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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – September 30, 2010

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TODAY: US Congress to consider visa bans on officials implicated in Magnitsky death; details emerge on investigations into slain journalists.  Conjecture continues on Luzhkov firing; trouble ahead for gay rights Swiss Air protest; Medvedev states Russian claim to South Kurils. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov hangs on to FIFE presidency whilst allegations of unfair tactics rage

Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, and Representative Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat, have introduced legislation to Congress that would impose financial sanctions and visa bans on the Russian officials who were believed to be involved in the death in detention of Hermitage lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, in an attempt to undermine the climate of impunity in which they allegedly operate.  ‘That will not set the Kremlin trembling. But increasing personal inconvenience for those involved in abuses of power (and their spouses, children etc) is a potentially potent tactic’ says the Economist.  More details here on the newly empowered Investigative Committee’s decision to re-open the cases of journalist murders: 5 provincial killings between 2001 and 2005 will be examined.  Dmitry Medvedev has sacked a bureaucrat who attempted to falsify his earning claims, the first time a dismissal has been made in relation to the income declaration rulings.  The Khamovnichesky District Court of Moscow has reportedly completed the investigation in the case against Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev.


Close friend of Yury Luzhkov, deputy Iosif Kobzon has told reporters that it is likely the ex-mayor will challenge Medvedev’s decision to fire him in court.  A report from Ria-Novosti suggests otherwise, stating that the ousted politician told the ‘New Times’ that he will not fight against his dismissal, nor will he run for President in 2012.  To see Mikhail Gorbachev’s views on the event, consult ITAR-TASS.  Federal investigators are apparently ‘probing’ allegations of corruption in the Moscow government under his tenure.  The Other Russia has a round up of opposition reactions.

The anti-gay mayor may be gone, but LGB rights activist Nikolai Alexeyey has been warned that if a protest he plans to hold in front of Swiss Air’s Moscow office (in response to his recent abduction) is revealed to have anything to do with gay rights, its license will be revoked.  The acting mayor says he does not support the picket.  RFE/RL examines how United Russia is spreading its tentacles across the former Soviet space, through pacts with willing local parties.  President Medvedev, on apparently assertive form, has been seen repeating Putin’s instructions to local authorities in the depressed region of Kamchatka.  The President has also called the much-disputed South Kuril Islands, a very important part‘ of the Russian Federation.  Meanwhile Vladimir Putin will oversee the development of the trouble-stricken North Caucasus as the head of a special new commission. 

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has managed to retain the Presidency of the World Chess Federation amid accusations that the election was won through fraudulent tactics and that his rival, Anatoly Karpov, faced intimidation.  Alien-friendly Ilyumzhinov might be interested in a Russian company’s plans to create the world’s first ‘space hotel’.

PHOTO: Ilyumzhinov places chess pieces in the square patterned as a chess board, outside the Kalmyk government building in Elista.  (PHOTOSHOT)