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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Jan 3, 2014

TODAY: Over 700 detained in Volgograd; Norwegian fish imports banned; Strategy 31 protester to be charged; 2013 oil output is post-Soviet record; Economist on Eurasian bloc, Spectator on Soviet prison camps, Washington Post on U.S.-Russia relations; astrological doom?

Over 700 people have been detained by police in Volgograd since the two suicide bombings earlier this week that have thus far killed 34 people; cars and trains arriving in the region are being subjected to ‘total inspections’.  The Economist says that the current scene in Volgogradwas always a question of when rather than if’.  As of January 1st, Russia has banned imports of Norwegian fish, citing lax quality control; the ban hits 90% of Norway’s registered Russia suppliers.  A CIA expert says it is ‘inconceivable that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s files have not fallen into Russian hands.  Strategy 31 protester Sergei Mokhnatkin is facing charges over claims he struck a police officer during the New Year’s Eve rally that saw 28 activists arrested.  Russia’s oil output for 2013 rose for the fifth year in a row to a post-Soviet high, as the country sought to balance its ‘increasingly overstretched finances’.

The Economist discusses the potential for the development of Russia’s Eurasian bloc this year, saying members are already complaining of ‘excessive Russian influence’.  The Spectator wonders why Russia has done so little in recent years to remember the tragedies of its Soviet prison camps.  The Washington Post foresees a year of challenges for Russia and the U.S. as they attempt to rebuild their mutual trust.  Newly-released files document the relationship between Mikhail Gorbachev and Margaret Thatcher in the 80s.  The founder of Magnit, Sergei Galitsky, added more to his fortune last year than any other Russian billionaire.

Astrologers’ forecasts for Russia in 2014 range from instability to conflicts.

PHOTO: People walk at the central promenade of river Volga in Volgograd, January 2, 2014. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko