Russia 090417 Basic Political Developments

SCO exercises Norak-Antiterror-2009 began in Tajikistan

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SCO exercises Norak-Antiterror-2009 began in Tajikistan

17.04.09 12:21

Joint command-staff antiterrorist exercises of the member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Norak-Antiterror-2009 began in Tajikistan today on the range Fahrabad Hatlon garrison, Kazakhstan Today reported citing Tajik mass media.

According to the chairman of the press centre of the Ministry of Defense of Tajikistan, Faridun Mahmadaliev, joint exercises will be carried out in two stages. The operative groups and divisions of special purpose of the Armed Forces of Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation and China will take part in the joint exercises.

According to F. Mahmadaliev, the goal of the joint exercises is coordination of cooperation of the participants in the organization of various antiterrorist operations, increase of vocational training and battle training, exchange of experience and practical skills, as well as further readiness in opposition to international terrorism, political extremism and separatism.

Recent events in Moldova unconstitutional – Medvedev
MOSCOW. April 17 (Interfax) - The form in which the recent

opposition protests took place in Moldova are absolutely unacceptable

and unconstitutional, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday.

"Unfortunately, what has happened in neighboring Moldova indicates

that events can become absolutely unconstitutional," Medvedev told

Tatyana Mitkova, head of news service at NTV television (the talk

between Medvedev and Mitkova will air on NTV television at 7:00 p.m. on


Medvedev said that "as a political leader, who cannot be

indifferent about these processes, [he] absolutely cannot accept the

forms in which it took place [in Moldova]."

"Such civil activities should take place legally, not in the so-

called colored revolution mode, which have not caused anything but

poverty and human rights problems on the post-Soviet space," Medvedev


Finnish gov't approves Action Plan on Russia
2009-04-17 05:01:15

HELSINKI, April 16 (Xinhua) -- The Finnish government approved on Thursday its first ever Action Plan on Russia, which establishes the guidelines for management of Finland's relations with Russia, local media reported.

    The action plan is forward-looking and comprehensive, reflecting Finland's present evaluation of Russia's current development. It also gives Finland's assessment of the general trend of relations between EU and Russia, and between Finland and Russia, as well as Finland's goals.

    To support the realization of the action plan, a Russia forum led by the prime minister will be set up. Representatives of the government, business and industry, research and education, as well as regions, and civil society organization will be invited to participate in the work of the forum, depending on the topic of discussion.

    The action plan also seeks to promote Finnish-Russian business interests, particularly in the fields of oil and gas. The Action Plan notes that energy accounts for two-thirds of Russia's export revenue. Finland will strengthen the role of Finnish companies in the Russian energy market. The know-how of Finnish companies in the oil and gas sector should be marketed. Some 35 percent energy consumed in Finland stems from Russia.

    The action plan was approved before Russian President Dmitry Medvedev starts his two-day state visit to Finland on Monday.    

Arms Talks With U.S. Will Start Next Week

17 April 2009 Reuters

Russian and U.S. officials will begin negotiating a new deal next week to cut strategic nuclear weapons, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

The deal aims to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and has been billed as part of an effort by Moscow and Washington to reset relations that hit a post-Cold War low under former U.S. President George W. Bush.

"The first official contact on this theme will take place on April 24 in Rome," chief ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko told a news conference.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his U.S. counterpart, Hillary Clinton, have provisionally arranged to meet in May to discuss the progress in the talks ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama's first visit to Russia in July, Nesterenko said.

At a meeting in London earlier this month, Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev announced plans to begin talks on replacing START 1, a treaty that led to huge bilateral cuts in nuclear weapons but expires in December.

The proposed arms deal would go beyond the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), which committed both sides to cutting arsenals to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads by 2012.

According to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Russia currently has 3,113 strategic warheads, compared with 3,575 for the United States. Russia sees START 1 as the cornerstone of post-Cold War arms control and believes that letting it lapse with no replacement could upset the strategic balance.

16 April 2009

EU may get rules for Russian visa relaxed
The plan to forego Russian visa regulations for European Union nationals has been approved by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, reports Barents Observer.

Lavrov has said Russian visa regulations will be scrapped as part of a scheme to create visa-free travel between EU states and Russia, if EU leaders are willing to participate in the scheme. 

However, EU leaders have not committed to the Russian visa scheme and it is unclear as to when a decision will be made as to whether they would join the visa-free programme. 

Norway is already in discussions with Russia to establish visa-free travel between the two countries, particularly between the municipalities of Sør-Varanger and Pechenga.

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