News

Russia in Review

August 26, 2016

Abstract

Russia in Review: a digest of useful news from U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism for August 19-26, 2016

I. U.S. and Russian priorities for the bilateral agenda.

Nuclear security:

  • “The U.S. and Russia share many non-proliferation goals…. I am not going to accept (the) premise of Nunn-Lugar being over…. we are very sad that Russia had chosen to truncate the good work that we were doing there…. That having been said, we are still finding ways to work together in third countries to address the challenge of nuclear material security — in Central Asia, Eastern Europe, some other countries where Russia had provided material or where Russia has technology and equipment that is suited to managing those concerns….I hope we can continue to work appropriately on it,” said Laura Holgate, the new U.S. Representative to the IAEA (Russia Direct, 08.24.16)
  • U.S. Homeland Security Department is trying to ramp up wearable devices that can detect nuclear radiation. Last year, DHS made a broad agency announcement soliciting proposals for so-called Wearable Intelligent Nuclear Detection, or WIND, technology. (Defense One, 08.23.16)

Iran’s nuclear program and related issues:

  • Iranian officials said Monday that Russia was no longing using an air base in Iran for bombing raids in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad and criticized Moscow for publicizing the military collaboration between the two countries. Russia's use of Iran's Hamadan Air Base was "temporary, based on a Russian request," and that it is "finished for now," said Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said Russia "has no base in Iran," Ghasemi added.  Also Iranian Defense Minister General Hossein Dehghan over the weekend reportedly accused Russia of being a “show-off and ungentlemanly” during a questioning in parliament.  However, Iran’s parliament speaker Ali Larijani said on Tuesday that Russian warplanes were still using an Iranian military base to strike targets in Syria “It hasn’t stopped,” he said, adding that Tehran and Moscow were united in their “fight against terrorism.” (Moscow Times, Washington Post,  08.22.16, RFE/RL, 08.23.16)
  • "There is no other country in that region to be friendlier and better from the security angle, and we have to deliver those strikes if we want to end that war," Adm. Vladimir Komoyedov, chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee, said referring to Iran. (Washington Post, 08.22.16)
  • Iran and Russia have agreed to inform each other on consultations with third parties on settlement of the Syrian crisis, Iran’s Defense Minister General Hossein Dehghan said (Tass, 08.20.16)
  • Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan told Iran TV on Sunday evening that the Islamic republic will negotiate to buy Sukhoi fighter and attack aircraft from Russia as the S-300 buy is nearing its end. Also, Russian Helicopters, one of Russia’s largest aviation companies, is in negotiations with Iran over the sale of Ansat and Kamov Ka-226T light helicopters. (Tass, 08.23.16, Washington Times, 08.22.16)

Military issues, including NATO-Russia relations:

  • U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has assured Baltic countries that Washington would respect NATO's pledge to protect them. Biden called on the presidents of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania not to take seriously statements by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who said recently that he might abandon NATO's pledge to automatically defend all alliance members if elected.  (RFE/RL, 08.23.16)
  • While Germany wants a “constructive relationship” with Russia, “we have to live with the reality” of its actions in annexing Crimea and backing separatists in eastern Ukraine, Angela Merkel told reporters Thursday in the Estonian capital, Tallinn. Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will stand together against any threats and are committed to protecting the Baltic nation that borders Russia, she said. (Bloomberg, 08.25.16)
  • Germany's foreign minister is calling for a new arms control deal with Moscow as intensified military exercises by Russia and NATO have raised concerns that a war could inadvertently be triggered. “We must all be united in the desire to avoid a further twist in the escalating spiral,” Frank-Walter Steinmeier said. A new arms control process would offer a "proven means for transparency, risk avoidance, and trust building," he said. “We want a structured dialogue with all partners who carry responsibility for the security of our continent," perhaps working through the OSCE, he said. New military capabilities - including the use of drones must be taken into account, the foreign minister insisted, adding that "true verification" of arms would be vital to any successful pact, along with the inclusion of regions "whose territorial status is controversial." (RFE/RL, DW, 08.26.16)
  • Former NATO foreign and defense ministers issued an appeal on August 24 for an agreement with Russia on rules for handling unexpected military encounters. (RFE/RL, 08.26.16)
  • Former Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey said, “State actors like Russia and China are challenging our interests in Europe and in the Pacific. Neither is a peer competitor yet, but there are parts of their enterprises where they’re approaching the status of peer competitors…. Russia is clearly trying to reestablish a sphere of influence in the gray states that sit between the Russian Federation and NATO…. They are looking to reestablish a group of nations who can be their satellites, who can help them bolster their economy and their security, because as they look into the period beyond 2020, most of their trend lines are declining.” (Foreign Affairs, September/October 2016)
  • Former Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey said, “There are capabilities that the Russians are pursuing that are clearly intended to allow them to threaten our ability to reinforce Europe, and if they could do that, then NATO would lose credibility pretty quickly…. for example, capabilities they’re developing in space, in cyber, with ground-based cruise missiles, underwater capabilities, are all intended to eventually be able to threaten the transatlantic link and put NATO in a precarious position.” (Foreign Affairs, September/October 2016)
  • Norway is putting up a steel fence at a remote Arctic border post with Russia after an influx of migrants last year, sparking an outcry from refugees' rights groups and fears that cross-border ties with the former Cold War adversary will be harmed. (New York Times, 08.25.16)

Missile defense:

  • No significant developments.

Nuclear arms control:

  • No significant developments.

Counter-terrorism:

  • Kyrgyz authorities say they have detained a Russian citizen on suspicion of recruiting Kyrgyz nationals to fight for the Islamic State extremist group in Iraq and Syria. The suspect was detained after police found a grenade, ammunition, and IS propaganda materials in his apartment in the capital. (RFE/RL, 08.26.16)
  • A Georgian citizen has been reportedly killed while fighting alongside Islamic State militants in Syria. Georgian media reports quote residents of the Pankisi Gorge region as saying that Sultan Gumashvili, a resident of the area, was killed in Syria this week. On August 9, a court in Tbilisi sentenced a resident of the Pankisi Gorge to 12 years in jail for fighting alongside militants in Syria. (RFE/RL, 08.25.16)

Cyber security:

  • Russia’s Security Council could transform the country’s digital landscape in order to create a secure communications network for state employees. Under proposals by Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, Russia would create a new, independent Internet backbone, physically separate from the country’s preexisting Internet and public telecommunications systems.  (Moscow Times, 08.25.16)
  • Cases of Chinese hacking of Russian industries including defense, nuclear, and aviation rose almost threefold to 194 in the first seven months of this year from 72 in the whole of 2015, according to Alexander Gostev of Kaspersky Labs.  (Bloomberg, 08.25.16)
  • U.S. officials say reporters at The New York Times and other U.S. news organizations have been targeted by hackers suspected of working on behalf of Russian intelligence. CNN reported on August 23 that U.S. security agencies had detected the intrusions in recent months and are investigating. (RFE/RL, 08.24.16)
  • A U.S. jury has convicted a Russian man on charges related to a massive computer hack into American businesses to steal credit-card information. The jury in Seattle federal court found Roman Seleznev guilty on 38 charges on August 25, including hacking and wire fraud. He faces up to 34 years in prison. Seleznev’s lawyer said there was no definitive proof tying him to the cybercrimes.    (RFE/RL, 08.26.16, Bloomberg, 08.24.16)

Energy exports from CIS:

  • No significant developments.

Bilateral economic ties:

  • The U.S. authorities may approve before the yearend the deal on selling the Sea Launch project to a Russian investor.  (Tass, 08.20.16)

Other bilateral issues:

  • U.S. House of Representatives members are now motivated to pass the legislation in order to stop a potential Donald Trump administration from lifting sanctions on Russia, according to two staffers working for representatives who shaped the legislation and are on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  (Buzzfeed, 08.18.16)
  • U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called Russian President Vladimir Putin the “grand godfather of this global brand of extreme nationalism,” speaking at a campaign event in Nevada. She also criticized her Republican opponent Donald Trump for supporting Putin's policy: “He talks casually of abandoning our NATO allies, recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and of giving the Kremlin a free hand in Eastern Europe more generally.  (RFE/RL, 08.26.16)
  • Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign manager said on August 21st that Republican rival Donald Trump should explain "the extent to which the Kremlin is at the core" of his campaign. (RFE/RL, 08.21.16)
  • In an effort to collect previously undisclosed millions of dollars he’s owed by an oligarch-backed Ukrainian political party, Donald Trump’s ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort had been relying on trusted protégé Konstantin Kilimnik. A Russian Army-trained linguist who has told a previous employer of a background with Russian intelligence, Kilimnik started working for Manafort in 2005. (Politico, 08.18.16)
  • A court in Moscow has the seized assets of the former director of Russia's anti-doping laboratory, after he publicly detailed a vast state-sponsored system to help Russian athletes improve their performance. Grigory Rodchenkov, who has been charged with abuse of authority, fled to the United States where earlier this year he detailed a sophisticated system involving security agents to hide tainted urine samples during the 2014 Sochi Olympics.  (RFE/RL, 08.25.16)

II. Russia’s domestic news.

Politics, economy and energy:

  • Russia may probably see small growth of GDP in August, Minister of Economic Development Alexey Ulyukayev told reporters on Aug. 22. GDP declined by 0.9 percent in January - July 2016, Ulyukayev added. (Tass, 08.22.16)
  • The Finance Ministry is considering a tax increase for crude producers and for gas giant Gazprom PJSC that would bring in $5 billion to $6 billion next year, a government official said Thursday. Vedomosti newspaper reported earlier that oil-extraction taxes might rise by more than $3 billion a year through the end of the decade. (Bloomberg, 08.25.16)
  • Two years after plunging oil prices and Western economic sanctions fueled an investor exodus, the Micex stock index on Tuesday hit an all-time high. It is up 25% this year in dollar terms, making Russia the sixth-best performer among 23 emerging countries tracked by MSCI Inc. The ruble has gained 13% against the dollar this year, ranking third among all emerging currencies. Russia's local-currency bonds rank third this year in performance out of 15 countries tracked by J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (Wall Street Journal, 08.24.16)
  • Emerging economies like Russia, Kazakhstan, and Brazil will see a sharp rise in youth joblessness from 13.3 per cent last year to 13.7 per cent in 2017, the International Labor Organization said. (RFE/RL, 08.25.16)
  • Several hundred farmers from southern Russia complained of intense police harassment Monday as they entered the second day of a drive towards Moscow they are staging to raise awareness about the problem of local corruption.  Over 100 miners in southern Russia’s Rostov region are staging a hunger strike over unpaid wages, the TASS news agency reported Tuesday.  (Moscow Times, 08.22.16, Moscow Times, 08.23.16)
  • The government will issue pensioners with one-time payment instead of indexing pensions for a second time this year, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has announced. Pensioners are to receive a one-time additional payment of 5,000 rubles in January 2017, costing the federal budget some 200 billion rubles ($3 billion)  (Moscow Times, 08.24.16)
  • Russia has reached two more milestones in its endeavor to close the nuclear fuel cycle. Mashinostroitelny Zavod has completed acceptance tests of components for its experimental fuel assemblies for the BREST and BN fast neutron reactors. MSZ has also announced the start of research and development work on the technical design of the "absorbent element" of the core of the BREST-OD-300 reactor. (World Nuclear News, 08.23.16)
  • Dzhakhan Pollyeva, chief of staff at Russia's State Duma is to leave her post as part of the country's ongoing high-level political shake up.  The reshuffle could continue following the Duma elections, with First Deputy Chief of the Presidential Administration, Vyacheslav Volodin, poised to become Duma Speaker after the vote, the Kommersant newspaper reported Tuesday. The move could see current Speaker Sergei Naryshkin become Director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, the SVR, the newspaper reported.  (Moscow Times, 08.23.16)
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has sharply criticized a decision barring the country's Paralympic team from competing in Brazil, part of the fallout from a doping scandal that kept many of its athletes out of the Rio Olympics. (RFE/RL, 08.25.16)
  • Almost one quarter of Russians are willing to sell their votes in upcoming parliamentary elections, according to a survey published Monday by the independent Levada Center pollster. (Moscow Times, 08.22.16)
  • Mikhail Khodorkovsky is back doing what he says got him jailed in the first place: supporting Putin’s opponents. All but one of the 19 candidates he’s grooming have been accepted by authorities overseeing the next month’s parliamentary polls. (Bloomberg, 08.23.16)

Defense and Aerospace:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered snap military drills Thursday to test the combat-readiness of troops on the country's western flank. The exercises will last through the end of the month. The surprise combat readiness check is part of preparations for the Kavkaz-2016 exercise due in September, the Russian Defense Ministry said. The Kavkaz-2016 exercise will be held in the Southern, North Caucasus and Crimean federal districts. (Wall Street Journal, Tass, 08.25.16)

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • Gangs smuggling goods into Russia have secretly repaired a road on the Belarussian border in order to boost business. A convoy of trucks was recently stopped on the road carrying 175 tons of sanctioned Polish fruit worth 13 million rubles ($200,000)  (Moscow Times, 08.22.16)
  • A Moscow court has sentenced to prison Aleksandr Potkin, the leader of the banned "Russians" nationalist movement on extremism and money laundering charges. (RFE/RL, 08.24.16)
  • A court in Russia has order that Nikita Belykh, the former governor of the Kirov region who has spent two months in custody on a charge of accepting a bribe, should be kept there until December 24. (RFE/RL, 08.22.16)

III. Foreign affairs and trade:

Syria:

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are meeting Friday in a bid to complete a deal on increased cooperation in Syria that officials hope could help create the calm necessary for talks on a political transition. Mr. Kerry and other senior officials see a deal for grounding Mr. Assad's air force in exchange for closer military cooperation as the best chance to reduce violence in Syria and try to move to a political track. Kerry has earlier said that talks between the United States and Russia on military cooperation in the fight against the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria are nearing an end. "We are in indeed engaged currently in ongoing conversations, and it is my hope that we are reaching the end of those discussions one way or another," Kerry said on August 22. (RFE/RL, 08.22.16, Wall Street Journal, 08.26.16)
  • Russia says it will work with the United States on a response after a UN investigation concluded that the Syrian regime had carried out chemical weapons attacks. "We have a joint interest in discouraging such things from happening, preventing such things from happening even in the fog of war," Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said on August 25. (RFE/RL, 08.25.16)
  • U.S. fighter jets scrambled to eastern Syria this week when Syrian bombers attacked in the vicinity of American and coalition Special Operations forces working with Kurdish and Arab opposition fighters, the Pentagon said Friday. The episode prompted the United States to contact the Russian military, which indicated that its planes had not participated in the strike. American officials urged the Russians to contact the Syrian government with a blunt message: “United States aircraft would defend troops on the ground if threatened.” (Wall Street Journal, New York Times, 08.19.16)
  • Russia has charged that U.S. reluctance to do more to combat Syria's Al-Qaeda affiliate remains an obstacle to reaching agreement to cooperate in Syria. The Russian Foreign Ministry warned on August 23 that the U.S. failure to move against the Al-Nusra Front, recently renamed Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, risks creating a "new terrorist monster in Syria." (RFE/RL, 08.24.16)
  • The United Nations said Russia has agreed to a 48-hour humanitarian cease-fire in the divided Syrian city of Aleppo to allow aid deliveries, but security guarantees are needed from other parties in the conflict. (RFE/RL, 08.26.16)
  • Russia flexed its muscles again over Syria on August 19, for the first time launching cruise missiles at targets from warships in the Mediterranean Sea. The Russian Ministry of Defense said Friday that two ships from the country’s Black Sea Fleet, the Zelyony Dol and the Serpukhov, fired three missiles from positions off the coast of Syria. (New York Times, 08.19.16)
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan have discussed in a phone conversation the situation in Syria, the Kremlin press service said on Aug. 26. Russia has earlier expressed deep concern at Turkey's military operation in norther Syria, hours after Turkish tanks advanced into an area held by the Islamic State group. Turkish and American military forces launched a major offensive in northwestern Syria against Islamic State militants early Wednesday as they try to sever the extremist group's vital supply routes and deter Kurdish fighters from seizing key border town of Jarabulus. In the meantime, Kurdish militias took a major step toward full control of the northeast Syrian province of Hasaka on Tuesday, signing a cease-fire with the government that gave them all but a few blocks of the provincial capital. (Tass, 08.26.16, RFE/RL, 08.24.16, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, 08.24.16)
  • Turkey's prime minister said his government will play a more robust role in Syria by leveraging its warming ties with Russia and Iran to help forge a deal to end the long-running war and implement a political transition in the neighboring country. (Wall Street Journal, 06.22.16)

Other far abroad countries and foreign affairs in general:

  • Russia will not deploy its aircraft and equipment in Yemen, an anonymous source in the military-industrial complex has told RBTH. Earlier, some media had reported that the former president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, had invited Russia to use the country's military bases, airports and ports. (RBTH, 07.24.16)
  • Russia has lost its second case in a week at the World Trade Organization, with the agency ruling that most of its 2014 bans on European Union exports of pigs, pork and other pig products were unjustified. (Wall Street Journal, 08.19.16)

Ukraine:

  • The leaders of Russia, Germany and France agreed to meet on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting of major world economies in China on Sept. 4-5 to address the crisis in Ukraine, the Kremlin said Tuesday. The statement added that the leaders spoke by phone to discuss developments in eastern Ukraine, where fighting has surged as Ukrainian government forces battle pro-Russian separatists. “A concern has been voiced over instability along the contact line, a systematic violation of cease-fire," the Kremlin said in a statement. The French President also called for a new four-way meeting between France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine to try to resolve the crisis. (Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, 08.23.16)
  • The Ukrainian army said in a statement on August 21 that the separatists had fired 71 times at various government-controlled areas near the front line over the past 24 hours. The most intense shelling occurred in the village of Avdiyivka. Meanwhile, the separatists claimed that the Ukrainian military launched more than 180 shells on rebel-held areas in Donetsk overnight. (RFE/RL, 08.21.16)
  • Pentagon spokesman Gordon Trowbridge said that the United States American officials "don't necessarily see any evidence of (Russian) troop movements that are so large that we're concerned about those on their own," despite being "extremely concerned" about escalating rhetoric between Russia and Ukraine.  (Washington Post, 08.22.16)
  • Alexander Hug, the Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, said in an interview that OSCE monitors are increasingly denied access to the conflict zone, and said that the tempo of fighting is worse where front lines come within meters of one another. Some heavy weaponry, which was supposed to be removed from the front and inventoried, has also returned, he said. (Washington Post, 08.22.16)
  • Alex Ryabchyn, a member of Ukraine's parliament, said Vladimir Putin is looking to send a "signal to the West" to return to the negotiating table over Ukraine, believing that Kiev's Western partners are losing patience with the country amid the U.S. elections, the migration crisis and other urgent issues. "What will you do if I attack or take some anti-terrorist measures?" Ryabchyn said, as if channeling Putin. "Will you invade? Will you express concern? Let's start negotiating, because I can choose to do this or not to do this at any time." (Washington Post, 08.23.16)
  • Ukraine marked 25 years of independence from the Soviet Union on August 24 with a massive parade of soldiers and heavy weaponry through central Kyiv, in a show of force designed to boost the morale of the country’s servicemen and reassure Ukrainians amid heightened tensions with Russia. For Ukrainian soldiers, the parade was also the first occasion to wear their new uniforms: part of the ongoing westernization of the country's armed forces.  Chants of "Glory to Ukraine!" and "Death to enemies" met generals saluting the president from armored vehicles (RFE/RL, Moscow Times, Washington Post, 08.24.16-08.25.16)
  • Ukraine plans to launch legal proceedings against Russia for violating United Nations convention with its annexation of Crimea, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said Monday. (Moscow Times, 08.22.16)
  • Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Yuri Lutsenko launched the opening legal hand grenade on August 22, announcing a probe into Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and 19 other Russian military and civilian officials.  Not be outdone, Russia's Investigative Committee returned fire on August 24, saying that a criminal investigation had been opened into Shoigu's Ukrainian counterpart, Stepan Poltorak, and other military officials. (RFE/RL, 08.24.16)
  • Ukraine now keeps company with Iraq, Syria, and Yemen as one of the world’s leading producers of internal refugees. Figures vary, but by most estimates there are around 1.7 million internally displaced in Ukraine and another 1.4 million Ukrainians living as refugees in western Europe and Russia. (Foreign Affairs, 08.24.16)
  • “I, for one, couldn’t imagine that Russia would flout international law to the point of annexing Crimea,” Angela Merkel said. “Who would have expected separatists to destabilize eastern Ukraine to such a degree with Moscow’s support?” (Bloomberg, 08.25.16)
  • U.S. Vice President Joe Biden described a meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko—whom he calls “Petro”—in which he urged Poroshenko to fire a corrupt prosecutor general or see the withdrawal of a promised $1 billion loan to Ukraine. “‘Petro, you’re not getting your billion dollars,’” Biden recalled telling him. “‘It’s OK, you can keep the [prosecutor] general. Just understand—we’re not paying if you do.’” Poroshenko fired the official. (The Atlantic, 08.22.16)
  • There are nearly one million Americans of Ukrainian descent, clustered around cities like New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland. (New York Times, 08.22.16)
  • U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign aides in 2012 reportedly fought the release of Ukrainian political leader Yulia Tymoshenko when she was in jail. (RFE/RL, 08.24.16)
  • While she was secretary of state, Hillary Clinton hosted a dinner involving Clinton Foundation donors, including Ukrainian businessman Victor Pinchuk who had given money to the organization and who had retained a lobbyist to arrange State Department meetings. (Wall Street Journal, 08.23.16)
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reassured his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko that Ankara will continue to recognize the Crimean Peninsula, which was illegally annexed by Russia, as Ukrainian territory. (RFE/RL, 08.20.16)
  • Austria's Constitutional Court has refused to consider an appeal by Ukrainian businessman Dmytro Firtash in an attempt to fight his extradition to the United States, where he is wanted on corruption charges. (RFE/RL, 08.20.16)

Russia’s other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • Uzbekistan claimed on August 25th a disputed part of the border with Kyrgyzstan as "Uzbek territory," adding that four Kyrgyz citizens detained there "were illegally present in Uzbekistan." On August 22, seven Uzbek border guards entered disputed territory along the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border in the southern region of Jalal-Abad. Uzbekistan has also temporarily closed its border with Kyrgyzstan ahead of festivities marking the 25th anniversary of the country's independence. In response, Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev ordered the government to review international border agreements signed by previous administrations amid recent tensions with neighboring countries.   (RFE/RL, 08.22.16, 08.24.16, 08.25.16)
  • Four members of a radical group that was plotting a string of terrorist attacks were detained in the Almaty region of Kazakhstan, the press service of the Kazakh National Security Committee said. (RFE/RL, 08.23.16)
  • Tajikistan’s parliament has adopted a new law on amnesty proposed by President Emomali Rahmon last week. More than 3,000 inmates will be released from prison and more than 4,000 people with suspended sentences will be pardoned under the new legislation.  (RFE/RL, 08.24.16)
  • Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the German government to urge Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov "to end enforced disappearances and address other serious human rights problems in the country." (RFE/RL, 08.25.16)
  • Georgian authorities say they have thwarted a "terrorist act" on a gas pipeline that supplies natural gas from Russia to Armenia.  (RFE/RL, 08.22.16)
  • Azerbaijan authorities said they arrested four men with ties to Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey has blamed for masterminding last month's attempted coup.  (RFE/RL, 08.20.16)
  • Armenia’s government is working with Iran to create a free economic zone in the country’s southernmost Meghri region, Economy Minister Artsvik Minasyan said on August 25.
  • An Armenian court has found a Russian soldier guilty of murder charges and sentenced him to life in prison for the 2015 massacre of seven members of an Armenian family. (RFE/RL, 08.23.16)
  • A court in Yerevan has granted bail to Hovsep Khurshudian, leading member of the opposition Heritage party, who was charged in connection with a recent rally. (RFE/RL, 08.25.16)
  • More than 1,000 soldiers are taking part in joint military exercises in Belarus with the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) (Moscow Times, 08.23.16)

 

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For Academic Citation:Russia in Review.” News, , August 26, 2016.