Tuesday, June 26, 2018
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Top News

Russia Advances to Round of 16, Loses to Uruguay in World Cup

Uruguay defeated the team of  World Cup host nation Russia 3-0 on June 25. This was the first of three matches that Russia has lost in the tournament so far.

Despite the return of recovered Premier League star offensive player Mohamed Salah, the Russian team managed to defeat Egypt in a 3-1 victory on June 19 in St. Petersburg. This win, following an opening-day Russian 5-0 defeat of Saudi Arabia, qualified the Russian team to go on to the round of 16. 

ANALYSIS: A comparative examination of Russia's national power by four distinct metrics (The Washington Post)

Poland's proposed referendum on a possible "Polexit," in context (The Economist)

One take on how trade wars may strengthen Gazprom's position in Europe (Vedomosti)

An analysis of Belarus's role as an international mediator (Carnegie Moscow Center)

The Soviet Union blocked the roads and railroad lines into Western-controlled West Berlin, beginning a blockade that would be lifted in May of 1949. The blockade was the first confrontation of its kind in the Cold War. Read more>>>
Russian Politics

Opposition, Labor Unions to Protest Raising Retirement Age

Opposition politician Aleksei Navalny announced a planned countrywide protest against the recent measure to raise the retirement age in the Russian Federation. The demonstrations, set for July 1, will be held 20 largest cities not currently hosting the World Cup. Other political parties such as Yabloko are also organizing protests against the new policy in the coming month.

Labor unions such as the Labor Confederation of Russia have likewise launched a petition against the recent measure and planned separate protests for later in July. Navalny staffers reached out to these organizations to attempt to cooperate on protest efforts, but were rebuffed. 

As a result of the new policy on pensions, approval ratings for Russian President Vladimir Putin fell below 2014 levels for the first time. Confidence in Putin fell to 42 percent and general approval fell to 72 percent over the past week. 

MUNICIPAL POLITICS: Head of the Krasnoselsky municipal district Ilya Yashin has withdrawn his candidacy for Moscow mayor after failing to collect the necessary signatures. Yashin received 91 signatures from representatives of multiple Russian opposition parties as well as independents, but was ultimately unable to acquire the required 110 without the support of the United Russia party. Yashin has criticized the decision of the democratic opposition not to hold primaries, citing the multiple-candidate system as a hindrance to independent campaigning.

ENERGY: A bill that would raise internal taxes on fossil fuel extraction was introduced to the Duma on June 21. This measure will be contemporaneous with an abolition of export duties on oil and oil products with the intended effect of increasing oil exports while raising domestic prices.

View from Washington

Bolton, Senate Republicans Prepare for High-Level Meetings in Moscow

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton will travel to Moscow next week, according to spokesperson for the Russian President Dmitry Peskov. According to Washington sources, the visit will be centered around arranging a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

The Washington Post previously reported that such a meeting could take place after the NATO summit in mid-July. 

Republican senators from Alabama, North Dakota, Louisiana, and Montana will likewise travel to Russia in the coming week as part of a congressional delegation.The congressmen are making the trip on the invitation of U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman and will participate in "high level meetings" of an as-yet unspecified nature.

CONGRESSIONAL PROBE: The Justice Department has announced that it has partially complied with House Intelligence Committee and Judiciary Committee requests to provide access to certain classified materials relating to the Russia investigation. 

The DOJ had previously briefed select lawmakers on relevant classified materials on three occasions. 

MUELLER PROBE: New court filings have added four federal prosecutors to the special counsel's case against the Internet Research Agency and other indicted Russian entities and individuals. Sources suggest these additions come in preparation for a transfer of responsibility for the investigation should the special counsel cease its operations.

Eastern Europe and Eurasia

Macedonian Parliament Ratifies Name Dispute Deal With Greece

A quorum of lawmakers in Macedonia's parliament ratified a recent agreement with Greece to change the country's name to Republic of North Macedonia. The measure was passed 69-0,  with the opposition nationalist VMRO-DPMNE party boycotting the vote. 

Although Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev defended the deal before parliament, President Gjorge Ivanov has pledged to veto its ratification. Zaev plans to hold a countrywide referendum on the issue later this year.

Since Greek and Macedonian foreign ministers ratified the initial deal, demonstrators have gathered en masse in Skopje to protest.

UKRAINE: Former Prime Minister and "Batkivshchyna" party leader Yulia Timoshenko announced her candidacy in the upcoming 2019 presidential elections during a June 20 videoconference. The elections are set to take place on March 31 of next year.

In other Ukraine news, several Russian political parties and institutions have been newly included in a Ukrainian government sanctions list. 30 new legal entities and 14 individuals were added in total.

MOLDOVA: A Chisinau municipal court declared the results of a snap mayoral election null and void after allegations of electoral violations by the Socialist Party. Pro-EU Dignity and Truth Platform Party member Andrei Nastase had received over 52% of the vote in the June 3 runoff election. Nastase supporters have gathered to protest the ruling in the country's capital.
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