RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Jan 8, 2018

TODAY: Second Navalny appeal rejected; CIA says Russia has undermined elections for decades; Russian eye on Mexico elections; Putin celebrates Orthodox Christmas; Kirill praises protection of Christians in Syria as report says operation was a giant test; fraud most common crime in 2017; Foreign Ministry threatens Latvia. 

The Supreme Court has rejected another appeal from Alexei Navalny over the decision to bar him from running for President, following a lower court’s upholding of the Central Election Commission’s rejection of his application last week; Navalny’s team is planning to appeal again at the Supreme Court’s presidium and the Constitutional Court, and protests are planned for January 28. Meanwhile the race is still attracting unknown, unaffiliated, would-be presidents, and currently has 20 potential candidates. Meanwhile the head of the CIA in the US says Russia is trying to undermine its elections and has been “for decades”; the US is also accusing Russia of having already launched a campaign to influence Mexico’s elections this year. The Moscow Times considers the invisible powers (“creatures of the night”) controlling the Kremlin, and speculates about whether or not they are still in thrall to Vladimir Putin, or now view him as a symbolic representative.

Yesterday was Orthodox Christmas; Vladimir Putin offered a Christmas greeting to Orthodox Christians, praising “eternal Christian values” and their contribution to “strengthening high moral ideals in society”. Patriarch Kirill took the occasion to praise military operations in Syria for protecting Christians from persecution and death, saying that this was “a very important idea in Russia’s participation”. Syria also provided Russia with an excellent opportunity to test its weapons, says Leonid Bershidsky. The most frequently committed crimes in Russia in 2017 were fraudulent activities – with one registered every three minutes. This piece considers the likelihood that the OPEC deal will survive well into this year. Despite the Central Bank’s decisive and self-confessed “conservativestance against cryptocurrencies, some Russian tech professionals are hoping to change the position.

Russia is threatening tit-for-tat action against Latvia for expelling its journalists last week. Chelyabinsk unveiled a monument to dumplings.

PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a Christmas service in a church in St. Petersburg late on the night of January 6-7. (RFE/RL)