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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Oct 26, 2009

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TODAY: Medvedev defends elections, says open to dialogue; Nashi files lawsuits with foreign papers; mafia boss praised by public; Ingush opposition leader killed; Serbia-Russia pact; reverse on Goldstone vote?
Dmitry Medvedev defended Russia’s recent elections during a meeting with parliamentary opposition leaders, saying that they were ‘overall well-organized‘.  Reuters called his comments a ‘snub‘ to opposition parties.  Medvedev told a meeting of opposition members that he is ‘open to dialogue‘ on how to change election laws that they say favor the pro-Kremlin party, and announced that he wants government officials to resign from sports organization posts to make way for ‘professionals‘.  (The very pro-Putin) Vladimir Frolov says Medvedev’s vision of modernization (as outlined in last month’s Go, Russia! speech) is too ‘abstract to win voters.  ‘People are passive [about the elections] because they feel that there is absolutely no opportunity to change the system,‘ says one blogger.  RFE/RL looks at the role of new media in documenting Russian election fraud.  Pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi has filed libel lawsuits against four foreign newspapers for ‘unscrupulously‘ comparing it to Hitler youth.  

Russians are responding angrily to MPs complaints’ about positive press coverage for crime boss Vyacheslav Ivankov in the wake of his well-attended and lavish funeral.  ‘Among the [MPs] are people who carried out contract hits who, in contrast to Ivankov, are hiding behind their immunity,the Times quotes.  Maksharip Aushev, a leading opposition activist in Ingushetia, was shot dead yesterday.  An assassination attempt on Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov failed on Friday.  Russia is rethinking its vote on the Goldstone report, supposedly calling its initial support ‘involuntary and the fault of Europeans‘, according to this source.  What are the implications of a Russia-Serbia pact?  
In what is hopefully a good sign for gay rights, Russia’s release of its first mainstream film about drag queens has passed thus far ‘without a peep of protest‘.  On the ‘miracle‘ return of the Aral Sea, and a Berlin exhibition of Soviet Socialist Realist art.
PHOTO: President Dmitry Medvedev holding a giant tennis racket as he visits a tennis school in Kazan on Friday. He called on government officials to resign from leadership posts in national sports organizations. (Dmitry Astakhov / RIA-Novosti / AP)