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Russian media reported that the Russian Foreign Ministry had asked the UN Security Council’s so-called Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee to add Mikael Storsjö, Vice-Chairman of the Finnish-Russian Civic Forum (FINROSFORUM), on its list of international terrorists. According to the Russian statement, Britain, France, and Luxembourg blocked Moscow’s request, however.
Russia justified its request by referring to Mikael Storsjö’s activities in support of the Swedish-registered Islamic news agency, Kavkaz Center. Moscow contends that Kavkaz Center is part of the so-called Caucasus Emirate organisation, which is a party to the armed conflict in the North Caucasus. Swedish authorities have found no illegalities in Kavkaz Center’s activities.
The Georgian Parliament has approved a “State Strategy on Relations with the Peoples of North Caucasus,” Civil.Ge reported. The document outlines priority areas through which Tbilisi intends to improve its ties with the region, ranging from trade and economy to people-to-people contacts, education, healthcare, and human rights. Lawmakers said the strategy was designed to solidify Tbilisi’s “soft power” approach in the region. Earlier, in his speech at the UN General Assembly in 2010, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili had called for a “united Caucasus.” The new strategy paper stated that Georgia was ready to provide assistance to human rights activists from the North Caucasus, including by spreading information worldwide about the “real state of affairs” in the region in respect of human rights.
Russia’s ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, held a speech on the “Russian question” at the Global Policy Forum in Yaroslavl on 7 September 2011. His speech was clearly intended as a campaign speech ahead of the elections to the Russian State Duma in December 2011, Kommersant reported. Earlier reports said Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called Rogozin back from Brussels to help him in the election campaign.
The European Union should join Russia in creating a counterbalance to the US, Chinese, and Indian economies, Jean-Pierre Thomas, special representative of the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, on French-Russian business relations, said. Speaking in an interview with Russia’s Vedomosti daily, Mr Thomas said President Sarkozy would present a report in autumn 2011 that would include a plan on creating a common economic area between Russia and France.
Reports are coming in that Magomed Khazbiev, the leader of the popular opposition movement in the Republic of Ingushetia in Russia’s volatile North Caucasus, has been abducted, according to Ingushetiya.Ru. Several opposition and human rights activists, including Ingushetiya.Ru’s founder, Magomed Yevloyev, and opposition leader Maksharip Aushev, have been killed in recent years in Ingushetia.
Russia seeks an agreement with Switzerland which would allow Russia to send soldiers for mountain training in the Swiss Alps, RIA Novosti reports. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has approved a draft agreement, proposed by the country’s defence ministry, foreseeing joint exercises and conferences with Switzerland. Putin instructed the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Ministry to begin negotiations with their Swiss counterparts on the agreement. Russia has had two mountain infantry brigades stationed in its volatile North Caucasus region since 2007.
The Georgian TV channel, “Pervy Kavkazsky" ("First Caucasian"), will resume its satellite broadcasts on 25 January 2011 under a new name, "Pervy Interaktivny Kavkazsky" (PIK, “First Interactive Caucasian"). The Georgian government has transferred the broadcasting rights of “First Caucasian" to a private company founded by former journalists of BBC’s Russian language service. “PIK will be on cable in Georgia and on the Eutelsat-Hotbird satellite to Russia and the Caucasus,” said Ekaterina Kotrikadze, one of the channel's founders. PIK will also be available at pik.tv.http://www.waynakh.com/eng/2011/01/georgian-tv-will-resume-its-satellite-broadcast/