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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – September 9, 2009

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TODAY:  Drug use nightmare for Russia; Medvedev calls for US support.  START talks to restart; tanks for Chavez.  Possible loan to Ukraine whilst relations remain chilly.  Black September anniversary; Scott Anderson interview.  Russia denies arms in Arctic Sea; infrastructure shortcomings scrutinized. 

Russia is the world’s biggest consumer of Afghan heroin, says President Medvedev, which ‘is a threat to the country’s national security’ and ‘a serious challenge to the health of the nation’, which is already fighting demographic decline.  The President is calling on US troops to help curb the wave of drugs leaving the war-torn country.  Sergei Lavrov has said that isolating North Korea must be avoided and resumption of six party talks prioritized.  Lavrov has also objected to claims by the French Foreign Ministry that the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency is withholding information concerning Iran’s nuclear status.  Before December, Russia hopes to hold at least 5 rounds of talks with the US regarding the replacement start treaty.  The complexities of Obama’s objective of nuclear reduction is addressed in the New York Times.  Russia looks set to sign a deal to deliver at least 100 main battle tanks worth around $500 million to Venezuela.


On the ten-year anniversary of the Black September bombings, the Moscow Timeslooks at the theory that the government was implicated in theatrocities – an argument raised in the hushed Scott Anderson piece forGQ, ‘Vladimir Putin’s Dark Rise to Power‘.  The Guardian looksat the storm of polemic surrounding Condé Nast’s decision to pull thearticle from the Russian edition.  To read an interview with Anderson,see RFE/RL.

Highway robbery: the Washington Postexamines the corruption that reportedly lies behind the construction ofMoscow’s traffic-laden roads.  Federal auditors apparently stated that 85% of the equipment at the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric power station needed to be replaced during an inspection two years ago.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has said that ties with Russia have been frozen in the absence of a Russian ambassador.  Russia could lend the country $2 billion to bolster its economy ahead of next year’s election.  According to the Guardian, Russia has vociferously denied that the Arctic Sea was carrying arms to Iran.  Israel’s prime minister reportedly made a secret trip to Moscow this week to discuss Russian arms sales to Iran and Syria.  Yulia Latynina argues how, in Russia, myth always prevails over reality in the Moscow Times.

PHOTO:  (FILE) – In this Sept. 9, 1999 file photo, rescuers and firefighters work at the site of a massive explosion, which destroyed a nine-storey apartment building at Guryanova street, in the southeastern part of Moscow.  Relatives of 93 people who died in the bombing of a Moscow apartment block are gathering to mark the 10th anniversary of the attack.  The bombing a decade ago at midnight, Sept. 8, 2009 was the second in a string of September 1999 bombings blamed on southern Russian separatists that left nearly 300 people dead. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev, File)