MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 21: Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vladislav Surkov attends a state commission on innovations and modernisation session at a biotechnology laboratory in the Generium Science Center , Vladimir region, on March, 21, 2012 in Volginsky, Russia. Medvedev is on a one day trip to the region. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)

Though some have been slow to acknowledge it, Russian operatives hacked voter rolls and political campaign correspondence in addition to using targeted digital propaganda and fake news in an effort to influence the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election.

Now, Vladislav Surkov—a key advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin—has bragged in an op-ed about the viability of Russia's Democratic model, while decrying the "illusion of choice" presented by American democracy.

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Exxon Mobil has asked the Trump administration for a waiver excluding them from Russian sanctions. They would use the waiver to continue with plans to work with the Russian government oil company, Rosneft, to drill in the Black Sea.

The request is raising questions. The original project began back when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was the CEO of Exxon Mobil. During his tenure as CEO, Tillerson received the Russian Order of Friendship from Vladimir Putin for his role in forging the agreement.

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Seven current and former U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed with Reuters the existence of two confidential documents obtained from a Russian government think tank controlled by Vladimir Putin. Those documents respectively reveal a plan to assist Donald Trump in winning the 2016 presidential election and a subsequent effort to undermine faith in the American electoral system.

Putin has long denied accusations of interference in the U.S. election, but the existence of these documents belies those denials.

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Late last month, Russian lawmakers decriminalized some forms of domestic assault. The amendment to the criminal code was passed 380 to 3 by Russia’s lower house and rubber-stamped by the upper house. President Vladimir Putin signed the amendment into law on February 7.

Under the law, if the victim—adult or child—is not “seriously” physically injured, and there has been no other incident of violence within the past year, the abuser will be subject to a maximum prison sentence of 15 days, community service, or only a fine. Prior to the amendment, the assailant would have been subject to a maximum sentence of two years.

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By Jay Kuo

Ian Bremmer is an author and the president of Eurasia Group, a leading global organization providing insight and analyses regarding  political, geostrategic and economic challenges around the world. Bremmer’s social media reaches thousands who follow his influential point of view on global issues. We reached him while he was traveling from the U.S. to Africa and Europe and managed to pick his brain on a variety of subjects, which have come further into play due to recent policy changes and shake-ups in Washington.

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During the confirmation hearing of Rex Tillerson, President-elect Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, Republican Senator Marco Rubio did not hold back. Perhaps the most striking question of his questions sought to corner Tillerson over whether he would name Russian President Putin a "war criminal." Tillerson responded that he would never use such a term to describe him. That seemed to fire up Rubio, who proceeded to blast Tillerson for not publicly condemning Putin.

"It should not be hard to say that Vladimir Putin’s army has committed war crimes in Aleppo because it is never acceptable for a military—you would agree—to specifically target civilians, which is what has happened there," Rubio intoned. Tillerson attempted to demur by citing the need for information after his confirmation. "I look forward to being fully informed," Tillerson responded, infuriating Rubio who interrupted him declaring, "None of this is classified. There are dead people!" Minutes later Tillerson admitted that he would classify Putin's actions as crimes provided that he had sufficient information and evidence about them.

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The decision by four U.S. intelligence chiefs to present both President Obama and President-elect Trump with a synopsis of allegations that the Russian possess compromising material on Trump indicates that things are getting quite serious.  

On Nov 1, we originally reported a portion of this story after Mother Jones published information about an ex MI6 operative's report, which contained damaging charges that Trump may have been blackmailed by Russian agents. Yesterday, CNN revisited these explosive allegations after learning that excerpts from the report had been included as an addendum to intelligence packets, presented to both President Obama and President-Elect Trump, and that senior Senate leaders and intelligence agencies had had copies of the full report and had been investigating and circulating it for months.

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