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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Oct 8, 2010

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TODAY: Campaigning draws to a close ahead of elections; human rights birthday calendar rivals lingerie version; mourners mark Politkovskaya anniversary; Georgia says disputed territories aren’t part of WTO consideration; scientist claims he invented Nobel Prize-winning grapheme; Luzhkov and corruption; Bulava missile successfully launches, rocket leaves for Space Station.
Today is the last day of campaigning before the Sunday elections, which will see a record 100,000 candidates running in four parliamentary parties.  One commentator suggested that United Russia has done so much to ensure it will win as to make ‘direct vote fraud unnecessary‘.  But evidence of foul play reportedly remains, including alleged restricted registration for opposition candidates.  Despite the ongoing ‘anti-Lukashenko campaign‘, the Belarussian President nonetheless wished Prime Minister Vladimir Putin a happy birthday yesterday and praised ties between their countries.  A second Putin birthday calendar has popped up to rival the lingerie version: featuring students with tape over their mouths drawing attention to human rights issues such as corruption and the death of Anna Politkovskaya.  The Other Russia reports on the memorial events held yesterday to mark the journalist’s death.  The Washington Post reports on a 200-strong gathering in Moscow, some of them older Russians who lamented the lack of a ‘second wave‘ of democrats to oppose the government.  ‘Now look at us, a few hundred gray-haired people.

Georgia insists that wrangles over its disputed territories will not influence its vote on Russia’s WTO membership.  Senior officials in the party are backing Viktor Petrik’s claim that he was the original inventor of grapheme, not the two UK-based Russian scientists that won the Nobel Prize in physics for its discovery.  This commentator would like to see more information regarding accusations that former Mayor Yury Luzhkov was engaged in corrupt activities, but acknowledges that the leadership can’t go there without implicating itself. ‘A fish rots from the head down.‘ 
Following a long string of failures, the Navy’s Bulava missile, ‘a future cornerstone of Russia’s nuclear arsenal‘, has been successfully tested.  Does the recent US computer hacking case in which a group of Russians stole money from online bank accounts highlight ‘a growing trend‘ in Russian hackers?  Google Russia takes a positive view: ‘The number of hackers reflects how many good engineers we potentially have in this country.‘  Anna Chapman was on hand to wave off Russia’s Soyuz TMA-01M rocket to the International Space Station, says the New York Times.
The Eurasia Review analyses Russia’s occasionally ostensible moves to promote democracy in the CIS. 
PHOTO: Russian human rights activists attend a rally in honor of slain Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya in Moscow. (Natalia Kolesnikova – AFP/Getty Images)