RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – June 26, 2020

Today in Russia: Srebrennikov handed suspended sentence, seen as a legal victory; Russian mercenaries enter key Libyan oil field; Milder Nord Stream 2 sanctions announced by US Congress; Inside the clean up and cover-up in Norilsk; Dozhd TV head may now face fine for voting twice, despite doing it to demonstrate potential of fraud; Russia treats Mongolia like a satellite; Russia pulls out of UN; Sergei Khrushchev, son of Soviet leader, dies

The trial of Kirill Serebrennikov resulted in a suspended sentence and widely viewed as a legal victory. “Moscow’s Meshchansky district court found Serebrennikov guilty of large-scale embezzlement on Friday, ordering him to undergo three years of probation and pay an 800,000 ruble ($11,500) fine.” Srebrennikov was detained in 2017 on charges of creating an organized criminal group with his colleagues and embezzling more than $2 million of state funding for a theater project called Platforma. The charges were widely viewed as political.

Russian mercenaries have taken control of a Libyan oil field, Libya’s national petroleum company said. “The mercenaries drove into Al-Sharara oilfield in a convoy of vehicles late Thursday, the NOC said in a statement on its website, expressing ‘great concern.‘”

Members of the House of Representatives of the US Congress introduced a bill [in Russian] on additional sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline under construction (Nord Stream 2). A document entitled “Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Clarification Act of 2020” accompanies a similar bill, prepared in the US Senate in early June.

Germany said that they will fight back against US sanctions meant to halt Nord Stream 2. “Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration is considering pressing for coordinated European Union action, according to two German officials familiar with the discussions. An economy ministry paper seen by Bloomberg News said such measures by the U.S. would be new and could hit significantly more German and European companies and banks as well as state agencies.

Meduza dove into the diesel spill disaster in Norilsk, writing, “After 17,000 tons of diesel spilled into Arctic waters, Russian officials took two full days to react. Then, they spread falsehoods about when they learned the spill had happened.

The head of Dozhd TV, an opposition online television station, said he managed to vote in the constitutional referendum both online and in person. After raising the issue to the authorities, he received a knock at the door from police and he now may face a fine.

A recent diplomatic spat reveals that Moscow still treats its democratic neighbor as a subservient satellite state,” Foreign Policy wrote of Russian relations with its neighbor Mongolia.

Russia has quit a United Nations arrangement that aimed to protect hospitals and humanitarian aid deliveries in Syria from being hit by the warring parties, according to a U.N. note to aid groups seen by Reuters on Thursday.”

“Sergei N. Khrushchev, a former Soviet rocket scientist and the son of Nikita S. Khrushchev, the Soviet leader during the Cold War of the 1950s and ’60s, died on June 18 at his home in Cranston, R.I. He was 84.” Khrushchev was a rocket scientist in the Soviet Union before moving to the United States in 1991. He became a U.S. citizen in 1999. He once said of his Soviet upbringing and U.S. citizenship and residence, “I’m not a defector…I’m not a traitor. I did not commit any treason. I work here and I like this country.”

PHOTO: Kirill Serebrennikov in court, where he was given a surprising suspended sentence (Andrei Nikerichev / Moskva News Agency)