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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – September 16, 2010

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TODAY: Moscow show-down approaches as Kremlin sources claim Mayor will be ousted; is the anti-Luzkhov campaign signs of a split in the diarchy?  Lukaschenko compromised by video campaign.  Poland vows to arrest Chechen rebel; Georgia seeks to sideline Russian language.  US and Russia sign military cooperation agreements; NATO opens door to Russia.  Police reform bill heavily criticized by public forum.

An unidentified Kremlin source has apparently told the Moscow Times that, in principle, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzkhov will lose his job, but the ‘operation’ to oust him could take two or three weeks; a statement backed by a Kremlin spokesperson.  ‘If Luzhkov prevails, the influence of television channels will be greatly reduced. How then are they going to hype Putin’s plan?: Solidarity head Denis Bilunov sees no possibility of reprieve for the mayor.  The TV campaign ‘was not to convince Putin that Luzhkov needs to be removed, but to sway public opinion against Luzhkov, thereby making it politically awkward for Putin — and, by extension, United Russia — to continue defending him’: a Vedemosti editorial speculates about whether the strategy is the work of President Medvedev in defiance of Putin – or in agreement.  Robert Coalson’s Power Vertical thinks it unlikely that ‘Medvedev has somehow wrested this huge asset away from Putin’.  The Independent reports on a viral video which claims that Vladimir Putin is plotting the assassination of Alexander Lukaschenko, which it sees as evidence of the increasing political isolation of the Belarussian strong man ahead of December’s elections.  ‘Luka’ can also look forward to being the namesake of an erotic movie by Russian Alexander Valov, whose previous films have included lookalikes of political rivals Mikheil Saakashvili and Yulia Tymoshenko in pornographic scenes.


In a sign of an ongoing warming of ties between the two nations, Poland has pledged to arrest Chechen rebel envoy Akhmed Zakayev, should he visit the country this week as planned.  Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has plans to ensure that English supplants Russian as the second language in Georgian schools, a feat which he says has never been done ‘any of the post-Soviet countries’.  The US and Russia have signed a memorandum of understanding on increased military cooperation and established a U.S.-Russian Defense Relations Working Group.  Despite remaining immune to Medvedev’s security proposals, NATO has invited Russia to attend talks with leaders of member states during a summit in Lisbon in November, hoping to see cooperation improve on thorny security issues such as Afghanistan and Iran.

A St Petersburg activist has been handed down an unusually draconian 14-day sentence for organizing a banned Strategy 31 demonstration.  Evidence of Russia’s teeming cybersociety: the online public discussion of the police reform bill terminated with 21,000 comments, with opposition activists concluding that the bill is insufficient as a response to systemic problems in law enforcement.  Read here to see what Rusnano chief Anatoly Chubais considers to be the greatest threat to Russian society.  More than 1,000 people in Moscow’s Tekstilshchiki district signed a petition on September 11 against plans to build a new mosque.   

RFE/RL lampoons Russia’s apparent plans to promote homegrown high-tech with its own curiously bendy-looking two-screened smart phone.  ‘[P] ushing our children toward the hell of degeneration: what the Communist party has to say about philanthropic rocker Sting.

PHOTO: Jens Stoltenberg (left) and Dmitry Medvedev in Murmansk after signing a treaty ending a border dispute over the Barents Sea.  (Mikhail Klimentyev/EPA)