On November 15, Russian Economy Minister Alexey Ulyukayev was unexpectedly arrested and became a defendant in a bribery criminal case. On the same day he lost his position in the government. Allegedly he demanded Russian state-controlled oil giant Rosneft’s representative to pay him $2 million for lawfully providing a positive review and evaluation of a deal that allowed Rosneft to acquire government’s share in mid-sized producer Bashneft.
Nemtsov, co-chair of the Republican Party of Russia – People’s Freedom Party (RPR-PARNAS) and former first deputy prime minister in the Yeltsin government, was fatally shot as he was walking home with a woman in central Moscow late on February 27. He joined the opposition in the 2000s.
Five men were arrested on suspicion of killing Nemtsov: Zaur Dadayev, Anzor Gubashev, Shadid Gubashev, Khamzat Bakhayev and Tamerlan Eskerkhanov.
The violence that ensued in Ukraine last month resulted in numerous deaths and hundreds of injuries. Thousands of people marched on the parliament building in Kiev, where a standoff was taking place over proposed constitutional reforms that the opposition said could provide a way out of the political crisis. Following the clashes, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada (parliament) ousted and impeached Yanukovich on February 22, who then fled the country to Russia.
Opposition activist Alexei Navalny and his brother Oleg stand accused in a fraud case involving cosmetics company Yves Rocher Vostok. Investigators allege that the Navalny brothers embezzled upwards of 26 million rubles (over $718,536) from the company, as well as upwards of 4 million rubles (over $110,000) from the Multidisciplinary Processing Company by way of a fraud scheme. Navalny brothers were further charged with having laundered 21 million rubles.
Bashneft, a mid-sized oil producer, was privatized in 2009. It was controlled by the government of Russia’s Bashkortostan region until 2003, when a major stake was sold to companies affiliated with Ural Rakhimov, son of the former head of Bashkortostan, Murtaza Rakhimov. In 2009, Russian oil-to-telecoms conglomerate Sistema gained control of the company. In April 2014, investigators opened a criminal case linked to deals with Bashneft shares in 2002 to 2009. Rakhimov and Vladimir Yevtushenkov were implicated in the sale of Bashneft stock in 2009. Rakhimov was charged in absentia with embezzlement during the transaction and the subsequent laundering of the funds. He has been put on the international wanted list.
Yevtushenkov, the board chairman and largest beneficiary of Sistema, has been charged with money laundering.
Greenpeace's Arctic Sunrise ship was seized by Russian border guards on September 19th in international waters within Russia's exclusive economic zone a day after two Greenpeace activists scaled the Prirazlomnoye drilling rig in the Pechora Sea, the southeastern part of the Barents Sea. Federal investigators have launched a maritime piracy case against the vessel’s crew.
Relations between Russia and the West have deteriorated due to the situation in Ukraine. The European Union and the United States have imposed several waves of anti-Russian economic sanctions over Moscow's alleged role in the Ukrainian internal conflict. In mid-September, European Union introduced a new batch of sanctions, for the first time targeting directly the financing of the state-owned oil sector, which is crucial to the Russian economy.
Two blasts occurred at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, America’s most prestigious 26.2 mile race which boasts such stringent entry requirements that only the best of the best are entitled to compete. Three people have been confirmed dead, including an eight-year-old boy present to cheer on his father. The Boston Police Department tweeted in its latest casualty update Tuesday that 176 injured have gone to local hospitals. A large-scale, multi-agency investigation is presently underway.
Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed merging the Supreme Court with the Supreme Commercial Court in June 2013. This reform requires amendments to the Russian Constitution. Currently, the Supreme Court presides over all civil lawsuits, criminal cases and those involving administrative offenses, while the Supreme Commercial Court presides over all economic disputes. The merger proposal has been met with controversy by the lawyer community.
Crimea, a peninsula of some 2 million people, resisted the authority of the leadership that came to power in Ukraine in February 2014. At a referendum which was held on March 16 voters overwhelmingly supported secession from Ukraine and joining Russia. President Vladimir Putin officialy signed the bills on accession of Crimean peninsula and Sevastopol with Russian Federation into laws on March 21. He asserted that the referendum was held in accordance with international law and UN Charter. The US and EU imposed sanctions on senior Russian officials, including visa bans and asset freezes, in protest of Russia's support of Crimea's actions.