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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Sept 8, 2010

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TODAY: Row over Ryabinin’s whereabouts reflects badly on Luzhkov; Bastrykin under fire over Magnitsky comments; Gryzlov says Russia waiting for the US Senate on START; Kalmykia region to get new head; Shoigu blames regional heads for fire spread; Matviyenko slams foreign adoptions; Sochi has no dumps; Barkov cleared in car crash case; Khodorkovsky backs Chirikova; Valdai wrap-up.
Alexander Bastrykin, the head of the Investigative Committee, has accused Yury Luzhkov’s Deputy Mayor Alexander Ryabinin of fleeing the country over allegations of corruption, although Ryabinin says that he is merely on vacation, spurring speculation that the Kremlin is ‘trying to pressure Luzhkov‘ into an early resignation.  The Other Russia quotes a Moscow administration source as saying that Ryabinin’s absence is causing ‘a terrible panic in the mayor’s office‘.  Bastrykin himself is under fire from law firm Firestone Duncan, who insists that Bastrykin’s denial of physical or psychological abuse in the case of Sergei Magnitsky amounts to a ‘high-level, state-sponsored cover-up‘.  Boris Gryzlov has implied that Russia will not ratify the new START treaty until the US senate looks ready to approve it, which, he suggests, may not happen until after the November congressional elections.  A 200-strong ‘flash mob‘ appeared at the governor’s office in Samara in order to protest the absence of four independent candidates from the election register, reports RFE/RL.

The Kalmykia region is set to get a new leader as Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, after 17 years in office, prepares to step down, supposedly in line with Dmitry Medvedev’s policy for regional leaders to serve no more than three terms.  Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu is blaming regional authorities for the spread of wildfires in recent months.  St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko says her city ‘doesn’t need any foreign adoptions‘.  Sochi presently has no legal garbage dumps, which raises questions about the estimated 5 million tons of construction rubbish that are due to be generated ahead of the Olympics. 
In a case ‘personally followed‘ by Dmitry Medvedev, Lukoil vice president Anatoly Barkov has been cleared of responsibility for a car crash that killed two women earlier this year. The sister of one of the victims is questioning the absence of video footage in the trial.  Barkov has apparently promised to support the victim’s daughter financially until she turns 18.  Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s letter of support to Khimki forest defender Yevgenia Chirikova discusses issues of gender.  ‘Is modernization of Russia possible without revealing the whole truth about the Soviet period of Russian history, and without erecting monuments and memorial plaques to the victims of repression in every city and village?‘ 
Yulia Latynina suggests that Putin’s PR stunts are part of his search ‘to fight off boredom‘.  The Guardian has video footage of Putin’s Valdai comments on re-election (with English subtitles).  Reuters has compiled a selection of key quotes from the meeting. 
PHOTO: A welder works on a railway bridge outside Sochi in June 2010. (AFP/File/Mikhail Mordasov)