Tuesday, May 29, 2018
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Top News

FIFA Clears Russian Athletes Ahead of World Cup 


The International Federation of Football Association has dropped an investigation into alleged doping by Russian soccer players, saying there was "insufficient evidence" that a doping program had occurred. 

All Russian players on the provisional roster for the 2018 World Cup have been cleared to compete in the tournament, which will take place in Moscow this summer. The conclusions of the investigation were reported to WADA, which has backed FIFA's decision to close the inquiry.

ANALYSIS: Michael Kofman on the discrepancies in media reports of Russian military budget cuts (Russia Matters)

One take on discussions of trust at the annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (Vedomosti)

A brief analysis of prospects for Russia-Uzbekistan relations (Stratfor)

An examination of factors helping and hindering strengthened Ukraine-Moldova ties. (FPRI)

Ilya Repin's immortal painting "Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan on November 16, 1581" was attacked and pierced by drunken man using a metal security pole in Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. The suspect has since been arrested. Read more>>>
Russian Politics

Missile that Downed Malaysia Airlines Flight Attributed to Russia

A Dutch-led investigation into the downing of a Malaysia Airlines jetliner over eastern Ukraine in July 2014 has now attributed the Buk missile that shot down the plane to the Russian Federation's 53-rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade. Investigators did, however, allow that the missile may have been fired by a different party.

Australia and the Netherlands have officially assigned legal responsibility for the downing of the plane to the Russian Federation. Russia has protested these allegations as inappropriate.

MINFIN: Central Bank head Elvira Nabiullina stated on May 23 that Russia had successfully developed a proprietary system for international financial transfers. The system has been presented as an alternative to SWIFT, a global financial network based in Belgium which is used for most inter-bank transfers worldwide. 

CYBER: Russian telecommunications watchdog Roskomnadzor has announced that Google has decided to temporary stop providing IP addresses to Telegram. Roskomnadzor has been attempting to block the messenger app since April. 

DEFENSE: U.S. media has reported that the Burevestnik nuclear powered cruise missile has failed all of the four tests conducted with it since November of last year. This information is based on a U.S. intelligence report, the findings which have been denied by Russian authorities.

View from Washington

Two Classified Briefings Held With Congressmen, DOJ, and White House Staff

A briefing was held on May 24 with leading congressional Republicans about classified documents and information relating to an informant's contacts with the Trump campaign.

After complaints by Democrats about partisanship, a second meeting was held with Democrat and Republican leaders from both houses of Congress as well as White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, a White House lawyer, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. This meeting was announced after the White House had stated that no staffers would be in attendance.

CYBER: The FBI received permission to seize an internet domain allegedly utilized by a Russian hacking group after a warning by Cisco that a recent surge in malware-infected devices in Ukraine could indicate an upcoming cyber attack. The group, known as Sofacy, was suspected of using the domain to control individual and corporate-owned devices which will now be redirected to an FBI-controlled server. The Russian government denied Ukrainian allegations of involvement in a planned attack of this nature.

Eastern Europe and Eurasia

EU Energy Chief Urges Russia-Ukraine Gas Talks

Vice President of the European Commission Maros Sefcovic has publicly urged Russian and Ukrainian authorities to resume EU-mediated talks on gas transit as soon as possible. These talks would concern gas relations after the countries' bilateral contract expires in 2019.

Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that Moscow was prepared to conduct such talks after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

GEORGIA: The Georgian Foreign Ministry announced plans to cut diplomatic ties with Syria after Syrian authorities officially recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. 

UZBEKISTAN: On May 23, free and low-cost messaging formats such as Skype and Viber resumed functionality in Uzbekistan after major interruptions to service starting in 2015. Telecommunications watchdog Uztelecom attribute the delay to necessary repairs, although many suspect these services were suspended by security forces.

HUNGARY: Vice Chairman of far-right Jobbik party Laszlo Toroczrai proposed a new hardline platform which he suggested would prevent the fracturing of the party. The proposal comes after Jobbik adopted a milder platform in an attempt to win over voters from the ruling Fidesz party, headed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
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