Tuesday, June 5, 2018
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Top News

Former U.S. Investor in Russian Finance Mistakenly Detained in Spain

Bill Browder, a former U.S. investor in the Russian financial sector and advocate for the 2012 Magnitsky Act, was briefly detained on an invalid arrest warrant with its basis in a formal request by Russian authorities.

Browder was expelled from Russia in 2005 after coming into conflict with Russian President Vladimir Putin and was sentenced in absentia to nine years of jail time by a Russian court. 

Six previous requests for Browder's arrest have been denied by Interpol on the grounds that they were politically motivated.

ANALYSIS: An examination of the roles of Europe and the United States in Europe-Russia gas trade (Bloomberg)

A London realtor illuminates Russian oligarchs' motivations for selling off property in the U.K. (Vedomosti)

One take on how the falsified assassination of journalist Arkady Babchenko could affect public trust (Vedomosti)

An analysis of the implications of Armenia's Velvet Revolution for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict (Chatham House)

A recent report by anti-discrimination watchdog Fare cited the figure, up from just two incidents during the previous campaign. The report was released in the leadup to the World Cup, which Russia will host this summer. Read more>>>
Russian Politics

Lavrov Meets With Kim in Pyongyang

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang, North Korea on May 31. 

At the meeting, the first of its kind in nearly a decade, Lavrov expressed Russia's support for denuclearization efforts and further cooperation between North and South Korea. Lavrov also extended an invitation to Kim to visit the Russian Federation. Russian President Vladimir Putin seconded the invitation, indicating that the meeting could take place in September.

SANCTIONS: In light of U.S. sanctions against the two Russian companies, UC Rusal and En+ have announced that they will present a plan to the U.S. Treasury Department that would allow for the present restrictions on their U.S.-related business to be lifted.

The Treasury Department stated in April that sanctions could be lifted if oligarch Oleg Derepaska renounced his controlling share in both companies. The proposed plan, set to be presented before the end of this summer, would reduce Derepaska's shares to below 50%.

LOCAL POLITICS: The governor of Sverdlovsk oblast's proposal to abolish elections for the mayor of Nizhnii Tagil was recently approved. Prior to this decision, the town was the last municipality in the region to have a popularly elected mayor.

ROSKOMNADZOR: Russia's regulatory entity for communications has formally requested that Apple block notifications from and fully remove the Telegram app from its platforms in Russia. Apple has reportedly acceded to the request from Roskomnadzor, which threatened unspecified action if the U.S. tech company did not comply.

View from Washington

Trump Lawyers Argue Against Alleged Obstruction in Leaked Memo

A January memo from President Donald Trump's legal team to special counsel Robert Mueller and recently obtained by the New York Times details their argument that Trump cannot have illegally obstructed the Russia investigation.

What's more, the letter cited the president's power to issue pardons and, allegedly, to "terminate the inquiry." Trump's head lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, has also publicly stated that a sitting president cannot be subpoenaed and forced to testify.

MUELLER PROBE: Special Counsel Robert Mueller will begin an investigation into a previously unreported exchange in which President Donald Trump requested that Attorney General Jeff Sessions reverse his recusal from the Russia investigation. This instance, along with other cases in which Trump spoke out against Mr. Sessions, are among several topics which Mueller hopes to bring forth in an interview with Trump..

Eastern Europe and Eurasia

Journalist Arkady Babchenko Reappears After Reported Killing

After Ukrainian authorities announced his fatal shooting by a gunman in Kiev, journalist Arkady Babchenko appeared in a television broadcast presented by Ukraine's security services. Babchenko stated that false reports of his death were conceived as a part of a longstanding operation to foil an actual planned assassination. Two suspects have been detained in connection with the attempted killing.

Ukrainian authorities had previously accused Russian security forces of ordering the supposed killing of Babchenko, who was an outspoken critic of the current Russian leadership and fled to Ukraine in 2017. Russia had dismissed these allegations as false provocations. 

In other Ukraine news, domestic gas company Naftogaz has asked a Swiss court to freeze the European assets of Russian company Gazprom. This request is part of an attempt to enforce an earlier ruling which required Gazprom to pay Naftogaz $2.6 billion and resume gas supplies to Ukraine.

GEORGIA: After the trial of two suspects in the killing of two teens sparked mass protests, Georgian President Georgi Margvelashvili met with the leader of the demonstrations in Tbilisi. Protesters allege that political connections prevented the real killers from being prosecuted and believe that the two convicted suspects were innocent. Although chief prosecutor Irakli Shotadze stepped down on May 31, President Margvelashvili has refused to accede to demands for his resignation. 

In other news, Tbilisi subway workers held a citywide strike on June 4. City authorities have stated that they have no intention of meeting the workers' demand for a pay raise.

KAZAKHSTAN: A new law passed by Kazakhstan's parliament establishes current President Nursultan Nazarbaev as permanent head of the recently created Security Council. The life term of this position would ensure a continued role in the country's leadership regardless of Nazarbaev's future presidential status.
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