Russian President Kicks Out Moscow’s Mayor – On Tuesday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has fired the mayor of Moscow for he has lost confidence in his ability to run the city, the Kremlin said.
Yuri Luzhkov,the former mayor of Moscow, has run the sprawling metropolis for almost two decades. In spite of this, his removal was effective immediately and his first deputy, Vladimir Resin, has been appointed as acting mayor of the city.
In recent weeks, Luzhkov has been the subject of an unprecedented attack in Russia’s state media. The most serious allegation is of corruption. One of the news reports detailed the ways in which Luzhkov allegedly channeled funds and lucrative deals to his property-developer wife, who is now the Russia’s richest woman.
Not only that, he was also criticized for failing to curb Moscow’s notoriously bad traffic jams. Furthermore, he went on a vacation during the forest fires and choking smog over the summer.
However, Luzhkov defended himself by saying “This attack has clearly been launched at the command from above, in all state media outlets at once. It’s a system collective and coordinated efforts. It is an absolutely dishonest campaign of lies and slander.”
On the other hand, the Kremlin denied involvement.
This has been the headlines in Belarus lately as Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled gas monopoly has decided to cut supplies over its debt. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has warned Belarus that unless it paid off its gas debts within five days, it would face cuts.
Belarus owes an amount of $200m (£134m; 160m euros). About 1/5 of Russia’s gas supply is being pumped to Belarus. It would be starting to cut gas supplies by 15% on Monday, and gradually increases it to more than 80% if there is no breakthrough in the countries’ continuing negotiations.
Gas supplies will be reduced “day-by-day, proportionally to the debt’s volume”, Gazprom’s chief executive Alexei Miller said, according to Ria Novosti news agency. via BBC News.
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said his country owed nothing to Gazprom, but would settle any disagreement. Mr Lukashenko says prices should have remained the same as part of the forthcoming customs union deal. Belarus wants to settle any outstanding debt based on last year’s lower prices.
Belarus mainly depends on Russia when it comes to energy. This is also the issue which has caused tension between the two countries. Russia has been confident enough to cut off its energy to whatever country they believed to have failed in their payments as also did the same thing to Ukraine in 2006 and 2009. Critics has concluded that Russia has been using its energy supply as political weapon
The United States played inspired basketball to beat Russia, 89-79, to advance to the semifinal round of the FIBA World Championship. Prior to their quarterfinals match, there were exchange of words between US coach Mike Krzyzewski and American coach David Blatt that reopened wounds of the US loss to Russia in 1972 at the Olympic games that was quite unusual in the post-Cold War era.
Kevin Durant led the US attack with 33 points, with 19 points scored in the first half wherein the Americans took the lead from a 30-35 deficit. Chauncey Billups and Russell Westbrook provided the much needed support with 15 and 12 points respectively. Team USA turned up their defense in the second quarter to lead at the half, 44-39.
The Russians were missing forward Andrei Kirilenko of the Utah Jazz. Kirilenko was the team’s Most Valuable Player when they won the 2007 European Championship. They got good contributions though from Sergey Bykov, Andrei Borontsevich and the New York Knicks’ Timofrey Mozgov.
The United States basketball squad faces Lithuania in the semifinals on Saturday. Lithuania defeated Argentina in the other quarterfinals match to earn a semifinals spot.
FIBA World Championship 2010 Features USA vs Russia – The quarterfinals of the FIBA World Championship 2010 fits USA against Russia. The Russians would be one of the hardest test for the United States campaign to reclaim the FIBA World Championship, a title they had not held since for very long.
If the United States game with Angola had been a blowout, for sure this game would not be as easy as that one. The Russians are bigger than the Americans. Take the case for example of Mozgov who is matched up against starting center Lamar Odom. Mozgov is five inches taller than him plus he is very agile and is a very good finisher.
Another Russian player, power forward, Andrey Vorontsevich of CSKA Moscow, is four inches taller than his match up player from the USA, Andre Iguodala. The added burden is that this guy can be a poweful 3-point shooter and also an inside player.
Most of the Russian players are relatively unknown outside Russia and prefer it to be that way so that their opponents cannot obtain the data about them and about how they play.
The game for a semifinals slot at the FIBA World Championship between Russia and the USA will surely be a show of strategy on both offense and defense. The best team who can execute well will surely be the winner.
The FIBA World Championship 2010 Russia vs USA commence at 18h00 (GMT+3), Thursday, September 9.
Here are a preview of the two teams during their Eight-Finals game:
USA vs Angola Eight-Finals
Russia vs New Zealand Eight-Finals
The recent spy swap between the U.S. and Moscow was said to have been done to prevent damage to the efforts at improving diplomatic relations. Ten Russian spies led ordinary American lives until they were arrested two weeks ago in the United States. They were sent back to Moscow in exchange for four Russians accused of conducting espionage activities for the West. The spy swapping happened in Vienna, right on the tarmac of its airport.
This could bring back memories of the Cold War as this is probably the biggest spy swap since then. It appears that this was the best move for both parties as they do not stand to benefit from keeping “spies” in prison. More than preventing any damage to ongoing diplomatic relations, Americans and Russians should see beyond the nuances of being world powers. For humanitarian reasons, they are doing the right thing.