Federal subsidies for Chechnya and Crimea: Government's amendments for the second reading of the budget bill retain the size of state subsidies for Chechnya and Crimea in 2017 the same as in 2016, although the size of subsidies to other regions is increased by more than 15%. (In late October, the Chechen leader Kadyrov accused the Finance Ministry of masterminding cuts in financing the Chechen budget). Observers note that, according to the 2016 Budget Law, non-repayable receipts from the federal centre account for 85% of the Chechen budget, while in Crimea, such receipts account for 67%. (RBK)
Nemtsov murder case: The Moscow district military court has rejected a motion to summon Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov for questioning as a witness in the case over the murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov. The court has granted a request to question former deputy commander of the Sever ('North') battalion Ruslan Geremeyev and his nephew, Artur Geremeyev. Meanwhile, Kommersant notes that the whereabouts of Ruslan Geremeyev were unknown. (Kommersant)
Syrian army seizes control over 70% of eastern Aleppo: The Russian Centre for Reconciliation in Syria said on Wednesday that Syrian government forces had seized control over 15 districts of eastern Aleppo in the past 24 hours, adding that the Syrian army currently controls "about 70% of the territory of the eastern part of Aleppo that was earlier controlled by the militants." Press reports that Syrian government troops have taken control of Aleppo's Old City. Experts, contacted by RBK daily, say in a comment that the Syrian army's recapture of Aleppo could strengthen Russia's positions in negotiations. Military expert Ivan Konovalov, cited by Vedomosti, expresses the view that external factors, such as Russian-Turkish agreements, possible agreements between Russia and the incoming US administration, relations between the US and Turkey, the position of Iran and Saudi Arabia would influence the Syrian army's further actions. Meanwhile, press reports that at their meeting on Wednesday in Hamburg, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and US Secretary of State Kerry discussed Syria in the context of US proposals on Aleppo put forward last week. Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov said on Thursday that Moscow and Washington are "close to reaching understanding," but warned against "high expectations." (ii) Russian bomb disposal specialists have started mine clearance in eastern parts of Aleppo. (iii) According to Izvestia, servicemen from the Russian Defense Ministry's 'Vostok' ('East') and 'Zapad' ('West') battalions based in Chechnya are expected to guard Russian military facilities in Syria, including the airbase in Hmeimim. (Gazeta.ru, Izvestia, NG, RBK, TASS, Vedomosti; see also editorial lines)
'Knocking on Kadyrov's door'
Novaya Gazeta reports on the political and human rights situation in Chechnya, providing the example of Chechern resident Ramazan Dzhalaldinov, who became famous after he posted a video revealing poverty and corruption in his home village of Kenkhi, and who spoke at a press conference in Moscow on Friday. According to Dzhalaldinov, in spite of all the promises of the Chechen administration, no compensations were paid to Kenhi residents and almost nothing was done to restore the village. On the contrary, when Dzhalaldinov tried to talk to Chechen head Kadyrov directly, he was threatened with murder or criminal proceedings afterwards.
Seven militants killed in Grozny operation: Chechen head Ramzan Kadyrov said on Sunday that seven militants had been killed in an operation in Grozny (capital of Chechnya) and its suburbs on Sunday. Another four militants have been detained. One police officer was killed in a shootout with militants. According to some reports, the militants who had been killed were supporters of Islamic State terrorist organization [banned in Russia]. (Gazeta.ru, RG, TASS)
How to measure poverty?: Households' self-assessment of their economic conditions differs much from official statistics, according to which 12.8% of Russians live under the poverty line (18.5 million people). According to a poll conducted by Rosstat, 57% of households in Chechnya consider themselves as poor, 54% in Dagestan, 52% in Udmurtia, 42% in Saratov region, and 44% in Oryol region. In the meantime, the level of 'subjective poverty' in St. Petersburg is 4%, in Yamalo-Nenetsky region 5%, 7% in Tatarstan and 15.2% in Moscow. (NG)
Islamic State claims responsibility for attack on policemen in Dagestan – media: Allegedly, the Islamic State terrorist organization [banned in Russia] has claimed responsibility for an attack on policemen on 25 December in Makhachkala (capital of Dagestan). Earlier, the media reported that two police officers have been killed in the attack. (Gazeta.ru, Kommersant)
FSB detains ISIL supporters who planned to stage terror attacks in Moscow region: The Federal Security Service (FSB) said on Thursday that FSB officers in interaction with the Interior Ministry detained in Dagestan seven supporters of the Islamic State terrorist organization [banned in Russia] who had planned to carry out terror attacks in the Moscow region. (ii) Two militants were killed in a shootout on Thursday evening in Dagestan. One policeman was killed in the clash. (Gazeta.ru)