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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – October 15, 2009

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TODAY: Clinton turns attention to civil society and gives speech tackling human rights abuses; Walt Whitman statue unveiled; Putin advises against intimidating Iran; opposition politicians stage Duma walk out.  Memorial to appeal.  Putin turns pop svengali?

‘In an innovative society, people must be free to take unpopular positions, disagree with conventional wisdom, know they are safe to challenge abuses of authority’: Hillary Clinton affirmed her support for dissidence and human rights protection in a speech at Moscow State University.  ‘That’s why attacks on journalists and human rights activists are such a great concern, because it is a threat to progress‘, she is quoted as saying in the New York Times.  Click here for a video of Clinton discussing these issues on Russian radio.  Activists were reportedly disappointed to see a statue of ‘gay icon‘ Walt Whitman unveiled by the US Secretary of State alongside gay-demonizing Mayor Yury Luzhkov, with no mention of rights for homosexuals in Russia.
 


Vladimir Putin has maintained that a compromise must be sought with Iran and that sanctions would be ‘premature’.  When questioned about Medvedev’s apparently different stance, referring to his comment that sanctions may be ‘inevitable’, Putin added, ‘in our country the president […] determines foreign policy […] but if you take a close look at all of his statements and the context in which they were made, I am sure you will see that there he is not bent on pursuing a policy of sanctions’.  Hillary Clinton has said that the U.S. and Russia should cooperate in developing a joint missile-defense system.  For such a thing to happen, they must both delineate where security threats come from, said negotiator Sergei Ryabko.  The Moscow Times reports that the summit between Russia, China and Central Asian nations concluded with little in the way of agreements regarding prickly security issues such as Afghanistan

Deputies with the Communist, Liberal Democratic and Just Russia parties have made a surprise exit from the State Duma in protest against the ‘dirty’ election results.  Putin has brushed off the accusations, telling doubters to take the matter to court.  Memorial plans to appeal against a court’s ruling to pay damages to Chechen President Ramzan Kapyrov.  Nepotism-battling lawyer Inna Yermoshkina has been cleared of fraud charges.

Showbiz livens up the SCO summit: Putin has proposed a new Asian version of the Eurovision song contest.  

PHOTO: From left: Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, MGU head Viktor Sadovnichy, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov seen during unveiling of the Walt Whitman statue at MGU (Moscow State University) on October 14, 2009. Clinton attended the ceremony unveiling the statue at Moscow State University with Russian officials. (AP Photo)