RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – March 22, 2017

TODAY: Magnitsky family’s lawyer in hospital after a fall, one day before court appearance; university student alleges he was beaten and detained for carrying a Ukrainian flag; Deutsche Bank reportedly heavily involved in Global Laundromat; Russian money laundering investigations in the UK hampered by poor diplomatic ties; ruble continues to be overvalued, says Siluanov; Russia and Japan focusing on ties.

Nikolai Gorokhov, the lawyer representing the family of Sergei Magnitsky, the whistle-blowing lawyer who died in pretrial detention in 2009, has been hospitalised with serious injuries after falling from the fourth floor of his apartment building whilst trying to lift a bathtub. He was due to appear in court in connection with the Magnitsky case today. British businessman William Browder, who employs Gorokhov, believes the lawyer’s fall was no accident. A postgrad at Moscow State University says he was beaten and interrogated by officers claiming to belong to the the FSB, after wielding a Ukrainian flag on the third anniversary of the annexation of Crimea. Sberbank says it is currently looking to make a quick exit from Ukraine.  The Guardian reported further on its earlier revelations about “the Global Laundromat”, a $20 billion money laundering scheme originating in Russia; it now says that Germany’s Deutsche Bank, which loaned $300 million to Donald Trump, was heavily involved. The money laundering unit of the UK’s National Crime Agency says investigations are being hampered by the Russian authorities due to the current nature of the UK-Russia relationship, but UK authorities are committed to assessing the Guardian’s claim that $740 million of the laundered money passed through British banks. The Foreign Ministry will neither confirm nor deny reports that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will visit Moscow next month.

Tatiana Golikova, the head of Russia’s Audit Chamber, says that the Finance Ministry’s plans to overhaul Russia’s tax system could increase the burden on the budget to cover pension fund liabilities, and may also damage efforts to curb inflation. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov warned again that the ruble’s current level is 10-12% overvalued, but the currency is continuing to make gains, and its strength is hurting Russian exports. Tatarstan is in a political crisis thanks to the collapse of Tatfondbank. Russia is the biggest oil producer of 2017 thus far, with a daily output average of 10.764 million barrels. Russia’s ties with Japan are under the spotlight this month, with a series of high-level talks planned for the coming weeks to address tourist visas, the deployment of anti-missile systems in Japan, and the ongoing dispute regarding the Kuril Islands.

Anne Garrels explains why “Vladimir Putin’s unexpected ascent to power in 2000 was, for many, a godsend.” Duma member Vitaly Milonov is calling for a criminal investigation of the Freemasons.

PHOTO: Russian Olga Kostina decorates her home with remnants of plastic trash. (via onegreenplanet.org)