Trump’s Popularity in Russia Takes Sharp Hit After U.S. Sanctions

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Aug 4, 2017 — 13:29— Update: Aug. 04 2017 — 10:32

Russians’ love affair with U.S. President Donald Trump has nosedived in the wake of new sanctions signed into law by the president this week, according to a new poll.

Twenty-eight percent of respondents questioned by the state-funded VTsIOM pollster said they felt negatively about the U.S. president, compared to 18 percent who expressed sympathy, the results published Friday show.

In a similar poll conducted only a month earlier, the figure of those who had a positive attitude was 27 percent.

Forty-three percent of respondents were indifferent towards the president.

The results show a sharp drop in Trump’s popularity since the U.S. Houses of Congress approved new legislation that will make it harder for Trump to ease sanctions on Russia imposed over its role in the Ukraine crisis and alleged meddling in the U.S. presidential election. Trump earlier this week signed the package into law, while criticizing it as “flawed.”

In Moscow, the move was widely taken as proof of the president’s weakness in face of an anti-Russian political establishment.

The poll was conducted on July 30-31, several days after Moscow announced it would force the U.S. Mission to Russia to reduce its diplomatic staff, and barred access to two U.S. diplomatic properties.

When asked whether they thought Russia should take retaliatory measures by introducing its own sanctions, however, 19 percent of respondents in the poll approved, but 29 percent thought the authorities should “not react.” Only four percent said they believed in a “tough response.”

Overall, those polled seemed to be unconcerned by the impact of the sanctions. Thirty-five percent of respondents said they thought sanctions had a positive effect on Russia, and more than one quarter, 29 percent, said they did not think sanctions significantly impacted the country.

The poll was conducted among 1200 people. The margin of error did not exceed 3.5 percent.

Source  :  The Moscow Times

After Russia Sanctions, State Dept. Advises ‘Settle Things Down’

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Aug 4, 2017 — 13:16— Update: Aug. 04 2017 — 10:16

A U.S. State Department spokesperson on Thursday said the United States and Russia may need to “settle things down a little” as the countries spat over fresh U.S sanctions imposed over Russia this week.

In a Facebook post on August 2, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said new sanctions signed by U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday “end hopes for improving [Russia’s] relations with the new U.S. administration,” adding they are “a declaration of a full-fledged economic war on Russia.”

In a press briefing with reporters Aug. 3, Heather Nauert downplayed Medvedev’s statement saying: “we have seen a lot of leaders, a lot countries say provocative things, and we may just need to settle things down a little bit.”

Pressed on whether the new U.S. sanctions represented a declaration of economic war, Nauert said “Russia is certainly entitled to say that.”

The State Department spokesperson also said Moscow and Washington should be able to work together in areas of mutual cooperation, but admitted the relationship was “at a low point.”

However, Nauert cited a newly brokered cease-fire in Syria as evidence the countries were able to work together. “If you look at the ceasefire in southwest Syria, that has now taken hold and, for the most part, succeeded for nearly a month now.”

Nauert later said that the United States would continue to hold Russia accountable for its “bad acts,” including in Ukraine, saying the U.S. was “passionate” about maintaining or getting back Ukraine’s “integrity and territorial sovereignty.”

U.S. President Donald Trump signed sanctions against Russia into law on Wednesday, in reaction to its alleged hacking of institutions related to the U.S. presidential election and its involvement in Ukraine.


Source  :  The Moscow Times

Navalny Fined $5,000 Over Canvassing Violations

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Aug 4, 2017 — 09:53— Update: Aug. 04 2017 — 07:24

A Moscow court has fined opposition leader Alexei Navalny 300,000 rubles ($5,000) for encouraging his supporters to take to the streets and distribute political fliers in central Moscow on July 8-9, the Interfax news agency reported on Thursday.

Two of Navalny’s colleagues, Leonid Volkov and Nikolai Lyashkin, were also handed fines.

The Simonovsky court in Moscow ruled that the three men had violated canvassing laws by encouraging supporters to take to the streets and hand out the fliers without the necessary permission from city authorities.

Navalny told reporters outside the courthouse on Thursday that the ruling was politically motivated and he plans to appeal the court’s decision.

“We understand why this is happening,” the opposition leader said. “The government is freaking out and is nervous that we have a genuine presidential campaign and it doesn’t know how to stop us.”

“[The authorities] are trying to fight us in the usual way, arresting people, intimidating people… and now they are trying to scare us with huge fines.”

Since 2011, Navalny has been the subject of several investigations and criminal cases. In July, a Moscow district court ordered Navalny and two co-defendants to pay 2.16 million rubles ($35,500) in damages to a timber company over charges of fraud.

A court in Russia’s Kirov region found Navalny guilty of embezzling funds from the timber firm in 2013 in a case the opposition leader claims was politically motivated. The sentence was later dropped on appeal.

When Navalny was reconvicted in February, he said the ruling was an attempt to sabotage his presidential ambitions ahead of elections scheduled for March 2018.

In June, he served a 25-day jail term for violating protest laws after tens of thousands took to the streets in anti-corruption protests organized by the opposition leader.

Russian law bars anyone with a criminal record from running, but Navalny has repeatedly said he remains undaunted.


Source  :  The Moscow Times