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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – June 5, 2020

Today in Russia: Climate change a major factor in Norilsk spill; Czechs expel Russian diplomats over poison hoax; Energy Minister sees “shortage” of oil next month; RVK director detained; China thanks Russia for its views on Hong Kong; Nearly a third of service sector businesses will not survive the summer; Musk deepfake “takes over” the Russian internet

Climate change is a major factor that caused the diesel fuel spill in Norilsk, and that Russia’s environment and weather agency had been warning that melting permafrost could wreak havoc. Moscow’s Prosecutor General ordered today that all hazardous buildings built on permafrost should be reviewed and inspected Moscow Times wrote,

Over the past year, Siberia has seen disaster on a biblical scale. 

Last spring, forest fires enveloped an area larger than Greece, causing $100 million in damage. In what Greenpeace called a “climate catastrophe,” the fires emitted more carbon dioxide in June alone than Sweden does in an entire year.

Then, as those fires were raging, a cyclone struck the Irkutsk region, triggering what scientists said were the worst floods in the area in 180 years.

Now, melting permafrost is believed to have caused one of the worst oil spills in Arctic history, after a diesel fuel reservoir at a power plant outside the Krasnoyarsk region city of Norilsk collapsed last Friday, turning a nearby river burnt red.

Two Russian diplomats were expelled from the Czech Republic after it emerged that the threat that certain Prague politicians could be poisoned by Russian security services was in fact a hoax cooked up by the Russian embassy itself. Prime Minister Andrej Babis said One embassy employee sent deliberately made-up information about a planned attack on Czech politicians to BIS [Czech intelligence].”

The Russian embassy in Prague thundered that, “Based on ungrounded accusations in the media from the beginning, this hostile step shows Prague is not interested in normalizing Russian-Czech relations, which have recently degraded, for which we cannot be blamed,” while Russian state-run news agency TASS headlined their report:‘Poison plot’ against Prague politicians was pure fabrication, admits Czech PM.”

Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak is predicting a shortage in the oil market next month. Novak said that global oil markets could see a shortfall “between three and five million barrels per day in July,” depending on the outcome of the OPEC meeting that could be held yet this week.

The director of Russian Venture Company (RVK) Alexander Povalko was detained, Vedomosti reported [in Russian]. On June 3, the economic security service of the FSB inspected Povalko’s home and office. “The reason for the investigation allegedly was the report of an officer of the [Economic unit of the] FSB, which spoke about possible fraud on the part of the management of RVK. It was about the unreasonable allocation of investments of $ 600,000 “for a project that did not justify itself,” wrote Kommersant [in Russian]. The amount of damage, according to the newspaper, could grow to $ 3 million.

China thanked Russia for its position on Hong Kong and the controversial national security law set to be imposed on the territory. Russia has insisted that Hong Kong is China’s internal affair and condemned other countries for interfering in Chinese domestic affairs. Geng Shuang, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman said, “China holds the words of [Maria] Zakharova in high regard…Lately, Zakharova and [Russian Foreign Minister Sergey] Lavrov supported China on Hong Kong-related issues and called on the outside powers to refrain from interfering in China’s internal affairs.”

Nearly a third [in Russian] of service sector businesses in Russia may not survive the summer, a report found.

A “deepfake” video of Tesla and SpaceX boss Elon Musk was created by “crazy Russian web users” of Musk singing popular Soviet song “Grass at Home,” about a man’s journey to space. The video emerged shortly after SpaceX’s successful rocket launch to the International Space Station last weekend. The video has now become extremely popular in Russia.

PHOTO: A “deepfake” video emerged of Elon Musk singing a popular Soviet song. Musk is pictured on the right, the original singer Sergey Skachkov on the left (Popular Engineering).