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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – September 28, 2010

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TODAY: Luzkhov ousted by Presidential decree; Mayor had apparently refused to resign. British Foreign Secretary highlights Magnitsky case; Iran threatens to sue over undelivered missiles; HIV reportedly more widespread than government acknowledges; Russian Louvre exhibition threatened by censorship.

After 18 years in power, Reuters reports that Moscow Mayor Yuri M. Luzhkov has been dismissed by President Medvedev; a statement issued by the Kremlin said that the President had ‘lost trust’ in the mayor.  The presidential decree nominated a Luzhkov ally, First Deputy Mayor Vladimir Resin, as the capital’s acting mayor.  Medvedev apparently has no plans to meet with the ousted politician who was described in one of today’s reports as ‘iconic’.  The news of Luzhkov’s dismissal followed his defiant statement ‘I am not going to resign of my own accord’; apparently a sign, some commentators believe, that the mayor had not managed to bargain for a new extra-governmental position he deemed worthy.  Luzhkov did not attend a meeting by City Hall which was chaired by his acting successor.  Medvedev and Putin have employed methods which are ‘direct imitation of Luzhkov’s management style that he introduced in 1992′, but with less success, says Alexei Pankin in a Moscow op-ed.  A commentator quoted by the FT stresses the historical conflict between the ruling elites of St Petersburg and Moscow as an ongoing factor in the power struggle: ‘It would be a big blow to the Moscow elites if the St Petersburgers were seen to be putting their own man in Moscow’.


Ahead of his first diplomatic trip to Moscow, British Foreign Secretary William Hague has urged that the death of Hermitage lawyer Sergei Magnitsky be fully investigated ‘if it is to address both human rights concerns and the effect of this case on investor confidence’.  Poor conditions for suspects in detention and at the hands of law enforcement officers have garnered considerable media coverage: events like this will do little to suggest anything is being done to improve it.

Iranian lawmaker Alaeddin Boroujerdi has said Tehran may take Russia to court over its decision not to supply S-300 air defense missile systems.  A senior Russian deputy has countered that by suggesting that the ban was precipitated by the country’s ‘flawed foreign policies’.  The New York Times examines the increasing pressure on Chechen women to conform to Islamic dress.

Ria-Novosti provides an analysis of Russia’s rampant HIV epidemic, with 500,000 sufferers at the official number, the Federal Drug Control Service believes the actual figure to be at least five times higher.  Artists are up in arms about the fact that a number of works which were to be sent to Paris’ Louvre museum for a Russian exhibition have been held back by a Ministry of Culture censorship decree.

PHOTO: Russian president Dmitry Medvedev and Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov in happier times.  (Alexey Sazonov/AFP/Getty Images)