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Russia Reform Monitor - No. 1994

The Kremlin targets civil society, science;
The plight of Crimea's Tatars

Edited by Ilan Berman and Jacob Gladysz
August 4, 2015

July 8: 

Russian lawmakers are taking fresh aim at Russian civil society. 
The Moscow Times reports that Russia's upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, has released a "patriotic stop list" of twelve non-governmental organizations that they allege are a threat to national security and should be banned. The list includes seven American organizations (among them human rights watchdog Freedom House and both the National Endowment for Democracy and the International Republican Institute), as well as both Polish and Ukrainian activist groups. The recommendations will next be forwarded to Prosecutor General Yury Chaika, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov, who will jointly determine whether the groups in question represent a "threat to the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation, its defense capabilities and its national security." 

July 9:

Russia now represents "the greatest threat" to the national security of the United States, the man likely to become America's top military commander has declared. 
Reuters reports General Joseph Dunford, the current Commandant of the Marine Corps, as telling Congressional lawmakers that Russia has the potential to pose an "existential threat" to American interests, and its current behavior is "alarming." Dunford made his remarks as part of confirmation hearings before the Senate for the position of Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

The growing authoritarianism of the Russian government has claimed its latest victim: independent scientific inquiry. 
SCIENCE magazine reports that the Dynasty Foundation, Russia's only private funder of scientific research, has officially announced that it is closing its doors after being blacklisted by the Kremlin as a "foreign agent" back in May. That decision, made by Russia's Justice Ministry, was followed by a June court fine of $5,000 against Dynasty for failing to register as a "foreign agent." These steps, Foundation officials say, cumulatively convinced the organization's governing council that they should suspend operations once all current grants are closed. 

July 10:

The Kremlin is crying foul over a new UN push to establish an international tribunal to investigate the 2014 downing of Malaysian Airlines flight 17. 
According to the Agence France Presse, Moscow has formally protested the draft resolution, put forth by the Malaysian government, to formally probe the circumstances surrounding the downed flight, which is was shot down over eastern Ukraine last summer. Russian officials have termed the effort "counterproductive" and said that they would actively work to oppose it at the diplomatic level. 

July 11:

With the likely conclusion of a nuclear deal just days away, Russia is rushing to ramp up its cooperation with Iran. 
According to Iran's state-run IRNA news agency, Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared that his government is prepared to assist the Islamic Republic in boosting its oil production and output once international sanctions against the Iranian regime are lifted. 

July 12:

A new report from an independent group of Turkish scholars has documented extensive persecution of the Tatar people in Crimea, 
Newsweek details. According to the study, Russian authorities have forced Tatars, a Turkic people that has lived on the Crimean Peninsula for generations, to become Russian citizens and have also severely curtailed their freedoms of speech, language, education and residence since the annexation of the territory by Russia in March 2014. 

The report, which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan personally delivered to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the start of the European Games in Baku, details how Crimean Tatars have been subject to harassment by Russia-backed paramilitary "self-defense groups," while prominent Tatar leaders have been subject to imprisonment or exile under Russia law against extremism. This new wave of persecution recalls previous instances of repression for the Crimean Tatar people; In 1944, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin deported over 180,000 Crimean Tatars to Uzbekistan. Since the seizure of Crimea, commemoration of the event has been either repressed (as in 2014, when troops prevented 40,000 people from demonstrating) or banned outright (as it was this year).

Related Categories: Russia; Russia and Eurasia Program

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