RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – April 12, 2017

TODAY: Irkutsk protest organisers detained by National Guard; Navalny to continue organising protests, says poverty makes people brave; Volodin as Putin successor? UK says Russia interfered in Brexit vote; no G7 sanctions for Russia; Chechen men speak out about persecution; Putin warns of future ‘fake’ chemical attacks in Syria; Tillerson and Putin meet today; Putin using Trump’s US intelligence slanders against US intelligence. Siluanov orders state companies to pay 50% dividends. 

Four activists in Irkutsk, who organised an authorised anticorruption protest last month, were detained from their homes the day after the protest by unidentified men who turned out to be soldiers of the newly formed National Guard. Anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny says he will continue to organise anti-government protests, despite having recently received a jail sentence for orchestrating the biggest protests against the Kremlin in years. He says that Russian citizens are losing their fear of the authorities due to more widespread poverty. “You don’t have to explain to anyone now that poverty happens because of corruption, and corruption happens because Putin’s been in power for 17 years. People see the links clearly, and that’s why they come out.” Navalny’s public recognition has risen to 55% over the past month, says the FT, in this round-up of current Kremlin in-fighting; it names Vyacheslav Volodin as a potential successor to Putin. A report by the UK Parliament’s Public Administration Committee says Russia and China may have been responsible for a crash in the UK’s voter registration website ahead of the Brexit referendum. The G7 failed to agree on more sanctions against Russia, with Italy leading the dissenting voices. Three Chechen men gave harrowing accounts of abuse they faced from authorities in Chechnya due to their sexuality.

President Vladimir Putin made the apparently baseless claim that the US is planning to fake Syrian-government-led chemical weapons attacks in Syria in the near future in order to justify more strikes.  Moscow is going to make a formal call for an international investigation into last week’s chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government. He is due to meet with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson today. Putin is now taking full advantage of Donald Trump’s attacks on the credibility of US intelligence by using them in his defence of Russia against US pressure to withdraw support from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. (Not that he ever will, by the way, notes the Washington Post. And good luckcoaxing Russia away from Iran”.) Did Trump’s “economic nationalism” have its origins in Putin’s 1997 dissertation?

Finance Minister Anton Siluanov says state companies need to pay at least 50% of their profits in dividends to make up for the government not increasing taxes. 6,000 Russian bureaucrats are facing fines for ignoring, neglecting or mishandling public complaints in 2016. The Prosecutor General is blaming a recent theft of $17.5 million from various Russian banks on hackers.

PHOTO: In this Aug. 30, 2011, file photo, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (R) and Rex Tillerson, ExxonMobil’s chief executive smile during a signing ceremony in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia. Alexei Druzhinin / RIA Novosti via AP