RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Feb 1, 2016

TODAY: OPEC-Russia deal unlikely, Saudi-Russia deal even moreso; Turkey says Russia violated its airspace again, warns retaliation if it happens again; intelligence says it is thwarting IS attempts; flu epidemic kills over 100; Peskov accuses White House of pre-presidential campaign smear; Bolotnaya Square protester released on bail.

Analysts think that rumours about a potential deal between Russia and OPEC to reduce global oil supply are unlikely to come to fruition, although Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich did suggest that low prices could force a drop in output via ‘a correction in investment’.  An agreement between Russia and Saudi Arabia is also looking unlikely, despite the efforts of the Venezuelan Oil Minister.  Turkey accused Russia of once again violating its airspace near the Syrian border, and warned of retaliation if it happens again; Moscow denies the claim. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he has been unable to secure a meeting with President Putin, despite repeated attempts.  Turkish officials say the jet ignored several warnings to turn back.  Intelligence officials say they have thwarted several attempts by Islamic State to send groups of terrorists into Russia.  Moscow’s flu epidemic has now claimed the lives of over one hundred Russians.

The Kremlin attacked the White House for backing allegations made by a US Treasury official in a BBC documentary that President Vladimir Putin is corrupt.  Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov suggested that the comments are part of a smear campaign designed to influence opinion ahead of the 2018 Russian presidential elections.  Alexander Margolin, one of the main instigators of the 2012 Bolotnaya Square protest, has been released on parole.  The Moscow Times writes on the subject of letters sent to political prisoners, arguing that they throw new light on public opinion regarding political cases, ‘even as the official public discourse stresses unwavering enthusiasm for President Vladimir Putin and his policies‘.

Duma lawmaker Alexei Pushkov (via his Twitter account) says Ukraine has another thing coming if it thinks it can ‘partially’ implement the Minsk agreements.  The Investigative Committee has submitted files to the International Criminal Court pertaining to the 2008 conflict in South Ossetia.  Twelve people, all migrant workers, have died in a fire at a textile factory in Moscow’s east.

PHOTO: Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, of Russia, skate Pairs’ Free Program at the European figure skating championships in Bratislava, Slovakia, on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)