MOSCOW, September 27 (RIA Novosti)
Putin’s Gift to Chavez: A “Stalin’s dog”
Igor Sechin, president of Russia’s biggest oil company NK Rosneft, has handed Hugo Chavez, head of Venezuela, a present from Russian President Vladimir Putin: a black Russian terrier puppy.
“I conveyed a message from Russian President Vladimir Putin – this is a black Russian terrier, it is three months old,” he told reporters.
According to Sechin, Chavez liked the puppy very much but has not yet decided what to call it. “He took a great fancy to the dog, and promised to tell us its name tomorrow,” Sechin added.
While meeting Igor Sechin, Chavez expressed his thanks to the Russian president for his contribution to solving Venezuela’s housing problem. He said that the idea for large-scale housing construction came from Putin. Currently, specialists from Russia are fulfilling a contract to build 6,000 apartments in the town of Fort Tuna. They are also expected to build schools, kindergartens and a medical center.
During his visit to Venezuela, Sechin said Rosneft intends to invest $16 billion in the Carabobo-2 oil complex. Over the next 40 years the corporation is also planning to invest another $20 billion in the Junin-6 field. The first oil there is expected to be produced on Thursday, September 27.
The Russian black terrier, unofficially dubbed Stalin’s dog, is a Russian working breed which evolved in the Soviet Union after the war by crossing the giant schnauzer, Airedale terrier, Rottweiler and Newfoundland dogs. Dog breeders received a government order to breed a working and guard dog that could handle any climatic conditions across the country. The requirements that were set included: frost-hardiness, physical strength, long legs with wide paws, strong jaws and teeth, and fierceness.
Argumenty i Fakty
Ponomaryov’s Jeans Inspire Duma Deputies to Impose Dress Code
Ilya Ponomaryov, a State Duma deputy from the A Just Russia party, who was recently denied the right to speak in the State Duma for a month, was again the focus of the Duma’s Ethics Committee. This time, it was his attire that attracted attention. The Ethics Committee now intends to impose a dress code for deputies.
Committee members were so unhappy with Ponomaryov’s appearance – he often prefers jeans and a sweater to a business suit – that they even intend to prescribe penalties for violating the dress code.
Vladimir Pekhtin, Head of the Ethics Committee, said Ponomaryov’s style of clothing “reflects his inner state.”
“It’s true, many people are unhappy with the appearance of, for example, Ilya Ponomaryov, and I agree with them,” said Pekhtin. “Our Parliament is shown on TV around the world, and he decides to dress in some weird shirt and ripped jeans. This appearance also reflects his inner state, his utter mental confusion.”
Meanwhile, Ponomaryov himself is happy with all the attention his style of dress is attracting.
“It would, of course, be incredibly nice for me if they amended the State Duma regulations purely on my account,” Ponomaryov said. “But in my opinion, lately deputies seem to care more about my appearance than the legislation. I think if they rob me of the opportunity to enter the State Duma congress hall, we will think up some interesting reply.”
On September 24, the Ethics Committee recommended depriving Ponomaryov of his speaking rights for one month.
This issue could be discussed at the plenary session this week.
The move was suggested by a group of deputies after Ponomaryov, addressing the lawmakers, said: “I appeal to the crooks and thieves – do not vote for this law.”
Bounty Offered to Find Foreign Masterminds of ‘Punk Prayer’
The Russian Order of Knights Templar is placing a bounty on the people who allegedly ordered the “punk prayer,” following an offer $1,600 by the Nashi movement for finding the two Pussy Riot members who are still on the run.
Konstantin Goloskokov, a senior official at the pro-Kremlin youth group, said he and his supporters were after justice: “It is unfair that some of the Pussy Riot members are serving prison sentences, while others aren’t,” he said. He offered his own savings of 50,000 rubles as a bounty and said the group was collecting money to increase the amount.
The Knights Templar, led by well-known attorney Igor Trunov, gave the initiative their full support. They had previously also submitted a request to parliament to increase the punishment for insulting believers’ feelings.
Trunov told NG he believes that the mastermind behind the scandalous Pussy Riot “punk prayer” in Moscow’s main cathedral is in the United States, hinting that some U.S.-based group is planning a “color revolution” in Russia and that disgraced oligarch Boris Berezovsky is acting as an intermediary and agent for the group.
The members of the order have also notified Russia’s Investigative Committee. The first mention of a mastermind and of Berezovsky as the usual scapegoat was actually made by the media, not investigators.
Analysts dismiss both initiatives as absurd, pointing out that their actions fit into the wider official strategy of discrediting the opposition. The campaign has in fact been a success, as the public has effectively split into believers and non-believers.
Federal channels have sought to portray Pussy Riot as a group of vandals insulting Russia’s religion and culture. Pro-Kremlin reporters immediately wrote that the outrageous punk prayer was supported by the same anti-government activists who organized the rallies for fair elections.
Mark Feigin, a lawyer for Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, admitted that the two remaining participants in the punk prayer had not been identified. He also said the new witch-hunt is timed to coincide with the appeal of the verdict scheduled for next Monday. “The authorities need this kind of media background,” he said.
There is a rumor that Tolokonnikova was going to be transferred to a women’s prison in Mordovia, which means the outcome of the appeal is “predetermined,” Feigin said, adding that Mordovia is too far away for Tolokonnikova’s young child to visit his mother. The three young women also fear being attacked in remote prisons if the prison administration sets the other inmates against them.
Valery Borshchev, head of a Moscow public oversight commission, told NG that the authorities have skillfully used the Pussy Riot case to manipulate the passive part of the population. He believes that the strong pressure being exerted by the state-controlled media, which carefully manipulates facts and half-truths about the Pussy Riot members, has definitely cast a shadow on the opposition. A new law about insulting believers’ feelings will add fuel to the fire and lead to a split in Russian society.
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The main event of the third day of the 11th meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi was the closing session with President Vladimir Putin. The atmosphere was calm and open, despite the current political tensions and the Russia-West confrontation. The Russian president said that it corresponded to the spirit of the Valdai Club.