RBTH: ‘Change of regime’ needed for Moscow and Ankara to start talking

Turkey and Environs Satellite Image

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan failed to meet at the UN climate summit in Paris, but made a number of harsh statements, which, Russian commentators say, have left the two leaders with no chance of reconciliation. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH – December 2, 2015) The UN climate conference in […]

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Russians Turn to Bartering in Economic Recession

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – December 2, 2015) An economic recession and soaring grocery prices have prompted Russians to go online to trade household items for food, with scores of websites facilitating a barter system cropping up around the country. Russia’s main social network, VKontakte, has an array of online groups, targeting various cities, where local inhabitants […]

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RUSSIA & UKRAINE – Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#234 :: Thursday, 3 December 2015

[check back for updates, including more links; links also posted to facebook and twitter] Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#234 Thursday, 3 December 2015 A project sponsored through the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs The contents do not necessarily represent the views of IERES or the George Washington University. JRL homepage: russialist.org JRL on […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Kremlin.ru – December 3, 2015) Vladimir Putin delivered the Annual Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly. The Address was traditionally delivered at the Kremlin’s St George Hall before an audience of more than 1,000 people. Those present for the Address included members of the Federation Council, State Duma deputies, members of the Government, heads of the Constitutional and Supreme Courts, […]

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Debt repayment falters as ruble stays unsteady

File Photo of Cash Register with Drawer Open and Hands of Cashier

Amid continuously falling incomes, debt help groups thrive as Russians turn to different solutions to repay loans. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ANNA KUCHMA, RBTH – December 2, 2015) In the past year, arrears on loans have reached record levels. Borrowers are finding it more difficult to repay their loans due to the steep devaluation of the ruble […]

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We’re right here; Building a society inclusive of autism in Russia involves battling with myths, superstition and the Soviet legacy. But civil society is forging ahead.

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(opendemocracy.net – Natalia Antonova – December 2, 2015) Natalia Antonova was born in Kyiv and grew up in North Carolina. She works as a journalist and playwright. All over the world, autism is a condition that attracts scrutiny and controversy-it is both highly variable and often poorly understood. In Russia, a society still struggling with inherited Soviet disdain of anything […]

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Interfax: DPR intelligence exposes Ukraine’s military equipment movements near contact line – Basurin

DONETSK. Dec 2 (Interfax) – Artillery, armored vehicles and cars carrying Ukrainian forces appeared at the line of contacts, senior official of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) Defense Ministry Eduard Basurin said. “Seven tanks, five 152-mm howitzers ‘Msta-B’ and six D-30 guns were seen near Zaitseve,” the Donetsk News Agency cited Basurin as saying. Eight BM-21 ‘Grad’ launch vehicles were […]

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NEWSWATCH AP: “Chechnya Holds Classes to Counter IS Propaganda”

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

AP covers Chechnya’s difficulties with Islamic terrorist recruiting. Authorities in Russia’s predominantly Muslim republic of Chechnya have organized classes to stave off Islamic State recruitment. Thousands … have joined IS in Syria … some have taken senior positions. Islamic militancy has engulfed Russia’s North Caucasus … nearly 1,000 people are believed to have left Dagestan from Syria, the number of […]

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COP21: a diary from Paris

Polar Bear on Ice, Looking Back at Camera

oDR correspondent Angelina Davydova is in Paris attending the UN climate conference COP21, where she’s keeping her eye on the Russian side of things… (opendemocracy.net – November 30, 2015) 30 November: Putin speaks Today was the first day of the UN climate conference in Paris (#COP21) and it began with 130 heads of state and government addressing the conference. This […]

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Old Guard Clinches Mayoral Race on Edge of Ukraine’s Eastern War

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Daryna Krasnolutska – December 2, 2015) An opposition candidate backed by allies of Ukraine’s ousted pro-Russian leader won the mayoral election in Mariupol, a port city on the fringe of the nation’s 21-month war. Vadym Boychenko, an independent supported by the Opposition Bloc, a group dominated by members of ex-President Viktor Yanukovych’s now-defunct Party of Regions, […]

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NEWSWATCH Wall Street Journal: “Talks With Russia on EU-Ukraine Trade Deal Fail to Reach Compromise. Moscow makes new demands over bilateral accord set for Jan. 1”

EU Map

The Wall Street Journal covers efforts by the EU and Ukraine to consult with Russia over an upcoming EU-Ukrainian trade deal. Russia laid out a long list of demands for amending a sweeping trade deal between Ukraine and the European Union a month before the pact is due to be fully implemented…. at a fresh round of discussions among the […]

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NEWSWATCH AP: “UN: Polio Outbreak in Ukraine Is a State of Emergency”

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

The AP covers the WHO’s reaction to public health issues in war-torn Ukraine. The World Health Organization is urging Ukraine’s health ministry to declare a state of emergency due to a polio outbreak … In September, Ukraine announced two polio cases — the first in Europe since 2010. * * * Half of Ukraine’s children have not been vaccinated against […]

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Got a Diplomatic Dilemma? Send in the Clowns

Clown file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Justin Lifflander – December 2, 2015) While some potential visitors have crossed Russia off their list, a group of humanitarian clowns still regards the country as an ideal destination. The 22nd annual clown tour of Russia, which ended last week, brought more than 40 garishly dressed volunteers from 12 countries, including those with problematic relations […]

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Three-quarters of Russians stand for normalizing relations with West

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(Interfax – December 2, 2015) Most Russians (75 percent) think that Russia should normalize relations with the United States and other Western nations, and 16 percent argue the opposite, Levada Center has told Interfax. Ten percent of 1,600 respondents interviewed in 137 populated localities in 48 regions on November 20-23 were undecided. In the opinion of 51 percent of the […]

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RUSSIA & UKRAINE – Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#233 :: Wednesday, 2 December 2015

[check back for updates, including more links; links also posted to facebook and twitter] Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#233 Wednesday, 2 December 2015 A project sponsored through the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs The contents do not necessarily represent the views of IERES or the George Washington University. JRL homepage: russialist.org JRL on […]

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Banks Too Big to Sanction as War Wrecks Russia’s Ukraine Ties

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Volodymyr Verbyany, Jake Rudnitsky – November 30, 2015) Your enemy’s bank is your friend. Or so Ukraine wants to believe after giving Russian banks a pass more than a year and a half into a separatist insurgency it blames on the Kremlin. Banks including state-run lenders sanctioned by the U.S. and the European Union have clung […]

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Interfax: Putin regrets deterioration of relations with Turkey

Turkey and Environs Satellite Image

(Interfax – December 1, 2015) Russian President Vladimir Putin has regretted the exacerbation of relations between Russia and Turkey and said that Moscow has repeatedly raised the question of terrorists coming from that country in its contacts with Turkey. “I think all of us regret this, and I personally regret this because I personally have been doing a lot for […]

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Combating ISIS from within; Officials look for ways to stop the influence of Islamic State along Russia’s southern borders.

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ALEXEY TIMOFEYCHEV, RBTH – December 1, 2015) On the eve of the Paris attacks, ISIS extremists published a video in Russian: “Soon, very soon,” it said, “there will be a sea of blood.” Experts believe ISIS is indeed a real threat for Russia. On Oct. 31, a Russian plane exploded, killing all 224 […]

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Russia’s HIV Situation ‘Epidemic’ – Rospotrebnadzor

Microscopic Image of T-Cells Infected by HIV

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 1, 2015) Russia’s HIV infection rates have become epidemic, spreading to citizens beyond at risk groups, the head of Rospotrebnadzor’s epidemiology supervision department in St. Petersburg, Irina Chkhindzheriya said, the Interfax news agency reported. “We have to admit that the country’s soaring HIV rates can be described as epidemic. About 1 percent of Russians […]

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NEWSWATCH Christian Science Monitor: “Ukrainian refugees in Russia: Did Moscow fumble a valuable resource? Russians have warmly welcomed more than a million pro-Moscow Ukrainian refugees in the past 18 months. But the state bureaucracy hasn’t followed suit.”

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

The Christian Science Monitor covers the movement of Ukrainians into Russia, its impact on Russian demographics, and the potential exodus back into Ukraine following a failure by Russia to more effectively provide for their permanent immigration. Over the past 18 months, Russia has taken in more than 1 million Ukrainian refugees … who have fled the destructive civil war between […]

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NEWSWATCH Reuters: “Grim reality sets in for Ukraine wheat crop”

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

Reuters covers Ukrainian agricultural production following some unfavorable weather conditions earlier in the year. Ukraine’s 2016 wheat crop is … sailing into uncharted waters given both the significantly missed planting target and a record percentage of crops in poor condition. … the world’s sixth-largest wheat exporter[] has faced one of the most challenging winter planting campaigns this year than ever […]

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NEWSWATCH Atlantic Council/Anders Aslund: “Ukraine Two Years After Euromaidan: What Has Been Accomplished?”

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

Anders Aslund assesses developments in Ukraine since Euromaidan. Two years ago, popular protests erupted against Ukraine’s former President Viktor Yanukovych on Kyiv’s Maidan. Since then, Ukraine’s economy has deteriorated sharply, with a contraction of 18 percent in two years, but the Poroshenko Bloc was the biggest party by far in the October 25 local elections. One might say that the […]

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NEWSWATCH Washington Post: “On Ukraine’s front lines, U.S.-supplied equipment is falling apart”

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

The Washington Post reports on old, second-rate U.S. equipment being given to Ukraine. The United States has delivered more than $260 million in nonlethal military equipment to help the government of Ukraine in its fight against a Russian-backed insurgency, but some of the U.S.-supplied gear meant to protect and transport Ukrainian military forces is little more than junk. … for […]

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NEWSWATCH Wall Street Journal: “NATO Ministers Discuss Measures to Defend Turkish Airspace. Meeting of NATO foreign ministers follows last week’s shooting down of Russian jet.”

Turkey and Environs Satellite Image

The Wall Street Journal covers NATO plans to bolster allied support of Turkish air defense, with heightened focus after the Turkish shoot-down of a Russian military aircraft. Allies have been discussing how to help Turkey defend its airspace for years, but the talks gained new urgency after the downing of the Russian plane that NATO says briefly entered Turkish airspace. […]

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NEWSWATCH Reuters: “Obama urges Turkey to reduce tensions with Russia”

Turkey map

Reuters covers U.S.-Turkish relations in the aftermath of Turkey’s shoot-down of a Russian military aircraft. U.S. President Barack Obama urged Turkey on Tuesday to reduce tensions with Moscow after the downing of a Russian warplane and to seal its border with Syria to choke off the supply of money and fighters to Islamic State militants. * * * Obama stressed […]

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‘Russia’s Future Not Connected with Ukraine or Syria,’ Inozemtsev Says

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, December 1, 2015) Russians have been so focused on events in Ukraine and now Syria that they have forgotten the most important thing: their future and that of their country is not connected with what is going on in those countries but what is taking place or not taking place in their […]

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Climate Change And The View From Moscow

Snowy Night on Red Square with Old St. Basil's Lit Up

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – Explainer – MOSCOW, November 29, 2015) Russia’s size and broad range of environments, from the arid southern steppe to the frigid Arctic, expose the world’s largest country to many aspects of climate change. President Vladimir Putin is one of dozens of leaders expected to attend a UN conference on climate change that starts […]

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RUSSIA & UKRAINE – Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#232 :: Tuesday 1 December 2015

[check back for updates, including more links; links also posted to facebook and twitter] Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#232 Tuesday 1 December 2015 A project sponsored through the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs The contents do not necessarily represent the views of IERES or the George Washington University. JRL homepage: russialist.org JRL on […]

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NEWSWATCH AFP: “With fighting easing, landmines still haunt east Ukraine”

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

AFP covers the impact of landmines in Ukraine. The seaside fishing town of Shyrokyne remains studded with landmines, a deadly legacy of the 19-month pro-Russian revolt in the EU’s backyard. Both Ukrainian forces and separatist rebels have refused to take on the task of fully clearing the war zone of one of the most unpredictable and devastating hazards to residents’ […]

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NEWSWATCH New York Times: “Discord Between Turkey and Russia Is Fueled by Leaders’ Similarities”

The New York Times considers Turkish-Russian relations in the aftermath of Turkey’s shoot-down of a Russian military aircraft, in the light of the two nation’s leaders, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Both men are often described as combative, uncompromising, nationalistic and authoritarian. Mr. Putin changed jobs to keep running his country, switching between the post of prime minister and […]

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Why we should be confident that Putin is genuinely popular in Russia

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(Professor Joshua Tucker of NYU – PONARS – IERES – Nov. 24, 2015) (WP) Tuesday brings yet another dramatic development in the story of Russia’s relationship with the West. Monday, it was the possibility of improving relations in the wake of French President Francois Hollande’s decision to visit Moscow to seek solidarity in the fight against the Islamic State. Tuesday, it is the specter of renewed conflict […]

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NEWSWATCH Wall Street Journal: “Russians Seeking Winter Retreat Are Stopped Cold. Moscow’s travel bans to Egypt, Turkey amid diplomatic crises force tens of thousands to adjust or cancel vacations”

The Wall Street Journal covers disruptions to Russian travel plans, amidst travel bans imposed by the Kremlin following Turkey’s shoot-down of a Russian military jet and a suspected terrorist downing of a Russian airliner in Egypt. Turkey and Egypt were popular destinations, offering hotels and services far better than Russian equivalents at a reasonable price. Six million Russians visited Turkey […]

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NEWSWATCH Reuters: “Khodorkovsky says Putin is leading Russia towards stagnation, collapse”

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

Reuters covers remarks by former Russian oil tycoon, former prison inmate, political activist Mikhail Khodorkovsky. President Vladimir Putin will survive Western sanctions and lower oil prices but the Kremlin chief has brought such stagnation that Russia could eventually collapse, former tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky said …. Russia’s richest man, who was arrested in 2003 after falling foul of Putin and released […]

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NEWSWATCH Moscow Times/Kevin Ryan: “Turkish Shootdown Shows Importance of NATO-Russia Dialogue”

NATO Meeting file photo

In the aftermath of Turkey’s shoot-down of a Russian military aircraft, Retired Brigadier General Kevin Ryan addresses the need for greater dialogue between NATO and Russia. It is important to recognize how serious the situation has become between Russia and NATO over the last two years. In response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its activities in Ukraine, almost all operational communications between the militaries of NATO and Russia have been suspended. […]

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Mariupol elections: will Donbas voters be represented in Ukrainian politics?

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

The Donbas is being airbrushed out of Ukrainian politics. This will only build another barrier to a united and democratic country. (opendemocracy.net – Vitalii Atanasov – November 26, 2015) Vitalii Atanasov is a freelance journalist, videographer and coordinator of media education projects at Kyiv’s Center for Social and Labor Research. He specialises in reporting on social inequalities, civil and labour […]

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Ukraine is caught between war and reform

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

Two years on from the protests that ignited Maidan, Ukraine is suffering from a clash of agendas. (opendemocracy.net – Mikhail Minakov – November 27, 2015) Mikhail Minakov is Associate Professor at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and President of the Foundation for Good Politics, Kyiv. He is also director of the Krytyka Institute, and editor-in-chief of the journal Ideology and Politics. Two years […]

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NEWSWATCH Deutsche Welle: “Dark days on Crimea: Russia and Ukraine rattle sabers. Electricity cables cut, no trade between Ukraine proper and the Crimean Peninsula, no gas supply: Once again Ukraine and Russia seem headed for confrontation. The US and Europe fear for the future of the Minsk Protocol”

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

Deutsche Welle covers unfolding events in occupied Crimea, including a power outage. Crimea has recently experienced its darkest hours in memory – literally. The peninsula, annexed by Russia in 2014, was left in a state of emergency, deprived since November 22 of electricity from the Ukrainian mainland after persons unknown blew up a number of electricity pylons in southern Ukraine. […]

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NEWSWATCH New York Times: “Months After Russian Annexation, Hopes Start to Dim in Crimea”

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

The New York Times covers unfolding events in occupied Crimea, including a power outage. No one is quite sure how long the blackout might last. The Ukrainian government has said the lines should be fixed but made no move to remove the protesters blocking repair crews. Although the Kremlin has voiced concern, it has not tried to force a solution. […]

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Despite Economic Woes, the Book Fair is Bigger Than Ever

Bookcase file photo, adapted from image at nlm.nih.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Justin Lifflander – November 28, 2015) Other countries have book fairs where publishers come to do business. The 17th International Book Fair for High-Quality Fiction and Non-Fiction – commonly simply referred to as “nonfiction” – taking place in Moscow this week is very much an event for readers. And as such it is a good […]

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Putin Doesn’t Mind Oil’s Fall

Oil Wells File Photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – November 26, 2015) [Charts here bloombergview.com/articles/2015-11-26/putin-doesn-t-mind-oil-s-fall] Russia’s economic decline this year is often attributed to low oil prices. Yet Russia has performed considerably worse than most of its oil-exporting peers, so there must be another reason. Marek Dabrowski, co-founder of the Center for Social and Economic Research in Warsaw and a professor at […]

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