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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russia Update: January 27, 2015

Publication: Russia Update
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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Medvedev Promises Harsh Response if Russia Cut Off from SWIFT; Russian Bonds Get "Junk" Status

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev promised a harsh response from Russia if the West cuts Russia's banks off from SWIFT, Vedomosti reported. The Interpreter has translated his remarks.

"In the event such decisions are made, I would like to note that our economic reaction, and indeed any other reaction of ours, will be unlimited," he said at a meeting on animal husbandry in Bryansk.

Medvedev noted that in addition to other budgetary shortfalls in Russia, there is "an additional collection of restrictions we've encountered -- that is, restrictions on financing, on liquidity," he said.

"Foreign monetary markets are closed, and undoubtedly, that has an effect on the situation internally," he stated.

Medvedev also criticized the rating agencies; S&P downgraded Russia to "junk" status yesterday.



"All these ratings about which many people are talking are obviously a political instrument in pure form," he said.

He added that ratings agencies make estimates of countries after other countries have launched sanctions against them. "What is that if not a political decision?" he asked.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russia's State Censor, Roskomnadzor, in Talks with Turner Broadcasting Re: Resumption of CNN Broadcasting in Russia
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Greece's Left-Right Coalition Is Nakedly Pro-Putin And Could Block EU/NATO Efforts To Stop Russian Aggression

Greece was launched back into the headlines this week when Alexis Tsipras, an anti-establishment and anti-austerity politician was sworn in as Prime Minister. As Anton Shekhovtsov explains, Tsipras has established a coalition government between his own party, the Greek Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), and the far right Independent Greeks party (ANEL).

But many may not be aware of how nakedly pro-Putin both parties are, potentially creating problems for both the European Union and NATO in their efforts to address Russia's aggression in eastern Ukraine and Eastern Europe. Shekhovtsov writes:

Both SYRIZA and ANEL are so-called “anti-austerity parties” implying that they oppose reducing budget deficits as a response to the Greek financial crisis, as well as rejecting the austerity package put forth by the EU and the IMF. The “anti-austerity” platform may seem the only agenda that has drawn the two parties they share, but they also share a similar approach to foreign policy issues — an approach that may undermine the EU unity over the Russian threat.

Both parties are overtly pro-Russian, and SYRIZA’s leader Alexis Tsipras denounced the sanctions against Russia imposed by the EU for Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its invasion of Ukraine that has already cost Ukrainians thousands of lives. In May 2014, i.e. already after Russia had started its invasion of Ukraine, Tsipras travelled to Moscow to meet Vladimir Putin’s major allies such as Valentina Matviyenko, chairman of Federation Council of the Russian Federation, and Aleksey Pushkov, chairman of the Russian parliament’s foreign affairs committee. Both Matviyenko and Pushkov are sanctioned by the US, while Matviyenko is also sanctioned by the EU. This did not prevent Tsipras from holding a meeting with her.

The article goes on to explore how SYRIZA and ANEL have significant links to the Kremlin:

Shekhovtsov has been posting pictures and Tweets which explore, even further, the depth of the problems with Greece's new administration:
This issue has also not escaped the attention of BBC's Daniel Sandford, who's tweet on the matter was retweeted by Estonia's President:
Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves has also expressed his concern over the new government in Greece. Estonia is perhaps NATO's most vulnerable nation when it comes to Russian aggression, and Ilves has been pressing for a harder line against Putin. Greece could now seriously undermine those efforts:

What Shekhovtsov and President Ilves make clear is that Greece's internal politics could have geopolitical consequences, and nobody is happier to see SYRIZA come to power than Russian President Vladimir Putin.


-- James Miller
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russian State News Agency TASS Implicated In Spy Ring

We've been following the story of an alleged Russian spy ring which has been disrupted in New York. Three Russians have been named in the official government documents on the episode, one of whom is now in custody and two of whom have left the country. The three men allegedly worked to, among other things, uncover information related to U.S. sanctions against Russia due to its actions in Ukraine.

Last night we noted that a Russian state news agency was also implicated as working with the alleged spies, though that agency remained unnamed. We now know that the agency implicated in the scandal is TASS, formerly Itar-TASS.

Business Insider has more:

TASS, which is a Russian government-owned news agency, has not yet come out with a statement. However, the media group did post two articles which appear to be defending the spy ring.

In the first, TASS quotes Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich, who said there is "no proof to back up the charges has been presented" by the FBI and federal prosecutors.

"One gets an impression the US authorities have decided to resort to their favourite tactic of unfolding spy scandals. Due to Washington’s hostile stance Russian-US relations have long experienced no easy times. Apparently, the United States follows 'the worse - the better' principle in an attempt to start another spiral of an anti-Russian campaign," Lukashevich was quoted as saying by TASS...

"We insist on a stop to the string of provocations against Russian representatives unleashed by US secret services, and on immediate consular access to Buryakov, on the strict observance of the Russian citizen’s rights and on his release," he also added.

-- James Miller

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
British Inquiry into Litvinenko Poisoning Death Opens

Today the public inquiry into the case of the poisoning death of Russian defector Alexander Litvinko began.

The BBC's Daniel Sanford, who once interviewed Lugovoi, the chief suspect in Litvinenko's death, live-tweeted the hearing. Here are some selected tweets:


The transcripts of the Litvinenko inquiry will be published here as they become available. The Guardian also liveblogged the inquiry.

Of course, the real question is how the British judge will rule in this case, if the evidence proves that the Russian state was involved in the murder of Litvinenko.

As the UK has had close ties with Russia in recent years, particularly business ties that have led to a boom in British sotres, media, real estate and even a soccer team owned by Russians, there has been political unwillingness to go up against President Vladimir Putin.

But with the chill in relations over Putin's war on Ukraine, and the imposition of Western sanctions, the UK may prove more willing to state the obvious about this Polonium poisoning of a former Russian spy who came to work with British intelligence to foil Russian organized crime.

Past reporting on the Litvinenko case from The Interpreter:

Litvinenko Inquest

Marina Litvinenko: “Explain to Me Where the Polonium Came From?”

A Development In the Litvinenko Case

Marina Litvinenko Wins Suit Against British Government

A Public Inquiry into Litvinenko’s Death is Likely–And Necessary

The Realpolitik of Murder

The UK is Granting Russia ‘License to Kill’

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick  

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