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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – October 8, 2009

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TODAY: Politkovskaya tributes – persistence and pessimism; sectioned rights activist to take case to Strasbourg court; United Russia demands Kremlin human rights council apology on Nashi.  Lavrov positive on new missile defense plan; Vitaly Churkin concerned about nuclear reduction. NATO suggests Russia engage further in Afghanistan.  Moscow city elections.

Nine Russian rights groups released a statement yesterday to commemorate journalist Anna Politkovskaya, vowing to continue their work despite the threat of ‘execution’‘I think that the best way to honor her memory would be for censorship to finally be abolished in our country, for Russia to become a free country’, opposition politician Boris Nemtsov said.  Former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov is pessimistic about the prospect of bringing her killers to justice: ‘even the most honest investigator cannot solve the crime because the government won’t let him’.  A lawyer acting for Politkovskaya’s family has denied reports that new suspects have emerged.  A rights activist who was placed in a psychiatric hospital under duress will take his case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.  The United Russia party is clamoring for an apology from Ella Pamfilova, the chairwoman of the presidential Council for Promoting Civil Society and Human Rights, after the council claimed Nashi activists were leading a ‘hate campaign’ against journalist Aleksandr Podrabinek.  According to the Moscow Times, Pamfilova says she will not apologize.


Sergei Lavrov has apparently said that the new revised US anti-missile plan ‘creates good conditions for dialogue’.  Russia’s envoy to the UN has said that the build up of missile defence will problematize the notion of nuclear reduction.  NATO has encouraged Russia to take on a greater role in Afghanistan.  The Washington Post reports that drugs czar Viktor Ivanov has criticized the US for not doing enough to combat the war-torn country’s drug trade.  The commander of Russia’s Airborne Troops has received an official warning from the Defense Ministry.

RFE/RL has a feature on what it views as an increasingly lacklustre CIS summit.  Why Russia is out of place in PACE in a comment piece in the Moscow Times.  Nino Burjanadze has penned a piece in the Guardian on why Mikheil Saakashvili has to go.

Are the Moscow city elections a safe bet for Mayor Yury Luzhkov or are forces within the Kremlin ready to orchestrate his downfall?  Konstantin Sonin expounds this possibility in an op-ed piece in the Moscow Times.  Apparently United Russia is planning on a voyage into the unknown; the party may use, for the first time ever, a platform: ‘an ideology of Russian conservatism’.

PHOTO:  People rally, holding portraits of slain journalist Anna Politkovskaya, in downtown Moscow, October 7, 2009. Hundreds of people rallied Wednesday on the third anniversary of the killing of Anna Politkovskaya, calling on the authorities to find and punish the killers of journalists and human rights activists in Russia. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)