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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – October 9, 2009

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TODAY: Upbeat feeling ahead of Clinton visit; dates confirmed; nuclear on the agenda.  Flights of US supplies to Afghanistan commence; bilateral ties with China to be strengthened by flurry of deals. Stalin’s grandson’s Novaya Gazeta suit begins; ‘Black Hawks’ down; skyscraper fight isn’t over yet.

‘The cooperation that we are seeing from our Russian partners in the P5+1 context is very encouraging, says Hillary Clinton of the Kremlin’s involvement in talks with Iran.  The dates of the Secretary of State’s Moscow visit, at which, the Washington Post reports, she will discuss Iran, Afghanistan and nuclear reduction, have been confirmed as 12-14th October.  Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko has apparently said that Russia believes that strategic arms reduction talks with the United States are to be concluded before a cutback in tactical nuclear arms in Europe can be contemplated.  The US ambassador to Russia, John Beyrle, has said that he believes that Washington and Moscow will be able to draft a new strategic arms reduction treaty by the end of the yearITAR-TASS reports that the first flight carrying ‘lethal material’ to Afghanistan has been made across Russian airspace.  The US has lauded Russia’s implementation of the airspace cooperation plans.  Russia is optimistic that direct contact between North Korea and the United States may prompt breakthrough in negotiations relating to the North’s nuclear ambitions.


When Prime Minister Putin visits Beijing next week Russia apparently plans to sign 34 deals worth over $5.5 billion with Chinese partners.  It is possible that the Russian and Ukrainian prime ministers could meet in November, on the sidelines of an intergovernmental economic session.  Ukraine has deployed troops in the Black Sea region for military exercises off the Crimean peninsula, an area which, as a piece in the New York Times observes, is a potential trouble spot for Russia.

Hearings have begun in the case filed by Joseph Stalin’s grandson, Yevgeni Dzhugashvili, against the Novaya Gazeta, regarding a journalist’s claims that Stalin ordered the killings of thousands of people.  The Times reports on what it sees as the latest in a series of high-profile Stalin rehabilitation moves from different parties. 

Ariel Cohen in the New York Times looks at the diverging paths of Putin and Medvedev – do reforms have a chance?  Six men from the Caucasus known as the Black Hawks have been found guilty of crimes motivated by ethnic hatred.  Is Culture Minister Alexander Avdeyev the David to Gazprom’s Goliath?  Apparently Avdeyev is virulently opposed tothe building of the looming gas giant’s tower in St Petersburg, which has just beenapproved, and plans to file papers to block it. 

PHOTO: In this March 3, 1999 file photo, grandson of the late Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, Yevgeny Dzhugashvili, wearing a “USSR” lapel pin, is photographed during an interview in Moscow. A Moscow court began hearings Thursday in a libel suit brought by Stalin’s grandson against a Russian newspaper that he claims called into question the Soviet dictator’s honor and dignity. The grandson, Yevgeny Dzhugashvili, is demanding 10 million rubles (US$340,000) compensation from the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta. He contests its claims in an April 22 article that Josef Stalin personally signed execution orders for thousands of Soviet and foreign citizens. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)