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Russia Reform Monitor - No. 2132

Geopolitics play out at Eurovision;
The limits of Russia's anti-corruption reforms

Edited by Amanda Azinheira and Kaitlyn Johnson
May 9, 2017

April 9: 

Russian naval activity in Europe is at an all time high, Navy Admiral Michelle Howard, head of NATO's Allied Joint Force Command in Naples, 
tells Reuters. Russia's level of naval activity even exceeds levels seen during the Cold War as Moscow steps up the number of patrols and submarine movements in the Mediterranean, Black Sea, and the Arctic. This increased intensity mirrors recent widespread Russian cyber activity and aerial fly-bys, sparking concerns about NATO's ability to present a united front across Europe. 

Russia continues to expand its Arctic presence. Moscow plans to deploy two new S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missile systems in the region by the end of 2017, 
UA Wire reports. These two new systems will be inducted in the Archangelsk region and on the Kola Peninsula, joining a third S-400 system already deployed on the Kola Peninsula. The deployment is expected to aid Russia in tracking air traffic across its massive northern border. 

April 10:

U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that Russia had advance knowledge of Syria's recent chemical weapons attack. 
According to the Military Times, sources say that, after the attack, a Russian-operated drone flew over a hospital treating victims of the attack, before a Russian-made fighter jet bombed the hospital, allegedly to cover up evidence of the use of chemical weapons. This represents the first time that Washington has accused Russia of direct involvement in a chemical weapons attack in Syria. 

April 12:

Russia continues to play the role of maverick in the United Nations Security Council, this time vetoing a UN resolution to condemn Syria for its recent use of chemical weapons. 
According to the New York Times. The draft resolution would have strengthened the ability of international investigators to look into details of the attack, and would have urged the Syrian government to comply with international law calling for cooperation with UN teams. The veto marks the eighth time Russia has used its veto power at the world body to prop up the Assad regime. 

April 13:

Russia has decided to pull out of the Eurovision international singing competition this year, and Russia's main state owned television Channel One will not broadcast the competition. The decision follows disputes with Ukraine, this year's host country. 
According to London's Guardian newspaper, Kyiv banned Russia's contestant from entering Ukraine due to her tour of Crimea in 2015, following Russia's annexation of the region the previous year. Ukraine won the right to host the contest this year after their contestant, a Tatar woman, won last year's competition with a song about the hardships endured by her people under Stalin, which many Russians took as an affront. 

April 14:

Russia's anti-corruption reforms have hit some resistance. The anti-corruption committee of Russia's parliament recently voted down a bill that would have prohibited officials from owning property abroad under the premise that it would violate politicians' constitutional right to own property. The committee's deputy chairman, Anatoly Vyborny claimed Russia's "existing anti-corruption legislation is already sufficient" to prevent malfeasance. 
According to The Moscow Times, the bill was designed to close a loophole in the current legislation prohibiting public officials from using bank accounts abroad.

Related Categories: Russia; Russia and Eurasia Program; Ukraine

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