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

Today in Russia: More than 230 detained in Belarus protests; 10th straight Saturday of protest in Khabarovsk; New charges added for Bykov; Aeroflot to sell more shares; FinCEN’s leak and the ICIJ report; Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan flights to resume from Russia; Russian strikes in Syria

More than 230 were detained [in Russian] in Belarus as protests continued in Minsk and in other cities. Tens of thousands once again marched in Minsk. “Dressed in red and white or draped in the red and white flags of the opposition, protesters chanted “Get out!” as they marched down Victors Avenue to Independence Palace, the president’s official residence in the centre of the Belarusian capital.

The far-eastern city of Khabarovsk saw its tenth-straight Saturday of protest, with thousands marching in support [in Russian] of deposed and arrest ex-governor Sergei Furgal. One activist, Intigam Mammadov, was arrested and fined 150,000 rubles [in Russian] for participating in the ongoing action in support of Furgal.

Anatoly Bykov, a gym teacher who became a mafia boss and made a fortune [in Russian] in the wild 1990s in the city of Krasnoyarsk, was arrested in May and charged this month for contract killings of his associates in 1994. Now, investigators announced they are looking into [in Russian] Bykov’s involvement in the attempted murder of Andrei Grabovsky, who was vice-president of the Boxing Federation, who survived the attempt on his life in October 2004.

Aeroflot gained approval from its existing shareholders [in Russian] to expand share issuance by 1.7 billion. Russia’s sovereign wealth fund is set to buy up some of these new shares, Reuters reported last week. In July Prime Minister Mishustin ordered that [in Russian] Aeroflot issue new shares. Aeroflot’s ownership by the state cannot dip below 51.17. Currently the state owns 51.2%.

Thousands of documents from the US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) were leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) detailing “trillions in tainted dollars” from money launderers, criminals, oligarchs, and other corrupt sources. Arkady Rotenburg allegedly “moved millions” and engaged in money laundering at Barclays Bank in the UK after Russia – and Mr Rotenbug – came under sanctions in 2014. In 2008, Barclays opened an account for a company known as “Advantage Alliance,” which US investigators traced back to Arkady Rotenburg. This account had over £60 million moved through it from 2012-2016. The Rotenburgs shot back [in Russian] that the report was nothing but “nonsense.”

Also in the ICIJ report was a payment made by Oligarch Alisher Usmanov also paid $6 million to Valentin Yumashev, former head of Boris Yeltsin’s administration (and, his son-in-law), as well as a “volunteer” advisor to Putin whose business interests span many industries. The payment was flagged by FinCEN on corruption grounds. Meduza interviewed Yumashev last year, who had lots to say about the powers that be in Russia. Sanctioned oligarch Oleg Deripaska was also named in the report, who reportedly moved some $3 billion from 2002-2016 through a little-known Latvian bank to pay for lobbyists in Washington and private jets as well as real estate in New York and Montenegro.”

Flights between Russia and Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and South Korea will resume, Interfax reported. Each country will see one flight per week on a mutual basis.

Russian jets conducted 30 raids on the outskirts of northwestern Syria’s rebel-held city of Idlib on Sunday in the biggest strikes since a Turkish-Russian ceasefire in March.

PHOTO: Arkady Rotenberg, along with other Kremlin-connected oligarchs, had their dirty financial laundry leaked from the US-Treasury’s FinCEN in a report by a consortium of investigative journalists (Alexei Druzhinin / Russian Presidential Press and Information Office / TASS).