Four State Duma deputies asked the assembly's ethics commission to evaluate the speech that former A Just Russia Deputy Dmitry Gudkov gave at a Freedom House forum in the United States this month. Gudkov spoke out against repressive Russian state policy, supported the Magnitsky Act and asked the US to help President Vladimir Putin to battle corruption within Russia, which Duma deputies considered a call for intervention in Russia's internal affairs.
(The Moscow Times)
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
The European Union and the International Monetary Fund made an unprecedented decision to impose a one-off levy on Cypriot bank clients’ deposits in return for a 10 billion euro ($13 billion) bank bailout to keep the Cypriot economy from collapsing.
Newly appointed US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the United States would scrap part of its European missile defense shield, which has faced the biggest opposition from Russia. Hagel said the decision was made due to military funding cuts and a potential threat from North Korea.
(The Moscow Times, Kommersant)
A US budget cut will lead to a $150 million reduction in the volume of military assistance to Israel. The Pentagon said joint projects, primarily in missile defense, will not be affected.
State Duma deputies plan to oblige Public Chamber members to declare their incomes and expenses. Lawmakers also want to ban them from owning foreign bank accounts and assets, just like deputies and state officials.
New Pope Francis will be enthroned in the Vatican on March 19. The first pontiff from Latin America, Francis has good ties with Russian Orthodox Church clergy but cool relations with Argentina's authorities.
Moscow’s authorities plan to toughen measures taken against drivers who illegally cross into bus lanes, thanks to video cameras installed on buses and ambulances.
Bolshoi Theater dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko called on his friends and colleagues "not to believe anyone" about his alleged role as the mastermind of an acid attack on Bolshoi Ballet chief Sergei Filin, in what investigators say could be an attempt to soften his potential sentence.
(The Moscow Times)
Dozens of car license plates are stolen in Moscow every day. Car owners prefer to pay ransom to extorters to get their plates back because registering their vehicles all over again is a time-consuming procedure. The criminals involved in talks with the victims are often in jail, and can be difficult to identify. Besides, in Russia, license plate theft is only punishable by a small fine.
State Duma Deputy Andrei Isayev appeared to threaten Moskovsky Komsomolets staff after the daily criticized several female deputies in the parliament's lower house. The newspaper article, entitled "Political Prostitution Switches Sex," accused three female United Russia deputies of frequently changing their political position to please the Kremlin.
(Kommersant, The Moscow Times)
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.