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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – May 19, 2014

TODAY: Putin says Crimean Tatars must accept Russian rule; Kremlin criticises OCSE Ukraine report; Medvedev denies threat of Twitter ban; China gas deal near completion; Filin interview.

Despite the fact that all public gatherings were suspended in Crimea after Russia’s takeover, Tatars in the region – who have faced persecution in recent weeks for not backing the move to join Russia – gathered in their thousands this weekend to mark the 70th anniversary of their mass deportation from Russia by Josef Stalin, as Vladimir Putin announced that they must accept that their interests ‘today are tied to Russia’.  In the days leading up to the anniversary, police reportedly conducted mass searches of Tatar homes, according to this WSJ piece which discusses the oppressive tactics of pro-Kremlin separatists in Ukraine.  Russia will not need officially to cross the border into Ukraine [again], says the Moscow Times: ‘The chaos in eastern Ukraine may already have achieved many of Putin’s aims.’  These charts suggest that Putin’s aims might be best described in terms of energy resources.  Ukraine has banned entry to over 20,000 Russian citizens since March.  The Kremlin has criticised the OSCE’s recent report on Ukraine on grounds that it failed to record its government’s ‘blatant violations of basic human rights’.  The WSJ says this is a kind of twisted logic, in that Russia’s game plan can usually be discerned via ‘the actions and values [it] falsely projects onto others.’  The FBI is warning Russian-funded, U.S. tech firms to be wary of spies.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has vehemently countered official suggestions that the Kremlin could put a block on social networking site Twitter.  As negotiations on Russia’s long-awaited gas supply deal with China reach their ‘final phase’, the Kremlin anticipates that the value of ties between the two countries could reach $100 billion by the end of this year.  Here’s a table which shows all of Russia’s daily gas exports, which shoes that over two thirds of its gas goes to Western Europe.  Tension with Ukraine is creating frictions with ‘Russia’s main customer,notes the BBC.  The New York Times reports that Petro Poroshenko, the favourite to win Ukraine’s presidential elections later this month, has ‘deep business interests in Russia’.

The Washington Post interviews Bolshoi Ballet Director Sergei Filin, now in recovery from the acid attack last year that left him partially blind.

PHOTO: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (L) meets Tyumen Region Governor Vladimir Yakushev at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Sochi, May 13, 2014. REUTERS/Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin