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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Dec 3, 2015

TODAY: NATO seeks to revive talks with Russia; Russia threatens NATO with retaliation over membership invitation to Montenegro; Defence Ministry says it uncovered IS oil routes to Syria; Turkish citizens harassed in Russia, sanctions will disrupt food supply; Putin calls for salary cut for top officials; road tax arson; budget bill passed. 

NATO is taking steps towards reviving talks with Russia, in response to Russia’s ‘constructive’ actions in seeking ‘a solution for Syria’; but it has also invited Montenegro to join the alliance, in its first expansion since 2009, prompting sour responses from Russia, which had warned in September that it would take any expansive measures as a provocation.  The Federation Council said it found the initiation of Montenegro’s accession to NATO ‘regrettable’, and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov vowed that Moscow would retaliate against continued NATO expansion; a Russian senator said joint projects with Montenegro will be cancelled if it accepts the invitation.  The Defence Ministry has exposed what it says are three key routes of oil transportation from Islamic Stategang-controlled regions’ of Syria and Iraq into Turkey. Turkish citizens in Russia have complained to their embassy in Moscow about document checks and other bureaucratic inconveniences.  Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev is anticipating ‘short-term disruptionsin Russia’s supply of fruits and vegetables resulting from its new sanctions against Turkish imports.

President Vladimir Putin is giving himself and other top officials a 10% salary cut next year, though many doubt the relatively modest official figures of current Kremlin salaries.  Putin has changed his public stance on climate change in recent years, calling climate change a serious problem, but his position is constantly undercut by state-run media, according to Greenpeace.  Opposition to a new unpopular truck road tax sparked an arson attempt at an office in Orenburg.  The State Duma passed a bill for the 2016 budget at its second reading. Online bartering is gaining ground in Russia as people seeks ways of coping with the economic crisis.

Dmitry Peskov denies any knowledge of a public accusation by Alexei Navalny against Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika and his sons regarding an allegedly highly profitable privatisation of industrial facilities and businesses in Russia.

PHOTO: A customer, right, purchase tangerines at a food market in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)