Starting a New Cycle

RUSSIA / FSU POLITICS - Report 14 Feb 2017 by Alexey Dolinskiy

The Russian leadership is cautiously optimistic about future relations with the United States now that Donald Trump has taken office. Although their interactions have been very limited, Moscow thinks that having a favorable bargaining position in the Middle East may result in persuading the US to lift sanctions against Russia.

Several arrests of high ranking FSB (Federal Security Service) officers specializing in cyber security and the investigation of the famous hacker group Shaltai Boltai shows that the FSB’s involvement in using hacking tools against some political elite actors eventually resulted in a strong counteraction.

Several prominent former elected officials and members of government have had their detentions extended, with no significant progress on their case hearings, meaning that law enforcement believes temporary (yet unpredictably extendable) imprisonment may be sufficient to defeat its political opponents.

Russia is investing much military and diplomatic effort in maintaining the trilateral coalition with Iran and Turkey, and in creating a dialogue platform in Kazakhstan for the Syrian government and opposition groups to establish a unified coalition against ISIS.
The view of the role of the President as the country’s most important institution has been consistently increasing in Russia, with a slight slowdown during the time when Dmitry Medvedev held the office. Now it is at an all-time high. The second and third positions are held by the FSB and the Armed Forces, which have significantly increased in importance in the public perception in the past few years.

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