Tuesday, July 3, 2018
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Russian Military Announces End to Ceasefire in Syria


Representatives from the Russian Federation's Hmeymim airbase in Syria announced that the ceasefire reached with Jordan and the U.S. in southwest Syria was no longer in effect. Russian officials cited violations by insurgents in explaining the decision. 

This announcement comes in light of a reported Russian air attack on targets in the province of Daraa on June 25.

In other Syria news, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on June 28 that the Russian military was withdrawing 1,140 military personnel and 27 aircraft from Syria over the past week. 

***The Weekly Russia Brief will be taking a summer hiatus***

ANALYSIS: An in-depth profile of agricultural subsidy fraud in Slovakia (Deutsche Welle)

Andrey Kortunov argues that the world is not in fact becoming multipolar (Russian International Affairs Council)

The Putin-Trump meeting in historical context (The Atlantic)

An examination of recent pushes by Russia and China to cut UN human rights funding (The New York Times)

According to local police, 16 hotels, bars, and restaurants were evacuated in the World Cup host city after anonymous bomb threats. After a thorough search, no explosives were found. Read more>>>
Russian Politics

Major Polling Organizations Record Fall in Approval Ratings for Putin, Government

Polling organizations Levada Center, VTSIOM, and FOM have all recorded dramatic drops in approval and confidence ratings for President Vladimir Putin, the Russian government, and their policies over the past several weeks. 

Among other alarming statistics, Levada found that approval for Vladimir Putin's actions as president fell from 79% to 65% between May and June, while FOM found that Putin's electoral rating fell from 75% to 67% over the past week alone. 

As to the cause of this change in attitudes, Presidential Press Secretary Dmitri Peskov publicly spoke to the widespread "resonance" of the recent pension reform measures, which raised retirement ages for both men and women. 

REGIONAL POLITICS: Yaroslav United Russia party leader Mikhail Borovitsky was removed from his post in a closed session of the presidium of the general party council on June 28. His firing followed regional parliamentary calls to slow down the process of raising the pension age, a federally mandated measure which has contributed to the drop in approval ratings for the party. Party representatives stated that Borovitsky's removal was originally planned to occur after the autumn Federation Council elections.

ENERGY: On June 28, a Swedish court upheld an earlier ruling that would prohibit Ukrainian company Naftogaz from collecting the $2.6 billion dollars in damages from Russian company Gazprom which were awarded by another Stockholm court in February.

View from Washington

Date, Location Chosen for Trump Meeting With Putin

The White House and the Kremlin announced on June 28 that the long-discussed meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will take place on July 16 in Helsinki, Finland. 

The announcement was made the day following a meeting between Putin and National Security Adviser John Bolton in Moscow, at which Putin expressed his hope to "restore full-format relations on the basis of equality and respect."

According to Vice President Mike Pence, Trump and Putin will likely discuss Ukraine, Syria, and election interference. 

MUELLER PROBE: Andrew Miller, a former aide to Trump adviser Roger Stone, has filed a sealed motion to invalidate the subpoena served to him by the Mueller investigation. The subpoena called for Miller to testify before a grand jury on June 29. Miller pledged not to answer any questions posed to him.

Miller's lawyer cited Mueller's status as an official whose position was not created by Congress and who was not confirmed by the Senate as grounds for the filing. 

ENERGY: Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak met with U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in Washington to discuss energy issues. The officials expressed common support for promoting gas as a less environmentally-harmful alternative fuel and discussed the impact of U.S. sanctions on energy companies operating in Russia. 

Eastern Europe and Eurasia

Poland Moves to Change Recent Holocaust Law

An amendment to the Polish law that made accusations of Poland's complicity in Nazi crimes during WWII a jailable offense has been passed by the lower house of parliament. 

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki proposed what he termed a "correction" to the law which would make implicating the Polish state in the Holocaust a civil rather than criminal offense. Morawiecki stated his belief that those making such statements deserved to be imprisoned, but cited the necessity of taking the international context into account. The measure has yet to be approved by the Polish Senate. 

MOLDOVA: The European Union has made a public statement criticizing the recent nullification of mayoral election results by a Moldovan court.

The court ruled that both the winner of the election, Andrei Nastase of the Dignity and Truth Platform, as well as his opponent, Ion Ceban of the Socialist Party, had engaged in illegal campaigning over social media.

LATVIA: Latvian Central Bank Governor Ilmars Rimsevics was officially charged with soliciting and accepting a $115,880 bribe. The Latvian anti-corruption watchdog's investigation into Rimsevics' misconduct began in February of this year. Rimsevics faces an 11-year prison term if convicted.
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