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Russia Reform Monitor - No. 1549

Solidarity, of sorts, in Sochi;
Racist attacks on the rise

Edited by Jonas Bernstein
April 8, 2008

April 6:

Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush have met in the Black Sea resort of Sochi for their last bilateral meeting as presidents. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports that Putin and Bush, setting aside growing tension on a number of issues and appearing eager to end their presidential relationship on a high note, signed a document projecting a “road map” for future ties after they both leave office.

“All these years, we were driven by a genuine aspiration to consolidate the partnership and mutual understanding between two great peoples, and open new horizons for cooperation,” Putin said at a joint news conference in Sochi following his meeting with the President. “I very much thanked George for the fact that we were able to achieve a lot in this respect, with his personal participation and support.” Bush said he personally respected Putin and that they had devoted a lot of the time in their relationship to trying to end the Cold War. “It’s over, it ended,” said Bush. “And the fundamental question in this relationship is: Now can we work together to put the Cold War in the past.”

Britain’s Special Branch is investigating an alleged attempt to murder Oleg Gordievsky, the former KGB colonel who acted as a double agent before escaping to Britain in 1985, the Daily Mail reports. Gordievsky claims he was poisoned last year by a Russian who visited him at his secret safe-house in Surrey. “I’ve known for some time that I am on the assassination list drawn up by rogue elements in Moscow,” Gordievsky told the newspaper. “They murdered my friend Alexander Litvinenko. I have no doubt my sudden illness last November was a similar attempt on my life.” The alleged assassin – who, according to the Daily Mail, cannot be named for legal reasons - called Gordievsky’s accusation “nonsense.” “It is sad, but Oleg has been ill for the past year,” he said.

April 7:

State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov, who heads the United Russia party, has said that outgoing President Vladimir Putin may officially be offered the post of party leader during a United Russia congress that will be held on April 14-15, reports. Gryzlov also confirmed that the State Duma will approve Putin as prime minister on May 8th, a day after the inauguration of President-elect Dmitry Medvedev.

According to the Sova center, which monitors racist attacks in Russia, ultranationalist skinheads killed 41 people in the first three months of this year, a more than 400 percent increase from the same period last year. The Wall Street Journal reports that police have broken up at least four skinhead gangs over the last year and have begun stopping and fingerprinting skinheads in Moscow’s subway. The crackdown, however, has not stopped the attacks and diaspora groups have warned that immigrants will take the law into their own hands if the police fail to control the problem. “If it continues like this for another two or three months, there will be civil war,” said Sojun Sadykov, head of the Azerbaijani diaspora group Azeross.

April 8:

Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Nikolai Patrushev has accused some foreign non-governmental organizations of helping international terrorists recruit members in Russia, reports. Patrushev, who chairs that National Anti-Terrorist Committee, said that in the Southern Federal District, which includes the North Caucasus, “the bandits and their accomplices are making efforts to indoctrinate youth and replenish their ranks.” He added that “emissaries of foreign terrorist and religious-extremist organizations” are trying to recruit members in other parts of Russia. “Individual foreign non-governmental organizations are providing them with a considerable degree of support,” Patrushev said.

Related Categories: Russia; Terrorism; Democracy & Governance

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