RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – July 6, 2018

TODAY: RFE/RL fined under “foreign agents” law; new data storing laws will require foreign assistance; EU extends anti-Russia sanctions; Britain demands response from Russia over nerve agent poisonings, is mocked; Russian workers productivity among the lowest; Kremlin to tone down punishments for controversial reposts.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has been fined by a Moscow court for failing to comply with the “foreign agents” law, which could trigger criminal charges; the outlet’s attorney said the bureaucratic requirements for its filings were unclear; RFE/RL’s president pointed out that “only media funded by the U.S. Congress have been designated as ‘media foreign agents’ under this law”, and argues that the law was designed exclusively to target RFE/RL: “They have already affected our ability to gather news in Russia, and they create danger for our people there.” It turns out that there is a major snag to the new laws on storing telecommunications data – in the absence of suitable Russian hardware, operators will be forced to use foreign firms. The European Union has officially extended its economic sanctions against Russia until January 2019. Ahead of the Putin-Trump summit, officials are working to devise a deal that can be touted as a triumph; a Syria deal seems a likely candidate.

Britain says it is investigating a possible response to Russia after a couple were taken ill in Salisbury following exposure to the nerve agent Novichok. This piece pokes fun at the UK government’s attempt to pin the poisoning on Russia, given that the accusations are backed by zero pieces of evidence. The Netherlands also said the UK is foolish if it thinks Russia would stage a nerve agent attack in the middle of its World Cup. Russian workers’ productivity is among the lowest of the major economies, despite their long working hours. 

The Kremlin is re-considering punitive measures for citizens who repost material considered extremist on social media; Dmitry Peskov says the high-profile that these cases have tended to generate should be avoided. 

PHOTO: Fans climb light posts on Nikolskaya Ulitsa, in celebration of Russia’s unexpected World Cup victory over Spain. (Sergei Kiselyov/Moskva News Agency, via Moscow Times)