TODAY: Ekho Moskvy under threat; Navalny will force Kremlin to let him run for President as Kremlin reels out its usual opposition suspects; Constitutional Court wants Dadin’s sentence reviewed; documentary on Ukrainian film maker explains the message behind his Siberian imprisonment; NATO and Russia trade propaganda; oil price drops despite OPEC cuts compliance.
Independent radio station Ekho Moskvy is facing closure by the end of this week if it does not comply with Roskomnadzor’s demands to prove its compliance with Russian laws restricting foreign ownership. Opposition figure Alexei Navalny has vowed that he will run in the presidential elections next year despite his latest criminal conviction, which technically bars him from running from public office. ‘We will try to grow support in society until the Kremlin understands that it is necessary to admit me to the elections and the consequences of not admitting me will be even worse,’ he said. The Kremlin has apparently given up on the idea of looking for a ‘fresh face’ to represent the opposition in the elections, and will instead haul out the usual suspects. Russia’s Constitutional Court recommends that the jail term given to activist Ildar Dadin be reviewed, given that his protests posed no threat to the public or public property. The Moscow Times notes the grim fact that ‘typing the wrong thing on the internet [in Russia] could now land you a harsher sentence than if you beat your wife.’
Variety reviews a documentary that just previewed at the Berlin Film Festival, about the Ukrainian writer and filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, currently serving a 34-year prison sentence in Siberia for his work in attempting to keep Crimea independent of Russia. ‘It was Sentsov’s status as an art-house celebrity that made him a target in Russia. The regime arrested many “terrorists,” but he was held up as an example to the elite, intellectual class. The message was: If we can do this to him, we can do it you.’ NATO accused Russia of having escalated its disinformation campaign since the seizure of Crimea. (Russia has its own beef with NATO, of course.) The Kremlin has denied that it has any links to the hundreds of tanks allegedly posted in eastern Ukraine right now.
Despite Russia and other oil producers showing 90% compliance with OPEC-led cuts in crude production, the price of oil has been falling; Russia will decide in April or May whether to extend the agreement. Concrete bunkers in the forests of Karelia, dating back to World War II, have been found to be radioactive.
PHOTO: Mechanic and welder Sergei Kulagin works on the ‘Centaurus’ sculpture, made of used car components, inside an automobile repair workshop in the Siberian town of Divnogorsk, Russia, 9 February 2017. (Ilya Naymushin / Reuters)