Russian Federation. It was another year of bloody
political violence in Russia. At least 34 people were killed
in two bomb attacks that followed closely in December in
former Stalingrad, now Volgograd, north of the Caucasus.
Suicide bombers were believed to be behind, and suspicions
were directed at "Russia's bin Laden", the Chechen Islamist
and separatist leader Doku Umarov. Earlier this year he had
threatened with attacks for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
to Countryaah, President Vladimir Putin declared that terrorists would
be chased and killed, and hundreds of people were arrested
in the extensive police chase that followed the bombing.
Particularly vulnerable were Caucasians, as Moscow still had
problems with violent separatism in the North Caucasus
sub-republics. The violence in Dagestan had assumed such
proportions that the Kremlin replaced the leadership of the
Nationalism and xenophobia gained stronger expression
during the year and became a growing political force. In
far-right marches, the cries were heard "dead to the
Caucasians", and in the hundreds of cities held
demonstrations called the Russian march demanding "Russia
for the Russians".
In a survey, over 80% of Moscow residents wanted Central
Asian and other guest workers to be deported. When a
Caucasian was suspected of murdering a Russian, racist riots
broke out in a Moscow suburb market in October, and a train
from Tajikistan was vandalized by hooligans.
At the same time as the fear of terror in the Sochi
Winter Olympics grew, President Putin seemed to want to
reduce the risk of political protests. Among some 20,000
prisoners released in an amnesty in December were Russia's
three most famous prisoners: former oil company Yuko's CEO
Michail Chodorovsky and punk band Pussy Riots members Maria
Aljochina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.
Chodorovsky had earlier this year received a ruling from
the European Court of Justice, stating that the trial
against him in 2005 was not fair and that he was entitled to
damages. However, the European Court of Justice did not
agree that he was being investigated for political reasons
but considered that there were legal grounds for the tax
The widespread corruption seemed to increase. The chief
of police forensics proposed a new police authority, which
would work against the illegal transfer of capital and
control the use of state resources. According to the
Governor, the equivalent of nearly $ 50 billion had been
illegally taken out of the country last year. This meant
that one-twentieth of GDP disappeared in tax evasion,
corruption or drug trafficking.
Blogger Aleksey Navalnyj emerged increasingly as the
leading opposition politician against President Vladimir
Putin's authoritarian regime, and his corruption revelations
harmed victims. Among other things, the chairman of
Parliament's Ethics Committee was forced to resign because
he did not report a valuable property he owned in the United
Navalnyj was charged with embezzlement from a forest
company, and the trial began in April. According to
Navalnyj, the prosecution was politically motivated, but in
July he was sentenced to five years in prison. However, he
was released on bail pending appeal and was allowed to stand
in the mayor's election in Moscow in September. Navalnyj
conducted a strong regime-critical election campaign, and in
opinion polls his popularity grew. But Putin-backed mayor
Sergei Sobjanin won the election and, according to official
data, received 51.3% of the vote while Navalnyj received
just over 27%. The result was seen as a success for the
opposition, but Navalnyj accused Sobjanin of electoral fraud
and demanded a second round of elections. More than 900
reports of electoral fraud were made to the judiciary.
Navalnyj appealed against the verdict of embezzlement.
However, it was determined, but the prison sentence was made
conditional. Another charge of embezzlement was brought
against Navalny, which he also saw as politically motivated.
One case that upset both inside and outside the country
was the charge of tax fraud against the deceased lawyer
Sergei Magnitsky, who disclosed major fraud and tax evasion
among government officials. At the same time as the regime
was accused of Magnitsky's death in the 2009 arrest, a trial
was opened against the deceased. The suspicions of abuse
against Magnitsky in the detention were dismissed by an
investigation, and instead the deceased was convicted of tax
fraud in July, but without penalty.
A ban on American adoptions of Russian children became
the Kremlin's response to the so-called Magnitsky law in the
US, which imposes sanctions on Russian politicians and
government officials suspected of human rights abuses. Tens
of thousands of people went to Moscow to demonstrate the ban
The authorities began to apply the 2012 law aimed at
voluntary organizations supported from abroad. They were
considered to be engaged in political activities, were
considered foreign agents and had to register as such. The
tax authorities made raids, and in April the election
supervisor Golos was first sentenced to fines for not
registering. Golos still refused to register as a foreign
agent and was banned from operating for six months in June.
In April, the lower house voted for a scandal, which
sharpened the sentence to three years in prison or high
fines for violating religious sentiments. It was also
adopted by the upper house and signed by President Putin in
June. Then Putin also signed another law that tightened the
penalty for what is called propaganda for homosexuality
among minors. The law led to demonstrations and
Large demonstrations were held in June in Moscow
demanding the release of the 18 people charged with mass
riots and violence against the police during the
regime-critical protests on the Bolotna Square in 2012.
According to the accused, it was the police who provoked the
violence, but the judiciary put considerable resources into
to prosecute, according to assessors, to deter
regime-critical protests. One person was previously
sentenced to prison, and in October, Michail Kosenko was
sentenced to psychiatric forcible treatment indefinitely.
In July, the mayor of Yaroslavl was arrested and charged
with corruption. He had previously belonged to President
Putin's support party United Russia but broke with it and
won the mayor's election in the city as an independent
The Kremlin ended up in a series of foreign political and
diplomatic conflicts during the year, such as when US former
security agent Edward Snowden landed in Moscow in June and
sought political asylum. He was wanted by the United States
for leaked top secret documents on the US security agency
NSA's surveillance. Snowden was allowed to stay, which upset
the US and President Barack Obama, who canceled a planned
official meeting with President Putin.
At the same time, Moscow and Washington came to terms
with the civil war in Syria. The US renounced its plans to
bomb a bomb in Syria following the use of chemical weapons
there and agreed to the Russian proposal that Syria's
nuclear weapons should be discontinued under international
control. The Russian and US foreign ministers then continued
to negotiate jointly with Iran on limiting the Iranian
Moscow's relations with the EU deteriorated during the
year. The Kremlin was challenged by the EU's plans to
conclude association and free trade agreements with Armenia,
Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Instead, the Kremlin wanted to
join the former Soviet republics in a customs union with the
Russian Federation, Kazakhstan and Belarus and subjected
neighboring countries to political, trade and energy
Armenia fell into disrepute and announced in September
that it would choose the Russian-led customs union instead
of an agreement with the EU, which led to harsh criticism of
Moscow from Brussels. Moldova resisted Russian pressure
despite import stops for Moldovan wine and water and threats
of more expensive gas. Ukraine ended up in a fierce power
struggle between Moscow and the EU, where Kiev finally
refused to sign an agreement with the EU at the Union summit
in Vilnius in November. It led to giant protests and
violence in the Ukrainian capital, and the EU accused Moscow
of acting threateningly against Ukraine.
The Kremlin also put pressure on Lithuania, which was
linked to Lithuania's role as EU President, emphasizing
agreements with the former Soviet republics. Among other
things, imports of Lithuanian dairy products were stopped.
A more unexpected conflict came with Belarus, where
cooperation on the export of potassium carbonate (potash)
was broken by the Russian company Uralkali. Belarus
responded by arresting Uralkali's CEO, visiting Minsk, and
accusing him of abuse of power. Moscow, in turn, decided to
stop the import of pigs and pork from Belarus and reduce the
supply of oil there. After the ownership of Uralkali had
changed, Belarus released Uralkali's CEO, who was then
prosecuted for abuse of power also by Russian prosecutors.
Poor harvest and weak demand for Russian exports
contributed to lower growth in the economy than expected.
The country's GDP was expected to grow by only about 1.5%
during the year.