News From Russia: What You Missed on the Weekend
Kremlin Loses Patience
In an interview with state-run television channel Rossia-1, President Vladimir Putin said Russia had held back on taking retaliatory action against the U.S. for a long time. “We hoped that the situation would change, but judging by everything, if it is going to change then it won’t be soon.”
He did not discount further measures, which already include reducing the U.S. diplomatic staff by 755 people, but said that “as of today, I’m against [taking additional steps.]”
The Russian Navy held a large parade in St. Petersburg in celebration of Navy Day that featured upwards of fifty warships and submarines, as well as forty warplanes and helicopters. The Russian vessels were also accompanied by Chinese warships.
No More Anonymity
President Vladimir Putin signed a law that bans the use of VPNs, and makes it mandatory for instant messaging companies to identify users as well as block those messengers considered to spread illegal information.
Another law signed by Putin, no longer requires airline companies to provide a free baggage service for travelers with non-refundable tickets. The measure is controversial, with some arguing it will help lower air fare prices, and others saying it encroaches on consumer rights.
Murder Plot 'Solved'
Three men accused of an alleged assassination plot on Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov have been handed prison sentences of six and half years. All the suspects pleaded guilty.
The Volgograd police academy is investigating a video which showed some of its graduates cruising around in expensive cars. The video went viral this weekend. Last year, a video of FSB graduates taking to the streets in SUV’s sparked similar uproar.
A Russian Orthodox Church spokesman has discouraged Russian parents from sending their children to study abroad.
Metropolitan Illarion himself spent two years at Oxford University in the 90s, he said. But many Russian students never return to their home country, or do so “with a completely twisted awareness that makes it difficult for them to reintegrate into Russian reality.”
“If there’s a risk that the child will not return to Russia, then I advise parents not to send them,” he said.
The regions of Crimea, Krasnodar, Stavropol and Altai now require tourists to pay 100 rubles ($1.68) fee per night. The funds are intended to finance local infrastructure.