Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: US Embassy accused of meddling in Russian elections

Meddling in Russian elections is seen on a regular basis, and the US Embassy engages in this, in particular, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the upper house of the Russian parliament, the Federation Council. “Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly cited concrete examples of how the US Embassy is doing this, including through the participation of its diplomats in rallies of opposition parties,” Lavrov said. “Of course, diplomats must evaluate the situation in the host country, report their assessments to the center, to the capital, but taking part in political life simply through gathering opposition activists and instructing them runs counter to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” he said.



Newsline: Turkey Arrests New Suspect In Connection With Russian Ambassador’s Killing

Turkish media reports have said a new suspect has been arrested in connection with the 2016 assassination of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey. Authorities arrested former police officer Ramazan Yucel in the capital, Ankara, after questioning him, reports said. Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov was shot dead while speaking at a photography exhibit in Ankara on December 19, 2016, by an attacker who shouted “Don’t forget Aleppo” and other words that seemed to refer to Russia’s involvement in the Syrian conflict. Turkish authorities said Karlov’s killer was Mevlut Mert Altintas, a 22-year-old policeman who was off duty at the time. Altinas was later shot dead by police at the scene. In November, a former producer at the state-run TRT television channel, Hayreddin Aydinbas, was arrested in connection with the assassination. Turkish officials have said they have arrested several other men suspected of involvement in the murder.


Newsline: Russia temporarily shuts, evacuates Yemen embassy

Russia removed all of its diplomatic personnel from Yemen and has temporarily shut its embassy there, the country’s Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday. Russia’s ambassador to Yemen and other diplomats would continue to fulfill their duties from Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement carried by Russian state media. The decision to temporarily close the embassy, located in the rebel-held capital Sanaa, was attributed to thedeteriorating security situation in the country. “Considering the situation in Sanaa, a decision has been taken to temporarily suspend Russia’s diplomatic presence in Yemen. All employees of the Russian embassy have left the country,” Zakharova was quoted by news agencies as saying.


Newsline: US Consulates Resume Visa Services in Russia

U.S. consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok have resumed processing applications for travel visas, after suspending their work this summer as relations between Washington and Moscow soured. The U.S. Embassy has warned consulate services might still be affected by low staff numbers. The consulates temporarily suspended processing non-immigrant visas in August after Russia ordered the U.S. to cut its staff to 455. The move came after U.S. President Donald Trump signed fresh sanctions against Russia in July.


Newsline: US Ambassador to Russia Eyes Restoring Moscow-Washington Trust

Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman said in an interview to Vedomosti newspaper that he considers rebuilding of trust between Washington and Moscow, which would make productive cooperation possible, his main goal. The ambassador said that the alleged Russian interference in the US 2016 presidential election played an important role in the deterioration of the relationship. Huntsman also said that he believes that Russia’s response to its diplomats being expelled from the United States was not fairly matched.


Newsline: Audits on ‘higher fraud-risk’ Canadian embassies find undocumented payments

The audits in Nigeria, Algeria, Russia, India and Kenya were ordered after a probe found Canada’s embassy in Haiti was defrauded of $1.7M over 12 years. Audits of five Canadian embassies operating in “higher fraud-risk environments” have found cases of questionable procurement practices, undocumented payments for work, and sky-high levels of overtime for drivers. The audits were ordered after a 2016 investigation discovered that Canada’s embassy in Haiti was defrauded of $1.7 million over 12 years through inflated supply contracts and diverted materials. The government fired 17 locally recruited employees over the case. Management audits were conducted on Canadian embassies in Nigeria, Algeria, Russia, India and Kenya, as well as on Canada’s embassy in South Korea as a low-risk environment for comparison purposes. The audit on the Nigeria embassy was the most damning, concluding that protocols around “finance, procurement, contracting, revenues, and asset management were not consistently followed and some key controls were not in place or were circumvented.” Several dubious payments were found, including one case where the contract was signed after the work had already commenced, another where the overtime was paid at a higher rate than in the contract, and another where the value of the contract was “significantly exceeded without a contract amendment.”

Audits on ‘higher fraud-risk’ Canadian embassies find undocumented payments, ballooning overtime costs

Newsline: Russian diplomat warns ‘apocalyptic scenario’ on Korean Peninsula possible

An apocalyptic scenario of developments on the Korean Peninsula is possible, but Russia hopes that a common sense would prevail among the involved parties, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov said on Monday. “A scenario of the apocalyptic development of the situation on the Korean Peninsula exists and we cannot turn our blind eye to it,” Morgulov said speaking at the opening of the eighth annual Asian Conference of the Valdai discussion club in Seoul. “I hope that a common sense, pragmatism and an instinct of self-preservation would prevail among our partners to exclude such negative scenario,” the Russian diplomat said.