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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – October 2, 2009

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TODAY: Russia keeps its voting rights in Council of Europe; Lavrov says Russia wants unbiased discussions about human rights; French Foreign Minister argues Russia flouting ceasefire; Israeli diplomat makes swift exit; UK Foreign Secretary visit to ease tensions?; Scientology 1- Russia nil.

At a meeting with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, Sergei Lavrov has asserted that the Kremlin has not avoided discussing human rights issues with other European states, ‘but that dialogue should not be politicized, it should be concrete’.  According to Bloomberg, Kouchner has said that Russia is not honoring the terms of the ‘Sarkozy-Medvedev’ Georgia ceasefire agreement.   Ex-Georgian parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze has blamed President Mikheil Saakashvili for last year’s conflict with Russia and has affirmed the necessity for the opposition to ‘save Georgia’.  The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has decided to allow Russia to retain its voting rights in the organization against a motion initiated by Georgia.



The French Foreign Minister has confirmed that Russia is in talks to buy a Mistral-class helicopter carrier.   Kouchner also expressed caution about heavy-handed tactics in Iran, telling Ekho Mosky that he was ‘no fanatic’ about sanctions.  President Medvedev is apparently hoping for ‘constructive dialogue’with France on several issues, including European security.

The Washington Post reports that an Israeli diplomat who has been accused of ‘unlawful activities’ has left Moscow.  Spokesman Andrei Nesterenko says that he hopes ‘this regrettable incident wouldn’t affect the Russian-Israeli relations’.  Bloomberg announces that UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband will visit Russia on November 2, an initiative to ameliorate the terse relations that have developed between Moscow and Westminster since the Andrei Litvinenko case.

Russia’s opposition Yabloko party has labeled a new youth organization, the Young Russian Socialists, a wing of the A Just Russia party, a sham movement designed to alleviate frustrations among youngsters rather than bring about genuine political change.  The Soldiers’ Mothers of Petersburg have held a rallydemanding that young conscripts be given the option to do civil serviceover military service, to avoid some of the horrors they say take placein the Leningrad Oblast and St Petersburg military units.  RFE/RL has a brief interview with Pavel Khodorkovsky, the 24-year-old son of jailed Yukos founder.  The European Court of Human Rights has granted damages to the Church of Scientology, rejecting Russia’s attempt to ban the church, on the basis thatit has not existed for at least 15 years, as is required of  ‘religious organizations’ by Russian law.

PHOTO: President Dmitry Medvedev visits Znamensky Cathedral in Kursk, some 500 km (311 miles) south of Moscow, October 1, 2009.  (REUTERS/Ria Novosti)