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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Oct 20, 2009

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TODAY: Conflicting reports on Russia-EU talks; new nuclear rhetoric ahead of START expiration; real estate scams on the rise; young Communists suing the OSCE; Medvedev in Belgrade, wants public’s help with next address.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has commented positively on efforts to conclude a new partnership agreement with the EU, following yesterday’s meetings, although reportedly said that it was up to the EU to ensure uninterrupted gas supplies this winter.  This conflicts with reports from Iran, which say that Lavrov guaranteed the safety of EU supplies himself.  ‘[R]eal cooperation on most substantive issues has come to a virtual standstill,‘ comments RFERL.  Nuclear talks between Russia, Iran, and the U.S., are currently focusing on Iran’s possible export of most of its existing stockpile of enriched uranium to Russia and France.  Even if talks to produce a START treaty are completed by early December, the Senate and the Russian Parliament will not have time to ratify it before the old one expires, leaving America to find a surrogate way of keeping tabs on Russia’s nuclear activities, says the New York Times.  A recent study suggests that high-alert levels on both sides are ‘more political statements […] than military necessities,‘ says the Washington Post, but a new Security Council doctrine on the proposed use of nuclear weapons which will ‘allow for the possibility of delivering a nuclear first strike based not on actual aggression against [Russia], but on its own analysis of the intentions of the opposing side,‘ may leave the US ‘scratching their heads‘. 

Realtors say that, since the crisis, the number of scam real estate deals in Moscow has risen by 40%, including showing a buyer one apartment and selling another, or selling a property whose owners are on vacation.  Read an article on how to spot a corrupt state tender.  And Buryatia’s top police official is suspected of participating in a jewelry contraband racket. 
President Dmitry Medvedev has called for Russian citizens to send him their ideas for his next state-of-the-nation address, after replacing his chief speechwriter earlier this month.  The president is in Belgrade today for talks in which he may offer Serbia a €1 billion loan in a bid ‘to reestablish some influence after losing allies and clout elsewhere in the region,‘ suggests Bloomberg.  Generation of Victory, the Communist Party’s youth group, is suing the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe for $40 trillion for a resolution equating Nazism and Stalinism.  
Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov is wondering if he can change the weather.  Andy Garcia is to play Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili in a new Hollywood movie being made about the Georgian war which is ‘likely to make Russia and Georgia uncomfortable‘.   
PHOTO: A child passing by a painted bench in a park in St. Petersburg, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009. (Dmitry Lovetsky/AP)