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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Oct 23, 2009

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TODAY: Election furore continues; Iran nuclear question hinges on Russian stance? U.S. to back Russian WTO bid; Kudrin blasts Moscow Mayor over salaries; corruption cases. Notes from Gorbachev and Khodorkovsky.
A Moscow court has canceled the election results from a polling station that failed to document the votes of Yabloko’s leader and his family, reports the Moscow Times.  The paper has published an article by Yabloko leader Sergei Mitrokhin today, which claims that ‘the level of falsifications in the Oct. 11 Moscow City Duma elections was unprecedented in modern Russian history.‘  United Russia leader Boris Gryzlov says a recount of the votes of the nationwide local elections ‘would not significantly increase the vote‘, and the chairman of the Central Election Commission said in a newspaper interview that he sees ‘no reasons to resign‘ over alleged election violations. Resolution of the Iran nuclear question may be down to Russia’s changed attitude, suggests The Times: ‘Moscow expected at the very least to be kept fully informed of nuclear developments, so the Russians were deeply embarrassed by the exposure of the Qom facility.‘  Although Russia has no plans to end its military cooperation with Iran.  Senior U.S. officials say that their country will back Russia’s committed bid for WTO membership, currently aimed for completion before the end of 2010.  Russia’s Foreign Ministry is downplaying U.S. efforts to set up a replacement missile system in Europe, saying the plans ‘may never be realized‘.

Responding to news that officials’ salaries and expenses are on the rise, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin warned Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov to keep a better eye on his city’s expenses.  The Prosecutor-General announced that Russian authorities are investigating a total of 16,000 criminal cases of corruption, including 12,000 opened this year.
RFERL’s Russia Service has posted a series of videos from an interview with former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, focusing largely on the recent elections.  Bloomberg is running a story on former Yukos owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s written answers to reader’s questions in an online Russian newspaper, which include a 2015 forecast for a democratic Russia in 2015, which could then follow the ‘Norwegian-Canadian model‘ of economic development.  
Berlusconi to party with Putin instead of attending to the Middle East peace process?  That’s what The Times is alleging…  
PHOTO: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi seen during a meeting with Russian businessmen in St. Petersburg, Russia, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Pool)