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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – May 9, 2018

TODAY: Putin, praising outgoing cabinet, signs Medvedev into office; $125bn price tag on new domestic policy goals; violence from Cossacks at protests raises questions about further social role; St. Petersburg protester sentenced; US to withdraw from Iran nuclear deal; Russia congratulates Armenian protest leader, was in contact prior to coup; some Google subnetworks unlocked; FIFA fine for racist Russian fans.

Signing Dmitry Medvedev up for another term as Prime Minister, (he won the State Duma vote 374 to 56, not that there was anyone else in the running) President Vladimir Putin lavishly praised his outgoing government. The Moscow Times clarifies the new faces of Medvedev’s cabinet, and lists those who won’t be coming back. Medvedev will not make any immediate changes to personal income tax rates. Putin announced that Russia will further diversify its international reserves, claiming that “the monopoly of the US dollar” is too dangerous. Putin’s ambitious domestic policy goals to kickstart the economy are going to cost more than $126 billion, Medvedev estimated. The Moscow Times gets philosophical: “After Putin will come Putin. Even if it isn’t physically Putin, it will be the same kind of leader as Putin.” The Moscow Mayor’s office has been training Cossacks over the past three years to “ensure public safety”; Cossacks were seen in several videos attacking protesters at last weekend’s demonstrations. A man who was arrested at the St. Petersburg rally, who insists he was merely a bystander, has been sentenced to two months behind bars. 

Putin was among the first foreign leaders to send a congratulatory message to Armenian protest leader Nikol Pashinyan on his becoming prime minister; Reuters reports that Russian officials were in high-level contact with protest leaders and the outgoing ruling elite before the coup. President Donald Trump has announced that the US will withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal negotiated with six world powers in 2015, calling it “defective”. Russia and Iran had already pre-emptively responded with concern to the news, warning that it would create a “very serious situation”. Bloomberg reports on research findings that some of the Russian corporations hit by US sanctions have “benefited from the challenge”. Another two Russian pilots were killed in a Syria crash earlier this week.

Roskomnadzor unlocked six Google subnetworks (more than 3.7m IP addresses) that had been affected in connection with the Telegram ban. Mobile phone operator Megafon will set up a joint venture with Gazprombank and Rostec to develop digital projects. FIFA has fined the Russian Football Union $30,000 for racist abuse from Russian fans during a pre-World Cup friendly.

PHOTO: President Vladimir Putin receives a special blessing from Orthodox Church head Patriarch Kirill following his fourth inauguration. (Patriarch Press Service / Priest Igor Palkin)