TODAY: Putin and Gorbachev respond to Castro’s death; leaked emails show Rosneft lawyers manipulated Yukos case outcomes; Moscow Court reviewing Ulyukayev house arrest; Postal Service head accused of taking bribe; Gazprom EU exports reach new record; OPEC deal looking less likely after Saudi Arabia pulls out; Peskov’s wife under fire for concentration camp figure skating performance.
Expressing his condolences on the news of the Cuban leader’s death, President Vladimir Putin described Fidel Castro as ‘a sincere and reliable friend of Russia’. Mikhail Gorbachev said Castro had taken what happened to perestroika ‘very close to heart’, and believes relations with Cuba will remain positive. (Russia agreed to write off $32 billion (90%) of Cuba’s debt in 2014.) A series of emails leaked to the FT suggest that Rosneft’s lawyers manipulated court rulings in Armenia in order to help the company seize hundreds of millions of dollars worth of assets from former oil giant Yukos (former Yukos executives have always maintained that the state was influencing the justice system for its own interests throughout the case). The Moscow City Court is to review and consider a milder restrictive measure than the current house arrest of former Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev, who was accused last month of taking a $2 million bribe in connection with the Rosneft privatisation. The head of the Russian Postal Service is being investigated for having allegedly taken a $1.5 million bribe. Russian litigants are currently the second most frequent to bring cases to the British court.
Russia and Ukraine will meet in Brussels this week, mediated by the European Commission, to discuss the resumption of gas supplies, which have been halted since the 2014 annexation of Crimea. Gazprom hit a new daily record of gas exports to European countries. Oil prices are reflecting the market’s doubts that OPEC will be able to agree on output cuts this year, despite ongoing optimistic comments about the deal from Russia, which continued even after reports suggested that Saudi Arabia had already pulled out of a possible deal.
Tatyana Navka, the wife of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, has come under fire for taking part in a holocaust-themed ice skating performance on television, in which she wore a concentration camp uniform decorated with Stars of David.
PHOTO: Cuban President Fidel Castro welcomes Russian President Vladimir Putin December 13, 2000 in Jose Marti Airport in Havana | Sergei Chirikov/AFP via Getty Images