TODAY: Peskov says Ukraine’s response to Savchenko sentence ‘hysteria’, says pilot will serve her time; Navalny attacked with pastry; Putin endorses Kadyrov for third term as Chechen leader; Kerry leaves Russia with positive reports of better relations; Medvedev to educate United Russia hopefuls; Pamfilova resigns to take up new election role.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov branded Ukraine’s response to the imprisonment of pilot Nadia Savchenko as part of a ‘general anti-Russian hysteria’, saying that it is interfering with the resolution of her case, which would be more quickly resolved ‘in quietness’. This was quickly followed by his delivery of the Kremlin’s position that Savchenko will serve the 22-year sentence handed down to her by a Russian court, despite Kiev’s efforts to organise an prisoner exchange. The lawyer representing a Russian serviceman on trial in Ukraine has been found shot dead. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny was pelted with crushed pastries and condoms during a visit to the Siberian city of Novosibirsk last week. ‘The idea that I will have to wash my jacket for two hours again enraged me so much that I even ran at one of them,’ Navalny commented. President Vladimir Putin met with controversial Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov last week, and despite warning him of the need for ‘closer coordination’ with federal authorities, gave his assurance that he would back Kadyrov for a third term. Russia and Syria congratulated each other on the latter’s regaining the city of Palmyra.
US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Russia last week went well, with reports suggesting ‘a softening of the rhetoric’ on both sides, particularly after Kerry’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin; but Dmitry Peskov issued the sobering comment that ‘no one is under any illusion’ that Russia and the US will form an anti-terrorist alliance. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is speaking in Moscow today at an educational forum for candidates in the upcoming United Russia primaries, to bring them up to speed on the key current political issues. The Kremlin’s human rights ombudswoman, Ella Pamfilova, has resigned her post and will take up a new position on the Central Election Commission.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has recorded 123 positive doping tests for meldonium since it was added to the list of the agency’s prohibited substances on January 1.
PHOTO: People rally to celebrate the second anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea just off Red Square in Moscow, Russia, Friday, March 18, 2016. “Those who love their own motherland set an example of loving all of mankind.” (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)