RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Oct 19, 2015

TODAY: Kremlin plans to increase number of missile strikes on Syria; state TV says Russia ‘saving Europe’, Medvedev defends military actions; protesters in Moscow demonstrate against air strikes; multinationals threaten Russia exit; Putin associates implicated in Deutsche Bank probe; small businesses hit by bank license revocation; Pamfilova calls for Kashin’s claims to be investigated.

The Kremlin is reportedly aiming to raise the number of its missions to Syria to 200-300 per day. It is currently flying around 50 missions daily, and 39 yesterday, according to the Defence Ministry, which is rumoured to be planning to build a single, unified military base there. Dmitry Kiselyov’s latest broadcast about Syria claimed that ‘Russia is saving Europe for the fourth time from either enslavement or barbarity’; and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev again defended Russia’s actions as designed to defeat Islamic State, not to support Bashar al-Assad’s regime.  The Times argues that Russia is using Syria as a platform to test its new weapons and advances in military capability; the Independent takes another, popular angle, that ‘Moscow is to­day attempting to re-establish its own notion of sovereignty that was the common one just se­veral decades ago.’  A reported ‘several hundred’ protesters gathered in Moscow over the weekend (with two detentions) to demonstrate against the airstrikes, but according to VTsIOM, almost a third of Russians think their nation’s military is the world’s most powerful.

A number of finance, oil, and industrial multinationals are planning to scale back their Russian operations if the country’s business environment does not improve.  Several members of President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, including the Rotenberg brothers, could be implicated in a $6 billion money laundering probe into Deutsche Bank’s Russian unit. The Central Bank’s revocation of the licenses of over 150 banks since 2014 is hitting small businesses hard, says the financial ombudsman.  The Russian-language edition of Forbes magazine, just weeks after being sold by its German owners, is being editorially directed to contain ‘less politics’.

Ella Pamfilova, the human rights ombudswoman, has called on the Investigative Committee to look into allegations made against the Pskov regional governor by journalist Oleg Kashin.  The Sunday Times talks to former Pussy Riot member Nadya Tolokonnikova, and leading Putin critic Garry Kasparov, who is touring the world to promote his new book.

PHOTO: A woman walks at the Ostafyevo park set in autumnal colours, Moscow, Russia 18 October 2015. (Moscú, Rusia) EFE/EPA/MAXIM SHIPENKOV