RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – April 28, 2016

TODAY: Panama Papers leak links Roldugin with Magnitsky; names of senior officials are being removed from public records, activists say; Putin lambasts space officials after rocket launch is called off; Labour Minister denies that there are any poor Russian pensioners; Chinese online retailer to accept new Russian payment system; Navalny files lawsuit against state-run media company; Nemtsov’s daughter wants investigation reopened.

Banking records included in the Panama Papers leak show links between close Putin ally Sergei Roldugin and the case of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in pretrial detention in 2009. Magnitsky had been investigating $230 million that disappeared from the Russian Treasury, which apparently ended up with an offshore company that Roldugin made a deal with two months later.  The European Parliament was due to screen an investigative film about Magnitsky but canceled, with a Russian source alleging that the cancellation was the result of a direct order from Hermitage Capital CEO Bill Browder, and related to the fact that the film showed a different side of the story to the version that Browder tells.  RFE/RL examines the peculiar case of why the names of senior Russian officials keep disappearing from public property records including the federal real-estate database, ‘in some cases obscuring ownership of expensive properties thought to be controlled by members of Russia’s political elite’. Krill Shamalov for example, thought to be Putin’s son-in-law, had his owner information for a central Moscow apartment ‘replaced with a bureaucratic code’ last year.  Russia topped WADA’s doping violations list for 2014.

President Vladimir Putin lambasted his space officials and threatened ‘appropriate reaction’ after traveling to the Vostochny Cosmodrome for the inaugural launch of a rocket from a new spaceport, only for it to be called off due to a technical glitch.  Putin will stay in Vostochny until the second launch attempt, scheduled for later today, has been completed.  Russia’s Labour Minister says there are no poor pensioners in Russia, ‘as you know‘.  The Chinese online retail giant AliExpress is to be the first foreign company to accept Russia’s new national payment system and Visa rival, Mir card.  Opposition activist Alexei Navalny has filed a lawsuit against VGTRK, a state-owned media holding, for its portrayal of him as a CIA agent on primetime television.

The German-Russian House cultural and educational center is the latest to be slapped with the ‘foreign agent’ label.  Russia dismissed the British Foreign Office’s report on its human rights record as an interference, and not objective.  The daughter of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, who was murdered last year, has asked the Investigative Committee to resume the investigation into her father’s murder and charge the man she believes was behind the attack.

PHOTO: Soyuz-2.1a launch vehicle carrying three Russian spacecraft Mikhail Lomonosov, Aist-2D, and SamSat-218 at the launch pad at Vostochny Space Launch Centre. (RIA Novosti)