RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – April 13, 2020

Today in Russia: Historic OPEC+ oil deal may not be enough to stem the collapse in oil prices; Putin warns outbreak in Russia getting worse as cases continue to climb rapidly; Migrants in Russia face increased hardship due to COVID-19; Russia and Elon Musk spar over space-flight price gouging; COVID-19 tars China-Russia relations; Remittance-dependent Central Asian and Caucasus states will be hit hard by coronavirus-related downturn in Russia; Vedomosti’s new editor deletes an article, raising fears of censorship.

Last week, Russia and Saudi Arabia, along with other members of the OPEC+ grouping and with the approval of G20 countries agreed to a historic cut in oil prices. However, markets did not react well today as markets re-opened, over fears that the 10 percent cut in output would not be sufficient to stem the rout in oil prices.

Coronavirus cases in Russia have climbed to 18,328. President Vladimir Putin warned [in Russian] on Monday that, “We see that the situation is changing almost daily and, unfortunately, not for the better.” Meanwhile, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced increased measures [in Russian] this week in the capital.

Central Asian Migrants in Russia, who already face discrimination and difficult conditions in the country, are facing even more challenges as Russia locks down during COVID-19. The Diplomat writes, As COVID-19 appeared in the region, a travel lockdown was imposed, banning “migrants” from accessing local public health infrastructure and putting them into an even more vulnerable situation. The label “migrant” unfortunately comes with a stereotype, a general categorization of a person as an uninvited burden.”

At the same time, the downturn in Russia’s economy threatens to wreak havoc on Central Asian and Caucasus nations which are heavily dependent on remittances from migrant workers in Russia, according to a new report from the World Bank.

Russia and Elon Musk sparred over the weekend, with Russian Space Agency Director Dmitry Rogozin accusing Musk’s SpaceX of price gouging and lobbying for US sanctions on Russia in order to eliminate competition in the space travel market. Meanwhile, Russia announced it plans 30 more space launches for 2020, having already carried out 5 this year.

China-Russia relations, which have been warming recently, have taken a beating in the wake of COVID-19, EurasiaNet reported. First set off by Russia’s closing of the border with China due to virus concerns and doubts over China’s reported numbers, the tables have since turned with China closing its border with Russia, and Chinese state-run media reporting widely [in Chinese] about imported COVID-19 cases from Russia in the far northeastern Chinese province of Heilongjiang.

Vedomosti, the highly-respected Russian business outlet, has new ownership and a new acting Editor-in Chief, Andrey Shmarov. In what is increasingly becoming a pattern, Shmarov personally ordered [in Russian] that an article about Rosneft and its powerful boss Igor Sechin entitled “A Hard Time of Responsibility” be deleted late on Sunday night. After the article was deleted from Vedomosti’s website, the article’s author reposted to his Facebook and Meduza re-published it [in Russian] with the author’s permission.

PHOTO: Saudi energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman al-Saud chairs last week’s OPEC+ meeting, April 9, 2020. (SPA/AFP)