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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – September 8, 2009

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TODAY: 1998 Starovoitova murder case to be reopened; Moscow city Duma election opposition candidates outraged; Nashi vs Nemtsov thrown out of court.  Lavrov positive on reset; new police chief; Moscow mayor to fight weather.
According to Bloomberg, Russia has reopened the investigation into the 1998 murder of lawmaker and human rights activist Galina Starovoitova as new evidence has appeared.  The assassinated activist’s assistant, Ruslan Linkov, who was also injured in the attack which killed her, has suggested that the reopening may be to do with an appeal sent by himself and Starovoitova’s sister to President Medvedev in July.  An independent election-monitoring group has criticized election officials for preventing all but one opposition candidate to stand in next month’s Moscow city Duma elections.  The Other Russia reports that all seven candidates from the Solidarity Opposition Movement have been withdrawn from the race.  A Moscow court has thrown out a $32,000 defamation lawsuit brought by the Nashi youth group against opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, regarding the Sochi ammonia attack.


Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, writing in Rossiyskaya Gazeta, has pledged to improve Russia-US ties, stating, ‘we will honestly strive for a timely and full-fledged replacement of the START treaty’.  An article in RFE/RL suggests that despite the rhetorical reassuring, ‘Russia has recently taken a series of actions that are prompting doubts about Washington’s ability to engage Moscow’.

According to a recent opinion poll cited by Ria-Novosti, whilst Medvedev’s popularity has increased, Putin remains the ‘No 1′ politician in Russia.  An article by Charles Crawford on RFE/RL explores Putin’s use of the World War Two commemoration ceremony in Gdansk to reassert power over Poland, rather than concede wrongdoing.  The Moscow Times has an interview with former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze; the ex-politician is not overly confident that global relations have improved since the Berlin Wall collapsed.  After 18 years of existence, post-Soviet Union Russia has yet to establish a clear cultural identity, argues Richard Lourie in the Moscow Times.

A senior investigator from the Interior Ministry, Vladimir Kolokoltsev, will become Moscow’s new police chief.   Former cosmetics boss Vladimir Nekrasov and alleged criminal godfather Semyon Mogilevich will stand trial on September 18.  Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov is planning take on an icy new adversary.

PHOTO: Galina Starovoitova speaking during an interview with The Moscow Times in 1992. (Mikhail Metzel / MT)