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Published in Press Stream:
July 6, 2016

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Published in Stream:
July 6, 2016
Press by
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Putin Cancels 3 Domestic Trips, Possibly Over Abkhazia Crisis and Turkish Relations
4 years
Stream: July 6, 2016
Publication: Russia Update
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Shuvalov's Property Manager Claims No Violation In 'Tsar Apartment' Deal
President Vladimir Putin has cancelled his planned domestic trips this week to Altai, Yakutia and Novgorod, possibly because of the crisis in Abkhazia and negotiations with Turkey, RBC.ru reports.

RBC says three sources close to the Kremlin informed them of the cancellations, although presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told RBC that none of these trips had been announced:

"They were among dozens of proposed [trips]. Inquiries were made and so on. But they had not been finally confirmed," said Peskov.

Putin was supposed to visit Altay Territory yesterday where he was to take part in a meeting of the State Council on tourism; the meeting was previously announced by Aleksey Konyushkov, deputy director of the Federal Agency for Tourism, altapress.ru reported.

But sources told RBC that presidential aide Igor Levitin was unable to coordinate the timing for unexplained reasons, although Levitin himself was on a trip and unavailable for comment.

Today, July 6, Putin was expected to attend a conference of the United Popular Front (ONF) in Yakutia, but sources told RBC that the trip was in fact cancelled last week.

Then tomorrow, July 7, according to a source, Putin was supposed to go to Novgorod Region where he was to visit the Akron company owned by billionaire Vyacheslav Kantor and hold a government meeting on rare earth metals.

The source said the visit was cancelled just last night and moved to late July.

Putin was last seen in public on July 1 on a trip to Finland, where he warned Finnish leaders not to join NATO.

This week, kremlin.ru has posted reports of meetings with governors, but the last time Putin "went missing" in 2015, it was discovered that previously-recorded video tapes of such meetings were used, and now it is not certain they were made live.

For example, today a news brief about a meeting with Sergei Menyaylo, governor of Russian-occupied Sevastopol appeared at 14:10, but a Oleg Nikolayev, who is running for a seat in the State Duma from the Party of Growth, told RBC that he had been on the same flight as Menyaylo, but it had departed from Moscow for Sevastopol at 6:45 am today.

Menyailo's press secretary had no comment, and presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov re-directed inquiries to Menyailo's office. "Today is an elastic concept. It can be either today early in the morning, or late in the evening yesterday," he told RBC.

A source closed to the Kremlin told Gazeta.ru that Putin may have cancelled his domestic trips due to the international situation, specifically in Turkey and Abkhazia:

"The international agenda has now come to the foreground. The aligning of relations with Turkey is underway and the discussion of the situation in Abkhazia, where the climate has worsened. In that connection, additional meetings and events are being held including with the participation of the Security Council. There may be personnel changes. The president wants to concentrate and not be distracted, the regional trips have been moved to August and September closer to the elections."

As RFE/RL reported, this week some 1,500 opposition protesters in Abkhazia, a breakaway region of Georgian under Russian control, attempted to storm the Interior Ministry's building to demand the resignation of the interior minister. 

Leonid Dzapshba, the Russian-backed self-styled interior minister was dismissed by President Raul Khajimba and the protesters' other demands were being negotiated.

Another odd thing that happened this week is that Putin signed a law on the National Guard whose text differed from the law passed by the State Duma. Kremlin officials were investigating how the discrepancy occurred.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick