RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Oct 15, 2013

TODAY: Anti-migrant riots lead to over 1,000 worker arrests, Navalny proposes visa platform; Russia opens own criminal case against Uralkali CEO; Putin proud of arms record; Browder case thrown out of UK court; further Greenpeace activist denied bail; LGBT film festival wins victory.

Moscow police made over 1,000 arrests (some reports say 1,200) of migrant workers at a vegetable warehouse in Biryulyovo yesterday in a bid to find the man responsible for the murder of an ethnic Russian, just one day after hundreds of nationalists were arrested for rioting.  The warehouse has been shut down for five days over accusations of unsanitary conditions, but President Vladimir Putin has made no comment.  The Guardian’s analysis suggests that ‘nationalist sentiment brings people together’ in the region.  The Moscow Times says the region ‘oozes its own sense of disunion from the rest of Moscow’.  Alexei Navalny is using the news as a platform for discussion of a visa regime for migrant workers, prompting Forbes to accuse him of engaging in ‘cheap and nasty populism.  Moscow City Court confirmed the legality of its case against Navalny in response to his appeal against the charges.  In what may turn out to be a ‘face-saving resolution of a tense situation’, Russia has opened a criminal case against Vladislav Baumgertner, the CEO of Uralkali, for abuse of power.  Baumgertner is currently being held in Belarus on the same charges; under the newly opened case, Russia is demanding Baumgertner’s extradition, leading many to suspect a planned lenience. ‘Russia needs to open the case to get the CEO home and release him there after confirming that he is not guilty.

President Vladimir Putin is proud of Russia’s arms supply record, saying that Russia only supplies weapons to ‘legitimate governments’, and that it ‘cares for its reputation as a responsible participant of the global military market’.  A quarter of state budget spending for the next three years (roughly $300 billion) is to remain mysterious – or in other words, devoted to defense spending.  In a move that some are hoping will ‘prevent future crooks, brigands and Russian oligarchs coming to London in order to launder their reputations’, a U.K.-based case against William Browder, the former employer of Sergei Magnitsky, has been thrown out by the High Court.  Rosneft and Transneft will work together on the expansion of the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline to China to double its current capacity.  A further Greenpeace activist – this time an American – has been denied bail by a Murmansk court.

Russia’s LGBT film festival Side by Side (Bok o Bok) won a victory in a St Petersburg court this week, reversing the decision to label it a ‘foreign agent’ and dropping its 400,000 ruble fine.

PHOTO: A man waves a Russian flag after a protest in the Biryulyovo district of Moscow October 13, 2013. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov