Tuesday, May 8, 2018
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Top News

Russian Fighter Jet Crashes Near Syria, Killing Pilots

The Russian Ministry of Defense reports that a Russian Su-30SM fighter jet has fatally crashed in the Mediterranean Sea near Syria. However, officials have made clear that the aircraft was not fired upon, but rather failed due to an unforeseen complication. This is the first time that a plane of this category has failed since they were first purchased by the Russian Air Force in 2013.

ANALYSIS: An examination of the lobbying industries in Russia and the U.S by CGI Rising Expert James Liska (Center on Global Interests)

Recommendations for waste management reform in Russia by CGI Rising Expert Garret Mitchell (Center on Global Interests)

Anne Applebaum on the evolution of the domestic Russian media landscape (The Washington Post)

A quantitative look at Russia's power and growth in the global context (Russia Matters)

An analysis of Nikol Pashinyan's rise in Armenia (Eurasianet)

The Russian military budget, totaling 66.35 billion USD in 2017, marked a decrease of approximately one fifth from 2016 expenditures. This was the first decline in real military spending in Russia since 1998. Read more>>
Russian Politics

Navalny, Over 1600 Others Arrested During Inauguration Protests

1,612 protesters across 26 cities, including opposition leader and organizer Alexei Navalny, were reportedly detained by police during May 5 demonstrations against President Vladimir Putin's inauguration. 700 people were arrested in Moscow alone. The protests were not sanctioned by local authorities, and as a result riot police were called in to disperse crowds. Cossacks reportedly beat protesters as the police closed in.

 Navalny has since been released from police custody. President Putin was inaugurated on May 7.

NAVY: A Ukrainian fishing boat was seized by Russian authorities off the coast of Crimea, leading to increased tensions and fears about a Russian blockade on sea traffic. Since April 30, Russia has instituted stricter security controls on travel through the Kerchensky Strait, including requiring the inspection of Ukrainian vessels en route to Mariupol.

CRYPTOCURRENCY: A Russian court ruled May 7 that an individual's cryptocurrency holdings can be repossessed when that individual declares bankruptcy. The ruling indirectly gives legal recognition to cryptocurrency as property and accords it legal value in the Russian Federation.

NUCLEAR: A floating nuclear power plant, the Akademik Lomonosov, is currently on the first leg of its journey to a port in Murmansk after fierce international and domestic opposition. The craft will be loaded with nuclear material in Murmansk and travel onward to Pevek, a port located within the Arctic circle.

View from Washington

Mueller Probe's Request to Delay Arraignment Denied

A U.S. District Court judge denied a request by a prosecutor to postpone the arraignment for Concord Management and Consulting, one of three firms charged with facilitating the activities of alleged Russian "troll farms" in the leadup to the 2016 presidential election. The request was made on the grounds that prosecutors were unsure about whether or not representatives for the firm had formally accepted court summons.

Two other companies accused in the indictment, Concord Catering and the Internet Research Agency, are expected to ignore the court proceedings. 13 individuals indicted in the probe are likewise unlikely to appear before a U.S. court. 

In other news, longtime friend and confidante of President Donald Trump Tom Barrack has been questioned in the Mueller probe. Though the exact topics of inquiry are unknown, they most likely concerned campaign finance.

WHITE HOUSE: Lawyer to President Donald Trump in regard to the Mueller Probe Ty Cobb will be replaced by Emmet Flood. Flood had advised then-president Bill Clinton in impeachment proceedings in the late 1990's as well as former president George W. Bush  on executive privilege issues in the 2000's. 

NAVY: The U.S. Navy has reinstated a fleet that would oversee the East Coast and North Atlantic. According to one analyst, this decision was made in part to address Russian submarine presence and capabilities in the area.

Eastern Europe and Eurasia

Armenian Republican Party Votes Against Pashinyan

On May 1, Armenia's parliament voted against opposition and protest leader Nikol Pashinyan's bid to become the country's Prime Minister. The final vote was 56 to 45, with all but one member of Armenia's ruling Republican Party opposing Pashinyan.

Pashinyan then called for continued strikes and protests from May 2 onward.

A second vote will be held on May 8th, and snap elections will be held if that second vote does not afford a simple majority to Pashinyan or any other candidate who gathers the support needed to run.

UKRAINE: Ukraine's chief prosecutor has effectively frozen four cases that involve Paul Manafort, former campaign manager to U.S. President Donald Trump.

In other news, Ukrainian Defense Minister General Stepan Poltorak announced that Ukrainian armed forces would begin training on May 2 to deploy the Javelin anti-tank missile systems supplied by the United States. 

HUNGARY: Hungarian judges have begun resigning en masse from the country's judiciary watchdog, the National Judicial Council. These developments came just before the council was set to announce its decision in its investigation of judiciary head Tunde Hando, a major ally of recently re-elected Prime Minister Viktor Orban. The Council condemned Hando on May 2 for working to pack the country's courts with judges favorable to Orban. Some observers suspect the departures were forced.

UZBEKISTAN: Uzbek and Turkish leaders have signed $3 billion worth of deals for joint energy, transport, and tourism projects during a recent state visit to Tashkent. This is the latest step in Uzbek president Shavkat Mirziyoev's stated policy of rapprochement with Turkey. His predecessor, Islam Karimov, had cut bilateral ties in the 1990's.
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