RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – March 15, 2019

TODAY IN RUSSIA: Putin’s rights council advises him to reject new Internet laws. Crimea annexation remains a success in public opinion. Ilya Yashin says authorities are harassing his grandmother to dissuade his political activities. Rosneft has poured $9bn into Venezuela thus far. RDIF to invest $2.7bn into Onexim. Banks safeguard against sanctions. Kremlin looks to bring in migrants to fill population gap. 

President Vladimir Putin’s Human Rights Council is recommending that he reject the proposed new laws that would fine Internet users for disrespecting the state. Five years on from the Crimean referendum, a poll by state-backed Public Opinion Research Center found that 89% of Crimeans would support joining Russia again. The Moscow Times talks to the deputy foreign editor of Kommersant newspaper about public feeling regarding the move to “bring Crimea home”. Opposition politician Ilya Yashin says local authorities in his grandmother’s town have been harassing her and attempting to have her evicted from her retirement home. Yashin says the threats are an attempt to deter him from taking part in the next Moscow City Duma elections. 

Rosneft has fed around $9 billion into Venezuelan projects since 2010, but has so far only lost money there. Russia’s oil and gas resources are worth about 60% of GDP, or $844 billion. The Russian Direct Investment Fund will join with China and the Middle East to invest $2.7 billion into Mikhail Prokhorov’s Onexim Group. Russia’s biggest banks are working on plans to support each other through any further US sanctions. VTB head Andrei Kostin says the detention of US investor Michael Calvey on embezzlement charges is excessive.

The Kremlin will attempt to draw 10 million Russian-speaking migrants into the country over the next 6 years to address population decline. Hackers exploited holes in Roskomnadzor’s system to carry out DNS attacks on Yandex, RBC, and others this week. 

PHOTO: Russia’s Roscosmos space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin greets the International Space Station (ISS) crew members astronaut Aleksey Ovchinin of Russia, Nick Hague and Christina Koch of the U.S. shortly before their departure to board the spacecraft at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov