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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Sept 3, 2010

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TODAY: Wildfires kill 5; Putin’s Lada trip mocked online; Lyudmila Alexeyeva to stop protesting; Kremlin blames opposition crackdowns on Moscow; police raid New Times; policewoman fired after protest video; Church to ban unauthorized media; Nashi row over publicity stunt; Georgia says Russia ignoring ceasefire; Beslan memorial.
Wildfires in Volgograd and Saratov, strengthened by strong winds, have killed five people and caused the evacuation of 750, according to the most recent reports from regional authorities, and the Emergencies Ministry says that hundreds of homes have been destroyed.  In which case, Vedomosti may be early in asserting that Russian leaders’ popularity has recovered from its wildfire dip.  Vladimir Putin’s lone-man Lada trip is apparently being ridiculed after a YouTube video suggested that the Prime Minister and his entourage made the trip with three models of the car, one being transported on a tow truck.  RFE/RL has the report and video link: ‘A third one is coming!” an onlooker is heard saying. “It broke down. He wore it out!’‘ Human rights veteran Lyudmila Alexeyeva says she will no longer attend opposition rallies. ‘I’ve had my share of going to rallies in my life […] ‘I am physically incapable of doing it.‘  The Kremlin is trying to distance the President from violent crackdowns on protesters, and shift the blame to the Moscow city authorities, says The Other Russia.

Armed and masked‘ police raided the offices of opposition magazine the New Times to carry out ‘investigative actions‘, says Reuters.  Further reports suggest that the raid was aimed at recovering recorded interviews related to abuse of authority by the OMON riot police. ‘We suggest you voluntarily — voluntarily — give us the recordings of the interview with the current and former OMON staff.‘  Tatyana Domracheva, a policewoman from the Sverdlovsk region, has been fired after posting a YouTube video accusing her department of corruption. Moscow’s deputy chief has lost his job over a police gang-rape.  This report compares VTsIOM poll results on public satisfaction with the police force since 2005.  The Orthodox Church is to begin banning unapproved media from its distribution system. 
 
Nashi has long been planning to leave its headquarters, a former kindergarten, so that the building can return to its original role, and says that Moscow official Oleg Mitvol’s letter ‘ordering‘ the move this week was just a bid to win publicity.  Georgia’s prime minister says that Russian expansion of military forces in his country breaches their ceasefire agreement.  Following his own request, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov will have his title changed
A three-day memorial is being held in North Ossetia for the victims of the 2004 Beslan school hostage crisis. 
PHOTO: International Space Station crew members Russian cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri (R) and U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly attend a training session at the training centre in Star City outside Moscow, September 2, 2010. (REUTERS/Sergei Remezov)