RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – June 2, 2020

Today in Russia: Only “coronavirus immune” troops to march at Victory Day parade; Russian officials furious at accusations of involvement in USA protests; Kadyrov condemns police violence in USA; UK and Canada not keen on seeing Russia at G7; US Senate to push for Nord Stream 2 sanctions; $72.7 billion in economic recovery spending; US commander suggests sending trainers to Tunisia after Russia ramps up efforts in Libya; Yandex and Sberbank planning “divorce”; Russia will not conduct major exercises near NATO border, condemns NATO for doing so

Russia says it will only allow “coronavirus immune” troops to march on the delayed Victory Day parade now scheduled for June 24. Some 14,000 troops will be marching. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu did not clarify what he meant by “immune” troops but called for those slated to march to keep away from civilians to avoid infection.

A chorus of Russian officials have expressed their fury at US allegations that Russia has played a hand in protests and unrest. The Moscow Times compiled a list of officials and the comments. Former Obama Administration National Security Advisor Susan Rice has become a particular target for her suggestion of Russian involvement in an interview on CNN.

Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov condemned police violence in the US. “I’m watching with horror the situation in the United States, where the authorities are maliciously violating ordinary citizens’ rights,” he declared. Kadyrov has been under US sanctions since 2017 following reports of alleged gay purges in secret Chechen prisons. Kadyrov, for his part, maintains that there are no gay people in Chechnya.

Canada and the United Kingdom have both said they do not support allowing Russia to re-join the G7 grouping of countries. Russia was expelled in 2014. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is not opposed to Russia attending as an observing member – a practice that is not unusual – but opposes its formal re-entry. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also vehemently opposed Russia’s re-entry to the G7 but did not rule out Russia’s attendance in September.

Reuters reported, “Two U.S. senators are expected to introduce next week sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline that Russia is trying to finish, but which Washington has opposed since the Obama era, a source familiar with the matter said on Friday.” The measures are being put forward by Republican Senator Ted Cruz and his Democratic counterpart Jeanne Shaheen.

Russia will spend over $72 billion (5 trillion rubles) as part of the government’s economic recovery plan, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said. Meduza wrote, “Mishustin confirmed that the plan consists of three stages: the “adaptation stage” (set to last until the third quarter of 2020), the “recovery stage (until the second quarter of 2021), and the “active growth stage” (the third and fourth quarters of 2021). This was previously reported by Interfax [in Russian], on the basis of a draft of the recovery plan.” President Vladimir Putin signed off on the plan, saying “The government on the whole and our authorities have indeed completed a major and a serious job and prepared the groundwork. I believe the presented document can be taken as the basis.” The plan is set to come into force in July, with over 500 unspecified measures to be carried out over two years.

Al-Monitor reported that “the top US military commander for operations in Africa suggested sending US Army trainers to Tunisia in light of Russia’s military involvement in neighboring Libya’s civil war.” Army Gen Stephen Townsend said, “As Russia continues to fan the flames of the Libyan conflict, regional security in North Africa is a heightened concern.”

Yandex and Sberbank will end their cooperation in joint-ventures [in Russian] Yandex.Money and Yandex.Market. Sberbank will take control of Yandex.Money, and Yandex will take full control over Yandex.Market. Yandex and Sberbank agreed to create a “Russian Amazon” in the form of Yandex.Market in August 2017, and Yandex.Money is an electronic payments processor widely used in Russia.

Russia will not conduct large exercises on the NATO border this year. “We will continue to de-escalate the situation in Europe. This year, the Armed Forces don’t plan to conduct major exercises near the borders of NATO member countries,” Col. Gen. Rudskoy said. Rudosky added that “The U.S., and its allies are continuing to destroy Europe’s security system under the guise of a perceived ‘Russian aggression.'”

PHOTO: Yandex headquarters in Moscow. The internet giant announced an end to two joint partnerships with state owned Sberbank. Yandex.Money will come under full control of Sberbank while Yandex will take control of Yandex.Market (The Bell).