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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – July 8, 2015

TODAY: Sanctions could close 500 banks in next 5 years, says VTB head; parliament extends list of undesirable organisations; Russians prefer better wages to free speech; Russia blocks UN Srebrenica resolution, opposes UN MH17 tribunal; safe selfies campaign launched to protect daredevils. 

The only sanctions against Russia that really matter, according to the Moscow Times, are the ones that ban Russian banks and state companies from accessing Western debt and credit, and the retaliatory ban on food imports.  VTB head Andrei Kostin is predicting that 500 Russian banks will be shut down over the next five years.  The Agriculture Minister says farmers will successfully substitute all foreign imports within ten years.  Russia’s upper parliament has extended its list of undesirable non-commercial organisations to include Freedom House and the Soros Foundation.  Why is the West so concerned about Russia’s information war, when so few people in the West are fooled by its campaigns, asks Mark Galeotti.  Over 40% of Russians would prefer ‘decent’ salaries and pensions over free speech and freedom to travel, and 44% think the government should be harder in cracking down on free speech.  The Moscow Times chooses seven of this year’s new laws that will most affect the country, including those restricting foreign agents and undesirable organisations.

Staff at the election-monitor Golos had their homes and offices raided yesterday, with law enforcement officers seizing computers and memory cards, drawing accusations that the searches were intended to paralyze the organisation’s work.  Egypt signed two new petroleum supply deals with Rosneft.  As promised, Russia blocked a United Nations resolution condemning the 1995 massacre in Srebrenica as a genocide, winning praise from the Serbia prime minister who says ‘there is no collective guilt’.  Russia is opposed to the UN Security Council’s plan to set up a tribunal to prosecute those responsible for the MH17 plane crash in eastern Ukraine.

Enough people have died whilst taking risky selfies in Russia as to have warranted a new ‘Safe Selfies’ campaign warning them of potential dangers.

PHOTO: In this Monday, Oct. 6, 2014 file photo, two young women pose for a selfie on Red Square with St. Basil’s Cathedral, left, and the Spasskaya Tower, right in Moscow, Russia. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)