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Russia Reform Monitor - No. 2097
Now Russian hacking hits Germany;
Full speed ahead for "Yarovaya" monitoring
Edited by Amanda Azinheira
October 17, 2016
In what is yet another high-level shakeup within the Kremlin, President Vladimir Putin has appointed parliament speaker Sergei Naryshikin to head Russia's foreign intelligence agency, reports Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The appointment comes after several other high-ranking Kremlin personnel were either moved or sacked from their positions close to the Russian presidency.
As part of its expanding influence in the Middle East and Africa, Russia is poised to become a major arms supplier to the Sudan. DefenseWeb reports that the Kremlin will soon deliver 150 T-72 main battle tanks to Sudan, along with 20 additional tanks for spare parts. The arrangement is part of a defense deal initiated in 2011 but only concluded this month. It is also said to include Russian delivery of an undisclosed number of Russian helicopters.
The Democratic National Committee is not the only political entity to have been targeted by Russian hackers, it seems. German security officials have reported that a cyberattack directed by Russia was aimed at two German political parties and an unidentified media agency. Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the BfV, has attributed the attacks to the hacking group APT28, but is not ruling out the possibility of the campaign being directed by "Russian government entities," notes the New York Times. Security officials fear the hackers may have been looking for potentially damaging information which could be released a few weeks before German elections next year.
With oil prices still hovering at record lows, Russia has begun revising its future budgets. According to Gulf News, Russia will calculate its federal budget for 2017 to 2019 based on an estimated revenue of oil exports pegged to $40 a barrel. The new pricing model, Kremlin officials hope, will make the Russian budget more responsive to market forces and insulate the economy from potential ups and downs in future oil prices. Additionally, the new budgetary method could help the Russian government to manage the country's longest recession in two decades. But even this plan isn't foolproof; with the current oil glut in the international market, it may be a struggle even to maintain oil at its current price of $40 per barrel.
With the world's largest oil cartel scheduled to meet in November, the oil politicking has already begun,London's Independent reports. While not a formal member of OPEC, Russia has already begun discussions on production freezes for itself and Saudi Arabia and production caps for Iran. For Russia, the motivation is clear; a rise in oil prices could shore up its ailing economy, fill its hemorrhaging federal coffers, and legitimize its political leadership. The three countries, which cumulatively account for one-third of global oil output, may have a hard time coming to an agreement, however - in part because Iran, recently liberated from international sanctions, is benefiting greatly from boosted oil production.
In an attempt to better track potential attacks in Russia, the Kremlin has already begun to decrypt all internet traffic in real-time, according to The Moscow Times. The new operations come as part of the "Yarovaya package" that required telecommunication companies to store online and mobile communications for six months. The initiative has been launched, moreover, despite the fact that the requisite computer infrastructure has yet to be constructed - demonstrating the Kremlin's desire to monitor, track, and pursue potentially threatening activities at the expense of individual privacy.