Archive for May 2013

Gazprom insists on long-term contracts for gas to Europe

Russian Gas Facility file photo

(Interfax – BRUSSELS, May 30, 2013) Natural gas consumers can only be guaranteed reliable and stable supplies if there are long-term contracts in place that entail take-or-pay terms, Deputy CEO of Russian gas giant Gazprom (RTS: GAZP) Alexander Medvedev said in Brussels on Thursday. “It is precisely these (long-term contracts) that serve as the foundation

Suspicions Grow of 3rd Case Against Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 31, 2013) The abrupt flight from Russia of liberal economist Sergei Guriev after he was interrogated in connection with the case against tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has rekindled suspicions that a new criminal case could be opened against Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev, who are set to be

With Or Without Putin

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Desk

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – May 30, 2013) Everybody seems to be doing it. Or at least a lot of people are. Some are doing it in the open and some in stealth. For some it’s premeditated and for some it’s just instinct. But one way or another, whether they realize it or

Why We Should All Work Like Putin

Oil Worker file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 31, 2013 – Michael Bohm) Michael Bohm is opinion page editor of The Moscow Times and author of “The Russian Specific: An Analysis of the Russian Work Ethic” (A. Golod, 2007). Any discussion about the Russian work ethic inevitably ends up focusing on the Soviet Union, which did more

Clans are marching

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

(opendemocracy.net – Vladimir Pribylovsky – May 30, 2013) Vladimir Pribylovsky is the president of the Moscow-based Panorama Information and Research Center and co-author of ‘The Age of Assassins: The Rise and Rise of Vladimir Putin’   Russia’s ruling class is made up of a complex system of clans, constantly grouping and regrouping around their leader

Guriev Exit Renews Brain Drain Fears

Sergei Guriev file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jonathan Earle – May 31, 2013) Reports that prominent, liberal economist Sergei Guriev has fled to France under pressure from investigators appeared to send shockwaves through Russia’s Western-leaning elite this week, renewing fears of a brain drain amid an “invisible” wave of emigration. The departure of Guriev, a prominent economist

Moscow Court Orders Release of Opposition-Backed Businessman

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

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, May 31, 2013) ­ Moscow’s City Court ordered the release from prison on Friday of a businessman whose freedom was among the demands of the recent opposition rallies in the Russian capital. Alexei Kozlov was given eight years in prison in 2009 for fraud and “legalization of stolen property,” or the

Head of Major College Reportedly Emigrates Under Pressure [re: Guriev]

Sergei Guriev file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Bratersky – May 30, 2013) A minister said Wednesday that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s Open Government would continue to work with prominent liberal economist Sergei Guriyev despite media reports that he resigned as head of a major college and left the country under pressure from authorities. Mikhail Abyzov, the

Kremlin Human Rights Council justifies Yukos case experts questioned by investigators [re: Guriev]

Mikhail Fedotov file photo

(Interfax – May 30, 2013) Russian economist Sergei Guriyev and other experts invited to prepare a conclusion on the Yukos case for the Presidential Human Rights Council did not do anything illegal, the council’s head Mikhail Fedotov told Interfax. “I do not see anything unlawful in the work done by Guriyev and the other experts

‘Honeymoon’ With Opposition Over, Say Russian Pundits

Map of Russia

(RIA Novosti – May 29, 2013) The protest staged by the opposition on 6 May 2013 has attracted less attention than the March of Millions on 6 May last year, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported on 29 May, quoting an opinion poll. In an interview with the agency a political analyst said that

Russia’s top liberal economist caught up in Putin purge, flees country

Sergei Guriev file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – May 30, 2013) Russian President Vladimir Putin’s anti-corruption drive that escalated last November with the dismissal of the defence minister is starting to take on the appearance of a classic 1930s-style Stalinist purge. The latest victim is Sergei Guriev, Russia’s top liberal economist and a close associate of Prime

Experts in Russia Say Moscow Should Heed Lessons from Wars in Syria, Libya and Yugoslavia

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 10, Issue 101 – Valery Dzutsev – Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – May 29, 2013) On April 26, the authoritative Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta hosted a roundtable of experts on the situation in Syria. Although almost all the experts, as usual, accused the United States and the West of fueling civil

Arctic Activity Heating Up

Map of Barents Sea and Polar Environs

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Lena Smirnova – May 30, 2013) When the virtual hammer came down on the country’s Arctic real estate last week, state-controlled Gazprom managed to get the largest slice. Gazprom vied with Rosneft and was awarded seven disputed areas in the Kara sea shelf and could split the eighth area, in

Doubts Cast Over Reported S-300 Deliveries to Syria

Syria Map

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, May 30, 2013) ­ Reports that Syria’s president had confirmed receiving a consignment of Russian-manufactured S-300 air defense systems emerged Thursday, but were quickly brought into question. In comments widely reported across the world, Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar quoted Syrian President Bashar Assad as saying Damascus had received initial deliveries of

Russia Tries to Keep Wrestling in the Olympics

File Photo of Olympic Wrestling Match, adapted from defense.gov image

(Voice of America – Jessica Golloher – May 28, 2013) Russia says it will ask the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to keep wrestling in the games. This after the IOC announced it would drop the sport from the 2020 Summer Olympics. The president of the Russian Wrestling Federation, Mikhail Mamiashvili, says that supporters of wrestling

Russia Aims to Boost Security Alliance in Central Asia

Map of Central Asia, Including Commonwealth of Independent States Members

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – May 29, 2013) Ahead of NATO’s planned withdrawal from Afghanistan next year, leaders of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization have pledged to pool their resources to counter any potential deterioration of the security situation in the region. In an effort to demonstrate the importance of the

Russian, U.S. business can improve bilateral economic cooperation – Ryabkov

Empty Boardroom

(Interfax – MOSCOW, May 28, 2013) There will be no quality change in Russia-U.S. economic cooperation until businessmen of the two countries realize they really need each other, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said. “Sure, last year’s trade turnover of $32 billion is ridiculous not only considering the scope of the U.S. and, also,

Non-direction criteria should be stipulated in Russian-U.S. missile shield agreement – Ryabkov

Missile Defense Launch file photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW, May 28, 2013) The U.S. side has voiced quite concrete and serious proposals on the missile shield issue in Europe, however Moscow thinks they are not enough, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said in an interview with Echo of Moscow (Ekho Moskvy) radio station. “We offer to conclude (an agreement) on

Russian diplomats say no results of ABM dialogue with USA so far

Missile Defense Control Room file photo

(Interfax – May 28, 2013) Russian and US experts continue to conduct dialogue on the problem of missile defence (ABM), however the positions of the two countries on the issue still differ very much, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told a news conference in Moscow on 27 May, as reported by Interfax news agency

Top Russian diplomat on problems with USA over Syria conference

Syria Map

(Interfax – Moscow, May 28, 2013) Russia and the USA have not yet succeeded in aligning their positions on a number of important parameters for an international conference on Syria, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov. “There remain issues and aspects of this major international crisis on which the positions of Russia and the USA

Gref Says Russia Lacks Project Management Experience

File Photo of German Gref Shaking Hands with U.S. Official

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Panin – May 29, 2013) Though Russia has funds to finance infrastructure, it lacks project management experience to develop such projects and needs to borrow it from abroad, German Gref, the head of Sberbank, said at a business lunch for investors held by the Transportation Ministry on Tuesday. The

Economic Development Ministry opposes amnesty for convicted businessmen

Empty Boardroom

(Interfax – May 29, 2013) Russian Economic Development Deputy Minister Sergei Belyakov, who supervises public-private partnership issues and liaison with business, has opposed the idea to amnesty businessmen convicted on economic counts. “I will never support this idea, never in my life,” Belyakov told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday. “Punishment for a deed does not

Medvedev Learns Geology at Skolkovo as Startups Seek Their Niche

Skolkovo File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Guennadi Moukine – May 29, 2013) Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visited the Startup Village conference at Skolkovo on Tuesday, reaffirmed his commitment to the Skolkovo innovation hub following a recent embezzlement scandal surrounding the project he conceived during his presidency, and learned a bit of geology. “I never knew that

Young people should know ‘true essence’ of Bolotnaya Square protests – Smolensk governor

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Interfax – SMOLENSK, Russia, May 28, 2013) The governor of the Smolensk region has insisted on organizing discussions at local secondary schools and higher education institutions to tell students about the “true essence” of opposition rallies on Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square, an Interfax correspondent reported from a regional conference. “Stories are being widely told about events

Memorial human rights center contests in court demand to register as foreign agent

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Interfax – MOSCOW, May 29, 2013) Memorial human rights center has filed a complaint with Moscow’s Zamoskvoretsky Court to contest the demand of a Moscow prosecutor’s office to register as a foreign agent. “Memorial states in the lawsuit that the conclusions of the prosecutor’s office on the organization’s activities are groundless and that the information,

Deputy Education Minister quits amid political tensions

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Anna Arutunyan – May 28, 2013) Russia’s Deputy Education Minister Igor Fedyukin announced his resignation on Tuesday, citing growing political tensions. “I hope that my departure will at least partially lower the unprecedented tensions that are [escalating] around decisions made by the ministry,” Fedyukin was quoted by RIA Novosti as

Russia’s New Public TV Now Available Worldwide Online – Boss

File Photo of Russian Television Studio

(RIA Novosti – May 28, 2013) Russia’s Public TV (OTR), a new public service broadcaster launched on 19 May, is now broadcasting online and can be watched worldwide, Anatoliy Lysenko, the channel’s general director, told Russian state-owned RIA Novosti news agency on 28 May. Earlier, the channel’s internet broadcast was only available to IP addresses

Strict Measures in Works to Boost Population

File Photo of Russian Expectant Couple with Mother in Hospital Bed

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Natalya Krainova – May 29, 2013) Senior federal officials on Tuesday discussed at the Kremlin the country’s draft plan for the next 12 years to support families with children and ultimately reverse the natural population decline. As part of the plan to boost Russia’s dwindling population ­ which declined for

Johnson’s Russia List :: 2013-#97 :: 29 May 2013

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[check back for updates, including more links; links also posted to facebook and twitter] Johnson’s Russia List :: 2013-#97 :: 29 May 2013 E-Mail: davidjohnson@starpower.net A project of the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs: www.ieres.org JRL homepage: www.russialist.org JRL on Facebook: www.facebook.com/russialist

Johnson’s Russia List :: 2013-#96 :: 28 May 2013

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Johnson’s Russia List :: 2013-#96 :: 28 May 2013 E-Mail: davidjohnson@starpower.net A project of the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs: www.ieres.org JRL homepage: www.russialist.org JRL on Facebook: www.facebook.com/russialist JRL on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JohnsonRussiaLi Support JRL: http://russialist.org/funding.php POLITICS 1. RUSSIAN ANALYTICAL DIGEST: Richard Sakwa,

No Country for ICU Patients

File Photo of Patient in Russian Hospital

(RIA Novosti – Natalia Antonova, Acting Editor-in-Chief of The Moscow News – May 27, 2013) Here is a bit of uncomfortable information for Western expats who are new to Moscow: If you or your loved ones, God forbid, end up in intensive care, few hospitals will allow you to have visitors. The rule even applies

Are we having fun yet? Why the government is telling the creative class to go play outside

Gorky Park file photo

(Moscow News – Anna Arutunyan, Editor and Correspondent at themoscownews.com – May 27, 2013) It was the best of times, it was the worst of… you get it. There is an awful lot of Pinot Grigio being consumed in Moscow this summer, the parks are filled with the same crowds that took to the streets

Ibsen at the Mayakovka: Don’t Drink the Water

Mayakovsky Theater at Night, file photo; adapted from image from Creative Commons/wikimedia/Shuvaev

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Natalia Antonova – May 27, 2013) Henrik Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People” has been updated for a modern audience by playwright Sasha Denisova – and you can see the results at the Mayakovsky Theater (affectionately known as the Mayakovka), as directed by Nikita Kobelev. In the politically charged atmosphere

How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin

Beatles file photo, black and white, in ties and coats waving; adapted from image at dol.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Des Brown – May 28, 2013) “How The Beatles Rocked the Kremlin: The Untold Story of a Noisy Revolution,” rockets the reader back to the stagnant times of the Brezhnev era, when the Beatles’ music was illegal in the Soviet Union, yet at the same time, bootleg recordings of Paul,

In Russia, Commemorative Plaque To Be Restored Amid Brezhnev Nostalgia

File Photo of Richard Nixon sitting with Leonid Brezhnev, with Third Person Standing and Leaning between Them

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Claire Bigg – May 28, 2013) Authorities have backed a plan to return a commemorative plaque to the Moscow apartment building where Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev spent the last 30 years of his life. A Moscow City Hall committee has approved the initiative, submitted by a group of State Duma deputies.

Moscow’s 2014 Election: Will the Democrats Unite?

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

(Institute of Modern Russia – imrussia.org – Vladimir Kara-Murza – May 23, 2013) Next year, Moscow will hold its legislative elections. Traditionally, elections in Russia’s capital city are considered a national event. IMR Senior Policy Advisor Vladimir Kara-Murza contends that the democratic opposition stands a significant change of success-but only if it finally manages to

Khodorkovsky reiterates he has no plans to become politician

Mikhail Khodorkovsky file photo

(Interfax – May 27, 2013) Former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, whose current 11-year prison term expires in 2014, has reiterated he has no plans to get involved in political activities after his release. “I don’t seek a political career, something I’ve said many times,” Khodorkovsky told German newspaper Die Tageszeitung in an interview transcript

Russian GDP growth accelerates to 2.6% in April, economy grows 1.8% in 4M – Klepach

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Interfax – MOSCOW, May 27, 2013) Russian GDP grew 2.6% year-on-year in April, compared with growth of 2% in March, the Economic Development Ministry estimates. The economy grew 1.8% year-on-year in January-April, Deputy Economic Development Minister Andrei Klepach said at a briefing. GDP grew 0.1% in April compared with March on a seasonally adjusted basis

Russia Changes Stance on Renewable Energy – Medvedev

Russian Hydroelectric Dam file photo

(RIA Novosti – SKOLKOVO, May 28, 2013) ­ The Russian government believes renewable energy sources have a bright future, and will review its policies toward their broader use, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Tuesday. “At the moment, the use of renewable energy sources and green energy is far from what we would like it

Ambassador’s Notebook: Moscow as an International Financial Center

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

(RIA Novosti – Alexander Yakovenko – May 27, 2013)  [Former ambassaor to UK and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation] Since 2010, Russia has been consistently implementing the top priority national economic project to develop Moscow as an International Financial Center (MIFC). Major reforms to our national financial architecture demonstrate the new

Sochi 2014: World’s most expensive Olympics; Russia is set to spend over $51 billion on the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

File Photo of Sochi Olympics Banner Near Highway in Warm Weather with Vehicle and Cyclicsts Nearby

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Daria Tikhonova, special to RBTH – May 28, 2013) The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games are set to become the most expensive Olympics ever. Russia will have spent more than $51 billion on the Olympics by 2014. By comparison, China spent $45 billion on the 2008 Beijing Summer

Russia Calls For Multilateral Nuclear Cuts

File Photo of Russian Nuclear Missile on Mobile Launcher Near Woods

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, May 28, 2013) ­ Russia is not willing to negotiate further bilateral nuclear cuts with the United States until other nuclear powers join the process, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said. “We cannot endlessly negotiate with the United States the reduction and limitation of nuclear arms while some other countries are

Prison or presidency for ‘Russia’s Kennedy’? [re: Navalny]

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Being Grabbed by Police at Protest

(opendemocracy.net – Ekaterina Loushnikov – May 25, 2013) Ekaterina Loushnikova is radio and print journalist based in the city of Kirov Charismatic opposition leader Aleksey Navalny is on trial in the provincial capital of Kirov, 900km from Moscow. He is controversially accused of stealing timber worth 16 million roubles in 2009; if found guilty, he

Russian government seeks stricter penalties for extremism

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

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – May 28, 2013) A Russian government commission has approved a draft law increasing criminal punishments for extremism-related crimes and wrongdoing by religious organizations, seeking stiffer penalties for an existing controversial extremism law. “The government legislation commission has approved for consideration a draft law establishing a legal basis for neutralizing the

Russia’s transborder traffic 80 times higher than in Soviet Union times

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

(Interfax – May 27, 2013) About 167 million people and nearly 27 million vehicles crossed the Russian state border last year, which was 22 percent more than in 2011. “The trend persists in 2013. Back in the Soviet period, the number of persons allowed to cross the state border was roughly 2-2.5 million per year.

Evacuation of Personnel from Russian Polar Stations to Begin in Mid-June – Minister

File Photo of Polar Bear on Ice and Snow with Water Nearby

(Interfax – MOSCOW, May 27, 2013) The personnel of the SP-40 weather station, based on a split ice floe in the Arctic Ocean will be evacuated in mid-June, Natural Resources Minister Sergei Donskoi told reporters on Monday. An icebreaker will depart from Murmansk to collect the personnel and equipment. “If the mission goes as planned

Russia’s Top Social Network Under Fire

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW – May 28, 2013) When Vkontakte.ru briefly appeared on a government blacklist of banned websites last week, it raised eyebrows. Russia’s leading social network isn’t just a place where friends connect, make plans, and share experiences. It’s also one of the main platforms the opposition has used

Johnson’s Russia List :: 2013-#95 :: 27 May 2013

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Johnson’s Russia List :: 2013-#95 :: 27 May 2013 E-Mail: davidjohnson@starpower.net A project of the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs: www.ieres.org JRL homepage: www.russialist.org JRL on Facebook: www.facebook.com/russialist JRL on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JohnsonRussiaLi Support JRL: http://russialist.org/funding.php POLITICS 1. RFE/RL: Russia’s Population Decline Said

The Fabulous 90’s: A Siberian memoir: Response to Adomanis JRL#94

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Date: Sun, 26 May 2013 Subject:  The Fabulous 90’s: A Siberian memoir: Response to Adomanis JRL#94 From: Sarah Lindemann-Komarova <echosiberia@gmail.com> The Fabulous 90’s: A Siberian memoir in response to JRL#94 Mark Adomanis Forbes.com “The Intelligence Squared Debate: Masha Gessen Has Some Really Strange Ideas About The 1990’s” (JRL #94) Adomanis, “With the stipulation that Gessen

Russia’s “Third Cultural Center,” Yekaterinburg

Yekaterinburg file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – May 27, 2013) John Freedman has been the theater critic of The Moscow Times since its inception in 1992. Natalya Druzhinina is the director of development for the Yekaterinburg Young Spectator Theater. She is also an artistic and executive director of the Real Theater festival, which is

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