RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – October 5, 2010


TODAY: Luzhkov takes ‘democratic’ stance in new movement; United Russia’s election plans; Kasparov to consider joining new opposition coalition; Viktor Bout trial stalls; cigarette adverts to be banned; Russia cracks down on artistic expression

Ex-mayor Yuri Luzhkov has made some improbable pro-democratic claims in an interview with the New Times, his first since being dismissed, and has complained that ‘our society has degenerated, degenerated quite seriously in all spheres’.  One of the former mayor’s deputies, Alexander Ryabinin, may be indicted on bribery charges today, according to a spokesman for the Russian Investigative Committee.  A spokesman for Inteko, run by the wife of the ousted politician, Yelena Baturina, has said the property billionaire will continue working in Russia and continue to pursue litigation against media outlets that circulate ‘false’ reports.

United Russia has announced it plans to rack up at least 50% of the vote at each of the upcoming 7,850 regional and municipal polls, many of which will be single candidate elections: if there is a lack of opposition, Valery Galchenko, of the party’s central executive committee, has said it is because opposition candidates have failed to apply for registration.  Garry Kasparov has said that the Solidarity movement will wait until December to decide whether or not to join the newly-founded opposition coalition, ‘For Russia Without Tyranny or Corruption’. 
Vladimir Ryzhkov, of said coalition, explains in the Moscow Times why Putin and his cohorts need to use ‘cheap pseudo-historical theories to mask their own usurpation of power’.

The trial against arms dealer Viktor Bout, a sticking point in US-Russia relations, has been delayed by a Thai’s court decision to consider other charges filed against the arms dealer in Washington.  Medvedev’s press secretary has said that foreign presidents should refrain from interfering in Russia’s internal affairs: a remark ostensibly pointed at comments by recalcitrant Alexander Lukashenko.  Putin is hoping to make cigarette advertising entirely illegal by 2011.  RFE/RL has a video report on how the authorities are responding (or not) to the needs of the village of Mokhovoye which was devastated by forest fires.

Bloomberg looks at the life of Russian artist Oleg Mavromatti, currently living in Sofia, who fears returning to Russia, having stoked the anger of the Orthodox Church for ‘blasphemous’ works.  The Moscow City Court has upheld a lower court’s ruling that found two curators guilty of inciting religious hatred by organizing the ‘Forbidden Russia’ exhibition.

PHOTO: President Dmitry Medvedev and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych meeting in Gelendzhik on Monday, October 4, 2010. (Mikhail Klimentyev / RIA-Novosti / AP)