Archive for October 2012

Russia’s Arctic rush ­ a potential gravy train; Economic considerations have so far failed to stop the push for state-run oil and gas corporations to go north

Map of Barents Sea and Polar Environs

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Alexey Eremenko – October 29, 2012) It is cheaper to send a rocket into space than to drill a single oil well in the Arctic Sea. One Proton rocket launch costs from $80 million to $100 million, while offshore oil wells in the Arctic come in at $100 million to

Report: No WTO Gains Visible Yet

WTO Logo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Howard Amos – October 29, 2012) WTO director-general Pascal Lamy and the Russian negotiation team leader Maxim Medvedkov celebrating Russia’s entry into the global trade rules club in August 2012. Accession to the World Trade Organization is generating minimal short-term economic gains for Russia, and the long-term benefits are exaggerated,

Russian Puzzle: Change Inevitable, Evolution Impossible, Revolution Implausible

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

(Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org –  Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 9, Issue 197 – Pavel K. Baev –  October 29, 2012) The Moscow rumor about President Vladimir Putin’s health problems appears well-informed and confirmed by several cancellations of long-scheduled visits and by the postponement of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) summit in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, but

Russian Govt Confirms Mechanism to Block Access to Banned Online Content

File Photo Dmitry Medvedev at Desk with Laptop Computer

MOSCOW. Oct 30 (Interfax) – The Russian government has confirmed a mechanism to block Web sites with banned content. On October 26, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a resolution, due to come into force on November 1, that approves a list of banned Web sites and determines the criteria for the list operator’s work, as

Critics Fear Wide Reach of New Anti-Treason Bill

Russian Jail File Photo Showing Outer Wall, Windows, Barbed Wire

MOSCOW, October 31 (Dan Peleschuk, RIA Novosti) – The new anti-treason bill approved today by Russia’s upper house of parliament has prompted concern from experts, academics and human rights advocates, who say it could be used against almost anyone. “I see a lot of people around me who are experts and journalists who have become

More Russians Are Celebrating Halloween

Map of Russia

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 31, 2012) Many Russians know about Halloween, and a growing number plan to dress up, don masks or celebrate it in other ways Wednesday, according to a new poll. Still, only about one in 10 Russians ­ or 9 percent ­ are going to mark the holiday this year,

The game is afoot: Following a kidnapping and torture allegations, political tensions have escalated

Leonid Razvozzhayev file photo with hand to ear, as if holding cellphone

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Anna Arutunyan – October 29, 2012) When Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov was released from the Investigative Committee on Friday after being charged, he seemed more baffled than relieved. “The investigators are playing some sort of game,” he tweeted ominously. A week after his fellow activist, Leonid Razvozzhayev, was kidnapped

Vigils for victims of political repressions held across Russia

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Alina Lobzina – October 30, 2012) The victims of Soviet political repressions are being commemorated on Tuesday with vigils held across Russia. Seventy-five years since the Great Purge was started by Soviet leader Josef Stalin, Moscow’s now disused Butovo firing range hosted events honoring the hundreds of thousands who suffered,

Putin to Avoid Call-in Show Format in 2012 – Newspaper

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Desk

MOSCOW, October 31 (RIA Novosti)-Russian President Vladimir Putin will this year avoid a live call-in show that has been held annually for the past 10 years, a leading Russian business daily quoted Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying. “There will be no call-in show this year,” Peskov told Kommersant, adding that the president would field

National Unity Day Still Just a Day Off for Most

Map of Russia

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 31, 2012) Only 16 percent of Russians will celebrate National Unity Day this weekend, while for most other people the holiday is little more than a day off work, according to a poll released Wednesday. Despite its growing popularity since 2005, when the Nov. 4 holiday was instituted, a

MOSCOW BLOG: 1812 revisited

Painting of Napoleon Bonaparte on Horseback

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris in Moscow – October 31, 2012) Exactly 200 years ago this month, Napoleon rode out of Moscow with what was left of the Grande Armée, having failed to crush the Russian army, only to be famously defeated himself by the Russian winter. Given the love of round

Russian PM says Stalin’s crimes deserve ‘the harshest assessment’

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(Interfax – Perm, 30 October) Russian Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev thinks that Iosif Stalin and other leaders of the Soviet state of that period deserve “the harshest assessment,” because they “conducted a war against their own people”. “For what was taking place back then, it is not only Iosif Stalin but also a host of

Back in time… or not: Standard time did not arrive in Russia ­… but the situation may yet change, and more confusion is expected

Analog Clock Artist's Rendition

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Kristen Blyth – October 29, 2012) Last Sunday, Russian social network users woke up and began pitching fits over the Daylight Savings time change ­ or lack thereof ­ in Russia. “What time is it really?” demanded bewildered gadget-users whose computer time may have turned back one hour but whose

Business Group Pushes Its Own Pension Reform

File Photo of Two Elders Walking Outdoors

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Rachel Nielsen – October 29, 2012) As the government looks to announce another proposal next month to change the country’s pension system, business lobbying group Delovaya Rossia is stepping up its campaign against the currently proposed reforms and promoting its own. In a one-page position paper, the group flatly states

Putin Squares Off with Valdai Experts on Economy, Pussy Riot

Putin Descending a Staircase file photo

(RIA Novosti – Andrei Zolotov, Jr. – October 26, 2012) If there had been any expectations among Russia watchers of “a new Putin” coming back to the presidential office after the elections, they must have been finally put to rest after the Russian president’s meeting on Thursday with a group of political scientists and economic

NEWSLINK: Putin’s Russia: back in the USSR; The president’s crackdown will do nothing to tackle the source of his problems: a corrupt and unreformable system of government

Vladimir Putin file photo

(Putin’s Russia: back in the USSR; The president’s crackdown will do nothing to tackle the source of his problems: a corrupt and unreformable system of government – The Guardian (UK) Editorial – October 29, 2012 – http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/28/vladimir-putin-russia-crackdown-protest) The Guardian (UK) in an editorial accuses Russian President Vladimir Putin of orchestrating repression unseen since the Soviet

Vladimir Putin’s ever-decreasing circle of friends

Ksenia Sobchak file photo

(Daniil Kotsyubinsky – opendemocracy.net – Daniil Kotsyubinsky is Russian historian and journalist based in St. Petersburg – October 25, 2012) President Putin’s popularity has been dented by the open opposition of two celebrities, hitherto ardent supporters: Lyudmila Narusova and Kseniya Sobchak, respectively widow and daughter of his former political mentor, Anatolii Sobchak. A real stab

Russian report on human rights in U.S. indicates that American democracy is not perfect

Russian Foreign Ministry Building Tower file photo

(Interfax – October 29, 2012) The first report of the Russian Foreign Ministry on the observation of human rights in the United States aims to show that the U.S. also has certain problems with democracy, Ministry Ombudsman for Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law Konstantin Dolgov said in an interview published by Kommersant on

Russian Ambassador to Ukraine: Ukraine won’t change its policy on Russia

Russian Naval Vessel in Ukrainian Port

(Interfax – October 29, 2012) There will be no drastic change in the Ukraine-Russia strategic cooperation policy after Ukraine’s parliamentary elections , Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov said in an interview with the Voice of Russia. “Prime Minister Mykola Yanovych Azarov has said the Party of Regions intends to carry on the policy of

Prokhorov Trades Business for Politics

Mikhail Prokohrov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Bratersky – October 29, 2012) Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov announced at a weekend congress of his new Civic Platform party that he is quitting business to enter politics full time, and delegates overwhelmingly elected him as their leader. Prokhorov, 47, said he would place his fortune, estimated at $13.2 billion

Opposition Coordination Council doesn’t view itself as alternative parliament

Russian Duma Building

(Interfax – October 28, 2012) The Opposition Coordination Council, whose members were elected a week ago, should consider itself not an alternative parliament but a working body of the opposition movement, says Andrei Piontkovsky, a prominent journalist and a member of the bureau of the opposition group Solidarity. “We have no right to declare ourselves

New Coordination Council Weighs Rally and Magnitsky

Moscow Protest file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com –  October 29, 2012) Members of the opposition’s newly elected Coordination Council agreed at their first meeting over the weekend to stage their next rally in December and press the U.S. to expand its Magnitsky list of banned Russian officials. The opposition group, which met at a restaurant in central Moscow

New Putin Limo Unveiled

Kremlin and St. Basil's file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com –  Roland Oliphant – October 29, 2012) After six full years of development, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin finally has a car more beautiful than U.S. President Barack Obama’s, the ZiL auto company announced. A ZIL-4112P prototype, with a 7.7 liter engine and six-speed automatic transmission, was unveiled to federal television channels

Putin Strengthens his Grip on World Energy with TNK-BP Deal

Oil Well file photo

(oilprice.com – Marin Katusa – October 28, 2012) Exxon Mobil is no longer the world’s number-one oil producer. As of yesterday, that title belongs to Putin Oil Corp ­ oh, whoops. I mean the title belongs to Rosneft, Russia’s state-controlled oil company. Rosneft is buying TNK-BP, which is a vertically integrated oil company co-owned by

[TRANSCRIPT: Putin] Meeting with Valdai International Discussion Club participants

Vladimir Putin file photo

(Kremlin.ru – Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region – October 25, 2012) During his meeting with members of the Valdai International Discussion Club, Vladimir Putin talked about the current state of the Russian economy and scenarios for Russia’s economic development. The ninth annual conference of the Valdai International Discussion Club on The Future Is Being Made Today: Scenarios

EBRD Predicts Russian Economic Slowdown in 2012-2013

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

LONDON, October 26 (RIA Novosti)-The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said in a revised forecast that the Russian economy will grow more slowly than it previously projected reflecting weaker internal and external demand and growing capital outflow. “On current trends, GDP growth is expected to slow to 3.2 percent in 2012 and pick

Shuvalov Denies State Boosting Role in Oil

Oil Well file photo

BERLIN, October 26 (RIA Novosti)-State-owned oil giant Rosneft’s acquisition of TNK-BP does not signify an increase in state control of the Russian oil sector, and no one in Russia is building state capitalism, First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said on Friday. “The sale of TNK-BP to Rosneft does not represent an increase in state

Russian Protest Leader Udaltsov Charged

Sergei Udaltsov file photo

MOSCOW, October 26 (Marc Bennetts, RIA Novosti)-Russian protest leader Sergei Udaltsov was charged with plotting mass disorder on Friday and could face up to 10 years behind bars if found guilty. “If anyone expected me to flee abroad, they were mistaken,” Left Front leader Udaltsov, 35, said as he reported to investigators for questioning. “The

Economy Is Focal Point for Putin’s Foreign Expert Club

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Irina Filatova – October 26, 2012) OVO-OGARYOVO ­ President Vladimir Putin acknowledged Thursday that he had to make a difficult choice when he approved the purchase of TNK-BP by state behemoth Rosneft, as the decision contradicts the government’s policy to reduce its presence in the economy. But he made it

No Time Change This Fall

Analog Clock Artist's Rendition

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Nikolaus von Twickel – October 26, 2012) When Europe turns its clocks one hour back this Sunday, two countries are going to have it their own way: Russia and Belarus will move out of step with much of the northern hemisphere by sticking with “eternal summer time,” introduced last year

ANNOUNCEMENT: Russian Analytical Digest No. 118: Russia’s Evolving Political System

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2012 From: “Russian Analytical Digest (RAD)” <newslist@isn.ch> Subject: No.118: Russia’s Evolving Political System RUSSIAN ANALYTICAL DIGEST Newsletter 2 October 2012/No. 118 Russia’s Evolving Political System To download this issue please click here: http://www.css.ethz.ch/publications/DetailansichtPubDB_EN?rec_id=2215 Analyses The Regime, the Opposition, and Challenges to Electoral Authoritarianism in Russia, by Vladimir Gel’man, St. Petersburg/Helsinki Russian

Russia’s EU Representative: Moscow to honor its WTO commitments

EU Map

(Interfax – October 25, 2012) Russia’s entry into the WTO will facilitate trade with the European Union and make it more transparent, Russian Permanent Representative to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov told Interfax on Thursday with regard to the European Parliament debate on EU-Russia trade in the context of Russia’s WTO membership. “Naturally, the entry

Is Russia’s Putin a Secret Fan of Mitt Romney?

Mit Romney file photo

(Voice of America – James Brooke – October 24, 2012 – James Brooke is VOA Moscow bureau chief, covering Russia and the former USSR) The conventional wisdom is that the Kremlin would like to see Barack Obama back in the White House next year. Just last month, President Putin told RT, the state-owned TV channel,

ANNOUNCEMENT: Press Release: October 7 the book “Putin’s New Russia” is available.

Putin Descending a Staircase file photo

Date: Sun, 7 Oct 2012 From: Peter Lavelle <untimelythoughts.lavelle@gmail.com> Subject: Press Release: October 7 the book “Putin’s New Russia” is available. Press Release: October 7 the book “Putin’s New Russia” is available. [Find text here: http://www.hellevig.net/ebook/Putin%27s%20new%20Russia.pdf] The editors Jon Hellevig and Alexandre Latsa have brought in a host of contributors that have the independence and

ANNOUNCEMENT: Stories from Voice of Russia (VOR) London bureau [re: Literature]

Map of Russia

Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2012 From: Alice Lagnado <alicelagnado@yahoo.co.uk> Subject: Stories from Voice of Russia (VOR) London bureau Here is a feature I did on Russian writing since 1991: http://ruvr.co.uk/2012_10_10/90847519/ [links to: “Going beyond War and Peace”]

NEWSLINK: Hand-wringing at dinner with Putin

Cash, Calculator, Pen

Hand-wringing at dinner with Putin – Financial Times – Neil Buckley – October 25, 2012 – http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ced25a3a-1deb-11e2-901e-00144feabdc0.html The Financial Times examines growing limitations on Russian economic prospects, and the resulting impact on the latest “Valdai Discussion Club” dinner: … the event, and the context, has changed a lot. In Valdai’s early years, Russia was growing

NEWSLINK: Russian Attitudes toward Putin and His System Increasingly Negative since March Vote, Study Finds

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Outdoor Rally with Microphone in Hand and Heavy Coat

Russian Attitudes toward Putin and His System Increasingly Negative since March Vote, Study Finds – Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2012/10/window-on-eurasia-russian-attitudes.html Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ratings are becoming more negative: Since the Russian presidential election in March 2012, Russians have become increasingly negative about Vladimir Putin personally and about his current impact on

NEWSLINK: More Russian Election Intrigue

Arm and Torso of Person in Brown Sweater Placing Paper Ballot into Ballot Box

Russia: Other Points of View – Gordon M. Hahn – October 24, 2012 – http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com/2012/10/more-russian-election-intrigue.html Gordon M. Hahn examines recent Russian gubernatorial, legislative assembly, mayoral, and municipal council elections across the country: Russian authorities’ at all levels in the United Russia (UR) party continued use of the infamous ‘administrative resources'; that is, using state institutions

Russian politicians, experts slam EU for passing Magnitskiy resolution

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

(Interfax – October 24, 2012)  The resolution on the Magnitskiy (Magnitsky) list passed by the European Parliament is “designed to undermine contacts between Russia and Europe”, Russian Interfax news agency reported on 24 October, quoting head of the State Duma International Affairs Committee Aleskey Pushkov. Politicians On 23 October the European lawmakers passed a resolution

ANNOUNCEMENT: Putin’s favourite monastery. The wooded island of Valaam, in a large lake in northern Russia, is a beacon for Russian Orthodox believers – among them President Putin.

Valaam file photo showing Monastery church on wooded island

From: Lucy Ash <lucy.ash.05@bbc.co.uk> Subject: BBC online stories Date: Tue, 23 Oct 2012 Audio slide show for “Putin’s favourite monastery. The wooded island of Valaam, in a large lake in northern Russia, is a beacon for Russian Orthodox believers – among them President Putin.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20041504

EVENT: Central Asia Security Workshop at IERES, GWU, on October 30 [in Washington, D.C]

Map of Central Asia, Including Commonwealth of Independent States Members

Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2012 Subject: Central Asia Security Workshop at IERES, GWU, on October 30 From: Marlene Laruelle <laruelle@gwu.edu> Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies http://www.gwu.edu/~ieresgwu/ Elliott School of International Affairs George Washington University THE CENTRAL ASIA SECURITY WORKSHOP October 30, 2012, 9.00am ­ 4.15pm George Washington University 1957 E Street NW, Washington

Russian Economy Will Struggle to Grow 3% Per Year, Ruble to Weaken – HSBC

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW. Oct 24 (Interfax) – Russian GDP will grow 3% in 2012 and 2.5% in 2013, but that is as good as it will get until structural changes are implemented, Alexander Morozov, chief economist for Russia and the CIS at HSBC, said at a meeting with reporters. The ruble will continue to weaken, falling to

Russian Senators, MP Pour Scorn On Opposition’s Coordination Council

Map of Russia

(Interfax – Moscow, 23 October) The opposition’s Coordination Council will not be a viable structure due to the ambitions of its members, Federation Council deputy speaker and member of One Russia (United Russia)’s supreme council Svetlana Orlova thinks. “The process of preparations for this election (to the Coordination Council) and the way it took place

Razvozzhayev Tells Harrowing Tale

Leonid Razvozzhayev file photo with hand to ear, as if holding cellphone

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Nikolaus von Twickel, Yekaterina Kravtsova – October 25, 2012) Opposition leaders and human rights groups on Wednesday lambasted the apparent kidnapping and torture of Left Front activist Leonid Razvozzhayev as a return to Stalinist political repression and an unprecedented escalation in the crackdown against dissenters. “Our country has entered a

Putin’s Domestic Support Growing – Poll

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Desk

MOSCOW. Oct 24 (Interfax) – President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Russia’s Cabinet are becoming more popular among Russians, an opinion poll suggests. The Levada Center, a Moscow-based opinion research group, told Interfax on Wednesday that 67% of respondents in a poll this month – compared with 63% in a survey in August

Kremlin Disagrees With Russian Think Tank’s ‘Apocalyptic’ Scenarios

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

(Interfax – Novo-Ogarevo – 24 October) The report issued by the Centre for Strategic Research contains unduly pessimistic scenarios for the country’s development, which can not be accepted, the Russian president’s press secretary Dmitriy Peskov has said. “The report is quite extensive, and gives an expert point of view, of which there are many. Of

Senior Lawmaker Slams Think Tank’s Grim Forecast For Russia

Map of Russia

MOSCOW. Oct 24 (Interfax) – One of the leaders of the ruling United Russia party and a deputy chairman of the State Duma has given lie to a pessimistic economic forecast in a report by Russia’s Strategic Projects Center released on Wednesday, a paper that blamed the country’s alleged degradation on its leaders. “The report

Report Shows Plunging Support for Putin -­ and Protest Leaders

Vladimir Putin file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Bratersky – October 25, 2012) Russians view the ruling elite as aggressive and predatory and believe that revolution is one of the only realistic ways to change the government, according to a report released Wednesday by an influential think tank. The report, ordered by the Committee of Civic Initiatives,

Russia’s corruption tsar

File Photo of Two Persons Shaking Hands and Exchanging Cash

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris in Moscow – October 25, 2012) Boris Titov would eschew the title “Russia’s Corruption Tsar”, but if he achieves half of what he is setting out to do, then that is what he will become. Appointed Russia’s new ombudsman for business by President Vladimir Putin in July,

TNK-BP Deal a Boon for State, Welcome Sign for Foreigners

Oil Well file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anatoly Medetsky – October 23, 2012) Rosneft’s deal to take over TNK-BP masterfully achieves the dual purpose of strengthening the state’s hand in the oil industry to spectacular proportions and showcasing its benevolence to foreign capital at the same time. Officially confirmed Monday, the gradual $56 billion purchase of the

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