Gangster Geopolitics: The Kremlin’s Use of Criminals as Assets Abroad

Stylized Artist's Depiction of Shadowy Figures in Dark Coats and Dark Hats, One Carrying a Briefcase

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – Mark Galeotti – January 17, 2018 – russiamatters.org/analysis/gangster-geopolitics-kremlins-use-criminals-assets-abroad) Mark Galeotti is a senior associate fellow of RUSI and a senior non-resident fellow at the Institute of International Relations Prague, as well as a 2018-19 Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute. His most recent book is “The Vory: Russia’s Super Mafia” (Yale, 2018) [Amazon: […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Constitutional Court decides to ease limits on foreign involvement in the media – a bit” – Meduza/ Mikhail Zelensky, translation by Hilah Kohen

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

“Russia’s Constitutional Court issued a decision … regarding Article 19.1, a law that governs mass media. The law prohibits foreigners from founding or controlling media outlets in Russia, but the Court ruled that it requires correction. The new ruling indicates that the prohibition itself is just ‘because that sort of influence might threaten the security of state information,’ but the […]

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Call for Papers: Business Ethics and National Patterns of Behavior: The Economics Profession in Russia

Men Sitting Around Long Oval Boardroom Table, File Photo of FIFA Officials Meeting with Vladmir Putin

Subject: Call for Papers: Business Ethics and National Patterns of Behavior: The Economics Profession in Russia Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2019 From: Patricia Dowden <pedowden@gmail.com> I’m attaching a call for papers for a conference to be held in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in May of 2019. We would be very grateful if you could publish this to your readers. Best wishes, […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russian Justice Ministry begins inspection of Memorial research center as foreign-agent NGO – Memorial” – Interfax

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

MOSCOW. Jan 14 (Interfax) – The Russian Justice Ministry is beginning to inspect the Memorial Scientific Research and Education Center on January 14 to see if it is fulfilling the functions of a foreign agent NGO, International Memorial’s press service said. The organization has provided all the documents the ministry requested, the press service said. “The Memorial Scientific Research and […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “‘The art of rejection’ A new report reveals the hidden mechanisms authorities use to restrict protests in Russia” – Meduza

Moscow Protest File Photo

“Article 31 of the Russian Constitution states that citizens of the Russian Federation ‘shall have the right to assemble peacefully.’ However, when protests are not approved by local authorities, those who join them can face arrest, professional consequences, and even criminal charges. The anti-corruption protests that swept Russia on March 26 and June 12, 2017, as well as the Voters’ […]

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WADA to Inspect Moscow Lab for Doping Violations

Olympic Rings Lit at Night, adapted from image at state.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 8, 2019) With the clock ticking towards new sanctions, Russian authorities said on Monday they would allow a World Anti-Doping Agency inspection team to return to a Moscow laboratory to retrieve data it had earlier been denied. Russia’s Sport Minister Pavel Kolobkov said WADA officials would return to Moscow on Wednesday. WADA also confirmed […]

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WADA ‘Bitterly Disappointed’ At Russian Failure To Meet Anti-Doping Deadline

Olympic Rings Lit at Night, adapted from image at state.gov

(Article ©2019 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Jan. 1, 2019 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/wada-bitterly-disappointed-at-russian-failure-to-meet-anti-doping-deadline/29687033.html) Russia faces the possibility of renewed sporting sanctions after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) confirmed that Russian officials failed to hand over data from its anti-doping laboratory by December 31. WADA President Craig Reedie said on January 1 that he was “bitterly […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin signs law partially decriminalizing Article 282 of Russian Criminal Code on extremism” – Interfax

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

MOSCOW. Dec 28 (Interfax) – President Vladimir Putin has signed the law adjusting Article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code. The law passed in the State Duma on December 19 and approved by the Federation Council on December 21 was published on the official Internet portal of legal information on Thursday. The law initiated by the Russian president decriminalizes first-time […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Numbers Backing ‘Russia’s Agricultural Boom’ Were Inflated, Report Says” – Moscow Times

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 19, 2018) Russia’s widely lauded agricultural boom was overestimated by as much as 30 percent for certain crops, according to a report published earlier this month. Driven by a weaker ruble and higher oil prices, agriculture overtook arms sales in 2017 to become Russia’s second-biggest export sector behind oil and gas. Official data suggested […]

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RUSSIALINK: “U.S. State Department Upgrades Russia in Travel Advisory System” – Moscow Times

State Department Building and U.S. Flag

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 11, 2018) The U.S. State Department has moved Russia out of a list of countries to which “travel should be reconsidered” in an updated travel advisory published on Monday. In January 2018, the State Department listed Russia as one of the most dangerous countries for travelers in a new four-tier advisory system, along with […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Putin at] Meeting with Constitutional Court Chairman Valery Zorkin” – KremlinRu

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

(Kremlin.ru – December 12, 2018) Vladimir Putin met with Constitutional Court Chairman Valery Zorkin in the Kremlin. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Zorkin, greetings on Constitution Day. This is not an ordinary Constitution Day, because today is the 25th anniversary of the country’s fundamental law. The Constitutional Court bears special responsibility for ensuring compliance with this crucial legal instrument. […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Putin at] Reception marking the 25th anniversary of the Constitution’ – KremlinRu

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(Kremlin.ru – December 12, 2018) Vladimir Putin attended a reception at the Kremlin to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Russian Federation Constitution. Invited guests included Government members, representatives of the Federation Council and the State Duma, federal executive and judicial bodies, and government bodies of the Russian regions, as well as representatives of religious denominations, public […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Court in Kirov finds ban on Navalny’s international travel unlawful” – Interfax

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Marching on Street with Others in Background; adapted from image at commons.wikimedia.org with credit to Evgeny Feldman, subject to Creative Commons license; original image at commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FEV_1795_(cropped1).jpg, with license information at creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en and creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode

KIROV. Dec 7 (Interfax) – The Oktyabrsky District Court in Kirov has partially granted the claim of opposition activist Alexei Navalny against the Federal Bailiff Service that banned his international travel. “The claim has been partially satisfied,” a court representative told Interfax on Friday. He added that the hearing was held on December 6. Navalny confirmed the partial satisfaction of […]

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Sarah Lindemann-Komarova: “Russia’s Happy Ending”

Russia Map

Subject: Russia’s Happy Ending Date: Thu, 6 Dec 2018 From: Sarah Lindemann-Komarova <echosiberia@gmail.com> Russia’s Happy Ending By Sarah Lindemann-Komarova [Founder, Siberian Civic Initiatives Support Center 1995 – 2014. Helped to establish this as the hub for the first civil society development support network in the former Soviet Union.] Link for article with pictures and video medium.com/@ECHOSiberia/russias-happy-ending-c77b332a6eec How much money do […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Decriminalization of Domestic Violence Was a ‘Mistake,’ Russian Official Admits” – Moscow Times

Kremlin and River

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 3, 2018) Russia’s top human rights official has called the country’s 2017 decision to adopt a law that decriminalizes domestic abuse “a mistake.” In 2017, Vladimir Putin signed a law that scrapped prison sentences for first-time abusers whose beatings result in “minor harm,” such as small abrasions, bruises and superficial wounds. Since the law […]

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New Russian Study Partially Lifts Veil on Post-1945 Trials of Soviets who Collaborated with Germans

File Photo of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler Riding in Convertible

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 17, 2018) Court cases against Soviet citizens who collaborated with the Nazis has long been a little studied “and in part taboo subject,” according to Irina Makhalova, a historian at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics who is leading a small team that has partially lifted the veil on this subject. She […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “A Dissident Wins a Bittersweet Victory Over Putin; Europe’s rights court condemned the Kremlin’s persecution of Alexei Navalny, but the ruling could push Russia further away from the West.” – Bloomberg/Leonid Bershidsky

European Court of Human Rights Building file photo

“… Russian dissident Alexei Navalny has long had a catch-and-release relationship with … Putin and his regime. … [T]he European Court for Human Rights ruled that arrests in 2012 and 2014 violated Navalny’s rights. … likely to bring Russia a step closer to breaking off its remaining ties with European institutions.  The Putin regime has been playing an unpredictable game […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “IMF, World Bank see little progress in fight against corruption in Ukraine” – Interfax-Ukraine

International Monetary Fund Logo Over Ukraine Flag

“… key donors of Ukraine – the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank – note low effectiveness of the Ukrainian authorities in the fight against corruption. ‘We see good and important progress in setting out institutions for tackling investment …. Shortcomings in the judicial system and corruption are some of the key reasons why investment is so low […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Fines in Kirovles case can’t be reason for travel ban, were already paid – Navalny” – Interfax

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Marching on Street with Others in Background; adapted from image at commons.wikimedia.org with credit to Evgeny Feldman, subject to Creative Commons license; original image at commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FEV_1795_(cropped1).jpg, with license information at creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en and creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode

MOSCOW. Nov 13 (Interfax) – The enforcement proceedings in the “second Kirovles case” cannot be the reason opposition politician Alexei Navalny has been banned from traveling abroad, as they were opened less than five days ago, according to Navalny. “The law allows five days for the voluntary execution of a warrant by court bailiffs,” Navalny said on his website on […]

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In Russia, Clash of Generations Replacing Clash of Civilizations, ‘Nezavisimaya Gazeta’ Says

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 11, 2018) Recent statements by FSB Director Aleksandr Borotnikov suggest that in Russia, the clash of generations, historically known in Russia as the battle between “fathers and sons,” is replacing the clash of civilizations, according to the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta. The recent wave of violent acts by young Russians has […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Do Russians Trust their Police? Reform Must Start from the Top [Excerpt]” – PONARS Eurasia/ Lauren McCarthy, Noah Buckley

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Being Grabbed by Police at Protest

(PONARS Eurasia – Lauren McCarthy, Noah Buckley – October 29, 2018) Lauren A. McCarthy is Associate Professor at University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Noah Buckley is Postdoctoral Associate at New York University Abu Dhabi. [Full text: ponarseurasia.org/memo/do-russians-trust-their-police-reform-must-start-at-top] (PONARS Policy Memo) Despite some recent, seemingly half-hearted efforts, the police remain one of Russia’s most unreformed bureaucracies and Russians’ trust in police has […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “‘Crimea’s Columbine’: Massacre Draws Comparisons to U.S. Shootings; Death toll from college attack rises to 20, as authorities try to determine the attacker’s motive” – Wall Street Journal/ Ann M. Simmons

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

“… Authorities said 18-year-old student Vladislav Roslyakov detonated explosives and opened fire Wednesday at [Crimea’s] Kerch Polytechnic College before taking his own life. Initially thought to be a terrorist attack, the massacre was later classified by officials as mass murder. … Kerch is a city in the east of Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula … annexed by Russia from Ukraine […]

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Russia’s Top Judge Spurs New Talk Of Changing Constitution

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Mike Eckel – October 16, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-s-top-judge-spurs-new-talk-of-changing-constitution/29547265.html) When the Russian Constitution was approved in late 1993, the fledgling country’s parliament building– now known as the White House– was blackened and charred, the result of an all-out military assault ordered by President Boris Yeltsin to quell […]

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‘They’ve Stolen Everything’: In Russia’s Far East, Dreams Deferred Amid Grim Mood Over Pension Reform

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Matthew Luxmoore – October 14, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/in-russia-s-far-east-dreams-deferred-amid-grim-mood-over-pension-reform/29542683.html) USSURIYSK, Russia — An unusually warm spell in early October filled this Far Eastern city’s central square with couples and schoolkids enjoying the last bright evenings before the onset of winter. Steps from the main landmark, a monument honoring […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Acceptance of Corruption Has Grown in Russia Under Putin, Report Suggests” – Moscow Times

File Photo of Two Persons Shaking Hands and Exchanging Cash

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 16, 2018) A new study suggests that Russians have become more tolerant of corrupt practices in the years since the fall of the Soviet Union. Russia ranks among the world’s most corrupt countries in international ratings, with corruption-related crimes costing an estimated $2.5 billion in damages between 2014 and 2017. Observers have said that […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Regional Elections Rundown” – Bear Market Brief (Sept. 28, 2018)

Russia Regions Map

“Moscow’s political control over regional governments is slipping, opening the door for local elites to gain greater control …. [including] greater de facto control over natural resources, creating opportunities for external investment but … increasing corruption risks …. [T]rend[s] [are] rooted in a sustained decline in living standards … also prompt[ing] unprecedented protest activity and a more confrontational … ‘systemic’ […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia is throwing out suspicious gubernatorial election results in Primorsky Krai” – Meduza

Russia Regions Map

“Russia’s Central Election Commission is urging regional election officials in the Primorsky Krai to invalidate the results of last Sunday’s runoff gubernatorial election. Commissioner Ella Pamfilova justified the recommendation on the grounds that it is impossible to determine the race’s outcome reliably because of significant violations at multiple polling stations. … the commission’s ‘recommendation’ is more like a direct order, […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “World Anti-Doping Agency Reinstates Russia” – AP

Olympic Rings Lit at Night, adapted from image at state.gov

“[WADA] reinstated Russia on Thursday despite a wave of protests, ending the nearly three-year suspension of the country’s drug-testing program because of a state-sponsored doping scheme. WADA’s decision after a vote of its 12-member executive committee was called ‘the greatest treachery against clean athletes in Olympic history’ by the lawyer of the whistleblower who helped uncover Russia’s cheating. WADA decided […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Pamfilova makes decisions without anyone’s instructions, didn’t bother Putin on situation with election in Primorye” – Interfax

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

MOSCOW. Sept 19 (Interfax) – CEC head Ella Pamfilova says she has not bothered the president about issues relating to the cancellation of elections, including in Primorye. “I don’t bother the president on such issues [as the cancellation of elections in Primorye]. If someone thinks I am a pawn, I did not live my difficult life to be a player […]

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Tension Builds In Russian Far East Region After Disputed Vote Count

Russia Regions Map

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – August 14, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/tension-builds-in-russian-far-east-region-after-disputed-vote-count/29495661.html) Rival contenders for the governorship in a Russian Pacific region girded for court battles, and more protests, after an unusual last-minute vote count in a runoff election gave victory to the ruling party incumbent. Supporters of Russia’s Communist Party have cried foul […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russian Communists Say Election Stolen by Pro-Putin Candidate” – Reuters

Arm and Torso of Person in Brown Sweater Placing Paper Ballot into Ballot Box

“… With 95 percent of votes counted on Sunday night, Kremlin-backed United Russia incumbent Andrei Tarasenko was trailing his Communist rival by around 5 percent. But on Monday, the local election commission said Tarasenko had won by just over 1 percent, an unlikely turnaround that the Communists said was evidence of rigging. The scandal is awkward for Putin, who met […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia is advancing on Ukraine again – and Ukraine isn’t going quietly; President Petro Poroshenko tells the Post how he wants the war to end” – Washington Post/ Lally Weymouth

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

“When Ukrainians took to the streets in the 2014 Maidan revolution, they ousted President Viktor Yanukovych and selected Petro Poroshenko as his successor to begin a period of reform. Poroshenko is up for reelection next spring, and polls show that Ukrainians are disappointed with him, particularly for what they see as his failure to clean up corruption. In a rare […]

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U.S., EU Warn Ukraine Ruling Endangers Press Freedom, Corruption Fight

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – September 5, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/u-s-eu-warn-ukraine-sedletska-ruling-endangers-press-freedom-corruption-fight/29473976.html) The United States, the European Union, and international media watchdogs have expressed concern over a Ukrainian court ruling that gives the authorities access to the cellphone data of an RFE/RL investigative reporter spanning a period of 17 months. The court decision could […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Liability for firing people of pre-pension age may bar them from employment – FNPR head” – Interfax

File Photo of Empty Chair and Desk with Computer, adapted from image at osha.gov

MOSCOW. Aug 31 (Interfax) – The introduction of criminal liability for employers who dismiss people of pre-pension age may have a negative effect on workers, Mikhail Shmakov, the head of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia (FNPR), said. “We need to be very careful about the proposal to introduce criminal liability for employers hiring or dismissing people of […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Kudrin speaks of state funding theft in Russia, corruption prevention” – Interfax

Alexei Kudrin file photo

MOSCOW. Aug 30 (Interfax) – Societal opinion on rampant theft of state resources in Russia is justified, Alexei Kudrin, the head of the Audit Chamber and chairman of the Center for Strategic Development, said. “People are confident that state funding theft is widespread. This opinion, unfortunately, is justified,” Kudrin said in an interview with the newspaper Kommersant on Thursday. If […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Extreme prejudice: how the Kremlin is cracking down on discontent” – The Times (UK)/Tom Parfitt

Montage of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook Logos, adapted from image at nps.gov

“… Incitement to commit a crime by undercover officers is illegal under Russian law. Critics say the defendants have been set up as hardened plotters intent on a nationwide revolt, when in fact they were simply a small group of disgruntled, naive, young people led on by a provocateur. The trial has a wider significance. … the most prominent of […]

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Who is ordering attacks on activists in Ukraine? In Ukraine, activists are being attacked, and law enforcement is standing idle. The pressure on civil society has become systematic. RU

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

(opendemocracy.net – Tetiana Kozak – August 23, 2018) Tetiana Kozak reports on conflicts connected to the transformation of the former Soviet Union, new conflicts related to the refugee crisis and the rise of nationalism in Europe. [Text with links and photos opendemocracy.net/od-russia/tetiana-kozak/who-is-ordering-attacks-on-activists-in-ukraine] The attack on activist Kateryna Gandzyuk in the southern city of Kherson has become the last straw for […]

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NEWSLINK: “Ukraine should create Mossad-type unit to kidnap Yanukovych from Russia – prosecutor” – UNIAN

Viktor Yanukovych file photo

“Law enforcers should do their utmost to make sure the disgraced president is brought to responsibility if the court convicts him, the official said. Prosecutor of the Main Military Prosecutor’s Office, Ruslan Kravchenko, who represents state prosecution in the treason trial of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, has offered to set up a special unit to kidnap the ex-leader from […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Mail.ru Group calls for amnestying people convicted of extremism over reposts, likes” – Interfax

Montage of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook Logos, adapted from image at nps.gov

MOSCOW. Aug 15 (Interfax) – The Mail.ru Group has urged the State Duma, the Supreme and Constitutional Courts, and the Justice Ministry to decriminalize the activity of social media users and amnesty persons convicted on such counts. “We have sent the following official petitions today: we urged the State Duma to initiate the submission of a bill on the amnesty […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Kremlin urges social media prosecutions to stay within ‘reason'” – Interfax

Dmitry Peskov file photo adapted from image at kremlin.ru/wikimedia commons

(Interfax – August 14, 2018) The Kremlin has called on investigators and courts in Russia to stay within reason when prosecuting social media users for content they have posted online. “Of course, it is impossible to use general phrases here as each case is unique and needs a separate investigation … But, of course we know that there have been […]

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NEWSLINK: “How Bill Browder Became Russia’s Most Wanted Man; The hedge-fund manager has offered a fable for why the West should confront Putin” – The New Yorker/Joshua Yaffa

File Photo of William Browder Seated at Table with Microphone as Woman Listens, with Image Watermark Saying Presented by Library of Congress with U.S. House of Representatives Seal, adapted from image at house.gov

“… In 2009, Browder’s tax adviser Sergei Magnitsky testified that the Russian police and tax authorities had attempted to steal two hundred and thirty million dollars in Russian taxes paid by Browder’s Moscow-based investment firm, Hermitage Capital. Magnitsky was arrested, and died in a pretrial detention center in Moscow. In the years that followed, Browder strenuously lobbied for a law […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “In Russia, the Corporate Raiders Are Often Cops; Companies face harassment from law-enforcement officials, according to business owners, lawyers and activists” – Wall Street Journal/James Marson, Thomas Grove

File Photo of Judge and Clerk in Russian Court, with Russian Flag Behind Bench

“… Russian companies routinely face harassment from law-enforcement officials seeking to extort money or expropriate businesses, according to business owners, lawyers and activists. One in six Russian business owners is facing criminal prosecution, according to [a Kremlin-launched agency]. …  Putin’s authoritarian rule relies on security officials and political heavyweights who use their authority not only to squash political opponents but […]

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NEWSLINK: “How the GRU spy agency targets the west, from cyberspace to Salisbury” – The Guardian (UK)/Andrew Roth

Stylized Artist's Depiction of Shadowy Figures in Dark Coats and Dark Hats, One Carrying a Briefcase

“… A British security source … [said] the nerve agent attack on the former double agent Sergei Skripal was also ordered by the [GRU] intelligence agency. The British government is poised to submit an extradition request to Moscow for two Russians suspected of carrying out the Salisbury attack that left one person dead and three injured, including Skripal and his […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Pardon request sent by Sentsov’s mother to Putin to be processed as soon as it is received – Peskov” – Interfax

Oleg Sentsov file photo, adapated from image at csce.gov

MOSCOW. July 13 (Interfax) – The request for pardoning Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov, which has been sent by Sentsov’s mother to Russian President Vladimir Putin, will be processed as soon as it is received by the Kremlin, presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told the press on Friday. “Let us wait until it is received. Of course, it will be processed […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Provision on criminal liability for complying with Western sanctions on Russian territory may be removed from bill – Volodin” – Interfax

Russian State Duma Building file photo

MOSCOW. July 10 (Interfax) – Russian MPs may remove the provision criminalizing compliance with Western anti-Russian sanctions in the country from a draft bill that is currently under consideration in the lower house of the Russian parliament, State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin said. “Everyone, including the business community, experts and deputies, have reached consensus on the second part of the […]

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NEWSLINK: “Implausible Deniability: Novichok Victim Dies: Did the Kremlin Really Lose Control of its Deadliest Poisons? The real question is where does the Russian criminal state end and the criminal underworld begin, and how do they work together in what amounts to a new murder incorporated?” – Daily Beast/Amy Knight

Artist Rendition of Barrel with Poison Symbol on It, Oozing Green Material

“… Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley visited … Salisbury and somehow ingested the exotic nerve agent used in the poisoning of Russian defector Sergei Skripal and his daughter …. Sturgess died. … a 44-year-old mother of three. … the police now have a murder case on their hands.  The masterminds of the Skripal attack, at least, are thought to be […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia’s performance in World Cup – and the country’s history – are raising doping suspicions” – Los Angeles Times/Kevin Baxter

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

“Russia will meet Croatia in the quarterfinals Saturday in Sochi, where it will play in a stadium built to stage the opening and closing ceremonies of those now-discredited Winter Olympics. And though there is no evidence of any wrongdoing with the soccer team, its performance here — including a round of 16 win over Spain, the World Cup champion eight […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The real World Cup losers: The Russian people” – Washington Post/Frank A. Guridy, Tinatin Japaridze

Men Sitting Around Long Oval Boardroom Table, File Photo of FIFA Officials Meeting with Vladmir Putin

“… Putin’s bet that the World Cup will produce a win for his government is a big gamble. The global political climate of 2018 is very different than the environment that existed when Russia was awarded the World Cup eight years ago, or even four years ago when Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed the Crimean Peninsula after hosting the 2014 […]

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NEWSLINK: “Savchenko kept in individual cell, has ceased hunger strike” – UNIAN (Kyiv)

Nadiya Savchenko file photo, adapted from image at osce.usmission.gov

“Tetiana Protorchenko, the press secretary of Ukrainian Member of Parliament Nadiia Savchenko, who has been arrested on charges of plotting a coup, has said the lawmaker is kept in a single confinement cell of a detention center. ‘Nadiia is in an individual cell, she takes a shower once a week. She ceased her hunger strike two weeks ago for taking […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Why the World Cup is bigger than Putin; ‘I can write about the genius of French forward Kylian Mbappé, knowing the FT is also covering Russian elite corruption'” – Financial Times/Simon Kuper

File Photo of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler Riding in Convertible

“…  the Russian World Cup isn’t Berlin all over again. First, Putin isn’t as evil and ambitious as Hitler. Second, he’s a much better-known quantity than Nazism was in 1936. Hitler at that point had said disturbing things but few foreigners took him either literally or seriously. He hadn’t lifted a finger against other countries. Many Jews were still living […]

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