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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Sept 7, 2010

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TODAY: Election watchdog warns of dirty electioneering; Putin’s Valdai Club soundbites hit the press; Luzhkov backs Khimki road; company deforests St Petersburg lake resort; singer summoned to explain inflammatory lyrics; Afghanistan, Israel; a return to Soviet conditions?
Independent election watchdog Golos says that United Russia is already involved in ‘dirty electioneering‘ ahead of next month’s regional elections, and that typical voter response is ‘apathy‘.  Nikolai Petrov suggests that opposition candidates could do well in October, and explores the likelihood that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will seek to adopt a new political model to win back voters.  Putin’s various PR displays are not for savvy, urban Russians, says The Guardian, but for regional citizens ‘not connected to the internet‘.  Putin’s comments at the Valdai Club have reached the press today, with newspapers certain that his comparing himself to Roosevelt means that he is preparing for another presidential term: ‘US President Roosevelt was voted in four times in a row because this did not contradict the American constitution.‘  His other comments are also making headlines: reassuring Russians that China is not a threat and that relations are strong; asserting that US President Barack Obama is ‘sincere‘ in his relations with Russia; promising that the 2012 presidential elections would reveal no ‘shocks, and that he would not interfere in the trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov is backing the toll road through the Khimki forest, which was originally approved by Vladimir Putin in 2003 (apparently the cost of redirecting the planned route is around $196 million).  Volgograd’s officials are resigning in the wake of new wildfires, admitting to ‘negligence‘.  An area around a lake resort near St Petersburg has apparently been deforested by a company that had rented the land for ‘recreational development‘, cutting off access to the forest and the lake to residents.  Sergei Lavrov’s renewed interest in Afghanistan is about national security and ‘a determined effort to show a friendlier and more co-operative face to the world‘, says this report.  Russia has signed an agreement on military cooperation with Israel, although details remain scant
The Independent says that a recent screening of the 20-year-old film by director Stanislav Govorukhin, You Can’t Live Like That, shows how far Russia has come since its Soviet days.  But the buckwheat shortage and the panic-buying it gives rise to suggest otherwise, says the New York Times.  The lead singer of music group Barto has been summoned to the Interior Ministry to explain ‘inflammatory‘ song lyrics.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel says ‘there’s yet a long way to go‘ before Russians will be able to travel in Europe visa-free.  
PHOTO: Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev sits in a cockpit of an AN-148 plane, which is under construction, as he visits the Voronezh Aviation Plant, September 6, 2010. REUTERS/Ria Novosti/Kremlin/Pool