TODAY: Putin’s son-in-law to benefit from Kremlin loan to Sibur; ECHR orders Russia to pay damages to activist; Turkish companies blocked; Gazprom dividing Central Asia? Ukraine blames Kremlin for cyberattack; Russia bracing for mass unrest? Netflix moving into Russia, Coca-Cola offends with Crimea oversight.
Today is Christmas Eve in Russia’s Orthodox calendar. Krill Shamalov, the husband of Katerina Tikhonova and thereby the son-in-law of President Vladimir Putin, is set to benefit from $1.75 billion of Kremlin financing granted to a petrochemical project by Sibur, the company in which he owns a significant interest, according to a Reuters investigation. The European Court of Human Rights has ordered Russia to pay damages to Yevgeniy Frumkin, an activist who was detained during the Bolotnaya Square protest in 2012, and later sentenced to two weeks in prison. The ECHR deemed that his rights had been violated. Russia is blocking Turkish companies from construction, tourism, the hotel business, and other state and municipal needs as of this month. Gazprom is allegedly spearheading a ‘divide-and-conquer’ campaign in Central Asia, halting imports from Turkmenistan despite having been its primary customer in recent years. NATO and the US are denying Russia’s claims that they pose a threat to Russian security.
Ukraine’s security service is blaming the Kremlin for a cyberattack that led to an electrical power outage affecting tens of thousands of people. The BBC explains the evolution of Russia’s relationship with Europe since the dissolution of the USSR. This Newsweek piece suggests that the Kremlin knows Russia is heading for serious social disobedience and unrest, and is preparing accordingly. ‘Putin would relish a British exit from the EU,’ says The Guardian.
Netflix looks set to launch in Russia this month. Cola-Cola published a map of Russia that failed to include Crimea for its New Year’s message on social network VKontakte, sparking a torrent of criticism; its amended version also threw in the Kuril Islands, for good measure. Ownership of the Kurils is still disputed with Japan, of course, as noted by Vice in this piece which speculates about a potential imminent truce.
PHOTO: A woman bathes in the icy water in the Neva River in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016. Temperatures dipped to -19 C (-2.2 F) in St.Petersburg and -27 C (-16.6 F) in surrounding regions. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)