RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – October 1, 2010


TODAY: Committee to Protect Journalists praises impetus of Investigative Committee; upset over Karpov FIFE defeat; Kremlin considering Kozhin for Moscow.  Russia-friendly party poised to give strong performance in Latvian elections; war of words over Kuril escalates; Viktor Bout extradition to be decided by Thai PM

A board member of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Kati Marton, has told reporters following a meeting with the Investigative Committee, which will reexamine the murders of 19 journalists, that the atmosphere was different this time’, and that CPJ members were impressed by the seriousness’ of the Committee’s head Alexander Bastrykin.  In an exercise in what he suggests might be called ‘counterfactual futurism’, Robert Coalson considers the chasm between opinion polls and political structures in Russia.  The Other Russia reprints an interview with Garry Kasparov from StandPoint magazine, in which he discuses the Presidency, both that of FIFE and the Russian federation.  The former of those battles being lost to Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, says chess grand master Daniel King, is a catastrophe for the game.

‘A heavyweight with financial resources who is opposed to theauthorities can expect only — like former Yukos CEO MikhailKhodorkovsky — frozen assets, destroyed resources, and prison’AlexanderGolts has a bleak prognosis for the future of ex-Mayor Yury Luzhkov. Golts is not the only commentator to note a parallel with theKhodorkovsky case: see Michael Bohm in the Moscow Timeson the victory for Putin’s power vertical.  Apparently the ex-Mayordoes not plan to leave politics.  Vladimir Kozhin, who heads the Officeof Presidential Affairs, is reportedly the Kremlin favorite to fill the mayor’s shoes, out of seven potential successors.

Echoing a piece on RFE/RL about the strength of pro-Russian partiesacross the ex-USSR, apparently Latvia’s Harmony Center party, which ismainly Russian speaking, looks set to win the most seats in Sunday’s election.  In the financially troubled country, ‘thereis a general consensus in the political and business establishment thatrelations with Russia should become more pragmatic’, says an analyst quoted in the FT.

The Kurils struggle is flaring up as the Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara described Medvedev’s plans to visit the southern islands as a move that would ‘severely hurt ties between the two nations.  Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko says that Japan should ‘avoid repeating dead-end positions’ in statements about the islands.  Thailand’s prime minister has said that he will make the final decision on whether arms dealer and Russian national Viktor Bout will be extradited to the US; a decision over ‘the merchant of death’ could, the Foreign Ministry has said, severely impact the ‘reset’ in US-Russia relations.

PHOTO: Alexander Bastrykin signaling during an interview in this file photo. Bastrykin had a closed-door meeting with the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists over journalist murders.  (M. Stulov / Vedomosti)