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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – May 9, 2017

TODAY: Putin congratulates Macron on French Presidency win as Russian media trashes him; no concrete links between French election hack and Russia, says Forbes; US national security adviser at risk of Russia blackmail, says colleague; Russian warships spotted near Latvia; OPEC and Russia to extend crude cuts; Putin visits his former KGB boss; Eric Trump denies Russia golf course funding comments.

President Vladimir Putin sent a congratulatory message to the new French President, Emmanuel Macron, saying he hoped the two would be able to “overcome mutual distrust”, whilst state-run media “profiled Mr Macron as probably gay [and] in thrall to Jewish bankers”. The Moscow Times notes that, just days before Macron’s win, the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper called him “Rothschild puppet, psychopath, and Mr Nobody”. Forbes evaluates the reports that France’s pre-election email hack was backed by Russia, saying that there is no conclusive evidence to prove that Fancy Bear was involved, rather that this is more a case of “It looks like Russia, it smells like Russia, so it’s probably Russia.” The former US attorney general claims that Michael Flynn, the US national security adviser, is “compromised” and at risk of being blackmailed by the Kremlin. Latvia’s military says it spotted three Russian warships four miles from its territorial waters.

OPEC and Russia are likely to extend their crude oil output cuts until the end of this year, to be agreed at their next meeting at the end of the month; Energy Minister Alexander Novak backs the extension. Gazprom will be spurred to compete to keep up with a planned increase in US shale gas production this year, likely leading to a supply glut, says Bloomberg. The Russian news is spinning Alexei Navalny’s recent procurement of an international passport rather bizarrely as having been aided by the Kremlin, due to its unusually fast processing time. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied it, drily stating that “the Kremlin does not issue passports”. President Vladimir Putin paid a visit to ex-KGB head Lazar Matveev, his former boss in Dresden, for his 90th birthday on the outskirts of Moscow. Vladimir Putin views the Soviet victory in World War II as having laid the foundation for post-Cold War Russia’s return as a great world power, says the Washington Post.

Vanity Fair reports on the latest Trump-Russia scandal, in which Eric Trump allegedly told a golf writer three years ago that his father’s golf courses were funded by Russians who “really, really love golf”. Trump denies that he ever said such a thing. How will Ukraine cope without Russia’s presence at the Eurovision Song Contest this year?

PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin visited former head of the KGB intelligence group in Dresden Lazar Matveev, right, in Zhulebino (Kremlin Press Service)