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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – September 15, 2009

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TODAY: Medvedev defends the right to be critical; suggests US responsible for crisis.  Washington concerns about arms deal with Venezuela.  Poland bombarded by Georgian refugees; Russian-German diplomat problems. Spiraling yet unenergetic Bolshoi renovation project to be investigated.

In a move seen by the Washington Post to mark a break with predecessor Putin’s zero tolerance approach, President Medvedev has defended the right to criticize and accept criticism from other countries.  Putting this into practice, ahead of his first trip stateside, Medvedev has implicitly blamed the US for the financial crisis: ‘last year, we witnessed how one country’s ill-conceived financial policies became the reason for a global financial crisis, whose effects every country … feels today’.  The US is apparently concerned about Russia’s arms deal with Venezuela, believing that accumulation of arms in the South American state ‘poses a serious challenge to stability in the Western Hemisphere’.  At yesterday’s Modern State and Global Security Forum, also by attended by Spanish and French Prime Ministers, Medvedev also pledged that he would continue to push the European security treaty – which failed to muster much enthusiasm at its last outing.


The main problem lies not in defining where Medvedev envisions the possibility of economic breakthroughs occurring, but in his Soviet-era belief that scientific and technological progress will lead to improvements in the political realm’: an op-ed piece in the Moscow Times suggests Medvedev’s ‘Forward Russia’ plans are a little more backward than he would like to think.  On RFE/RL Brian Whitmore analyzes the conflict between Putin and Medvedev which, he suggests, is more concrete than histrionic.

Spy spat from the Moscow Times: the Foreign Ministry has apparently refused to accredit the new head of the German Embassy’s consular section after Berlin refused to accredit three Russian diplomats.  Russia will apparently decide on the purchase of a Mistral class warship by October.

The past four months has seen Poland experience an unprecedented influx of Georgian refugees, according to Warsaw-based Office for Foreigners.  ‘Poland has been the country pushing for visa-free entry to the EU for Georgian citizens‘, proffers one analyst as an explanation for the sudden attraction.

A criminal enquiry into the reconstruction of the Bolshoi Ballet has been launched by prosecutors.  As the cost of the seemingly endless project skyrocket, fears abound that funds may have been misused, reports the Guardian.

PHOTO: The Bolshoi Theater, undergoing renovation since 2005, may not reopen until 2013.  (Denis Sinyakov /Reuters)