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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Oct 26, 2010

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TODAY: Strategy 31 rally allowed more protesters; Berezovsky back in the news in connection with journalist’s death; Kasyanov on human rights; Economic Development Ministry acknowledges heatwave deaths; Kadyrov on his ‘idol’; Sobyanin holds first session in City Hall, Luzhkov sets sights on England, Nizhny Novgorod Mayor ousted; census dodgers to be blacklisted? Trror in North Caucasus quadruples; Ukraine and Sevastopol.
Contrary to earlier reports, the Moscow Times says that this month’s Strategy 31 rally will be granted permission after all, and that a larger gathering will be permitted, with the initial 200 cap being raised to 1,000.  The Other Russia reports that the cap is for 800 protesters, and is related (at least ostensibly) to the amount of space available in Triumfalnaya Square, which is currently under construction. ‘The authorities have surrendered to us, but want to maintain the impression that they are still in charge,‘ commented Eduard Limonov.  The Telegraph has video coverage of the weekend’s Moscow opposition gathering – ‘the first anti-Putin protest in years‘.  New allegations about Boris Berezovsky’s role in the murder of journalist Vladislav Listyev are making the rounds.  RFE/RL has an interview with former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov on human rights, the ‘major national disaster‘ of corruption and the 2012 elections: ‘under the current circumstances I think it will be Putin who will become president; I think he has already decided so.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin’s first session in the City Hall was off limits for journalists.  ‘It is still unclear whether this is a permanent measure or not.‘  The Mayor of Chelyabinsk has hinted that residents who refused to take part in the census (which was not mandatory) could be blacklisted.  Former Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov is rumored to have applied for a UK visa, sparking speculation that he is planning to flee the country.  The Mayor of Nizhny Novgorod, Vadim Bulavinov, has been replaced by local businessman Oleg Sorokin after a disagreement with the regional governor.
Despite an official wildfire death count of about 60, this month’s Economic Development Ministry’s report on the economy acknowledges a direct link between 41,300 deaths and the summer’s heatwaves and ensuing pollution, reports Reuters.  Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Chechnya, wants his ‘idol‘ Vladimir Putin ‘to be the president as long as he lives‘. Terrorist attacks in the North Caucasus have quadrupled since last year, says The Other Russia.  Time Magazine is the latest to focus its attentions on the increasingly popular opinion that Viktor Yanukovych is turning Ukraine ‘back toward Russia‘.  On the back of Yanukovych’s Sevastopol base deal, Russia’s navy says it is planning to upgrade its Black Sea Fleet with 18 new vessels.
Read an in-depth report on the political engagement of Russia’s musicians.
PHOTO: Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano at the Russian White House in Moscow, October 25, 2010. (REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov)