RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – October 21, 2020

Today in Russia: Record COVID-19 deaths reported, but Russian business lobbies for no new restrictions; Kremlin sees more conflict with the West; Russia; Kremlin accuses US of trying to overthrow pro-Russian president in Moldova; Russia hosts new talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan, but Armenian President says there is no diplomatic solution while Azerbaijan calls this hypocritical; United Russia’s new strategy to defeat Navalny’s candidates at the polls

Russia reported record 317 new daily deaths for COVID-19 over the past 24 hours. However, the government continues to rule out a new round of lockdowns and RBC reports that business is lobbying hard [in Russian] for the economy to remain open, prompting President Vladimir Putin to promise [in Russian] not to impose new restrictions.

The Kremlin is bracing for further confrontation with the West over Belarus, the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, and continuing barbs with the United States over election interference, Bloomberg reported. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week, “We should just stop talking to them for awhile. The people who are responsible for foreign policy in the West don’t understand the need for mutually respectful communication.” Bloomberg also highlighted an article [in Russian] written by analyst Timofey Bordachev, who argued that Russia should stop trying to integrate into the US and Europe-led global order, which “is viewed as a kind of manifesto inside the government.”

Russia accused the U.S. of plotting to unseat the Moscow-friendly president of Moldova, Igor Dodon, by encouraging the opposition to prepare for mass protests claiming fraud in case he’s re-elected in November.” Sergei Naryshkin, the the head of the SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence service, claimed that US diplomats are urging Moldovan law enforcement not to break up unrest that may ensue, and that “Washington is sending experts in so-called “color revolutions” to Moldova…according to a statement on the agency’s website.”

Russia is hosting new talks with the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers in Moscow separately in an effort to force a breakthrough. The two foreign ministers did not meet one another face to face. “The ministers visited Moscow ahead of meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday. A trilateral meeting in Washington has also been ruled out and they will meet Pompeo separately.”

Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said [in Russian] that any talks with Azerbaijan are useless, and said that there is no diplomatic solution to the ongoing fighting over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Azerbaijan responded by calling this position hypocritical, with an assistant to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev retorting, “With this statement, the Armenian leadership recognizes that the goal of Armenia is to preserve the occupation of Azerbaijani territories. This once again confirms that the statements of official Yerevan on the settlement of the conflict through negotiations are nothing more than hypocrisy.”

Meduza wrote of internal documents from the ruling United Russia party which document new efforts to keep a majority in the State Duma despite Alexei Navalny’s Smart Voting tactics which brought him success in last month’s local elections and may pay dividends in the State Duma elections as well. They write, “The leaders of United Russia, the party that has dominated national politics since it was founded roughly two decades ago, fully expect to lose seats in next year’s parliamentary elections, but they have a plan to maintain their constitutional majority in the State Duma, according to campaign documents obtained by Meduza. In the 2021 races, Russia’s “party of power” intends to nominate “specialists in socially significant or socially approved spheres of activity,” and it’s looking for ways to beat “Smart Vote,” the strategic voting initiative spearheaded by opposition figure Alexey Navalny’s team.”

PHOTO: President Vladimir Putin ruled out any new lockdowns despite exploding rates of COVID-19 and a record death rate over the past 24 hours (Kremlin.ru).