konstantinov