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Russia Reform Monitor - No. 2092

Information dominance in the name of counterterrorism;
Kadyrov cleans house ahead of elections

Edited by Amanda Azinheira and Evan Revak
September 14, 2016

August 26:

In a move ostensibly designed to better protect the country from terrorism, Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved a requiring Internet service providers and cell phone operators to store all data traffic for up to six months. The measure also stipulates harsher punishments for those found to be aiding terrorism and extremism, and according to Bloomberg is the latest stage in a four-year Kremlin effort to expand counterterrorism measures - changes that have come at the expense of personal privacy. In response, the Russian Public Initiative has already collected over 100,000 signatures obliging the Russian government to reexamine the law and its provisions, although it is unlikely that the measure will be repealed even if such a review takes place.



August 29:


The Democratic National Committee is not the only entity being targeted by Russia-backed hacking groups, it seems. Defense One reports that five think tanks and ten separate policy experts in the DC area concentrating on Russia have been the victims of a “highly targeted operation” aimed at information gathering. Although the damage from the hack is still being assessed, CrowdStrike, a cyber-security firm, believes that COZY BEAR, the group identified as being responsible for the hacks, has links to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).


As the war in Syria drags on, Russia is considering a change in strategy. In an unprecedented move, and a sign of Russia’s growing commitment to the region, Moscow is considering sending ground forces to Aleppo.


According to Gulf News, the Russian deployment would focus on the manning of military checkpoints, surveillance centers and intelligence units, as well as assisting and protecting Syrian president and Russian ally, Bashar al-Assad.  



August 30:

In an attempt to better establish control over Crimea, the Kremlin has tried to fast track the Krech Bridge project connecting the peninsula to mainland Russia. Although the “prestige“ project has both infrastructural and symbolic meaning for the Kremlin, it has been plagued with pervasive corruption and burgeoning costs -- facets that have leeched precious resources from the government’s coffers. As Paul Goble notes in his Window on Eurasia blog, it is already clear work on the Kerch bridge has come at the expense of over 42,000 thousand bridges in Russia that are in need of repair.


August 31:


With regional elections in Russia fast approaching, concerns over potential fraud and intimidation are proliferating. According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Human Rights Watch has accused Ramzan Kadyrov, the strongman governor of the Chechen Republic, of “tyrannizing critics” and those who believe his leadership is “questionable.” In its report, the NGO concludes that elections in Chechnya will be neither fair nor free, ensuring the continued reign of a Kremlin loyalist in the restive republic. The renewed crackdown on dissent by Kadyrov comes at the height of Kremlin fears of greater extremism in the North Caucasus.


September 1:

A Ukrainian court has granted permission to authorities to detain Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu. The announcement comes after some 20 other Russian senior officials, including presidential adviser Sergey Glazyev, were named as having committed “crimes against the national security” of Ukraine, reports

Radio Svoboda. Although the Russian government has yet to respond officially to the charges, the move comes amid a new round of escalating tensions in eastern Ukraine, and is likely to further impede resolution of the two-and-a-half year-old conflict between Moscow and Kyiv.

Related Categories: Russia; Russia and Eurasia Program

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