RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – June 27, 2017

TODAY: Telegram comes under more pressure from FSB, founder explains how the nature of encryption means the company cannot comply with government demands; EU nations back proposal to negotiate over Nord Stream 2; Kremlin denies Kislyak is coming home; Russia sold three-year-high of debt this year; Rosneft suit leads to Sistema share freeze; governments back nuclear clean-up program at toxic Russian site.

The FSB is claiming that the perpetrators of the St Petersburg suicide bombing attack used the messaging app Telegram to coordinate, in a new show of pressure against the app, which has already been accused of breaking data laws, and is under threat of being banned. Pavel Durov, the app’s founder, says that telecom watchdog Roskomnadzor’s demands that the company reveal certain details about its managing company go against the Russian constitution. Durov also explained why the company could not hand over its encryption information, the concept behind which, he says, is not properly understood. “Encryption in these apps either protects all the users or puts everyone at risk. If final encryption is abandoned, then millions of people across the world will be left without protection from hackers and corrupt officials.” Thirteen EU nations are in support of a proposal that would empower the bloc to negotiate with Russia over objections to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Some states fear it will increase their dependence on Gazprom, and others are wary of having the pipeline running through their territory. Ukraine wants the EU to get more guarantees on energy security from Russia before the pipeline is built. The Foreign Minister is denying reports that Ambassador Sergey Kislyak is being recalled from the US, even after the US-Russia Business Council confirmed that it is holding a farewell dinner for Kislyak next month.

Levels of new Russian debt sold to investors are at a three-year-high, with over $17 billion worth of bonds issued so far this year. Thanks to a lawsuit filed by Rosneft against conglomerate Sistema, a Russian court has frozen Vladimir Yevtushenkov’s holdings in mobile operator MTS and two other companies. The shares were arrested as a security measure, in an amount equal to the value of Rosneft’s claims against Sistema.  Billionaire Mikhail Fridman will acquire health food chain Holland & Barrett for around $2.3 billion. TASS interviewed Finance Minister Anton Siluanov about economic growth and his first ever job. Deutsche Bank has appointed Borislav Ivanov, its former Ukraine head, as its new Russia head.

11 Western governments have contributed to a £100 million European Bank of Reconstruction and Development fund to help Russia clear up nuclear waste at its highly toxic Andreyeva Bay naval bases.  Russians have named Josef Stalin the world’s most outstanding public figure.

PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin stands in the rain in front of honour guards during a wreath-laying ceremony marking the anniversary of the Nazi German invasion in 1941, by the Kremlin wall in Moscow, Russia. (SPUTNIK/ALEXEY DRUZHININ)