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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – April 17, 2020

Today in Russia: COVID-19 cases rise by 4,000, Putin says cases have still not yet peaked; 50 percent of cases may be asymptomatic in Russia; Chinese ambassador claims that coronavirus was imported, did not originate in China; Russia allows dual citizenship, hoping to add 10 million new citizens; Russian links to Dutch far right group; Russian oil companies fighting over production cuts; Russia to celebrate Easter with social distancing.

COVID-19 cases rose by a record 4,000 cases in 24 hours, the sixth consecutive day that the figure rose by a record amount. Total cases now stand at 32,008. An official warned that more than 50 percent may be asymptomatic, and President Vladimir Putin said [in Russian] that Russia has still not reached a peak in cases and that they will likely continue to rise. Russia now ranks eleventh in the world in global COVID-19 cases.

China’s ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui claimed in an interview that China is not the origin of COVID-19, asserting that it was imported into China from elsewhere.

Russia amended its citizenship law, allowing for dual citizenship. The government hopes that this will add 10 million new Russian citizens.

Dutch far-right leader Thierry Baudet has Russia connections. Leaked Whatsapp messages revealed that Baudet is in contact with Vladimir Kornilov, an individual alleged to be connected with the Kremlin and may have received payments from him.

The Financial Times reports that after the record OPEC+ cuts, Russian producers are fighting among themselves about how the country’s commitment to cut production is to be carried out. Some producers have opposed proportional cuts, arguing that some fields can freeze or dry up if production is halted, possibly permanently damaging production.

Orthodox Easter this Sunday is to take place with social distancing in place. Many churches are planning to broadcast services online. Orthodox Palm Sunday (April 12) drew criticism for the lack of social distancing measures. Easter is the most important holiday for the Russian Orthodox church.

PHOTO: Russia prepares for a socially-distanced Easter Sunday (Sergei Kiselyov / Moskva News Agency)