RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Oct 7, 2015

TODAY: Air strikes on Syria continue as Turkey warns Russia, joins NATO in saying that airspace incursion was no accident; Russia hits back at U.S. criticism, evoking its 9/11 support; state media are promoting positive image of Syrian involvement; Kashin writes open letter to Putin; United Russia wants Parnas district renamed; Vitishko on hunger strike; NGO forced into bankruptcy by ‘foreign agent’ fines; Lukashenko says Belarus does not need Russian military base.

Russia has reportedly carried out 34 air strikes on Syria, including Palmyra and Aleppo, in the last 24 hours (although it denies the reports about Palmyra). Both NATO and Turkey say they believe Russia’s incursion into its airspace was on purpose.  Turkish President President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that Russia could lose his country’s friendship, and stated that ‘an attack on Turkey means an attack on NATO’.  ‘If the Russians think ambulances are legitimate terrorist targets, imagine what they’re going to do to the rest of Syria,’ said the head of a Syrian non-profit who lost part of his ambulance center to Russian air strikes.  Defending itself against U.S. criticism of its air strikes, Russia’s Foreign Ministry reminded the U.S. of its support after the September 11th attacks, appealing for a reciprocal ‘understanding [of] what terrorism is’.  Russian state media are delivering a ‘co-ordinat[ed]‘ and ‘frenzied’ message that involvement in Syria is warranted and effective, says the Independent.

Oleg Kashin, the journalist who was brutally attacked in 2010, has written an open letter to Russia’s leaders, condemning their failure to hold to account the man he believes was behind the attack: ‘You have complete and absolute control over the adoption and implementation of laws in Russia, and yet you still live like criminals.’  The United Russia party is trying to have the St. Petersburg legislature rename the district of Parnas, in part because it shares its name with Boris Nemtsov’s opposition party.  Jailed environmental activist Yevgeny Vitishko has started a hunger strike.  The FSB is proposing legislation that would hide information about who owns Russia luxury mansions, and a government commission has approved the project.   A Norwegian broadcaster is alleging that a newspaper editor in the Norwegian Arctic was sacked from his post on FSB orders, due to his coverage of oil drilling in the region.  Human rights organisation the Committee Against Torture, which is already in the process of liquidation, has now also filed for bankruptcy after being slapped with hefty fines for failing to register as a ‘foreign agent’.

Russia’s meeting with Saudi Arabia to discuss the oil market led only to an agreement to continue the discussion; both sides are increasing production to defend their market share.  Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko says his country does not need a Russian military baseat the moment’, and that he knows nothing about reports of the deployment of such a base.  Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says he is not yet ready to comment on Lukashenko’s statement.  The New Statesman writes on the resurgence of Stalin statues and memorials in Russia.  Vladimir Putin will celebrate his 63rd birthday today by taking part in an ice hockey match.

PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting at the presidential residence in the Russian Black Sea Resort of Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015. (Alexei Nikolsky/RIA Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)