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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Jan 28, 2014

TODAY: Navalny publishes Sochi corruption website; Medvedev’s winter dacha exposed, IOC recommends athletes not to protest on podium; Nabiullina denies existence of bank black list; U.K. and Russia sign weapons deal; Ukraine borrows more from Russia; Rosneft appeals Yukos decision; Politkovskaya trial adjourned again.

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny has published online his investigation into inflated contracts that, he says, allowed officials to embezzle billions of rubles during the construction of Olympic facilities in Sochi.  The Times praised the accessibility and humour of Navalny’s interactive, English-language website which offers accolades for Sochi’s ‘champions of corruption’.  Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s winter dacha was exposed by journalist Andrei Malgin as ‘officially listed as a structure erected for the Sochi Olympic Games’.  Medvedev suggested that ‘a reasonable quantity’ of government officials should be allowed back onto the boards of state-owned companies.  The New York Times sees the Olympics under Putin (the new New Yorker cover says it all) as an attempt to prove that ‘Russia is the guardian of a culture that sets superior moral and political standards’.  The International Olympics Committee says athletes who want to protest will be free to do so at news conferences, but warned them against making any statements on the podiumhowever good the cause’.  Foreign Minister Igor Shuvalov has a piece in the FT ‘set[ting] the record straight’ on the Eurasian Economic Union.

Central Bank head Elvira Nabiullina denied that she has a ‘black list’ of Russian banks that she is planning to shut down.  A pioneering’ defence treaty between Russia and the U.K. could see the latter buying weapons from its partner.  As it is, Rosboronexport sold $13.2 billion in weapons to foreign buyers last year.  Ukraine will borrow a further $2 billion from Russia, a sign that Kiev will not listen to anti-government protesters who want closer integration with Europe, not Russia.  The head of Novatek says he thinks that Russia’s LNG output will rally those of top producer Qatar within ten years.  The mother of Sergei Magnitsky, the lawyer who was killed in pre-trial detention in 2009, is asking the Interior Ministry to close its new case against her son.  A Rosneft subsidiary will appeal a U.S. court decision that it must pay $186 million to a Yukos subsidiary.

The Anna Politkovskaya murder case has been adjourned yet again, with five jurors removed.  Marking the 70th anniversary of the Siege of Leningrad, President Vladimir Putin commemorated victims and spoke to survivors of the blockade, in which 900 people were killed.  Members of Russia’s LGBT community continue to flee their country.

PHOTO: A soldier looks on during a parade marking the 70th anniversary of the battle that lifted the Siege of Leningrad in St.Petersburg, Russia, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)