Real Russia Today is a weekly digest of the most important news from Russia. March 15, 2017

Jul 6, 2017

RUSSIA IN THE WORLD

U.S. indicts Russian spies, hackers over massive Yahoo hack

The U.S. government on Wednesday unsealed charges against two Russian spies and two criminal hackers for allegedly pilfering 500 million Yahoo user accounts in 2014.

The indictments, announced at a news conference in Washington, represent the first time the U.S. government has criminally charged Russian officials for cyber offenses.

Russia appears to deploy forces in Egypt, eyes on Libya role – sources

Russia appears to have deployed special forces to an airbase in western Egypt near the border with Libya in recent days, U.S., Egyptian and diplomatic sources say … The U.S. military declined comment. U.S. intelligence on Russian military activities is often complicated by its use of contractors or forces without uniforms, officials say.

Moscow moves to incorporate breakaway Georgian region's military

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his government to conclude an agreement to effectively incorporate the military of Georgia's breakaway South Ossetia region into the Russian armed forces' command structure. The order, issued by the Kremlin on March 14, comes a day after the Russian government published a draft agreement paving the way for separatists in South Ossetia to serve as contract soldiers in the Russian military.

Russia has deployed missile barred by treaty, U.S. general tells Congress

A senior American general told Congress on Wednesday that Russia has deployed a prohibited cruise missile, the first public confirmation by the United States that the Kremlin had fielded the weapon in violation of a landmark arms control agreement.

The missile is believed to have been moved in December from a test site in southern Russia to an undisclosed operational base.

How the Russians tried to smear Chrystia Freeland

Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s ambitious foreign affairs minister, is secretly itching to draw Canada into a showdown with Russia because of the seething hatreds she inherited from her Ukrainian grandfather, a Nazi collaborator and war profiteer she never told us about. She’s been lying about her family’s sordid past all along, and she’s been lying to Canadians about what’s really going on in Ukraine. She’s dangerous. The main problem with all this is that it’s rubbish, from top to bottom. It’s also the hottest political news story in Canada right now.

How Moscow is spreading its propaganda using EU-funded media

We’ve had a quick look at some strange stories done by Euronews, the European multilingual news TV channel, where Russia (VGTRK) is one of the shareholders … Euronews is a private company, run by Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris, who bought in 2015 a controlling stake of 53% … Naguib Sawiris says Euronews should resist pressure from European politicians calling for Western media outlets to provide a counterweight to Kremlin propaganda, the Guardian reported.

For Russian TV, Syria isn’t just a foreign country — it’s a parallel universe

The same people who distrust everything on CNN or the BBC are often eager to believe all they see on RT — simply because it poses as “alternative” media.

EU and Germany in talks on future of Russian pipeline

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline is to run from Russia to Germany, concentrating almost all of Russia’s EU gas exports in that route. It will also pass through the economic zones or territorial waters of Finland, Sweden, and Denmark. Its critics, chief among them Poland, say it would help Russia to use gas cut-offs as an instrument of political blackmail in central Europe and that it would harm Ukraine by making its gas transit pipes obsolete. Russia has said that only onshore parts of Nord Stream 2 should be governed by EU laws.

Russia chose a wheelchair-using singer for Eurovision. Ukraine might arrest her.

Ukraine said Monday that it may bar Russia’s contestant from entering, on the grounds that she illegally toured Crimea after Moscow annexed the peninsula in 2014 … “For a country where people with disabilities unfortunately are treated as inferior, such a choice is unexpected,” wrote Vladimir Varfolomeyev, a reporter for Ekho Moskvy radio station. “It could be a sign of changes in the state policy toward people with disabilities but that’s hard to believe. Most probably Moscow wants to avoid any possible problems for its representative in Kiev (nobody will want to boo a disabled singer) or even hopes to win the contest by stirring up sympathy.”

INSIDE RUSSIA

Russian blogger on trial for playing Pokemon Go in a cathedral

Sokolovsky was arrested for a series of videos he uploaded to YouTube in August 2016, which the police deem “extremist” and “offensive to religious believers' feelings.” He faces a maximum sentence of seven and a half years in prison.

ECHR rules that Russian security forces involved in 2007 abduction of former Memorial head and journalists

After examining the evidence, the court found that their kidnappers were representatives of official government organs.

A 'controlled thaw.’ What the review of the cases of Dadin and Chudnovets tells us

The number of politically motivated criminal cases in Russia is not increasing but we cannot talk of a real improvement, rather we are seeing a change of tactics by the authorities in a situation where the appetite for protest has shrunk.

ANALYSIS

Battle of narratives (Edward Lucas)

The real problem is the Kremlin’s view of history. We see the collapse of the Soviet empire as a liberation. Mr. Putin and his friends see it as a perhaps temporary geopolitical catastrophe. We would not expect the Dutch, Danes or Israelis to have friendly relations with a German leadership which mourned the fall of Hitler’s Third Reich. We should not apply a double standard to the victims of Stalin’s horrors. Lieven argues that the West has moved its “strategic frontier” eastwards, and Russia has merely reacted against a land grab. This ignores two important factors. The EU and NATO did not widen their membership at the behest of masterminds in Brussels. They admitted countries which were pounding on the door, demanding the security, prosperity, liberty, decency, dignity and the like which they had been denied by the Iron Curtain.

We do not fact check every claim, but we do analyze each article for balance, credibility, and proper use of sources.*

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