July 3, 2018

Analytical bulletin #8 (9) 2018

Dear Reader,

We would like to present to you the next issue of the Bulletin #8(9)2018 «RUSSIAN POLITICS».

Table of contents and short summary

EVENTS

Arrest of Karina Tsurkan

On 15 June, Karina Tsurkan, a member of the Board of Directors of a major Russian energy company Inter RAO, was arrested.

The Economic Security Service of the FSB carried out Tsurkan’s arrest, but it was the Foreign Intelligence Service that initially orchestrated it. Sources claim that the special services were opposed to her appointment to the top management of Inter RAO; however, it was not possible to block her nomination due a certain political “protection.” In the current situation, Tsurkan’s arrest deals an extremely forceful blow to the Kovalchuks, whom the SVR-FSB is implicitly accusing of having hired a “Romanian spy.” It is also an indirect blow to the positions of Igor Sechin who let this situation happen in the company. Yet, Tsurkan’s arrest could work to Sechin’s advantage.

MAIN ACTORS

New Figures in the Presidential Administration

On 22 June, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on the new appointments to his Presidential administration. They concerned the heads of directorates. Alexander Kharichev, an associate of Sergei Kirienko, became the new chief of the Directorate for Supporting Activities of the State Council. Thus, Kirienko is endeavoring to shape his own political, vertical structure of regional influence through Kharichev, thereby circumventing Andrei Yarin.

Alexander Matovnikov, Major General and Hero of the Russian Federation who commanded the Special Operations Forces, was appointed Presidential Envoy to the Northern Caucasus Federal District. Within the context of the campaign in Syria, Matovnikov worked closely with Viktor Zolotov, Director of the Russian National Guard. He was also called upon by Vladimir Putin to serve carry out special assignments in the Special Operations Forces and he led covert military operations abroad. Matovnikov’s departure could also be linked to future reshuffling of senior officials in the Main Intelligence Directorate.

PROCESSES

Preparations for the Meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump

Vladimir Putin will be hosting Donald Trump not so much as a head of State, but rather as a political figure who finds himself in a confrontational relationship with the American establishment. One can sense that Putin is attempting to play at “give-away;” a series of agreements that emerge from this meeting could be kept under wraps. The framework being discussed in the media involves withdrawal of the US from Syria in exchange for a limited role for Iran in Syria. That format is of interest to Russia but, for the time being, is perceived not as a strategic area for cooperation, but rather as an opportunity for tactical maneuvering.

 

The next issue of the analytical bulletin will be published on 17 July 2018.

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