RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Oct 27, 2015

TODAY: Russian submarines operating near global Internet cables; Foreign Minister confirms contact with Western-backed rebels in Syria, Free Syrian Army calls for an end to Russian air strikes; Montenegro says Russia promoting unrest; Putin accuses West of harming weapons exports; Yandex to launch new algorithm news service; new Bolshoi head appointed.

The New York Times reports that Russian submarines are ‘aggressively operating’ near the undersea cables that support ‘almost all global Internet communications’, calling into question the safety of the West’s major communication routes at risk.  Al-Jazeera says the threat of such a cut ‘remains largely theoretical’.  Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov confirmed that Moscow maintains contact with Western-backed rebels in Syria.  An alliance of insurgent groups related to the Free Syrian Army called on Moscow to stop its air strike campaign against rebels and civilians and cease its support of Bashar al-Assad. ‘Their words are not like their actions. How can we talk to them while they are hitting us?’ The Kremlin rejects claims by Human Rights Watch that its air strikes have caused Syrian civilian deaths.  The Prime Minister of Montenegro is accusing Russia of trying to force regime change by supporting and organising Serbian nationalists; the Kremlin responded by saying the claims were ‘a form of entertainment’, and a way of ‘demonizing Russia’.  The Kremlin respects Poland’s election results, says Dmitry Peskov, ‘but as we say, you cannot force love’.

Opposition politician and former energy minister Vladimir Milov says Russia is facing a serious, long-term economic crisis, much worse than the 1998 crash.  President Vladimir Putin accused the West of harming Russia’s efforts to export its weapons through more intense and ‘unfair’ competition on global markets, despite Russia’s current dominant position.  United Russia’s proposed new version of the Administrative Code stipulates harsher punishments for non-criminal offences.  Yandex, the Russian answer to Google, will launch a news service written by computer algorithms.

Makhar Vaziev will replace Sergei Filin as the director of the Bolshoi Ballet.  A 75-year-old activist says a recent attack during a protest will not deter him from demonstrating in the future.

PHOTO: Newly appointed Director of the Bolshoi Ballet Makhar Vaziev attends a news conference at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Russia, October 26, 2015. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov