Russia 110214 Basic Political Developments

Moscow court hears defamation case vs Putin

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Moscow court hears defamation case vs Putin

The Associated Press

Monday, February 14, 2011; 2:33 AM

MOSCOW -- A Moscow court is hearing a civil defamation suit against Vladimir Putin after the Russian prime minister used a TV call-in show to accuse his political enemies of stealing from the state.

Putin claimed in December that a group of opponents once in the government or parliament took billions from state coffers in the 1990s.

He said former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, once-Deputy Energy Minister Vladimir Milov and ex-independent lawmaker Vladimir Ryzhkov had gone broke and were now seeking power again to fill their pockets.

Before Monday's court hearing Nemtsov told the AP he doesn't expect to win but said the fact the suit was admitted is a victory. Russia's courts are notoriously loyal to the state and often used to bury Kremlin opponents.

Search continues for missing Russian trawler

Feb 14, 2011 10:20 Moscow Time

Gale force winds are preventing aircraft from joining the ongoing search and rescue operation for the Amethyst Russian trawler, which has gone missing in the Sea of Okhotsk.

Radio contact with the ship, with 24 people on board, was lost last Saturday. A military plane and a helicopter took off on Sunday to search for the missing trawler but failed to spot it.

All other vessels in the area are involved in the operation.

The Amethyst is owned by the Kamchatka Research Centre of the Russian Fisheries Sector.  

23 fishermen missing in Russia: report

(AFP) – 36 minutes ago

MOSCOW — A Russian fishing trawler with at least 23 people on board has gone missing in the Sea of Okhotsk off the Kamchatka Peninsula, the ITAR-TASS news agency reported Monday.

The Ametist vessel stopped transmitting daily position reports on Friday, with the search mission being hampered by heavy storms and poor visibility, the news agency quoted rescue official as saying.

The Interfax news agency said the trawler had 24 crew members on board and enough fuel to last until Tuesday.

An Il-38 maritime patrol aircraft and a helicopter had been dispatched to the region to help locate the trawler, whose crew had been fishing for crab, news reported said.

But wind gusts of up to 55 miles (88 kilometres) per hour had forced officials to temporarily call off their search Monday evening.

"The search and rescue mission will resume as soon as weather conditions improve," Interfax quoted a local rescue official as saying.

The vessel did not issue a distress signal before losing radio contact with the ground, ITAR-TASS said.

The Sea of Okhotsk lies west of Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula and far north of Japan's Hokkaido Island.

Russian Railways install metal detectors at Moscow Station in St. Petersburg

Employees of the Russian Railways have installed the first frame metal detectors at the Moscow Station in St. Petersburg. From now on, each passenger will have to pass through them to get to the platforms. If the detectors trigger alarm, policemen are going to check the contents of luggage and its owners.

"We understand that metal detectors are not enough for proper security, so we plan to install additional special-purpose means of vetting, which provide for inspection of baggage. The procedure of inspection is in fact the police authority. There are “a number of legislative obstacles, which do not allow the employees of railway stations to fully control the safety of passengers", said Deputy Chief of the North-West Directorate of railway stations, Alexander Kazansky.

Russia’s Health Ministry reports 25% decline in tuberculosis cases

14.02.2011, 06.20

MOSCOW, February 14 (Itar-Tass) - Russia’s Health and Social Development Ministry reports a 25 percent decline in tuberculosis cases.

“Over the past four years as a result of special measures the efficiency of basic course treatment of patients with newly diagnosed tuberculosis increased by 9.2 percent. The efficiency of in-patient recovery grew by 16 percent and hospital mortality reduced by one and a half times,” the ministry’s press service said.

“Efficiency of the measures taken is proved by the fact that over the past four years the spread of tuberculosis among population shrank by 25.3 percent,” the source said.

Canadian bison prepare for journey to repopulate Russia


By Ryan Cormier, Postmedia News February 14, 2011 12:01 AM

ELK ISLAND NATIONAL PARK — Next month, 30 young bison will catch a 10-hour flight from mild Alberta to roam one of the coldest corners of the planet.

As part of a conservation partnership with Russia, the animals will be flown to the Republic of Sakha, a huge, mountainous swath of Siberian land where the Communist party used to exile its opponents and temperatures can plummet to -60 C.

It is the second stage of the project, after 30 wood bison were sent to Sakha in 2006 to reproduce and replace Russia’s indigenous bison, which have been extinct for decades.

“We had our doubts, and there were surely some concerns, about how these animals would adapt in Sakha, given that the climate is much more severe than in Canada,” said Vladimir Gregoriev, Sakha’s minister of nature protection, through a translator. “The winter is long and very, very cold. We have three months of summer and the rest is winter.”

Edmonton sits at the southern border of the natural habitat of the threatened species.

The first herd of wood bison thrived in Sakha’s protected lands, producing 21 calves in five years. The second herd, 15 males and 15 females, is expected to raise the population while not exposing the animals to inbreeding. However, they first have to get to the Lenskie Stolby Nature Park.

At Elk Island National Park, east of Edmonton, the animals have already been penned separate from other animals. They will be tested for diseases such as tuberculosis this week, then held in quarantine for a month. The calves, roughly nine months old and waist-high, weigh anywhere from 350 to 500 pounds.

They will be loaded into three horse trailers, 10 animals each, that are modified with water pipes and have had any sharp edges or partitions removed.

“We’ll make sure they will be able to lie down, stand up, turn around and everything they need to,” said Darcia Nakonechuy, a veterinarian with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. “Bison are shockingly good at being transported. The animals are very adaptable.”

Adult bison are not considered for the program because no one wants 15 grown males, at 2,100 pounds each, becoming territorial or frisky on an overseas flight. Younger animals are calmer and less likely to injure themselves.

The trailers will be driven to the Edmonton International Airport, then loaded onto a Ilyushin-76, a cavernous Russian transport plane that has its own crane and was made to transport military equipment. Two Canadian veterinarians will be on the plane, and can adjust temperature, food and water levels or air circulation, Nakonechuy said.

The bison will fly for 10 hours, then be transported by ground for several more to reach the protected park that will be their new home. In roughly two years, they will begin to reproduce.

Greg Wilson, a biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service, thinks the second herd will complete the introduction of bison back into Sakha and Russia as a whole.

“I would think this would be all they need if they already have 21 calves,” he said. “In Canada, the wood bison do very well. The main barrier to them is places to put them.”

Elk Island has already distributed 1,000 wood bison, and the same number of plains bison, around the world for conservation programs. Bison first came to the park from a Montana rancher in 1907.

“Since its creation in 1906, Elk Island has played an important role in the conservation and survival of several species, such as bison and elk,” said Leon Benoit, MP for Vegreville-Wainwright. “We are contributing to the continued survival and well-being of an iconic and truly majestic animal that was once on the brink of extinction.”

Gregoriev said the Russian goals of the project are to increase bison numbers, encourage bio-diversity and to teach schoolchildren about the species itself and the wider concept of wildlife conservation.

The bison are expected to leave Canada on March 15.

There are about 400 wood bison in Elk Island National Park.

Edmonton Journal

© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal

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