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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – September 30, 2009

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TODAY:  Georgia-Russia tensions simmer in advance of EU report; Council of Europe hullabaloo.  Russia edgy on Washington’s new defense scheme; Obama forward looking; Kremlin does not feel Iran missiles justify sanctions.  Journalist in hiding over anti-Soviet article; no joy for beer drinkers and hackers

Accusations are flying ahead of today’s publication of EU-backed report on the war in Georgia which is expected to be critical of both parties.  The Times says that Georgia has preemptively accused Russia of spreading ‘patently false information about fictitious attacks on Russian peacekeepers’.  Tbilisi has also claimed that the report has concluded that Russian troops were responsible for ethnic cleansing during the conflict.  Russia is bristling at motions in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe that accuse the Kremlin of continuing to pursue an aggressive policy in the region.  The Russian delegation will apparently not take part in the Council’s upcoming meeting that may strip it of its voting rights.  PACE has also argued that Russia should allow EU observers access to Abkhazia and South Ossetia before the year is out.  The Moscow Times reports that EU monitors have increased their patrols in Georgia to ease tensions.  The Abkhazian foreign minister has asserted that Georgia will be held responsible for any future confrontation with Russia in the Black Sea.
 


NATO envoy Dmitry Rogozin has voiced suspicions about the new US missile defence plans, fearing that the mobile interceptor missiles could sail into Russia’s northern seas.  Reuters reports that President Obama has expressed his desire to reach out to Russia‘ and not merely improve Russia-US relations, but equally NATO-Russia relations.  Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has said that Iran’s missile tests do not give further weight to the case for sanctions against Iran.  Russia apparently plans to deploy Iskander missile in all of its military districts.

The Russian Industry and Trade Ministry has suggested a ban on beer sales at kiosks and outdoor retail markets as part of Medvedev’s crackdown on alcoholism.  Russia’s population grew by 1,000 in August, its first monthly growth in 15 years, according to the Moscow Times. The state duma is set to consider introducing chemical castration for people convicted of sex crimes with minors under the age of 14. 

Russia may increase the maximum prison sentence for hacking government information from five years to seven years.  RFE/RL reports on journalist Aleksandr Podrabinek who has gone into hiding after penning an article on the “Anti-Soviet” Moscow restaurant name-changing affair in which he was critical of Soviet veterans.  The Sochi Olympic budget has apparently almost tripled to $33 billion.  Cyberspace celebrates : it’s Internet day today in Russia.

PHOTO:  The EU monitors mission head Hansjoerg Haber speaks at a news conference in Moscow on September. 29, 2009. On the eve of a European Union report on who started the Russia-Georgia war, EU monitors have stepped up their patrols in Georgia to try to keep tensions from boiling over onto violence, the monitor mission’s head said Tuesday.(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)