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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – March 17, 2017

TODAY: RT launches fact checking website to spot fake news; Russia’s relationship with WikiLeaks is not so simple; state television mocks NATO’s analysis of Russian comedy; PDVSA offers joint venture stake to Rosneft; Russia can’t afford deep involvement in Libya; Ukraine sanctions will hit VTB, but also possibly its own economy; Kremlin denies US hacking allegations.

RT has launched a new website, FakeCheck, dedicated to helping readers pick through and discern between fake news and real news; unfortunately, RT itself has been found guilty of breaching media codes by disseminating stories that were found to be false. The Moscow Times quotes Andrey Kiyashko, RT’s head of news, as saying that “Misinformation can spread like wildfire’’, quipping that he is “a man who would know”. Allegations of an alliance between WikiLeaks and the Russian state are probably oversimplified, says this piece; one possibility is that Russia views WikiLeaks as a “convenient outlet when it has material it wants to make public.” State-run television network Channel One mocked NATO’s attempt to classify Russian comedy shows as examples of “strategic communication” to manipulate public opinion. The Kremlin has a problem with the history of the Russian Revolution, says Serge Schmeimann, because “neither the February nor the October Revolution fits comfortably into President Vladimir Putin’s view of himself or Russian history”, and rewriting history is not easy. Activist Ildar Dadin writes in the Moscow Times on the need to eradicate violence against prisoners. “[W]e need to unite to fight this evil.

Venezuela’s oil company PDVSA has offered a 10% stake in a joint venture in the Orinoco Belt to Rosneft. Kremlin insiders told Al-Jazeera that Russia may not actually have the financial or military capability to play anything more than an indirect role in the Libyan civil war. Ukraine’s sanctions against the subsidiaries of Russian banks could cost VTB several hundred million dollars in losses. Former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin says the sanctions will have a boomerang effect on Ukraine and worsen its own financial system. President Vladimir Putin urged caution on cutting interest rates too early, saying that they could lead to higher inflation. He is anticipating that Russia’s growth rate will be exceeding the world average by 2019. Russia wants to buy more Mexican beef than the country actually exports.

The US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, says Russia can not be trusted. The Kremlin denies US charges that its officials hacked private webmail accounts. Could Donald Trump’s Russia ties have anything to do with the number of condominium sales he made to people with ties to the former Soviet Union? It has been revealed that Trump’s former national security adviser, Mike Flynn, was paid tens of thousands of dollars by Russian companies shortly before he became Trump’s formal adviser.

PHOTO: Still from footage of Major Manhoff’s film of Stalin’s funeral in 1953. (RFE/RL