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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Nov 9, 2015

TODAY: US official says Russia endangers world order; plane crash committee is 90% sure crash was caused by a bomb; Transaero faces latest blow in bankruptcy battle; Charlie Hebdo provokes Russia; Orthodox Church to have its own internet; foot imports and car sales down, debts up; former close Putin aide found dead; students form human Putin portrait.

The American Defence Secretary accused Russia of endangering world order with its actions in Ukraine, ‘challenging activities’ at sea, and ‘nuclear sabre-rattling’, saying that the U.S. ‘do[es] not seek a cold, let alone a hot, war with Russia.’  The Egyptian head of the committee leading the investigation into the crash over Egypt last week of a Russian plane, says a noise can be heard in the last second of the cockpit recording of the flight, but that it is still too early to make a definitive assessment of what caused the crash.  Consensus is mounting in the US, though not yet conclusive, that the crash was caused by a bomb; and the Egyptian investigation team is ‘90 percent sure it was a bomb’.  Transaero has been in danger of bankruptcy for months, and the crash has brought it even closer.  Russia returned 11,000 of its tourists from Egypt in 24 hours yesterday.  Russian social media sites are slamming the French magazine Charlie Hebdo for publishing ‘sacrileg[ious]’ cartoons making fun of the crash.  Russia’s Orthodox Church is to have its own wi-fi network that will block content deemed extremist, sectarian, or pornographic.

Food imports have dropped considerably in the first nine months of 2015, year-on-year, new car sales are down 43%, and the number of Russians facing travel bans due to unpaid debts is up 41%.  Three serving or former Russian soldiers have been geolocated in Syria by photographs, according to a group of Russian investigative bloggers.  Putin ally, former Kremlin aide and press minister Mikhail Lesin was found dead in a New York hotel last week.  Police are investigating.  A senior police officer in the anti-corruption unit has been detained on suspicion of fraud, says the Investigative Committee.

2,000 students formed a human portrait of the President in Chelyabinsk last week.  A court in Petrozavodsk has labeled as extremist and banned video footage of a speech given by a local politician calling for the republic’s secession.

PHOTO: Russia’s Elena Radionova performs during the exhibition event in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating at the Capital Gymnasium in Beijing, China, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)