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Showing posts from February 5, 2014

Pentagon Investigates Thousands of Soldiers in Massive Fraud Case

BY Gordon Lubold , Dan Lamothe

- "FP" - When a retired Army colonel and an enlisted soldier from Albuquerque, N.M. were charged last year with defrauding the National Guard Bureau out of about $12,000 the case drew little public attention. But it's now become clear that the two men are among the roughly 800 soldiers accused of bilking American taxpayers out of tens of millions of dollars in what a U.S. senator is calling "one of the biggest fraud investigations in Army history."

The wide-ranging criminal probe centers around an Army recruiting program that had been designed to help the Pentagon find new soldiers during some of the bloodiest days of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The program went off the rails, investigators believe, after hundreds of soldiers engaged in a kickback scheme that allowed them to potentially embezzle huge quantities of money without anyone in the government noticing. In one case, a single soldier may have collected as much as $275,00…

In Moldova, Gagauzia's Referendum Illustrates the EU-Russian Struggle

A man drives a horse-drawn cart in a village south of Chisinau in the autonomous region of Gagauzia in 2007. (DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)


A key referendum held in an autonomous region of Moldova serves as a reminder that the ongoing EU-Russian competition extends beyond Ukraine and into the broader European borderlands -- and that Moscow retains a strong position in many of these countries. In the referendum, which was held Feb. 2 in the autonomous republic of Gagauzia to decide whether to integrate further with the European Union or with Russia, 98.4 percent of voters chose closer ties with Russia's Customs Union, while 97.2 percent voted against closer EU integration. It is unlikely that Gagauzia will actually follow through on accession to the Customs Union or split off from Moldova completely, but such discussions will undermine Moldova's integration plans, as well as those of other countries in the EU-Russian periphery.


Gagauzia is a largely agric…

China's Anti-Corruption Efforts Rumored to Have a New Target

Zeng Qinghong could be the next target for Chinese President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign, according to unverified rumors circulating in Hong Kong and Chinese-American media since January. Zeng served as chief of the Communist Party's powerful Organization Department and sat on the previous Politburo Standing Committee under former President Hu Jintao. Stratfor cannot verify these rumors, and has doubts about their provenance. However, while their probability is low, their significance, if true, is high. There are few people as powerful as Zeng, and any attempt to prosecute him would likely lead to substantial pushback. Thus Zeng's prosecution would suggest that either Xi's administration is confident of its position or it is nervous and desperate to strip its opponents of power.

The rumors have been circulating for weeks from Falun Gong-linked New Tang Dynasty Television and the Epoch Times. Hong Kong's Open Magazine, a pro-democracy publication that works…

Conversation: Root Causes of the Sochi Olympics Security Threat

Video Transcript:

Fred Burton: Hi, I'm Fred Burton with Stratfor. And I'm here today with Lauren Goodrich, our senior Eurasia analyst, to talk about the security surrounding the Sochi Olympics and the ongoing militant threat in the Caucasus in Russia. Lauren, there's been a lot of discussions going on concerning the security for Sochi, and we certainly covered it a lot. And I think people have a lot of different assessments as to what are the real problems surrounding the Olympics. So how do you view the Caucasus and the impact to the potential Sochi Olympics?

Lauren Goodrich: Well, I would start off by saying that the militant threat inside the Caucasus is just nothing new. It's something that Russia has struggled with ever since Russia actually got the Caucasus within its own territory back in the late 18th century. The Caucasus threat has been there ever since. The people of the Caucasus are just not integrated into Russia. They are of different ethnicities; they'…