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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – June 5, 2015

TODAY: Poroshenko warns of full-scale invasion by Russia; Merkel and Harper want Russia to stay out of G7; Dynasty Foundation donor pulls funding over ‘foreign agent’ status; Central Bank to focus on boosting reserves; Kara-Murza’s father says son poisoned; oppositionists withdraw work from Ekho Moskvy.  

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko warned that the number of Russia’s forces on the border is bigger by half now than it was than a year ago, and that Ukraine’s military should be prepared for Russia to enact a ‘full-scale invasion along the whole length of the border’.  Nato says Russia is delivering sophisticated weapons to rebels in eastern Ukraine.  At the G7 summit this weekend, President Barack Obama will urge European leaders to remain ‘steady as she goes’ with their anti-Russia sanctions.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel says it is ‘inconceivable’ that Russia could rejoin the G7 after its annexation of Crimea, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper says that Russia should remain excluded from the summit for as long as Vladimir Putin is president.  But Russia has no interest in rejoining because it is interested in other ‘formats’, says Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. ‘We have not made such requests […] we are not begging for it.’  The benefactor of Dynasty Foundation, Dmitry Zimin, has canceled millions of dollars of funding for the organisation after the Kremlin branded it a ‘foreign agent’; the funding loss will mostly affect younger scientists in Russia, as Dynasty was a major provider of research grants.  State Duma member Dmitry Gudkov submitted a bill that would abolish the measure to establish a ‘foreign agents’ registry, calling it an insult to ‘true patriots’ like Zimin.  Russia is losing economists, scientists and journalists as increasing numbers of its educated middle-class move abroad to work and study.

Central Bank head Elvira Nabiullina says Russia needs to focus on boosting its bank reserves by $143 billion over the next years to replenish funds since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis.  The Bank is plotting a key interest rate cut, to be revealed on June 15.  Forbes describes the Orthodox Church as ‘the Russian state’s soft power arm’.  When Vladimir Kara-Murza initially fell ill, his father had said he did not think his son’s condition was suspicious, but his opinion has since changed: ‘It’s clear he has been poisoned,’ he said. ‘[I]f someone did want to frighten us, then they succeeded.

Various prominent anti-Kremlin thinkers have announced that they will no longer allow their work to appear on Ekho Moskvy’s website, blaming incendiary blog posts by the editor’s assistant.  Pro-Kremlin ‘Anti-Maidan’ activists are anticipating a ‘colour revolution’ in Russia at the time of the regional elections in September of this year.

PHOTO: Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (L) shakes hands with Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico during a meeting at the Gorki state residence outside Moscow, Russia, June 2, 2015. REUTERS/Ekaterina Shtukina/RIA Novosti/Pool