Russia Trades Captive Spies With Norway, Lithuania in Cold War-style Swap

Russia, Norway and Lithuania conducted an exchange of spies on Friday, securing the return of several captured agents to their home countries, the head of Lithuanian counterintelligence said. Previous reports suggested that Moscow, Oslo and Vilnius were discussing exchanging two Russians jailed in Lithuania, two Lithuanians sentenced for spying in Russia, and a Norwegian, Frode…

Russia Recognizes Bolivia’s Interim Leader as Violence Continues

Russia has recognized violence-plagued Bolivia’s interim president until the South American nation’s next elections, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency quoted a senior diplomat as saying Thursday. Bolivia’s pro-Russian President Evo Morales resigned and fled the country this week to ease the violence that has been ongoing since a disputed vote last month. Senate vice-president…

MH17 Crash Probe Releases Intercepted Calls Between East Ukraine Rebels and Russian Officials

A team of international prosecutors has released a new batch of intercepted audio recordings of calls it says are between pro-Russian separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine and high-ranking Russian officials in the weeks leading up to the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine. The calls include conversations with separatist leaders including…

170K in East Ukraine Get Russian Passports Under Putin’s Fast-Track Program

More than 170,000 residents of separatist-controlled territories in eastern Ukraine have become Russian citizens under President Vladimir Putin’s fast-track program since it launched six months ago, authorities said. Putin simplified the path to Russian citizenship for an estimated 3.7 million residents of the pro-Russian Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” in April, angering Ukraine and the…

Russian Economic Growth Accelerates

The Russian economy expanded at an annual rate of 1.7% in the third quarter of the year, official GDP statistics released Wednesday showed. The rate of growth was up from 0.9% recorded by the Russian state statistics agency Rosstat in the second quarter, and around what was expected by economists and analysts. Both the agricultural…

Sami Parliaments, EU Concerned by Russia Shutting Down Indigenous Rights Group

Moscow City Court ruled to dissolve the Center for Support of Indigenous Peoples of the North/Russian Indigenous Training Center (CSIPN/RITC), provoking protests from Brussels and the Nordic Sami Parliaments. Hindering contacts with intergovernmental organizations and forums is exactly why the Justice Ministry in Moscow took the case to court, says CSIPN/RITC director Rodion Sulyandziga, who represents indigenous…

Russian Authorities Can Seize Assets of Criminals’ Acquaintances, Court Rules

Russia has ruled that authorities can seize suspicious assets owned by relatives and acquaintances of criminals convicted of corruption unless they can prove they were lawfully obtained, the Vedomosti business daily reported Tuesday. The ruling came in response to an appeal by a convicted police anti-corruption official’s family, who argued that the authorities had illegally…

Chechnya Outperforms Kremlin’s KPIs Nationwide – Reports

Russia’s republic of Chechnya has the highest trust ratings toward its leaders and President Vladimir Putin among all regions, Russian media reported Monday. The Kremlin closely monitors Putin’s trust ratings, which dipped to historic lows then quickly bounced back after the Kremlin challenged state pollsters’ methodologies. Its domestic policy curator Sergei Kiriyenko earlier this year…

Former Kazakh President Wants to Arrange Putin-Zelenskiy Summit

Kazakhstan’s former president Nursultan Nazarbayev is trying to arrange a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskiy, whose countries are at odds over the war between Kiev and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. “Zelenskiy has already agreed to a tete-a-tete, and (I have) informed the president of Russia about that. We shall see now (if…

Secret U.K. Report Names Conservatives’ Russian Oligarch Donors – Sunday Times

Nine Russian businesspeople have donated to Britain’s Conservative Party, according to a secret parliamentary report on Russian interference in British elections, The Sunday Times newspaper reported Sunday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s opponents accuse him of blocking the report ahead of the Dec. 12 parliamentary election, an assertion that his Conservative-led government dismissed. Johnson’s office has…

Libya Slams Russian Intervention: ‘Wherever Wagner Goes Destruction Happens’

Russia is using private military contractors to escalate the conflict in Libya and boost its influence there, the security chief of Libya’s UN-backed government has said. Libyan interior minister Fathi Bashagha’s accusations follow reports of at least two deployments of Kremlin-linked Wagner mercenaries in recent months as forces based in eastern Libya attempt to take…

Syrian Leader’s Family Owns $40M in Moscow Luxury Apartments – Watchdog

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s extended family and associates own $40 million worth of luxury apartments in Moscow’s skyscraper district, according to the anti-corruption campaign group Global Witness. Russia has been a staunch ally of the Assad family over its nearly 50-year rule. The Kremlin threw its military support behind Assad in 2015, helping Damascus retake…

Russia Could Trigger World War III, U.K. Defense Chief Says

Threats from Russia are escalating, the U.K.’s Chief of the Defense Staff Nick Carter said, as new tools and weapons including disinformation and mercenaries could lead to miscalculations or even war. Techniques including “disinformation, subversion, manipulation, assassinations and of course the use of mercenaries, which are very easily undeclared and non-attributable,” mean that “you can…

Russia Seeks Extradition of Journalist From Latvia

Russia plans to ask Latvia to extradite Russian journalist Alexander Shvarev to face charges of slandering oligarch Alisher Usmanov, Interfax reported Friday. Authorities in April raided the Moscow offices of Russia’s Rosbalt news outlet, where Shvarev works, in connection with a defamation lawsuit brought by Usmanov. Shvarev is undergoing medical treatment in Riga, according to…