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Russia Reform Monitor - No. 2095

Russian anti-corruption officials behaving badly;
The Kremlin blocks further international aid to Ukraine

Edited by Amanda Azinheira
October 6, 2016

September 12: 

London's Independent newspaper reports that Dmitry Zakharchenko, a senior Russian anti-corruption official, has been arrested after Moscow police seized over $123 million in cash from his home. Officials believe that the cash may be embezzled funds from the now defunct NOTA Bank, which lost its license last year after violating banking regulations. The case represents the latest incident of rampant corruption among Russian elites to come to light, even as the country's economic condition continues to deteriorate. 

September 13:

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) reports that it has experienced a cyberattack on its network by "Fancy Bear," a known Russian hacker group. The hack resulted in the leak of the confidential medical records of numerous athletes, including several Americans. 
According to The Daily Beast, Oliver Niggli, WADA's director general, has said that the breach "greatly [compromises] the effort by the global anti-doping community to re-establish trust in Russia." 

September 14:

Russia has stymied the delivery of further aid to Ukraine from the International Monetary Fund. During the most recent IMF board meeting, Russia voted against the allocation of a third tranche of capital to Ukraine. Ukraine has already received $6.7 billion in two previous tranches, and 
Forbes details that Russia's refusal to permit further allocations stems from Ukraine not paying back a $3 billion loan dating back to the government of ousted president Viktor Yanukovych. 

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Although the loan itself pertains to economic development and growth, it has broader political implications - both for Ukraine and for Russia. Moscow sees a strategic interest in stifling growth in Ukraine, thereby potentially drawing eastern Ukraine into its orbit. Kyiv, meanwhile, is banking on further Western aid as a means to jumpstart stalled governmental reforms.] 

September 15:

In a further sign of the warming ties between the two countries, Russia's top general has discussed strategy in Syria with his Turkish counterpart. The meeting is the first of its kind in 11 years, 
highlights Reuters. The discussion was part of an official visit to Ankara by Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the Russian general staff. 

The meeting between Gerasimov and Turkish military chief Hulusi Akar could lead to significant coordination between the two countries, which have historically been at odds over approaches to the Syrian civil war. "The unity of understanding between the military wings of Turkey and Russia has been strengthened with this visit and has paved the way for further positive developments in the coming period," according to Turkish military sources cited by the news agency. 

September 16:

Russia's Central Bank has cut its key interest rate for the second time this year, lowering it from 10.5 percent to 10 percent. The move is meant to prop up lending activity in Russia's shrinking economy. However, critics believe that the cut was not aggressive enough to counter the expected 0.5 percent decrease in Russia's overall economy this year, 
reports the Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, the Russian government has also failed to adjust pension payments in keeping with the country's rising inflation rate, leading to a decline in purchasing power among the country's pensioners.

Related Categories: Russia; Russia and Eurasia Program

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