RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Nov 25, 2016

TODAY: Putin jokes that Russia has no border; Navalny will not attend retrial next month; Energy Ministry maintains it would support an oil freeze, not a cut, as OPEC says deal can’t go ahead without it; Rosneft returns to domestic bond market; Memorial releases database of NKVD member names; EU Parliament demands release of Dadin.

President Vladimir Putin, with his arm around a young Russian student who asserted that Russia’s border ends at the US, told the audience at a televised geography awards ceremony that Russia’s border ‘doesn’t end anywhere’; following applause from the audience, he added, ‘that was a joke’.  The criminal case against anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navanly has been scheduled for retrial December 5, but he says he will not attend, given that he still has not been compensated for his expenses on the original trial, despite a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights.  Russia’s Energy Ministry says a freeze of crude production would be reasonable if OPEC agrees to reduce output, but that a reduction in Russian production would leave the market open to competitors.  This has been its position for some time, but the ‘new wording shows Russia is trying to convince OPEC partners’, according to an analyst.  OPEC says a deal will not be possible unless Russia takes part, ‘because Saudi Arabia will not shoulder the burden alone‘.  Energy Minister Alexander Novak says production is due to increase next year, but that Russia could contribute to OPEC’s plans by keeping production at its current level.  Oil producer Rosneft is to return to the domestic bond market with a $16.6 billion program.

To the Kremlin’s dismay, Moscow-based human rights organisation Memorial has just published a database containing the personal information of almost 40,000 members of the NKVD security force which was responsible for purges under Josef Stalin.  The European Parliament issued a resolution demanding the release of activist Ildar Dadin, who is in prison for repeat protests.  Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is optimistic that the new Donald Trump-led US administration will continue to back sanctions against Russia.  Trump’s eldest son reportedly held secret talks in Paris about collaborating with Russia on the conflict in Syria.

RFE/RL asked people in Moscow whether they believe that Russia is headed for a dead end.

PHOTO: Magnus Carlsen, of Norway, reacts at his match with Sergey Karjakin, of Russia, during their round 5 of the 2016 World Chess Championship in New York U.S., November 17, 2016 © Shannon Stapleton / Reuters