Tuesday, May 1, 2018
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Top News

Russian Doping Whistleblower Countersues After Defamation Suit

Doping whistleblower Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov has countersued three Russian biathletes who are currently suing him for libel as well as the financiers of their suit, including oligarch and Mets owner Mikhail Prokhorov.

In filings submitted to New York State Court, Rodchenkov's lawyers have characterized the libel suit as an attempt to intimidate their client, invoking the state's anti-SLAPP law. Rocchenkov is suing for court fees and damages.

ANALYSIS: A quantitative analysis of generational attitudes toward the Russia by CGI Rising Expert Aaron Korenewsky (Center on Global Interests)

CGI Rising Expert Karina Panyan takes a look at social media's radicalizing role and positive potential in relation to foreign fighters (Center on Global Interests)

How sanctions on Russian arms could negatively affect U.S. allies. (Reuters)

A look at the Soviet origins of "WWIII" rhetoric (Brookings)

An analysis of Russia's response to the protests in Armenia (Russia Matters)

Vladimir Kokkinaki and Mikhail Gordienko departed from Moscow on a successful mission to attempt the shortest possible flight route between the Soviet Union and America. Read more>>>
Russian Politics

Thousands Protest in Moscow Over Telegram Ban 

On April 30, protesters came out in Moscow against the blocking of encrypted messenger app Telegram as well as against Roskomnadzor, the Russian government's regulatory entity for telecommunications. The "White Counter" project estimated turnout at 3,300 as of 2:00 PM. Telegram founder Pavel Durov publicly called on Muscovites this Sunday to take part in the demonstrations. 

In related news, views of Telegram channels reportedly fell by 76.5% in the period from from April 16 to April 23. This dramatic change came after the Russian government blocked the messenger app and related IP addresses following the company's refusal to turn over encryption keys. 

The top 100 channels on the app alone lost 23% of views, while news channels suffered the least from the block.

ROSFINMONITORING: The Russian financial watchdog has identified high-ranking Russian officials as responsible for suspicious financial operations uncovered in its review of the "Panama Papers" and "Paradise Papers."  Among the officials implicated are governors, deputies, and other executive figures on various levels of government.

DEFENSE: A Russian defense official has stated that Russia will provide Syria with new air defense systems in the near future. 

He also announced that the Syrian Defense Ministry had meticulously analyzed the results of the missile strike by the U.S.-led coalition and would use these findings to improve their own air defense systems. 

View from Washington

House Intelligence Committee Releases Conflicting Final Reports

House Intelligence Committee Republicans released a redacted final report on April 27 detailing their conclusions on Russian influence during the 2016 election. Committee Democrats in turn released a rebuttal report. This report drew on much of the same information, but differed in its analysis of that information. 

U.S. President Donald Trump lauded the report, citing its findings in calling for the end to ongoing investigations conducted by the Senate and Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Former CIA director John Brennan and former FBI director James Comey have publicly criticized the Committee and its report, indicating its conclusions were political rather than impartial.

DIPLOMATIC CORPS: U.S Ambassador to Russia John Huntsman has stated that U.S. President Donald Trump "has said repeatedly that he wants a better relationship with Russia. Repeatedly. And he has said quite clearly that he would like to engage personally with President Putin.” The remarks were made during a roundtable in Vladivostok on April 24.

Though Trump indicated on his post-election congratulatory phone call with Putin that he would like to meet with the Russian President in Washington, no arrangements have yet been made. Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated  that, in light of new sanctions, “the reality and the actual steps coming from Washington point to the opposite.”

CONGRESS & SANCTIONS: Two U.S senate Democrats have written a letter to Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase, and Citibank in the U.S., as well as Barclays, Deutsche Bank, UBS, HSBC, and Credit Suisse in Europe to demand information about bank dealings with sanctioned Russian oligarchs. 

The letter requested that banks disclose whether they had conducted reviews within the past five years to determine if any accounts were controlled by these sanctioned individuals. If so, the letter asked that the banks disclose any findings. 

Eastern Europe and Eurasia

Protests Continue in Armenia After Parliament Talks Collapse 

The ruling Republican Party in Armenia has decided not to nominate a candidate for Prime Minister on May 1st. Party spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov stated that the decision was an attempt to "avoid confrontation and an increase in security risks."

Opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan has officially declared his candidacy for Prime Minister. Although the Republican Party holds a majority of parliament seats, Armenia's second largest party, Prosperous Armenia, has indicated potential support. 

Pashinyan had called for protesters to return to the streets after April 25 talks between the ruling party and the opposition were cancelled late on April 24. Pashinyan, who led previous rounds of protests which resulted in the  resignation of Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan, had urged protesters to continue demonstrations until the government acceded to a transition of power.

HUNGARY & UKRAINE: Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter Szijjarto stated that Hungary would continue to oppose further NATO talks with Ukraine on the basis of proposed amendments to the law on citizenship. The proposals, prepared for Ukraine's Rada by President Petro Poroshenko, would impose sanctions against citizens of Ukraine who hold dual citizenship and vote in the elections of other countries. 

Hungary is concerned about the effect of this legislation on Hungarian-Ukrainian dual citizens living in Ukraine. This is the latest in a series of proposed measures that Hungary views as restricting the rights of national minorities in Ukraine.
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