I don´t intend to deepen the following facts, but give an overview of how recent events can affect the Russia´s relationship with the West and contribute to the understanding of the political climate sorrouding this relation.
On June 15th the European Union renewed for another six months the economic sanctions against Russia for it´s role in the conflict in Ukraine. The measure affect politics and economy personalities and Russian investiments in the continent and are valid until January 31st 2017. Nothing new in this regard since renovation was already expected. On response, Russia announced apply the principle of reciprocity and will impose sanctions to food imports from Europe. There is a lack of perspective for sanctions suspension.
In sports Russia also had losses. On June 17th, International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) banned the Russian track and field athletes from Olympics 2016 in Rio de Janeiro on charge that many of them used banned substances to improve sports performance. Such uses were sistematic and were part of an doping policy state-sponsored. According to the report published by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) there were many frauds in the collection for analysis: many of them were cancelled or rejected, others were lost and urine samples were exchanged. In the later case the work would have been done by the Russian secret servisse. The ban follows the punishment suffered by the same athletes in November 2015. At the time they were suspended from all international competition due the same scandal. Investigations showed that frauds in anti-doping tests had been widespread.
The Russian Olympic Commettee (ROC) and other 68 athletes attempted to overturn the ban for the Rio Games, but so far without success. The International Olympic Commettee (COI) said that the Russian athletes could compete if they proved were clean of prohibited substances, and that their presence in the games should be under neutral flag. On July 25th, another seven Russian athletes, this time from synchronized swimming, were also banned by the International Swimming Federation (FINA, in French).
The car he was exploded in city´s downtown shortly before 8 am as he went to the work. The vehicle´s owner was his wife, Olena Prytula, journalist and newspaper´s former editor where both worked, Ukrayinska Pravda. The newspaper, founded in 1990, has a history of opposition to the Ukranian government. One of it´s founders, Georgiy Gongadze, who at the time was close to Prytula, was kidnapped and beheaded in 2000 during the Leonid Kuchma government. The case had considerable repercution and helped to precipitate the "Orange Revolution" in 2004 which brought to power the Kuchma´s opponent, Viktor Yushchenko. Sheremet was Boris Nemtsov´s friend, one of the main Putin´s opponents in Russia, and became one of almost twenty journalists murdered in the country since it´s independence in 1991. A Ministry of Internal Affairs´ spokesman said it couldn´t be rouled out the possible involvement of the Russian secret service in the murder. Another suspicion was that the target was Prytula, since the bomb was put in her car. The Sheremet´s recent work addressed, too, the corruption in Poroshenko government and the pro-Ukraine Azov Battalion´s role and lead by the extermist Right Sector. Poroshenko described the muder as "tragedy" and said that he knew personally the journalist.
On the other hand the possibility (albeit strongly especulative) that Russia has something to do with the Sheremet´s murder only contributes to increased political tension in the region and a greater destabilization of Ukraine. But the disconfort caused by the Russian athletes banishment at the Rio Olympics demoralizes the country´s authorities to expose them to the world as deeply corrupt and unrialible. In the last two cases the historical precedent of journalists murders in the former USSR countries and the episodes of political retaliation at sporting events contributes to the increase of widespread distrust of Russia.
The request of Russian Minister Sergei Lavrov to the American Secretary of State John Kerry to the doping scandal doesn´t become in another political dispute between the two sides is one more signal that the realpolitik logic invaded all the contact channels between Russia and Western countries. Each event is solved within the problems and discordances framework between both. All care is little.**
* published in Portuguese on July 26 2016.
** "Todo o cuidado é pouco" is an expression in Portuguese that means someone need to take great care in each word, gesture and attitude.