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RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – July 11, 2011

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TODAY: Kasparov calls for election boycott; Duma parties criticize United Russia’s dominance; conductor blames shunning of All-Russia Front for non-renewal of his contract; over 100 people missing after cruise ship sinks in Tatarstan, 5 killed in plane crash; Putin = God’s gift; mass brawl in Sverdlovsk; Georgian photographer confesses; Perm profile.
Spurred by the government’s refusal to register Parnas, Garry Kasparov is calling for a boycott of Russia’s electoral process ahead of September’s ‘farce‘.  The Communist, Liberal Democratic and A Just Russia parties have all complained that United Russia’s majority in the the Duma session, whose Spring session has just ended, meant that their initiatives were subject to the ‘heavy spirit of stagnation‘.  Sergei Mironov is anticipating that a continuation of this monopoly after September’s Duma elections would lead to popular unrest: ‘the situation will explode‘.  Could Russia’s bikers end up constituting a grassroots political movement? Mikhail Arkadyev, the conductor of Vladivostok’s Pacific Symphony Orchestra, believes that his ‘refusal to have anything to do with the All-Russian People’s Front‘ is the cause of his annual contract not being up for renewal next year.

Hopes of finding survivors are slimming, after a cruise ship carrying 196 people sank in the Tatarstan region section of the Volga River during a storm yesterday.  103 people currently missing (119 according to Bloomberg), and 84 have been rescued.  Reuters has footage, as does the BBC, which says that ‘this is no longer a rescue operation‘.  It is thought that the cruise ship, built in 1955, was overloaded, carrying 196 people instead of the 120 maximum allowed by safety rules.  Five people have been killed in a regional airliner crash in western Siberia.  Vladimir Putin was sent to Russia by God, says Kremlin first deputy chief of staff Vladislav Surkov. 
According to the Georgian Interior Ministry, European Pressphoto Agency photographer Zurab Kurtsikidze ‘was the nexus of a Russian military intelligence spy ring‘.  His colleague, Irakli Gedenidze, the Georgian President’s personal photographer, has confessed to passing information about the President’s whereabouts to Kurtsikidze for ‘unspecified remuneration‘.  The Investigative Committee / Prosecutor General’s Office ‘turf war‘ continues. 
Authorities insist that a mass brawl in Sverdlovsk that broke out between locals and mostly Caucasus native visitors was not related to ethnic tensions.  The Moscow Times profiles the city of Perm
PHOTO: Debris from a tourist boat that sank on the Volga River, in central Russia on Sunday July 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations press service)