President Medvedev will move forward his scheduled meeting with Duma deputies to October 24, following their election-related protests, although he maintains that the United Russia victory is legitimate. LDPR and A Just Russia have said they will end their boycott imminently, whilst the Communist faction will not attend today’s session. According to Reuters, Kremlin opponents say that Medvedev’s backing of the election results demonstrates the paucity of his pledge towards greater political freedom. Is the rivalry between ideologue Vladislav Surkov and Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin the real story behind the walkout? An article on RFE/RL is also cynical about the authenticity of the protesters’ motives, for ‘Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky is no oppositionist’.
Ella Pamfilova, the head of the Kremlin’s human rights council, called on to resign by Nashi after she condemned their treatment of journalist Alexander Podrabinek, has decried the government’s youth policy, which she suggests gives a license to law-breaking. The Economist notes that the Nashi campaign had ‘a whiff of anti-Semitism’ and sees in the ‘Anti-Soviet’ restaurant saga a restoration of Soviet ideals. Regarding the story of the Arkhangelsk historian whose work on Germans in Gulags is being suppressed by the authorities, the Guardian quotes historian Orlando Figes, who has described the academic’s arrest as part of a ‘Putinite campaign against freedom of historical research and expression’. Russia has been cross-examined by U.N. human rights experts over its disturbing record of murders of journalists and activists, as well as a litany of other rights-related issues.
Russia has expressed concern about Washington’s talks with Ukraine on participating in a new missile defense system. India and Russia have agreed on two military pacts potentially worth $5 billion. A grenade explosion at a concert in Moldova has injured at least 40 people.
The FIFA president has reportedly told Vladimir Putin that Russia has a ‘good chance’ of winning its bid to host to the 2018 or 2022 World Cup. The BBC has a report on Russia’s new game of choice: Dozer. An episode of cartoon Family Guy portraying Putin as a Kalashnikov-wielding, cigarette-smoking interrogator will air in Russia next spring.
PHOTO: Medvedev meeting Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, second right, October 15, 2009. (Natalia Kolesnikova / AP)