Elections, Missiles, Gazprom and Gay Rights

June 4, 2013
Moscow Region Governor Boris Gromov, Dmitry Medvedev, and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin/Kremlin, Presidential Press and Information Office

Here’s a quick summary of some of today’s biggest news.

-Current Moscow Mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, has stepped down and called for snap elections, despite his previous statements that he would not call for an early election. It seems a calculated move on the part of Sobyanin and the Kremlin, designed to take advantage of his high popularity and the fact that his potential opponents will have a harder time campaigning in such a short time. As Russia Beyond the Headlines is reporting, “The maneuver is largely being viewed as an effort to secure a five-year mayoral term at a time when his strongest potential opponents, billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov and opposition activist Alexei Navalny, are likely to be deterred from running.”

– The guessing game over the delivery of S-300 missile systems to Syria continues with Putin stating that they have not yet been delivered. Putin extolled the effectiveness of the system and defended their sale at a press conference at the Russia-EU summit in Yekaterinburg. As reported by RIA Novosti, “Russian deliveries of weapons to Syria are implemented on the basis of recognized and transparent international contracts,” said Putin. “They do not violate any international position. And they are implemented exclusively, and in their entirety, within the framework of international law.”

– It seems that the once invincible giant Gazprom is starting to show signs of weakness. Gazprom has agreed to a once unthinkable price cut with Europe, from where it derives 55 percent of its revenues. The Moscow Times reports, “The company has already had to give in to pressure to cash-strapped European buyers locked into long-term supply contracts, cutting prices and returning some money in “retroactive payments.”

– Gay rights window-dressing continues in Russia. Vladimir Putin called for “tolerance” in the country, but the message was undercut by his statement of support for a proposed bill banning adoption by same sex couples. Reuters reports, “As for a law restricting adoptions of children from Russia by same-sex families … if such a law is passed by parliament I will sign it,” Putin told a news conference after the Russia-EU summit in the city of Yekaterinburg.”