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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – September 23, 2009

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TODAY: EU chief has faith that Russia will not stand in the way of sanctions against Iran; US reproaches Russia on human rights; hope for WTO bid?  Yushchenko suggests move towards NATO would receive popular backing; ethnic haters charged.  New accusation for Berezovsky; chess matches and political clashes. Drama at the Bolshoi.

EU foreign policy head Javier Solana has said that he does not believe that China and Russia will oppose new sanctions against Iran.  US diplomat Douglas Griffiths has told the UN Human Rights Council that ‘in Russia we are concerned about killings with impunity of human rights defenders and journalists in the North Caucasus’.  First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov has said that Russia has received signals from a US official that its bid to join the WTO (with Belarus and Kazakhstan) may be successful as early as 2010.  The New York Times reports that Russia’s top drug enforcement official, Viktor P. Ivanov, will push the US to redouble its efforts to destroy Afghan poppy cultivation, as Russia is ravaged by heroin abuse.


An op-ed piece in the Moscow Timeslooks realistically at the obstacles to improving NATO-Russiarelations.  Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has apparently said that he believes a rising tide of popular support will see the country join NATO.

‘Today you’re sitting next to the prime minister, and tomorrow you’re sitting next to a prison toilet’.  According to Yulia Laytnina, ‘it is just such little pleasantries that make up daily life in Russia’.  Apparently a new charge of organizing a criminal group may be brought against exiled billionaire Boris Berezovsky.  Moscow’s Khamovnichesky court may pronounce a sentence in the second case opened against the ex-Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky and business partner Platon Lebedev in spring 2010.  Former KGB agent Mikhail Lennikov, who gained notoriety for living in a Vancouver church to avoid deportation, has lost what could be his last legal battle to stay in Canada.

The head of Russia’s airborne troops is under investigation for allegedly using Special Force soldiers for his own personal needs.  The Moscow City Court has sentenced a gang of ultranationalist youths to prison terms for three attempted murders and other crimes motivated by ethnic hatred.

The chessmasters return!  ‘Kasparov is determined to checkmate Putin, even if it costs his life’, says an op-ed piece in the Times.  Backstage at the Bolshoi is no less exciting than on stage reports Reuters.  How will ‘Art Moscow’ fair with collectors tightening their purse strings?

PHOTO: Russia’s President DimitryMedvedev shows an original Swiss Army Knife in Brunnen during a two daystate visit to Switzerland, September 22, 2009.  (REUTERS/Fabrice Coffrini)