RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – April 18, 2017

TODAY: Russia hopes US will not act unilaterally against North Korea; Kiselyov says Trump more dangerous than Kim Jong-Un; Russia unveils striking Arctic military base; Google antitrust case settled at $7.8m; Chechnya investigating reports of gay persecution as paper that broke the story receives threats and criticism; Khodorkovsky calls for people to back Navalny next year; Putin calls for measures to increase invesment.  

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says he hopes that the US will not take any unilateral actions against North Korea for its “reckless nuclear actions”. State-run media has changed its position on US President Donald Trump, with Channel One anchor Dmitry Kiselyov alleging that he is more dangerous, more impulsive, and more unpredictable than Kim Jong-Un. Official spokesman Dmitry Peskov made sure to distance the Kremlin from Kiselyov following the comment, saying that he is often but not always in alignment with the Kremlin’s official position. Russia has unveiled a flashy new military base in the Arctic, a triangular building which “resembles a space colony” and is decorated in the colors of the flag. The New York Times evaluates the likelihood of Russian involvement in the French presidential elections. “Russia often does not so much intrude as amplify existing voices with which it agrees.” The Federal Antimonopoly Service has reached a $7.8 million settlement with Google in the case brought by Yandex in 2015 regarding Google’s pre-installation requirements, which had previously forced manufacturers to use Google applications as the default services on Android devices.

Chechnya has apparently opened an official investigation into reports that local authorities are carrying out mass arrests and torture of gay men, following Novaya Gazeta’s breaking of the story. The Chechen Press Minister wants Novaya Gazeta to apologise for its reporting, saying that it used “imaginary sources” and behaved like “mammoths in a china shop”. Investigators are looking into threats that were allegedly made against the paper for its reporting of the story. An organic farm shop in St Petersburg is banning gay customers from its premises. Former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky is calling for supporters to back the presidential bid of anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny next year. “Replacing Putin with another Putin can’t possibly work for us,” he said. How can Russia’s economy grow outside of its restrictive neopatrimonialist system, asks Boris Grozovsky. President Vladimir Putin is calling for measures to boost investment activity that will support the creation of a modern, high-tech economy.

The Investigative Committee wants Russia’s mass media to devote less coverage to child rape victims, saying that the fascination they generate is creating more problems.  Fines for football hooligans have been doubled in Russia in advance of the 2018 World Cup.

PHOTO: President Vladimir Putin (Reuters / Sergei Karpukhin)