Got a question from a Finnish traveller where application form for the permit mentioned here a year ago has disappeared. Having done a search, I have re-discovered it in a different location of the same Murmansk Ministry of Natural Resourses site.
The question of whether foreigners can or cannot visit Sredny and Rybachy, and what permit if any is required, remains open. No permit is required according to the Barents Observer article but on top of the Ministry form it says is is indeed needed for non-Russians.
By some reason I don’t feel like calling the KGB headquarters in Murmansk even though they are closest to possessing the most current info.