Friday, March 9, 2018
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Top News

Former Russian Spy, Daughter Poisoned in Britain

Former Russian military intelligence colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with nerve gas on March 8, according to British police. The attack, which left both in critical condition, took place in Salisbury. 

British Police Chief Mark Rowley indicates that Skripal was targeted specifically. In 2006, Skripal was convicted of selling military intelligence to the British in a Russian court and later sent to Britain on an exchange.

British Prime Minister Theresa May called a special meeting of the cabinet's emergency security committee to discuss possible Russian involvement
ANALYSIS: Alexander Lukin looks at the Russia-China partnership in the wake of China's elimination of term limits (Financial Times)

Mark Galeotti disavows the "Gerasimov Doctrine,"  the technologically-enhanced military strategy that he himself theorized (Foreign Policy)

An analysis of Azerbaijan-Iran military cooperation (The Jamestown Foundation)

The Gazprom disruption to Ukraine in context  (Forbes)

Reagan first used the phrase during his speech to the National Association of Evangelicals in Florida. Though Soviet observers perceived the statement as overly confrontational, Reagan saw the term as justified in signaling a hard line on totalitarianism.  Read more>>>
Russian Politics

Sobchak Added to Unofficial Ukrainian Blacklist After Planned Crimea Visit

Russian presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak was identified as a "threat to Ukraine's national security" on the Facebook page of the activist website Myrotvorets Center after planning a campaign visit to Crimea.

Sobchak filed an application to the Ukrainian government to visit Crimea, which she has publicly acknowledged belongs to Ukraine by law.

The website has stated that it will not block Sobchak's entry if her request is approved by the Ukrainian government.

DUMA: After three female journalists publicly accused him of sexual harassment, LDPR deputy Leonid Slutsky apologized on Facebook to women whom he had "caused distress - wittingly or unwittingly." Slutsky denies all allegations against him.

NUCLEAR: Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated Wednesday that no bilateral negotiations are being held by Russia and the U.S. on further arms reductions after the New START agreement expires in 2021. 

View from Washington

Senate Intelligence Committee to Question Tumblr, Reddit

The Senate Intelligence Committee has expressed interest in conducting briefings with representatives from social media sites Reddit and Tumblr in connection with the spread of disinformation by Russia-linked actors. 

This new vector in the congressional probe was prompted by the recent release of documents that shed light on content and accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency, a Saint Petersburg troll farm implicated in the Mueller probe.

SPECIAL COUNSEL: Special Counsel Robert Mueller has evidence from a new witness, businessman George Nader, that suggests a January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles was a planned attempt at establishing a back channel on U.S.-Russia relations.

This testimony contradicts that of Blackwater founder Erik Prince last year.

In other news, former Trump staffer Sam Nunberg reversed his original statement that he would defy the subpoena to appear before Mueller.

Mueller's probe is investigating alleged obstruction of justice by the Trump administration and any possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Eastern Europe and Eurasia

Mass Protests in Slovakia and Czech Republic 

After thousands marched in Bratislava last week to protest the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak, activists have planned a second mass protest for March 9.

Kuciak had probed into the hiring of a former model and pageant contestant to be the assistant to Prime Minister Robert Fico. Several days after submitting his inquiry to the authorities, Kuciak was shot, along with his fiancée, in their home.

Thousands of demonstrators took the streets of Prague on March 5 to protest the choice of former Communist secret police member Zdenek Ondracek to head the committee on police oversight. He is the first Communist to hold such a position since the collapse of Czechoslovakia's communist government.

This development comes in light of a possible coalition between embattled Prime Minister Andrej Babis' ANO party and the Communist Party.  

Babis has stated that he would support recalling Ondracek from his post.

UKRAINE: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko stated on March 3 that gas supplies had been stabilized after Russian gas company Gazprom cut off deliveries to Ukraine. Ukraine has supplemented its supply by increasing reverse-flow deliveries from Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary, as well as relying on its extensive gas storage infrastructure.

The sudden disruption, which led to energy rationing and the closing of schools, came after a court case awarded billions of dollars in damages to the Ukrainian company Naftogaz in a legal dispute with Gazprom. 

HUNGARY:  Central European University, which had been threatened with closure after proposed legislation to that effect, has been reaccredited by the Hungarian government for the next five years. 

The university, founded in 1991 by controversial Hungarian-American activist and investor George Soros, has been caught up in the media and legal campaign levied against Soros by the government of Prime Minister Victor Orban.
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