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Russia Reform Monitor - No. 2045

Did Kamaev get his comeuppance?;
Western NGO activists feel the heat

Edited by Ilan Berman and Ivanna Kuz
March 8, 2016

February 15: 

Nikita Kamaev, the former head of RUSADA, Russia's anti-doping agency, has been found dead of an apparent heart attack just two months after stepping down from his post. 
CNN reports that the former Kamaev died as a result of what the organization termed a "massive heart attack." The 52-year-old executive's tenure was mired in controversy; last Fall, a report accused the Russian government of a "state-sponsored doping program" and a "deeply rooted culture of cheating at all levels within Russian athletics." As a result, the country was banned indefinitely from competition by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). 

At least some, however, are casting doubt as to the official story behind Kamaev's passing. "He [Kamaev] had never complained about heart problems, at least to me," RUSADA's former director general, Ramil Khabriev, has told journalists. "Maybe his wife knew about such problems." 

Russia has reportedly closed the Kerch Strait, a strategically vital waterway separating the Crimean Peninsula from the Russian mainland, to Ukrainian vessels. According to multiple Russian language news outlets,
including ATI Media, the waterway - which separates the Sea of Azov from the Black Sea - is expected to be closed to Ukrainian maritime traffic for a minimum of three years. 

February 16:

In mid-February, Russia registered its first official incidence of the Zika Virus, a mosquito-borne infectious disease that can cause fever, joint pain and complications during pregnancy. Kremlin officials, however, have already identified the culprit behind the disease. 
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports that Gennady Onishchenko, the former chief sanitary inspector of Russia, has accused the United States of infecting Black Sea mosquitos with the virus as a form of biological warfare against the Russian Federation. Onischenko, who was the country's chief sanitary official from 1996 to 2013, now serves as an aide to Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. 

The Kremlin has found a place for pro-Russian refugees from Ukraine. 
According to, the Russian government is moving ahead with plans to settle refugees who have fled the fighting in Ukraine and resettled in the Russian Federation in the Urals region. The official plan includes the creation of some 50,000 new jobs, which will be taken up by Ukrainians in the Far East Federal District of Russia. 

February 17:

The Russian Federation has detained two U.S. non-profit activists for violating the terms of their visas.
According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Sharon Tennison of the U.S. nongovernmental organization Center For Citizen Initiatives (CCI) and her colleague Theodore McIntire were detained and fined on charges that the two had violated the terms of their visas because of seminars the pair had conducted in the southern Russian city of Volgograd. The two have been depicted in the Russian media as both "agents of the State Department" and "propagandists," despite their work to promote closer relations between Russia and the West.

February 18:

Russian authorities have broken a major jihadist forgery ring near the country's capital, 
London's Expressnewspaper reports. According to the British daily, the FSB has arrested 14 members of a clandestine forgery group affiliated with the Islamic State terrorist group after a raid uncovered "secret printing presses and laboratories" close to Moscow. The group is believed to have been forging documents for Russian Islamists seeking to travel to the Middle East and join the fighting in Iraq and Syria, as well as "to be making papers for ISIS militants who were sneaking back into Russia to carry out terror attacks."

Related Categories: Russia; Russia and Eurasia Program; Ukraine

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