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The Real Russia. Today. Meduza's coverage of Russian reactions to the Olympic ban; how a rivalry among federal police may have supplied America with hacker intelligence; and billions lost on bad procurement deals

Meduza

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

  • Team Russia is banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics (the campaign against Grigory Rodchenkov, what network TV is saying about it, what Russian athletes will do, how much money Russia has already spent on Olympic prep, opposition to a boycott, and a lawsuit against Russia's former sports minister)
  • The rivalry between the FSB and GRU may have supplied the U.S. with evidence of how Russia hacked the DNC
  • Russia suspends development of its next-generation rail-mobile missile system
  • An independent report says the federal government has lost billions of dollars in bad procurement contracts, due to a lack of transparency
  • Moscow issues an international arrest warrant for Moldovan billionaire Vladimir Plahotniuc

Team Russia's Olympic ban 🏆⛔️

How Russia has tried to discredit that damned whistleblower

Head of the IOC’s decision to ban Russia’s national team from competing in the 2018 Winter Games, the Russian media and government has systematically dismissed and tried to undermine whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, focusing on his history of mental health issues. Meduza summarizes how Rodchenkov is portrayed in Russia.

The early narrative on television is leaning “patriotic”

The TV show “Vremya Pokazhet” (Time Will Tell), which airs on the Russian network Pervyi Kanal, devoted its most recent broadcast to the International Olympic Committee’s decision to ban Russia’s national team from the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea. Meduza offers a paraphrased retelling of that episode. Direct quotes appear in — you guessed it — quotation marks.

Russian athletes will meet next week to discuss their options

Athletes who’d planned on representing Russia at the 2018 Winter Olympics will attend a meeting on Tuesday, December 12, to discuss the International Olympic Committee’s decision to ban the Russian national team and its offer extended to “clean athletes” to participate under a “neutral flag” and anthem.

  • Mikhail Degtyarev, the head of the State Duma’s committee on physical culture and sports, announced the meeting on Russian network television, following the IOC’s ruling. Degtyarev said the IOC’s decision is intended to divide Russian society as retribution for “the most perfect Olympics in history,” referring to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.

Russia has already spent millions of dollars preparing for this competition

Russia has spent at least 1.5 billion rubles ($25.5 million) on preparations for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, according to a new investigation by the magazine RBC. Meduza summarizes RBC's findings.

Not everyone wants a boycott

Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich says Russian athletes should compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics, even though it means participating under a “neutral flag.” “We’ll know that they’ll be representing Russia in any case. Therefore, they should go,” Dvorkovich stated on December 6. Andrey Turchak, a top official in Russia’s ruling political party, echoed this sentiment, arguing that “political decisions” shouldn’t punish ordinary athletes.

Damn you, Mutko

Communist State Duma deputy Valery Rashkin has filed a lawsuit in a Moscow district court against Deputy Prime Minister and former long-time Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko. According to the magazine RBC, Rashkin says he is “shocked and outraged” by the IOC’s decision to ban Russia’s national team from next year’s Winter Olympics, and believes that Mutko failed in his duties as sports minister to uphold the country’s right to compete in South Korea. The Duma deputy is demanding that Mutko resign and apologize for “humiliating the country.”

  • The IOC’s ruling against Russia, announced on December 5, includes a lifetime ban on Vitaly Mutko from all official Olympic events.
  • After the IOC’s announcement, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Russia’s response will focus on protecting its athletes, not punishing state officials.

A police feud may have supplied the U.S. with evidence that Russia hacked the DNC 🇷🇺🇺🇸

According to a new investigative report by Svetlana Reiter, published by The Bell, an unnamed source claims that former Russian Federal Security Service colonel Sergey Mikhailov, who’s now on trial in Russia for treason, may have provided U.S. officials with information about the hacker attacks on the Democratic Party. Meduza summarized Reiter’s article.

No train rides for Russia's ICBMs 🛤

The Russian military has abandoned the development of a next-generation rail-mobile missile system due to a lack of funding, according to the newspaper Kommersant. The “Barguzin” is being shelved for the foreseeable future for the sake of investments in other weapons systems. Russia’s next ten-year armaments plan includes no money for the Barguzin, which the military has been developing since 2012.

  • The rail-based missile system is described as a “nuclear train” capable of carrying six ICBMs. The USSR once operated 12 “nuclear trains,” but they were all decommissioned in the early 2000s.

Billions of dollars lost on lousy government procurement deals 💰

Bad procurement orders cost the Russian government 557 billion rubles ($9.4 billion) over the past three years, says a new transparency report, according to the newspaper Vedomosti. The amount of money lost in inefficient state purchases is equal to federal spending on education and healthcare. The report’s authors found that the growth of electronic auctions in procurement orders in the first half of 2017 cut the state’s losses by a third (from an average of 180 billion rubles to 120 billion rubles).

  • The study found that the most transparent procurement orders in the government are carried out by the Federal Press Agency, State Courier Service, the federal media regulator Roskomnadzor, and the Defense Ministry, whose tenders are apparently “guaranteed to be transparent.”
  • The least transparent procurement orders reportedly belong to the Federal Road Agency, Federal Fishery Agency, and Federal Subsoil Management Agency.

Moscow wants Moldova's de facto leader behind bars 🇷🇺🇲🇩

Russian investigators have issued an international warrant for the arrest of billionaire Vladimir Plahotniuc, the head of Moldova’s Democratic Party. A Moscow district court arrested him in absentia on December 6 on charges of attempted murder and criminal conspiracy, though no other official details about the case are known. Sources told the news agency Rosbalt that Plahotniuc is wanted in connection with a 2012 attempt on the life of banker Herman Gorbuntsov in London, when he survived being shot eight times.

  • Moscow police previously arrested Vitaly Prok, the supposed gunman in the attack on Gorbuntsov, and he reportedly fingered Plahotniuc in the attempted murder and in several successful murders.
  • The Financial Times calls Plahotniuc the richest man in Moldova and the country’s de facto leader. His net worth is estimated to be several billion dollars.

Yours, Meduza