Law enforcement officials at the FBI announced that they have disrupted an alleged Russian-led spy ring operating out of New York City suburbs. The spy ring is purported to have been led by several different Russian agents operating under diverse identities in and around New York City, and that their activities included alleged attempts to recruit informants throughout the city. US prosecutors claim that a Russian national named Evgeny Buryakoy along with two other Russians in the United States on “official business,” Buryakoy with a Russian bank and the other two with political organizations, headed up the spy ring.
The ring was initially thought to be smaller in nature, though emerging reports allege that several other Russian recruits worked with “major US companies” or had strong ties to a “major university in New York.” The nature of the spying is largely unknown, though preliminary analysis suggests that those implicated were after “economic intelligence,” including information on the impact of US-led sanctions on Russia.
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- Tajikistan’s first and only President Emomali Rahmon announced recently that the country will continue development on the controversial Rogun dam project, with the goal of ultimately becoming energy independent. Rahmon’s annual discourse to parliament also included assurances that a World Bank feasibility study regarding the dam’s construction has been completed, and that the Nurek hydropower plant is already under construction. The goal of these projects, Rahmon stated, is to achieve energy independence in the “coming years.”
- Officials representing the governments of Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan agreed that the route taken by Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Turkmenistan (TAT) railway will be finalized in 2015. The railway will be funded partially by the Asian Development Bank, and construction will be preceded by a nine million dollar feasibility study, also financed by the ADB. The railway was agreed upon in March of 2013.
- Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has been called to answer to the Iranian parliament after Iran’s chief diplomat was reported to have taken a long walk with American Secretary of State John Kerry. Iranian hardliners have bitterly criticized the perceived rapprochement with an American diplomat, and 21 members of parliament signed a petition to oblige Zarif to appear before parliament. Zarif has justified the walk as a necessary respite during otherwise “serious, earnest [negotiating] sessions.”
- Mongolian bonds sank to “record lows” during January due to falling commodity prices and ongoing disputes with British-Australian mining organization Rio Tinto Group. The mining giant has been in negotiations with the Mongolian government over Oyu Tolgi, one of the country’s largest silver and gold mines, which despite Rio’s status as the largest foreign investor in Mongolia, have been stalled by political indecision.