Сергей Замасчиков

Sergei Zamascikov is a consultant based in Los Angeles. Originally from Latvia, he worked at the International Institute for Strategic Studies(IISS), Radio Liberty, Voice of America and RAND Corporation.

  On September 22, 2017, Sberbank CEO, Herman Gref, announced the state-owned Russian bank plans to withdraw from several European countries. The reason given was pressure from sanctions. According to Gref, “…it is extremely challenging to work under sanctions in Europe.” Under existing European sanctions passed in 2014, Sberbank is barred from raising debt of more than 30 days’ maturity in Europe. The US recently tightened this limit from 30 to 14 days, in response to Russia’s illegal involvement in last year’s presidential election. Mr. Gref did not reveal which countries Sberbank plans to leave or what it plans for its offices there. However, it looks like the “exodus” has already started: in 2017, Sberbank has sold it banking institution in Slovenia and is trying to sell two Ukrainian subsidiaries

Shukhrat Gulyamov 1

  On August 10, 2017, when the first reports that the Supreme Military Court (Tribunal) of Uzbekistan had sentenced former first deputy chairman of the country’s Security Service (SNB), Shukhrat Gulyamov, to life imprisonment and asked him to compensate the state for the amount of $1.5 billion, some observers doubted its authenticity. Indeed, General Gulyamov has been known to ignore orders coming even from Uzbekistan’s new president, Shavkhat Mirziyoyev. After being demoted by the newly elected president and sent to work at one of the oblast (provincial) security branches, Gulyamov defiantly stayed at his old position in the capital city and continued to work every day with no repercussions.  This was just another indication of his powers and continuous support from the head of the SNB, Rustam Inoyatov.   Known

Ukraine’s Ethnic Groups

  On July 10, 2017, Ukraine adopted new regulations for border crossings. They require all Russian citizens entering the country to have biometric passports and “register with their temporary addresses and inform authorities about their movement within Ukrainian territory”. Moscow’s official reaction was predictably negative, threatening to introduce a visa regime for Ukrainians. This could potentially bring further complications to over a million Ukrainians working in Russia and an additional several million who annually cross the border to visit their friends and relatives.   While Ukraine had the world’s attention, primarily due to its political turmoil and Russia’s “hybrid aggression”, the country’s demography is and will continue to be its most serious challenge. This Eastern European country has a progressively shrinking population due to emigration and birthrate decline. As a

Rahmat Akilov3

  On April 4, 2017, when 23-year old Akbarzon Jalilov has blown himself up taking 15 other innocent people lives at the St. Petersburg metro, very few people initially paid attention to his place of birth. Shortly, it turned out that him, as another eight of his friends who were detained, were ethnic Uzbeks from a Kyrgyz town of Osh. Another Uzbek man, Rakhmat Akilov, is suspected of steering a hijacked beer truck into a crowd of shoppers in Stockholm on April 7 that left four people dead and 15 others wounded. Yet another Uzbek national, Abdulkadir Masharipov, has been arrested for allegedly killing 39 people of different nationalities only two hours into the New Year in the Reina nightclub in Istanbul on January 1, 2017.  All three of them

Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani

When the „First Funding Conference of Coordinate Council of the Russian Compatriots of the State of Qatar” took place in Doha in October 2016, some observers were surprised to find out that it represented 7,000 Russian nationals permanently residing in Qatar. According to the Russian embassy in Doha, these include “physicians, engineers, sports coaches, pilots, musicians of the Qatari Philharmonic Orchestra and etc.”( “etc.” most likely also includes SVR/GRU operatives). This is an impressive number for a country of less than 2 million, particularly since the last such figures given by the Russian embassy in 2014 were only 2,500 people. This dramatic, almost 300%, growth has been directly related to the new rapprochement between the two countries, which started in 2016 following the visit to Moscow of Qatar’s emir Tamim

Shelest with Marshal Grechko and General Epishev 2

  Vasil Bil’ak   In January 2011, the Slovak government’s special prosecutor’s office, “due to the lack of witnesses”, decided to close an investigation into the former head of the Slovak Communist Party, Vasil Bil’ak. At the time, Bil’ak, was 93 years old and the only living person who signed the letter inviting Warsaw Pact forces to invade Czechoslovakia. All other “comrades in crime” had passed away.   Bil’ak, along with other conservative CSSR Communist functionaries, had been charged with sending Brezhnev “the letter”, where they asked for “fraternal aid” in fighting “rightist’ forces” with “all means available.” Subsequently, on August 21, 1968, Warsaw Pact forces invaded Czechoslovakia and stayed there until 1989. Bil’ak remained in power as a member of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist

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Changes in Russian TV Propaganda Landscape   My friend, a veteran journalist from Eastern Europe, can hardly be called a Kremlin sympathizer. То the contrary, his credentials as a veteran anti-communist and defender of press freedom are impeccable. He never had a chance to have his writings published in the old USSR (until 1989 mostly writing for Western magazines), or for that matter in Putin-controlled media, nothing to say about being on Russian prime time TV. That is – until recently.   Now, welcome to the new Kremlin TV propaganda reality. Being stonewalling and often ridiculed by major Western media, the new Russian government propaganda machine began to change, modernizing its approach. It started with the overhaul of Kremlin foreign language programs. What used to be rather dull and rhetorical