RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – July 16, 2015

TODAY: Putin brings election date forward; NGO law threatens civil society, says BBC; Obama congratulates Putin on role in Iran deal; Ponomarev put on wanted list; Kremlin shuffles as economic crisis bites.

President Vladimir Putin has signed a law moving the date of the upcoming parliamentary elections to September instead of December.  The European Union says Russia’s new law banning ‘undesirable’ NGOs risks crippling civil society, according to the BBC, which followed Putin’s celebratory welcome at a pro-Kremlin youth camp.  Ivan Sukhov says civil society is not a given, and that Russia’s lack of political development has made it impossible.  The Kremlin’s Human Rights Council is opposing the inclusion of a small Crimean NGO on the undesirables list.  The Iran deal is evidence of Putin’s ‘ability to wield influence on the world stage despite Western efforts to ostracize him,comments the New York Times, after President Barack Obama praised Putin for his important role in completing the deal.  Ilya Ponomarev, the former Duma deputy charged in absentia with embezzlement, has been placed on an international wanted list. ‘Let them come and arrest me, I can even give me my address,he responded.

This article discusses the effects of economic peril on regional investments into infrastructure and local industry.  Putin’s order to reduce jobs on the Interior Ministry payroll will primarily impact ‘paper-pushers’.  The Ministry of Crimean affairs has been liquidated, having been deemed to have fulfilled its task.  Russia is looking for agricultural solutions, says the WSJ, which argues that the country could be a food superpower under the right conditions.  Against the advice of the Economic Development Ministry, a Putin-approved proposal will absorb the Federal Tariffs Service into the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service.

The Guardian excoriates ‘a number of pithy foreign quotes’ used in Russian political language as ‘common currency’, revealing the origin of one such quote, incorrectly attributed to Madeleine Albright, as in fact originating with a KGB psychic.

PHOTO: Members of the Russian honor guard march during a change of guards at the Mamayev Kurgan (Mamayev Hill) World War Two memorial complex with the statue of Mother Homeland seen on the background, in the city of Volgograd, Russia, July 15, 2015. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov