Russian press digest (11 September 2015)

Military bases on the Russian-Ukrainian border, crisis tourism, and Sergei Magnitsky's former boss faces harassment.

Editors of OpenDemocracy Russia
11 September 2015

creepcreep / Flickr. Some rights are protected.

This Friday's edition of Kommersant discusses the unprecedented decision made by a court in Kalmykia regarding the case of William 'Bill' Browder, whose employee, Sergei Manitsky, died in a Moscow prison after having uncovered large-scale tax fraud from the Russian state sanctioned and carried out by Russian officials.

 The court in Kalmykia has accepted the suit put forward against Browder by state tax investigators, resuming bankruptcy proceedings against Browder's Russian company Dalnyaya Step. 'New developments' is the reason cited for this decision. According to Kommersant, these latest developments involve a case recently brought against former directors of the company belonging to Bill Browder and Ivan Cherkasov by the Russian Interior Ministry. Browder and Cherkasov are suspected of deliberately bankrupting the company and illegally withdrawing its assets, including more than 37.5 million Gazprom shares. Browder has been involved in a number of other legal cases brought against him, including tax evasion for which he was sentenced in absentia to nine years imprisonment in 2013.

Kommersant also reports on the impact of Russia's economic difficulties on state budget planning for 2016-2017, with indexed wages being frozen for state employees next year, and indexed pensions frozen for 2017.

Meanwhile, RBK takes a look at crisis tourism in Russia, conducting its own investigation into which countries Russians can visit on their holidays during trying economic times without going broke. Due to the collapse of the rouble, many Russians can no longer afford to travel abroad. According to RBK, though, there are still options available to Russian tourists, including Belarus, Ukraine, Turkey, Malawi, Columbia and Brazil.

Finally, Nezavisimaya Gazeta discusses the alarming build-up of Russian military forces on the Ukrainian border. According to the newspaper, the Russian Defence Ministry intends to set up a base near the Valuek Belgorod region, on the border with Luhansk and Kharkiv.

Megaline has already been selected as a contractor. The newspaper also notes that, based on the tender specifications, it seems that they are planning to use the base to hold either mechanised infantry or tank brigades and maybe also army aviation infrastructure (military transport and attack helicopters).

According to the newspaper, Russia is also looking to Belarus as it seeks to bolster its military power. Last week, Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev announced that, in the near future, Russia will establish an air base in Belarus. A Russian military squadron is already on the ground in Belarus, but the newspaper suggests a much larger Russian presence can be expected in the country in the very near future.


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