RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Nov 4, 2013

TODAY: Pussy Riot prisoner disappeared? Greenpeace activists share tales of harsh conditions; Navalny backs nationalist march; diplomatic relations with the former Soviet Union, Japan; Snowden not at Vkontakte; Putin toughens anti-terror measures; potash demand to increase thanks to low prices.

Pyotr Verzilov, the husband of jailed Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, says his wife has effectively disappeared, as he has not heard any news of her condition or location since she left her penal colony in Mordovia two weeks ago.  The prison service says she has simply been sent to a different penal colony, and that her family will be notified.  One of the jailed Greenpeace activists, currently being held in Murmansk, has spoken out about the miseries of prison life, saying there would be outrage in his home country if prisoners were kept in similar conditions.  The 30 total Greenpeace activists are expected to be moved to St. Petersburg.  Who would be a protester, asks The Guardian.  The Financial Times reports on the worrying trend towards nationalism and xenophobia in Russia – phenomena which are becoming ‘not the preserve of a few extremists but are turning rapidly into a leading mainstream concern’.  The Times says that former backers of opposition leader Alexei Navalny are ‘reassessing their support after he publicly backed the Unity Day march which is to be held today, expressing a wish to make nationalism ‘more respectable and mainstream’.  The FT’s angle is that Navalny’s endorsement of the Unity Day march was more of a preventative tactic – ‘in order not to leave it to the radicals’.

Ukraine is leaving Russia for Europe,says the New York Times, discussing what it is calling the ongoing breakup of the Soviet Union.  It’s not just the rows with Europe that are turning Russia’s foreign policy into a shambles, says the FT – relations with the Middle East and the U.S. are also declining.  But relations with Georgia could be about to take a turn for the better, and talks with Japan appeared to be positive; the two sides aiming towards greater cooperation in matters of defense, although an agreement over the Kuril Islands has yet to be reached.  Edward Snowden is not working for Vkontakte, says Vkontakte.  Although it would like him to.

Under President Vladimir Putin’s tougher anti-terror measures, the relatives of militants may have to pay for any damages caused by attacks.  He has also created a new construction ministry, putting the former governor of Ivanovo at its helm.  Putin signed a decree granting permission to the Federal Grid Company to conduct a new share listing.  Uralkali sees global demand for potash increasing over the next ten years thanks to the ongoing price decline, but says that ‘farmers are comfortable with the current price’.

PHOTO: A view of the detention centre where 30 Greenpeace activists are being held in Murmask October 31, 2013. REUTERS/Greenpeace/Handout via Reuters