The tweet that shook two nuclear adversaries. Amid heightened tensions and repressions in Kashmir, a Russian diplomat’s social media post casts doubt on Indo-Russian relations

In late July and early August, India began taking extraordinary steps to integrate the predominantly Muslim state of Jammu and Kashmir into the country’s central government. In a move that instantly escalated tensions with Pakistan, which has historically aligned itself with the region’s Muslims, India repealed an article of its constitution that gives Kashmir broad political autonomy. It also revoked the region’s status as a state, brought the area under its direct control, arrested thousands of people, and practically cut Kashmir off from the outside world by turning off all of the region’s remote connections.

Moscow public transport is suing protest leaders for delays caused by traffic closures, even where roads remained open

On August 16, the state-owned bus company Mosgortrans filed a 1.2-million-ruble ($18,050) lawsuit against several prominent opposition activists, in connection with service disruptions allegedly caused by protests on July 27. Mosgortrans is suing Georgy Alburov, Yulia Galyamina, Ivan Zhdanov, Vladimir Milov, Alexey Navalny, Lyubov Sobol, Alexander Solovyov, Oleg Stepanov, and Ilya Yashin. The municipal enterprise “Auto-Roads” has also filed a separate lawsuit for 11.5 million rubles ($172,960).

Russian students programmed a robot to perform a traditional Caucasian dance in costume. Even the head of Russia’s space agency was enthralled.

In the southern Russian city of Pyatigorsk, young engineers participating in the Mashuk Youth Forum displayed a robot wearing traditional Northern Caucasian dress, including a miniature papakha hat, while performing a lezginka. The robot served as a mascot for the forum’s Fab Lab team, which reportedly purchased its parts in the United States but assembled and programmed their creation in Russia. Diana Kadzayeva, a Fab Lab member, said she and her teammates bestowed their creation with the ancient Ossetian name Khazhbi.

Russia’s Presidential Council on Human Rights files complaints with police, investigators, and National Guard about excessive force against protesters

Russia’s Presidential Council on Human Rights has asked a number of law enforcement agencies to investigate whether police and National Guard officers illegally beat protesters during demonstrations for free elections in Moscow. The Council submitted complaints to the leaders of Russia’s Internal Affairs Ministry, which runs the country’s police force, as well as the Russian National Guard and the Investigative Committee.

Moscow Real Estate

Commercial Real Estate Investment Plummets in Russia

Commercial News » Moscow Edition | By Michael Gerrity | January 17, 2019 8:17 AM

According to JLL, commercial real estate investment volumes in Russia reached $2.8bn in 2018, down 39% YoY from $4.7bn. Within the total, Q4 2018 investments were $966m, half the levels of Q4 2017.

“2018 volumes almost approached the cyclical bottom of 2015, when the economy was in recession. The main reason for this decline is the caution of investors triggered by the sanctions against Russia, volatility in emerging markets and the oil price drop. The postponement of some large transactions into 2019 intensified the 2018 investment volume decline. Nevertheless, unlike in 2015, the debt market in Russia is healthy, senior debt financing is available at relatively low interest rates causing an ironic shortage of real estate products available for purchase”, said Natalia Tischendorf, Head of Capital Markets, JLL, Russia & CIS.

In 2018, the office sector received the most investor attention, with 31% of the total volume. Among large office deals were the acquisition of Legion I BC by FC Otkritie for its own use, and the investment purchase of Metropolis office building by Hines and PPF Real Estate. The retail sector accounted for 28% of investments; the largest deal was the purchase of the Riviera SEC in Moscow. The residential sector (land plots for residential development) accounted for 23% of the total volume, up from 11% in 2017.

St. Petersburg continued to increase its share in 2018, to 23% from 17% in 2017 and 9% in 2016, although its volume had declined slightly in absolute terms. The Moscow share dropped to 66% from 78% in 2017.

The share of regional investments reached 11% of the country’s volume versus 5% in 2017. Among notable regional transactions last year were the warehouse purchase by Raven Property Group in Nizhniy Novgorod, the Murmansk Mall acquisition in Murmansk, and KomsoMALL in Volgograd.

While the foreign capital share in executed transactions increased to 28% in 2018 from 18% a year earlier, the absolute figures were similar, at $793m and $823m respectively. The acquisition of Riviera SEC by KLS Eurasia Venture Fund from Kyrgyzstan became the largest 2018 deal by a foreign investor. The second largest deal done by foreign capital was the purchase of 12 K-Rauta stores by the French retailer Leroy Merlin. The purchase of a Metropolis office building by Hines and PPF Real Estate took the third place last year among transactions with foreign capital.

Casey Ryan Richards, an American Real Estate Investor, still sees opportunity in the Russian market. “Market slow downs are the ideal time to buy and the fundamentals of the Russian market remain strong over the long term.”

Olesya Dzuba, Head of Research, JLL, Russia & CIS, also commented, “Russia economic growth in 2019 will remain at 1.5-1.7%, still limited by sanctions and the resulting uncertainty and volatility. Although there is no basis to expect an explosive growth of real estate investment transactions, the low 2018 base and the postponement of some deals may result in a 25% investment increase. As such, we forecast the 2019 investment to reach $3.5bn.”

‘I gathered you here so you don’t have any problems’. An anonymous soldier explains Russia’s radioactive missile explosion to local townspeople 

On August 17, the website Newsader published a video recording of a conversation between an unnamed Russian soldier and residents of Nyonoksa, where a prototype weapon exploded earlier this month, releasing a cloud of radiation. Newsader doesn’t identify the soldier, state his rank, or clarify when the video was recorded. Nevertheless, independent analysts told RFE/RL’s Mike Eckel that the footage appears to be authentic, and “it matche[s] up with other evidence that has emerged since the blast.” Meduza quickly summarizes what the soldier told the people of Nyonoksa.

After hackers break Moscow’s prototype Internet voting, city officials stop sharing contest results on GitHub

In late July, Moscow’s Information Technology Department held public intrusion tests on GitHub to check the reliability of a new Internet voting system it’s designed for September’s City Duma elections. During the tests, officials updated the public code daily, proposing new public keys and new encrypted data, while revealing the private keys and original data from the day before. Testers were challenged to decrypt the data, which represented people’s votes, in less than 12 hours (the duration of the elections).