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Russia (Internal)

CrisisWatch Russia (Internal)

Unchanged Situation

Ahead of Sept elections, authorities criticised regional body OSCE’s decision not to send electoral monitors, and continued to take steps restricting space for opposition. Ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for 17-19 Sept, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) 4 Aug announced that it will not send election observers for first time since 1993, citing COVID-19-related restrictions on number of observers imposed by Russian authorities. FM Sergei Lavrov 9 Aug accused West of preparing group to challenge election results and using international organisations to complicate elections, while Head of Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights Valery Fadayev 18 Aug accused OSCE of portraying elections as “unfair” and “illegitimate”. Ruling United Russia party 24 Aug held congress, attended by President Putin. Authorities continued to restrict space for opposition. Notably, court 3 Aug sentenced opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s associate to one-and-a-half years’ restrictive freedom for violating health regulations during unsanctioned protest in Jan; authorities 6, 16, 20 and 25 Aug indicted and sentenced six other Navalny associates on similar charges. Investigative Committee 11 Aug also brought new charges against Navalny, accusing him of founding non-profit organisation Anti-Corruption Foundation with aim of “popularising and spreading his convictions”; reports surfaced during month that police in capital Moscow visited citizens associated with his organisation. Marking one-year anniversary of Navalny’s poisoning, UK and U.S. 20 Aug announced sanctions on seven individuals “directly responsible for planning or carrying out the attack”. Human rights centre Memorial 18 Aug reported number of political prisoners had increased from 349 to 410 since early 2021. Meanwhile, security forces in Russian-annexed Crimea 18 Aug detained two leaders and three members of international jihadist organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islam.
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Reports & Briefings

In The News

31 Aug 2020
The Kurdish leadership has every reason to suspect that Russia will not push Damascus to accept anything that Turkey might interpret as protecting or legitimizing the YPG. Kurdistan24

Dareen Khalifa

Senior Analyst, Syria
15 Apr 2020
To issue orders that people will not obey erodes one’s power. For Putin, that is existential. Politico

Anna Arutunyan

Former Senior Analyst, Russia
6 Apr 2020
[...] this is an effort to minimize offending Moscow that reflects the fact that U.N. officials believe that continued cooperation with Russia is key to the future of humanitarian operations in Syria. New York Times

Richard Gowan

UN Director
14 Feb 2020
Escalation is likely going to continue [in Syria] as long as Turkey and Russia cannot agree on a new cease-fire. NBC News

Berkay Mandıracı

Analyst, Turkey
11 Sep 2018
[Russia is] targeting the [African] regimes that do have not have very good relations with the west or who are dissatisfied with west like Sudan, Zimbabwe and CAR. The Guardian

Thierry Vircoulon

Former Senior Consultant, Central Africa
27 Aug 2018
[The rapprochement between Russia and Turkey] demonstrates a striking level of pragmatism in this relationship. Associated Press

Anna Arutunyan

Former Senior Analyst, Russia

Latest Updates

Q&A / Europe & Central Asia

Deadly Clashes in Syria’s Idlib Show Limits of Turkey’s Options

A deadly attack on Turkish forces in Syria has brought Idlib’s crisis to a dangerous crossroads. In this Q&A, Crisis Group’s Turkey, Syria and Russia experts explain what happened and what’s at stake.

Op-Ed / Europe & Central Asia

Putin’s Future: Reading the Tea Leaves

As President Putin announces changes to Russia’s constitution, Crisis Group expert Olga Oliker explores his plans for the future. Putin’s government may have resigned and his future role may be unknown, she says, but one thing is certain: he is the one calling the shots.

Originally published in Inkstick

Podcast / Europe & Central Asia

War & Peace: Russia in 2020

This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Hugh Pope talk to Andrey Kortunov, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, about Russia's progress in 2019, from Syrian reconstruction to arms control to who President Putin might prefer in the White House. 

European institutions and the European security order: American perspectives and their implications

Torn between  Russia’s growing influence and increasing frictions in a historic alliance with the U.S., European states face new challenges to their security architecture. Olga Oliker calls Europe to embrace a dialogue on security and threats in the neighbourhood to build sustainable peace all across the region.

Originally published in EUREN Brief

Are There Alternatives to a Military Victory in Idlib?

Last weekend, the presidents of Turkey, Iran and Russia met in Ankara to discuss, among other things, the latest developments in Syria amid Turkish concerns over the consequences of a Syrian government offensive in the last rebel enclave, Idlib. 

Originally published in Valdai