RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – September 16, 2020

Today in Russia: Navalny posts first photo since poisoning; Putin and Lukashenko meeting; Shoigu in Minsk after “Slavic-Brotherhood 2020 exercises”; Jailed nationalist “Tesak” found dead in prison cell in apparent suicide; How Navalny ruined Lavrov’s recent trips; More trust for Putin than Trump; CAPTCHA hampers election analysis; One in seven Russian vaccine recipients see side-effects

Poisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny has posted his first photo since his poisoning pushed him into a coma on his Instagram page, writing

Hi, this is Navalny. I miss you. I still can hardly do anything, but yesterday I was able to breathe on my own all day. I am generally myself. I did not use any outside help, not even the simplest valve in my throat. I liked it very much. An amazing process, underestimated by many. Recommended.

Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko met in Sochi on Monday. Meduza summarized the views expressed by the two men with slight tongue in cheek:

Putin: We are in favor of the Belarusians sorting out the situation themselves, without any external help. I think that starting work on changing the Belarusian constitution is timely and appropriate. Russia remains committed to all agreements within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Union State, we will fulfill all of our obligations. We will give Belarus a $1.5 billion loan and continue our cooperation in the defense sphere.

Lukashenko: I’ll tell you everything about the situation in Belarus later — however, not everything is as the media says. We have people taking to the streets on weekends, we free part of Minsk for them, so that they can go through. You supported us and I am grateful. A friend in need, this is a lesson for us, for all post-Soviet republics…Russia is our elder brother. Our states and our people will always be friendly.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu headed to Minsk [in Russian] a day after the “Slavic Brotherhood-2020” military exercises were held in Belarus. RBC wrote that Shoigu will discuss further military cooperation between Russia and Belarus.

Maxim Martsinkevich, better known as ‘Tesak,” was found dead in his prison cell in what is an apparent suicide. Tesak “was infamous for baiting suspected pedophiles and drug dealers into video-recorded attacks that he then shared online to humiliate them. In December 2018, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison after an attack against one supposed drug dealer resulted in the man’s death.”

Kommersant wrote [in Russian] of Navalny’s poisoning and how it ruined Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s last two trips, which were supposed to be to Berlin and Paris, the former celebrating the “Cross Year of Scientific and Economic Partnerships.” When his German counterpart cancelled his attendance, Lavrov cancelled his entire trip to Berlin. He was supposed to fly to Berlin from Paris, where on Monday, September 14, he was scheduled to meet in the 2 + 2 format – that is, with the participation of the foreign and defense ministers of France and Russia. But on September 8, the French “in the light of the current situation” announced the postponement of consultations for an indefinite period. The reason for both cancellations, of course, was Navalny.

Vladimir Putin is more trustworthy than Donald Trump. That’s at least according to a Pew study which surveyed 13 mostly European countries. “The Russian president is four points ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping (19%) and seven points ahead of Trump (16%). In contrast to the European leaders, Pew’s respondents voiced a higher lack of confidence in Putin (73%), Xi (78%) and Trump (83%). 

CAPTCHA codes on the official election page are hampering analysis. Kommersant wrote, “The experts in charge of the elections asked the head of the Central Election Commission (CEC) Ella Pamfilova to eliminate the CAPTCHA (test for detecting robots) on the izbirkom.ru website, the use of which greatly complicated the work with the resource. According to their calculations, to analyze data throughout Russia, you need to manually enter captcha about 100 thousand times, spending about 30 million seconds on this, that is, almost a year. Pamfilova promised to work on a solution, but said the CAPTCHA codes were in place to thwart automated programs scooping up all the data and crashing the website.

1 in 7 Russians who took the country’s coronavirus vaccine reported side effects including weakness and muscle pain as the vaccine enters its final clinical trials. More than 300 out of the 40,000 volunteers have been vaccinated so far.

PHOTO: Alexei Navalny posted his first photo since he fell into a coma after being poisoned (Instagram @Navalny).