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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – April 22, 2014

durov vkontakteTODAY: Journalist detained in Slovyansk as pro-Moscow groups crack down on press; Vkontake founder ousted; Biden in Kiev; Lavrov remains critical of Ukrainian government. Crimean Tartar leader’s travel restricted; Putin puts Stalinist persecution of region to rights; gambling; foreign pilots. 

Dramatic images of a blindfolded journalist have emerged in the eastern Ukrainian town of Slovyansk, after pro-Russian separatists detained and paraded a Ukrainian reporter, accusing her of ‘war crimes‘ during the Euromaidan protests.  Yacheslav Ponomaryov, the newly-installed mayor of Slovyansk, made no secret of his punitive intentions, stating that authorities ‘have captured some spies, infiltrators. Right now, we’re working them over: they are being held in captivity’.  Vkontake founder Pavel Durov, who has resisted Kremlin pressure to reveal information about dissident users of the network, has been fired as its CEO.  U.S. Vice President Biden has landed in Kiev where he has pledged he will assist in Ukraine’s attempts to stage successful presidential elections, as the State Department has warned that President Putin himself could face sanctions over the Ukrainian crisis, which the Russian Foreign Ministry maintains is the fault of Kiev.  Washington will decide on possible additional sanctions within days.  Prime Minister Medvedev, who has a gloomy prognosis for the Russian economy, has promised domestic manufacturers financial assistance in the event of further sanctions.

Dramatic images of a blindfolded journalist have emerged in the eastern Ukrainian town of Slovyansk, after pro-Russian separatists detained and paraded a Ukrainian reporter, accusing her of ‘war crimes‘ during the Euromaidan protests.  Yacheslav Ponomaryov, the newly-installed mayor of Slovyansk, made no secret of his punitive intentions, stating that authorities ‘have captured some spies, infiltrators. Right now, we’re working them over: they are being held in captivity’.  Vkontake founder Pavel Durov, who has resisted Kremlin pressure to reveal information about dissident users of the network, has been fired as its CEO.  U.S. Vice President Biden has landed in Kiev where he has pledged he will assist in Ukraine’s attempts to stage successful presidential elections, as the State Department has warned that President Putin himself could face sanctions over the Ukrainian crisis, which the Russian Foreign Ministry maintains is the fault of Kiev.  Washington will decide on possible additional sanctions within days.  Prime Minister Medvedev, who has a gloomy prognosis for the Russian economy, has promised domestic manufacturers financial assistance in the event of further sanctions.

Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev has reportedly been barred from entering Crimea for the next five years by the newly instated authorities.  Vladimir Putin has signed a decree on the rehabilitation of ethnic minorities from Crimea, including the Crimena Tartars, who suffered during the terrors of the Stalin era.  Putin has approved of Crimea’s plans to become Russia’s fifth official gambling zone.  More than 200 Russian bank branches will have opened by the end of this month in the newly absorbed region.

Russia and Turkey have reportedly agreed to increase the capacity of the Blue Stream gas pipeline from 16 to 19 billion cubic meters per year.  As a shortage of pilots loom in a troubled industry, President Putin has signed a law which permits Russian airlines to hire foreign pilots.

PHOTO: The founder and former CEO of Vkontakte, Pavel Durov, at a promotional event. (Pavel Durov / VK)