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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – March 6, 2019

TODAY IN RUSSIA: Money laundering scandal spreads to Austrian banks. Russia waiting for US missile move. Belarus to seek better ties with West. VTsIOM withholds Navalny data from labour union poll results. Business news from Lukoil, Total, Ford, and Novatek. Jehovah’s Witnesses allege torture. 

Russia’s latest money laundering scandal has spread to Austria, following accusations by investor Bill Browder that Danske Bank was sending money to Raiffeisein and several others. The spread of the allegations shows that European banks are not catching the movement of illegal funds, and highlights the absence of a single EU body to address the issue of money laundering, says Bloomberg. With both sides now having suspended cooperation in the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Russia says it will only deploy new Europe-wide range missiles if the US puts missiles on the same continent first. Belarus says it will ignore potential “hysterics” from its ally Russia to pursue better relationships with Western countries. State pollster VTsIOM conducted a poll about public sector wages, labour unions, and Alexei Navalny’s new labour union project, but the published results withheld the data about Navalny.

Lukoil just spent $1.5 billion buying back its own shares. French energy group Total has signed up for a 10% stake in Novatek’s Arctic LNG 2 project. Forbes’ latest rich list includes eight Russian billionaires, the richest being Novatek CEO Leonid Mikhelson, with $24 billion. Ford Motor Co may close two Russian plants and switch to producing only light commercial vehicles in Russia, where it usually has capacity to produce 360,000 vehicles per year. 

Jehovah’s Witnesses in Surgut say they were subjected to torture during police interrogations.

PHOTO: A car drives along a five-kilometre-long road, which is supervised by regional traffic services to connect the banks of the ice-covered Yenisei River during winter season, south of Krasnoyarsk, Russia March 3, 2019. (REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin)