RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – September 22, 2009


TODAY: Chief of staff denies decisions on Kaliningrad plan; Churkin criticizes US ‘cold war attitude’; arms reduction talks not progressing as smoothly as they may appear.  Israel maintains choice in Iran; Russia suggests onus on NATO to improve ties; ship plans for Abkhaz waters.  Moscow court rejects appeal for Vasily Aleksanyan;anti-Soviet’ restaurant feels Mitvol’s wrath.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin has said that US Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s insistence that the decision on missile defense was not about Russia reveals ‘a rather difficult negotiating partner, a partner who is loaded in many ways by a Cold War mentality’.  The Chief of Russia’s general Staff has stated that no decision has yet been made on plans to deploy missiles in the Kaliningrad enclave.  Apparently ‘negotiations aren’t going easily’, regarding Russia-US arms reduction.  An op-ed piece in Reuters describes how the US has a ‘lot of bargaining chips’ in its dealings with Moscow.  Russia won’t relinquish any level of control easily however, argues an article in the New York Times.  Apparently Medvedev will not have time for his meeting with ‘dissidents’ whilst in the US.

Israel has maintained that it still has a military option in Iran, despite President Medvedev’s claims about assurances otherwise.  In a video on Bloomberg, Vitaly Churkin has suggested that there is no clear evidence of a nuclear weapons program in Iran.  Ria-Novosti reports that Russia will not settle for any new missile defense system unless it has a role in it.  The Washington Post says that Moscow insists that NATO hear out its concerns and consider the Kremlin’s proposal for a new European security treaty.  Medvedev has been on the first trip ever by a Russian leader to Switzerland to drum up interest in the security pact.

Georgia has said that the placing of Russia ships in the Black Sea demonstrates that the objective of last year’s war was to increase a military presence in the area.  Russia reportedly plans to deploy as many as 10 ships in Abkhaz waters.  An open letter in the Guardian penned by Vaclav Havel and other luminaries argues that Europe must face up to Russia’s actions in Georgia.

‘A prisoner in a golden cage’: a new book apparently reveals the political afterlife of Boris Yeltsin.  A Moscow court has rejected a request to suspend the trial of former Yukos vice president, Vasily Aleksanyan, who is terminally ill.  RFE/RL features exhanges between novelist Lyudmila Ulitskaya and Yukos founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky.  Oleg Mitvol has ordered a Moscow eatery to find a more Soviet-friendly name

PHOTO: Viktor Yesin, left, Vladimir Dvorkin, right, speak at a news conferencein Moscow, Russia, Sept. 21, 2009. Retired Gen. VladimirDvorkin says President Barack Obama’s decision to scrap the previousadministration’s plan for a missile shield in Eastern Europe hasremoved one key obstacle in the arms control talks. (AP Photo/\MikhailMetzel)