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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – October 4, 2010

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TODAY: Break with Luzhkovian tradition on dissenting rallies? Sobyanin tipped for mayor position; Foreign Ministry says Magnitsky sanctions will hurt US-Russia reset; France opening door to Russia; Kyrgyzstan elections raise local and international tensions; Medvedev lambasts Lukashenko; Russian-rooted party fails to dominate in Latvian elections; ‘extreme’ art; Soviet-era foreign policy chief dies.

According to Reuters, around 10 gay activists were allowed to hold a rally without interruptions on Friday, suggesting, leading activist Nikolai Alexeyev says, that there has been a change in policy since the departure of arch gay rights opponent Mayor Yuri Luzhkov.  The Washington Post reports that two dozen activists were present, and that in a reversal of the usual rally-dispersal outcome, several anti-gay rights protesters were in fact arrested.  Opposition stalwart Lev Ponomarev has urged the acting mayor Vladimir Resin to sanction a Day of Anger rally in which aggrieved Muscovites can express their issues with the city government.  Following a United Russia meeting, it has been suggested that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s chief of staff and deputy prime minister, Sergei Sobyanin, is tipped as the favorite to replace Yury Luzhkov.  Apparently the candidate ‘does not feel great joy about this’.  Meanwhile the ex-mayor is apparently keen on starting his own political movement’.  He will not appeal against his dismissal in the Supreme Court because he believes the court does not possess the authority to contradict a presidential decree.  It might have been a presidential decree that pushed the mayor out, but it is really Prime Minister Putin who will be pleased to see the back of the beekeeping enthusiast, says Yevgeny Kiselyov in the Moscow Times.


Russia’s Foreign Ministry has cautioned the US against passing punitive sanctions that would affect Russian officials suspected of involvement in the death of Sergei Magnitsky, arguing that the legislation ‘will certainly not aid the search for the truth, and will introduce a serious irritant into our relations’.  The US is apparently concerned about the Mistral-propelled overtures made by Nicolas Sarkozy towards Russia; apparently the French President hopes to oversee a new European security relationship.  The OSCE is apparently seeking to deploy monitors for Russia’s next two national elections with unlimited access, having been unable to monitor the 2007 and 2008 ones due to restrictions.

The OSCE has also reported that the situation in Kyrgyzstan remains tense ahead of this weekend’s election.  The US and Russia, who both have military bases in the ethnically-restive country, have been accused of interfering in the elections.  Medvedev has castigated Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko for his ‘dishonest rhetoric’ on a video blog posting.  Latvia’s pro-Russia party Harmony Center did not manage to gain the most seats, as it had hoped, in Sunday’s election.

Art review Artkhronika has received an official extremism warning for reproducing two pieces by the enfant terrible of the Russian modern art world, Alexander Kosolapov.  Georgy Arbatov, the USSR’s top ‘America-watcher’ during the Cold War, has died at the age of 87.

PHOTO: Gay activist Nikolai Alexeyev releasing an airplane outside the office of Swiss International Air Lines on Friday, October 1, 2010.  (Ivan Sekretarev / AP)