RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Oct 19, 2010


TODAY3 killed in Chechen parliament; Duma has no power, says opposition; Gorbachev warns of unrest; EU talks continue with focus on security issues; Sobyanin speaks; Newsweek to close, Novaya Gazeta could follow; comments on the state of United Russia; Georgia praises withdrawal of troops from Perevi; spies given awards.
Talks in Deauville between Germany, France and Russia continue today, with European security issues at the top of the agenda.  ‘Confidence is key, the Cold War is over, the Warsaw Pact is over, Russia is our friend and we want to be theirs,‘ says French President Nicolas Sarkozy.  The former Polish Defense Minister comments in the Moscow Times: ‘Despite their commitment to speak to Russia with one voice, various EU countries negotiate with Russia bilaterally whenever possible (especially over lucrative business contracts), congregating under the EU umbrella only when necessary.‘  Militants attacked Chechnya’s parliament this morning, killing 3 people and wounding 13.  Sergei Sobyanin has spoken publicly for the first time since his nomination as Moscow’s new Mayor: ‘Corruption is Russia’s eternal problem.‘  RFE/RL writes that voting in the State Duma amounts to no more than button-pressing, with decisions and discussion about the passing of bills happening elsewhere, and notes the opposition view which says that the Duma doesn’t function as an independent branch of power.  Mikhail Gorbachev says that he doesn’t regard the current Russian government as ‘leaders‘, and warned that Russians are going to take to the streets if their demands are not heard. ‘The government on its own can’t deal with the problems we have,‘ he said.

The Russian edition of Newsweek has closed, apparently due to poor financing, falling ad sales and weak circulation, corroborated by the fact that its strong opposition line deterred investors from wanting to save it, says VoA.  Novaya Gazeta also fears that it will be shut down this year, after a court upheld Roskomnadzor’s warning to the paper for ‘propagandizing nationalistic views‘.  Brian Whitmore suggests that Vladimir Putin could become the new ‘General Secretary‘ of the United Russia party, thereby creating ‘a sort of power vertical 2.0‘.  Nikolai Petrov says that ‘United Russia has reached the limit of how far it can go in eliminating outside competition‘, citing strong opposition in Kaliningrad, Sverdlovsk and Irkutsk, but Vladimir Ryzhkov says that less popular regimes are more likely to resort to unfair tactics: ‘United Russia leaders are placing lackeys in gubernatorial posts and continue to falsify election results in the few remaining direct elections left in the country.‘ 
Georgia has praised Moscow’s decision to remove its troops from Perevi (near South Ossetia) as a ‘step in the right direction‘, but ‘only a microscopic step in the obligations Russia must fulfil‘.  Russian spies deported from the US over the summer have been given ‘the highest state awards‘.  Is the Prosecutor General Yury Chaika’s son using his connections to intimidate motorists
PHOTO: President Dmitry Medvedev arrives in Deauville for talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, October 18, 2010. (POOL / RIA Novosti)