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A Murderer's Diary, Gas Disputes, Embattled Rights Organization

Soviet leader Sergei Kirov
Soviet leader Sergei Kirov

Diaries of Murderer Shed New Light on Kirov's Death

December 1 was the 75th anniversary of the murder of Sergei Kirov, an event which is recognized as the starting point of Stalin's Great Purges. To mark the anniversary, the original diaries of Kirov's murderer, Leonid Nikolayev, were presented at the Kirov Museum in St. Petersburg. Nikolaev was sentenced to death in December 1934. Kirov Museum curator Tatiana Sukharnikova tells RFE/RL about how the museum obtained the manuscripts and what she has learned from examining the diary. "Three years ago, I received power of attorney from Leonid Nikolayev's son Marx Draul, which enabled me to gain access to the criminal case materials kept in the FSB Central Archive in the Lubyanka," she says. "My first impressions that the quotations from the diary (used as evidence in the trial) were falsified…were dispelled."

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The Danger of Hidden Gas Deals

Despite last winter's gas dispute, the Kremlin's gas policy is looking increasingly successful. Key amendments to the contracts for the supply of Russian gas to Ukraine were signed on November 24, and the announcement of this agreement was followed by declarations that another gas crisis will thus be avoided. But in an interview with RFE/RL, financial analyst Andrei Sotnik says that a "look under the covers" reveals a criminal case that could complicate Russian gas sales to the EU.

In Hungary an investigation into gas trading company Emfesz continues -- the company dealt closely with the scandal-ridden RusUktEnergo trading company, which was half owned by Dmitri Firtash and partners. In April Firtash became the majority stakeholder in Emfesz, but a month later, general director István Góczi sold the company for one dollar to Swiss-registered company Rosgas, represented in part by Sergei Prokopev. Prokopev, a former KGB agent, told the daily newspaper "Vedomosti" that he made the acquisition upon "orders from above." Firtash launched criminal proceedings "against unknown persons" immediately after the giveaway sale.

"All this could result in a huge blow for Russian gas sales in Europe," Sotnik says.

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Human Rights Organization Stripped of Status in Kaluga

The regional department of the Ministry of Justice in Kaluga has struck the regional branch of the For Human Rights movement off of the register of Legal Entities for failure to submit a financial statement to the tax inspectorate. Tatiana Kotlyar, a deputy in the local Legislative Assembly and a member of For Human Rights, tells RFE/RL that the organization has no source of income and no employees, and therefore, it has never submitted a financial statement. She claims the move by the Ministry of Justice is politically motivated. Kotlyar says that as a result of the ruling, she can no longer receive citizens seeking advice on civil rights issues in her office in the Assembly.

[read in Russian]