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UKRAINE & RUSSIA :: Recent Issues: FRIDAY JRL 10.17.14 :: THURSDAY JRL 10.16.14 :: WEDNESDAY JRL 10.15.14 :: TUESDAY JRL 10.14.14 :: MONDAY JRL 10.13.14 :: more ...

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Russian Rights Ombudswoman Slams EU Over Ukraine Silence

Ukraine Map and Flag

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – October 20, 2014) Russia’s human rights ombudswoman has accused the European Union of “ignoring human suffering” in eastern Ukraine, in an interview published in the state-run bulletin “Rossiiskaya gazeta.” Ella Pamfilova said that although Europe is “an icon in the style of human rights, democracy, and freedom of speech,” it “openly

RIA Novosti: Time Running out for Election Monitors, Registering Ahead of Ukrainian Parliament Polls

Rada File Photo

MOSCOW, October 20 (RIA Novosti) – Monday will be the final day for those, going to monitor the upcoming parliamentary election in Ukraineto register with the country’s Central Election Commission. More than 1,800 observers have been registered so far, with 1,589 representing non-government organizations and 238 dispatched by foreign governments. A snap election to the

Masked men again attack Akhmetov’s Zaporizhstal steel plant

Ukraine Map and Flag

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – October 20, 2014) Over 100 masked men wearing nationalist insignia laid siege to Zaporizhstal, one of Ukraine’s largest steel plants, and owned by Ukraine’s richest man Rinat Akhmetov, newswires report. “The northern and southern entrances to the Zaporizhstal metallurgy plant are blocked by about 10 passenger vans carrying unidentified

RIA Novosti: Ukrainian president “recognized by everyone” – Russian foreign minister

File photo of Barack Obama and Petro Poroshenko facing one another, with Obama gesturing

(RIA Novosti – Moscow, October 19, 2014) Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said that he would not dramatize Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s public statements ahead of the elections to the Supreme Council [parliament], although some of them are “hitting below the belt”. “As regards public statements (by Poroshenko), the election campaign is under way

RIA Novosti: Lavrov: Western Sanctions’ Goal is to Change Russia, Not to Settle Ukrainian Crisis

Sergei Lavrov file photo

MOSCOW, October 19 (RIA Novosti) – The goal of Western sanctions is to force to change the position of the Russian Federation on the key and fundamental issues, and not to resolve the crisis in Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. “Our partners, who actually imposed the sanctions, do not hide the fact that

RUSSIA & UKRAINE: JRL 2014-#218 table of contents with links :: Monday 20 October 2014

St. Basil's file photo

[check back for updates, including more links; links also posted to facebook and twitter] Johnson’s Russia List JRL 2014-#218 :: Monday 18 October 2014 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: russialist.org JRL on Facebook: facebook.com/russialist  JRL on Twitter: twitter.com/JohnsonRussiaLi Support JRL: russialist.org/funding.php  Ukraine 1. www.thedailybeast.com: Anna Nemtsova, Why

Interfax: Ukraine rebels reject German reports blaming them for downing flight MH17

Ukraine Air Crash Scene with Uniformed Security Personnel, Flames, Smoke

(Interfax – Moscow, October 19, 2014) First deputy prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk people’s republic Andriy Purhin [Russian: Andrey Purgin] rejects German intelligence allegations of militia members’ involvement in the crash of the Malaysian Boeing, suggesting that Ukrainian troops may have shot down the airliner in error, mistaking it for a reconnaissance aircraft. “These

Ukraine and Russia move close to gas agreement, want IMF to pay bill

Gas Flame file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – October 20, 2014) Russia and Ukraine have moved a step closer to an agreement on gas supplies and pricing, but have called for the international community to help Ukraine pay its gas bill. “[We] reached an agreement,” Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko said on Ukrainian TV on October 17, immediately

Specter of ’98 Default Haunts Russians as Ruble Weakens

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Howard Amos – October 18, 2014) As the Russian ruble plunges to repeated record lows and the Central Bank ramps up market interventions to defend it, few want to mention Aug. 17, 1998. On that day, amid budgetary chaos and dwindling foreign currency reserves, Russia abandoned its support of the

Russia’s ‘Era of Freedom’ has Come to an End, Academician Says

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, October 19, 2014) Russia’s 25-year-long era of freedom, which began in 1989 with the Congress of Peoples Deputies, has come to an end and the prospects for the future are extremely bleak, according to Academician Yury Pivovarov. If Russians do not transform themselves, their country risks becoming

Khodorkovsky expecting large-scale civil war in Russia

Map of Russia

(Pravda.ru – October 17, 2014) Mikhail Khodorkovsky said in an interview with the BBC that he was expecting a large-scale civil war in Russia in the future. “What is happening in Ukraine, is undoubtedly bad for Russia, as it strengthens the authoritarian regime in Russia and ruins the hopes of the progressive part of the

Censorship Fears Mount as Officials Move to Tackle ‘Negativity’ in Russian Media

File Photo of Russian Television Studio

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 18, 2014) Days after President Vladimir Putin signed a law forcing foreign companies to sell stakes in Russian media, members of Russia’s upper house of parliament have advocated applying state pressure to combat a glut of “negative” news that is poisoning the country’s image, a news report said Friday.

Russia Sanctions Update series

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

Paul Backer, an American attorney based in Moscow, recently has offered the following original contributions to the JRL on the subject of sanctions and the response by business and legal counsel. Backer, pbacker@skalalaw.com, is with Skalaw Law, online at skalalaw.com. Part I: Russia sanctions: implementing client sanctions policies – Sept. 26, 2014 Part II: Russian companies’ failures

RUSSIA & UKRAINE: JRL 2014-#217 table of contents with links :: Friday 17 October 2014

St. Basil's file photo

… 37. Moscow Times: Vladislav Inozemtsev, The Ruble’s Senseless and Harmful Devaluation.
38. RFE/RL: Brian Whitmore, Putin’s Class Of 2014.
39. www.opendemocracy.net: Yelizaveta Surnacheva, For the Russian elite, loyalty is all. Life has changed for Russia’s elite – and not just their holiday destinations
40. Bloomberg: China Embraces a Russia Cut off From Western Capital. …

Sanctions Update Part 3, Practical Steps.

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

Subject: Sanctions Update Part 3, Practical Steps. Date: 15 Oct 2014 From: Paul Backer <pauljbacker@gmail.com> Part 3. Practical aspects of sanctions impact optimization for Russian companies. Violating sanctions or hoping for a world without sanctions is not a sanctions policy. Effective sanctions policies optimize transacting and protect assets. They work at the nexus of regulatory,

NEW BOOK: Brothers Armed: Military Aspects of the Crisis in Ukraine

Maidan Square file photo

Subject: New book: Brothers Armed: Military Aspects of the Crisis in Ukraine Date: Thu, 16 Oct 2014 From: Ruslan Pukhov <director@cast.ru> Brothers Armed: Military Aspects of the Crisis in Ukraine Edited by Colby Howard and Ruslan Pukhov, Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Published by East View Press, 2014 ISBN 978-1-879944-22-0 paperback, 252 pages

For the Russian elite, loyalty is all: Life has changed for Russia’s elite – and not just their holiday destinations…

File Photo of Man Placing Stack of Large Bills into Inside Pocket of Suitcoat

(opendemocracy.net – Yelizaveta Surnacheva – October 16, 2014) Yelizaveta Surnacheva is a journalist at Kommersant. In the last six months, Russian officials, oligarchs, CEOs of state-owned businesses, parliamentary deputies, and regional governors have found themselves in a new world, with new missions, new economic circumstances, and new mechanisms for decision-making. Not many are comfortable with

Putin’s Class Of 2014

Kremlin and Environs Aerial View

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – October 17, 2014) The iPhone-toting hipsters hanging out in their trendy downtown Moscow office are just the high-profile part of the Kremlin’s new youth strategy. Founded in November 2013, the youth group Set — which means “Network” in Russian — has organized patriotic fashion shows and film festivals,

Life in Russia with $80 oil

Oil Well file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Chris Weafer – October 17, 2014) Chris Weafer is Senior Partner at Macro-Advisory, which offers bespoke Russia-CIS consulting. From late 2010 until the middle of August this year, the price of Brent crude has traded within a relatively narrow range and averaged close to $110 per barrel. Over the

Interfax: “Novak: oil price drop no ‘tragedy'”

Oil Well file photo

(Interfax – October 17, 2014) The current decline in oil prices is no tragedy, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said, adding that the average annual price of oil needs to be considered. “The price reached $120 per barrel at the beginning of the year, and averaged $100 per barrel in the three preceding years. If

Russia Beyond the Headlines: Ruble devaluation compensates for loss of oil revenue

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Maria Karnaukh, special to RBTH – October 17, 2014) Falling oil prices – and the falling ruble – have different consequences for the budget and consumers Oil prices – and the Russian ruble – continue to sink. As of Oct. 16, the price of a barrel of Brent

Interfax: Russians feel no effect from Western sanctions, think Russian economy may benefit – poll

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

(Interfax – October 17, 2014) Most Russians claim they have felt no effect from Western sanctions and expect that the sanctions will be good for the national economy, sociologists have told Interfax. A relative majority (41 percent) of 1,630 respondents polled by Levada Center in 134 populated localities in 46 regions in September said the

Russia to crack down on tax evasion

File Photo of Man Placing Stack of Large Bills into Inside Pocket of Suitcoat

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – October 17, 2014) Russian authorities are moving ahead with a campaign to plug external and internal tax loopholes, with the government preparing a new law on ‘de-offshorisation’ and the central bank closing down banks complicit in grey capital outflows. The de-offshorisation campaign is intended to repatriate Russian business from

Navalny Wouldn’t Return Crimea, Considers Immigration Bigger Issue Than Ukraine

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – October 17, 2014) Prominent Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny said in an interview this week that he would not return the Crimean Peninsula to Ukraine if he had the power to do so, and that the issue of illegal immigration was more important for Russia than anything

Putin’s Glamour Deemed Threat to National Security

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – October 17, 2014) In 2009, during his stint as prime minister, President Vladimir Putin flirted with being a columnist at literary magazine Russky Pioner, famous for its ostentatious parties. A vehicle for the literary ambition of the Russian elite, its contributors have also included presidential aide Vladislav

Interfax: West Africa Ebola sooner or later to be contained, virus not to reach Russia – Virology Research Institute

Ebola Virus, adapted from image at nih.gov with credit NAID

MOSCOW. Oct 17 (Interfax) – Experts from the Ivanovsky Virology Research Institute of the Russian Health Ministry believe the situation with Ebola in the world is unlikely to reach a level when Russia will have to restrict border entry. “I believe the situation will develop according to a favorable scenario and the outbreak can be

Interfax: Expert says drug abuse rates in Russia not catastrophic, alcoholism much worse

Russian Drug Den File Photo

MOSCOW. Oct 17 (Interfax) – The official drug abuse figure in Russia stands at 650,000 people. Their number is down 9% for the first time ever, the Russian Health Ministry’s chief substance abuse specialist Yevgeny Bryun said. “I cannot call drug abuse rates catastrophic. The alcoholism problem is much worse here. About 650,000 drug addicts

Muscovites in for a Harsh Winter as Temperatures Set to Plunge

File Photo of Moscow In Snowy Winter Showing St. Basil's At Night in Snowfall, with People on the Ground in the Distance

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 17, 2014) After several years of relatively mild winters, Russia is gearing up for what meteorologists say will be a truly “Russian winter,” with its traditional frosts and ample snowfall. “Our estimations show that this year’s winter will be closer to our long-term average,” Alexander Frolov, head of the

RIA Novosti: Kiev’s Ultranationalism Behind Conflict With Eastern Ukraine: Russian Envoy

Map of Western CIS/FSU and European Environs

MOSCOW, October 17 (RIA Novosti) -The reason behind the tragedy in Eastern Ukraine is that the local population rejected the ultranationalist stand of the new Ukrainian government, which responded with a punitive operation against its own citizens, the Russian envoy to the United Nations said at a security conference in Switzerland. “The reason behind the

Interfax: DPR won’t hold Ukrainian elections – Purgin

Ukraine Map and Flag

MOSCOW. Oct 17 (Interfax) – The administration of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic is calm about the statement made by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who said the elections in the DPR are to be conducted in accordance with Ukrainian legislation. “Our position remains unchanged. We will not allow any Ukrainian elections on our

Thirty-nine government heads roll after lustration law takes effect

Maidan Square file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – October 17, 2014) Ukrainian PM Arseny Yatsenyuk has said that 39 top government officials have lost their jobs on the basis of a lustration law that entered into force on October 14, purging officials who served under former president Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted in February. “In accordance with

Interfax: Russian defence chief “seriously concerned” by US counterpart’s statement

Sergei Shoigu file photo

(Interfax – Moscow, October 16, 2014) US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel’s statement on the necessity of preparing the American army for “dealing with the Russian armed forces” is evidence that military scenarios near the borders of the Russian Federation are being worked on, Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu has told journalists. “Chuck Hagel’s point

Preparing for War Against the US on All Fronts – A Net Assessment of Russia’s Defense and Foreign Policy Since the Start of 2014

File Photo of Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama Seated Before Russian and U.S. Flags

(Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 11, Issue 183 – Pavel Felgenhauer – Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – October 16, 2014) In a series of recently published interviews, President Vladimir Putin (kremlin.ru, October 15), Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (Interfax, October 15) and national security council secretary Nikolai Patrushev (Rossiyskaya Gazeta, October 15) have outlined Moscow’s strategic vision

Hagel: U.S. Army Must Be Ready to Face ‘Revisionist’ Russia

Chuck Hegel gesturing, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 16, 2014) U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has issued a warning to his country’s armed forces, saying they should be prepared for the security threat posed by a revitalized Russia. “The demands on the [U.S.] Army will only grow more diverse and complicated going forward,” Hagel told the

Interfax: FMS: Over 3.5 million Ukrainian nationals move to Russia in 2014

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

MOSCOW. Oct 16 (Interfax) – More than 3.5 million Ukrainian nationals moved to Russia this year, Lilia Arestova, deputy head of the Federal Migration Service (FMS) naturalization department, said at a meeting of the committee for public support to residents of south-eastern Ukraine. “The FMS is keeping a daily record of arrivals. A total of

RIA Novosti: Putin: No Energy Crisis in Europe on Russia’s Behalf

Gas Flame file photo

BELGRADE, October 16 (RIA Novosti) – President Vladimir Putin on Thursday reassured European partners that Russia would do everything possible to prevent any interruption of Russian natural gas deliveries to Europe. “We would’t want any crisis to occur during the winter period,” Putin told reporters following talks with Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade. “Russia

Russia Beyond the Headlines: Kerry and Lavrov take a practical approach

File Photo of John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov at Separte Podiums, Kerry with a Visible Earpiece; Adapted from Photo at state.gov

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Nikolai Litovkin, RBTH – October 16, 2014) During a three-hour meeting in Paris on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed cooperation against ISIS in Iraq and Syria as well as the political crisis in Ukraine. After the talks, Lavrov said

RIA Novosti: Ukraine Demands Gas Transit Contract With Europe, Refuses to Guarantee Safe Transit

Gas Flame file photo

KIEV, October 16 (RIA Novosti) – Ukraine will not guarantee uninterrupted transit of Russian gas to Europe via its territory unless it signs a gas transit contract with EU partners, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Thursday. “Ukraine declares that we are a state that guarantees uninterrupted transit of natural gas, but in order to guarantee

Back-of-envelope estimate of cost to Russia of Ukraine crisis is $100 billion in 2014

Ukraine Map and Flag

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Timothy Ash of Standard Bank – October 15, 2014) Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, this week estimated that the crisis in Ukraine would likely cost the German economy €40bn this year, and a further €50bn in 2015 – presumably through lost exports, and a broader disruption to the German

Kremlin-Run Generational Change in Regime Reproducing Soviet-Era Nomenklatura, Pastukhov Says

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, October 14, 2014) A revolution is taking place in Russia, but it is not in the streets but in the halls of government where the Putin regime is bringing into positions of power a new generation of officials who are more like the Soviet-era nomenklatura than like

TRANSCRIPT: Kerry Remarks at a Solo Press Availability

John Kerry file photo

(US Department of State – John Kerry, Secretary of State – October 14, 2014) Paris, France SECRETARY KERRY: Well, good evening, everybody. Thanks for your patience. This has been a very productive couple of days, and I’m glad to have an opportunity to be able to catch up on the discussions that we’ve had, both

Seven parties enter parliament, Poroshenko Bloc gets third of votes – survey

Rada File Photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Tim Ash, Standard Bank – October 15, 2014) Interesting poll reported by Interfax. Predictably President Poroshenko’s For Petro Poroshenko Bloc is still riding high in the polls with 33.5% – and emerging as the new party of power. Next up up is Liashko’s Radical Party with 12.8%, and seemingly

RIA Novosti: Ukrainian Teens Tweet Nazi Propaganda, Boast of Burning Russians

Twitter Logo and Faint World Map

[Graphics and tweets here en.ria.ru/society/20141012/193990648/ Ukrainian-Teens-Tweet-Nazi-Propaganda-Boast-of-Burning-Russians.html] MOSCOW, October 12 (RIA Novosti), Ekaterina Blinova – Since the Euromaidan turmoil and events triggered by the Ukrainian coup of February 2014, Ukrainian youth has been used as the main propaganda force of the Ukrainian nationalist movement. Ukrainian right-wing nationalists attract young people by romanticized the image of OUN-UPA

Moscow Times: Majority of Russians Endorse Internet Censorship

File Photo Dmitry Medvedev at Desk with Laptop Computer

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 15, 2014) The majority of the Russian population supports a curb on Internet freedoms in theory, a new study showed Tuesday. Fifty-four percent of the respondents in a new poll by the independent Levada Center said the World Wide Web had enough dangerous websites to mandate censorship. Another 31

RIA Novosti: Putin Limits Foreign Capital’s Participation in Russian Media: Government

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW, October 15 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law reducing the possible share of foreign stockholders in the Russian media to 20 percent, says the corresponding document published on the Russian government’s official legal information web portal Wednesday. “Unless otherwise stipulated by an international treaty … a Russian legal entity


Poroshenko Seeks Merkel’s Support as Russia Bristles

Maidan Square file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Tony Czuczka, Kateryna Choursina- October 16, 2014) German Chancellor Angela Merkel blamed the Kremlin for continuing to stoke the Ukraine conflict as Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that he won’t be blackmailed over the crisis. “Russia must make the decisive contribution to de-escalation,” Merkel told parliament in Berlin today. “The situation

RUSSIA & UKRAINE: JRL 2014-#216 table of contents with links :: Thursday 16 October 2014

St. Basil's file photo

[check back for updates, including more links; links also posted to facebook and twitter] Johnson’s Russia List JRL 2014-#216 :: Thursday 16 October 2014 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: russialist.org JRL on Facebook: facebook.com/russialist  JRL on Twitter: twitter.com/JohnsonRussiaLi Support JRL: russialist.org/funding.php  Ukraine 1. Wall Street Journal: Putin

Russian Defense Budget to Hit Record $81 Billion in 2015

Russian Nuclear Submarine file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 16, 2014) Russia’s national defense budget for 2015 will reach a record 3.3 trillion rubles ($81 billion), or 4.2 percent of its national GDP, the head of the State Duma’s defense committee, Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov, was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency on Thursday. The 2015 budget

Russians Lose Faith in Banks as Ruble Falls and Sanctions Bite

VTB Bank Facade file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Delphine d’Amora – October 16, 2014) Consumer confidence in Russia’s financial system is falling, with half of Russians saying they don’t trust banks and are using such services less, in a troubling signal for a system under pressure from Western sanctions and more sensitive than ever to outflows of depositors,

Experts Divided Over Whether Sanctions Against Russia Are Working

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Voice of America – Andre de Nesnera – October 15, 2014) After several rounds of international sanctions against Russia for its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in March and support of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, experts are divided over whether they are working. “It depends on what your understanding of the purpose of sanctions

Interfax: Ukraine lustration law may help legitimatize political persecution – Russian diplomat

Ukraine Map and Flag

(Interfax – October 16, 2014) Ukraine’s new lustration law may lead to political persecution in the country, but Europe has approved of this document, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s human rights commissioner, Konstantin Dolgov, has said. “I totally agree with remarks concerning the lustration problem. Indeed, the West prefers not to comment on this law. Effectively,

Putin Immune to Economic Decline – So Far

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – October 16, 2014) Most of Russia’s indicators of economic health have plummeted this year. Inflation last month was at its highest level in three years, capital outflow this year is expected to exceed $100 billion, the ruble has lost almost 20 percent of its value since January,

RIA Novosti: HRW Calls on Russia to Guarantee Freedom of Expression

Collage of Russian Newspapers

MOSCOW, October 16 (RIA Novosti) – Russia should make every effort to guarantee freedom of expression, support media pluralism, a Human Rights Watch (HRW) researcher told RIA Novosti, regarding the new law, which has reduced the possible share of foreign stockholders in Russian media. “An essential feature of freedom of expression in a democratic society

RIA Novosti: Moscow Says Has Every Right to Introduce Sanctions Against US, But Chooses Not to

File Photo of Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama Seated with Flags Behind

VIENNA, October 16 (RIA Novosti) – Amid numerous US sanctions against Russia, Moscow has every right to begin introducing sanctions against the United States, but chooses not to follow this path, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister told RIA Novosti. “This is a reflexive, instincts-based reaction of Washington on what does not fit into the American idea

Most Russians Think Western Sanctions Will Boost Nation’s Economy

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Delphine d’Amora – October 16, 2014) Despite an economic slump and rising inflation, the majority of Russians believe that Western sanctions and Russia’s retaliatory ban on food imports will actually help the economy, a poll published Thursday showed. Only 25 percent of respondents expect sanctions to damage the Russian economy,

Russian central bank plays it cool as ruble falls to historic low

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – October 16, 2014) The ruble dropped to another historic low on October 15, passing the RUB41 per dollar mark in morning trading, but analysts said Russia’s central bank is not panicking because ruble weakness is bolstering manufacturing growth and budget revenues. “The CBR is not panicking either in terms

Interfax: Chief of staff says businessman’s arrest damaging Russia’s investment climate

File Photo of Sergei Ivanov, adapted from defense.gov image

(Interfax – October 15, 2014) Kremlin chief of staff Sergey Ivanov has said that the house arrest of billionaire businessman Vladimir Yevtushenkov is damaging Russia’s investment climate. In an interview with popular pro-Kremlin tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda, which was quoted by Interfax news agency, Ivanov said that “I agree, this [the arrest of Yevtushenkov] is having

Fewer Russian Bureaucrats But Salaries Increased 30%, Study Shows

Kremlin and Environs Aerial View

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 16, 2014) The number of Russian officials has decreased slightly from 2009, but their collective earnings have grown 31 percent to 682 billion rubles ($16 billion), a new study showed Wednesday. Russia had 1.45 million officials in 2013, compared with 1.5 million five years ago, the study conducted by

Moscow Times: Ex-Soviet President Gorbachev Says ‘Disunity’ With Russia Weakens Europe

File Photo of Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan at Table Signing Documents

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 16, 2014) Former Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev has called on Russia and the West to put an end to their war of words and retaliatory sanctions over Ukraine and discuss a practical solution to the crisis. “How can you conduct a dialogue if you ‘punish’ the people in power

Russia Can’t Be Blackmailed Over Ukraine, Putin Says

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – October 15, 2014) It’s futile for the U.S. and its allies to “blackmail” Russia over the Ukraine crisis, President Vladimir Putin said in a newspaper interview. Russia’s partners should remember the risks involved in disputes between nuclear powers, Putin said. He accused Barack Obama of adopting a “hostile” approach in naming

Interfax: Most Russians think Putin is doing his job well – poll

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Interfax – Moscow, October 15, 2014) Russians support the president of the Russian Federation and more and more often see their trust in Vladimir Putin as a reflection of his successful handling of the problems facing Russia, sociologists have told Interfax. A poll conducted by the [Russian independent polling organization] Levada Centre among 1,630 people

Conflict With Russia Reaches Ukrainian Stores

Maidan Square file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Yana Polyanska, Claire Bigg – October 15, 2014) The standoff between Kyiv and Moscow has reached food stores in the Ukrainian capital, where Russian-imported goods are soon to be marked with special labels. The Kyiv city legislature has approved legislation ordering stores to enforce the new measure, which its initiator, lawmaker Ruslan

RUSSIA & UKRAINE: JRL 2014-#215 table of contents with links :: Wednesday 15 October 2014

St. Basil's file photo

[check back for updates, including more links; links also posted to facebook and twitter] Johnson’s Russia List JRL 2014-#215 :: Wednesday 15 October 2014 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: russialist.org JRL on Facebook: facebook.com/russialist  JRL on Twitter: twitter.com/JohnsonRussiaLi Support JRL: russialist.org/funding.php  1. Business New Europe: Ukraine’s lustration law

Interfax: Medvedev: Reset for Russia-U.S. relations impossible for now

File Photo of Barack Hussein Obama and Dmitry Medvedev with Flags, Shaking Hands

(Interfax – October 15, 2014) Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev believes a reset for Russia-U.S. relations will be impossible while sanctions are still in place, at least until the sides “go back to square one.” “No, of course not. It’s absolutely impossible,” Medvedev said in an interview with the channel CNBS answering a question whether

Business New Europe: Ukraine’s lustration law bans up to a million from holding office, Poroshenko escapes

Rada File Photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – October 15, 2014) Ukraine’s new law on lustration came into force on October 15 on being published in government announcer Holos Ukrainy. According to Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who backed the law, it bans up to 1m Ukrainians from holding office. The bill principally targets officials who served during

Interfax: Russian security chief says relations with USA resemble cold war

File Photo of Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama Seated with Flags Behind

(Interfax – Moscow, October 14, 2014) The USA was involved in the collapse of the Soviet Union and tried to destroy Russia; Washington’s current attitude to Moscow resembles a cold war, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev has said. “President Barack Obama’s new administration started sending signals about the need to resume a mutually beneficial

RIA Novosti: Ukraine Facing Overall Energy Crisis as Internal Conflict Affects Both Gas, Coal: Expert

File Photo of Blue Flame from Natural Gas

WASHINGTON, October 14 (RIA Novosti) – Ukraine is not only facing a gas crisis this coming winter, but also a possible overall energy crisis due to disruptions in coal mining and transportation facilities, said Tatiana Mitrova, head of the Oil and Gas Department at the Russian Academy of Sciences Energy Research Institute (ERI RAS). “[It

De-Modernization and Degradation-A Net Assessment of Russia’s Domestic Situation Since the Start of 2014

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 11, Issue 181 – Pavel K. Baev – Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – October 14, 2014) Considering Russia’s shocking transformation in the course of just half a year, it is easy to forget that last February the country was united in the joy of hosting the Sochi Winter Olympic games. The

Five Important Things That Memorial’s Done (And Is Still Doing) For Russia

File Photo of Prison in Russia with Wall, Barbed Wire, Guard Tower

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – October 13, 2014 – Daisy Sindelar) Russia’s Justice Ministry has asked the country’s Supreme Court to liquidate Memorial, the country’s oldest and best-known human rights organization, which groups together more than 50 bodies nationwide. Founded in 1989 under the auspices of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov, Memorial has led efforts to uncover

Nagorno-Karabakh: the not-so-frozen conflict

Map of Azerbaijan and South Caucasus Environs Including Portions of Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Iran, Caspian Sea

(opendemocracy.net – Neil Melvin – October 9, 2014) Neil Melvin is director of the Armed Conflict and Conflict Management Programme at SIPRI In recent months, the ‘frozen’ Karabakh conflict has been more fire than ice. With outside powers stoking the flames, what are the chances of finally securing peace? During the summer months, as international

Russia vows to reduce hazardous emissions to 70-75% of 1990 levels by 2030

File Photo of Smokestacking Spewing Cloud of Discharge

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Galiya Ibragimova, RBTH – October 14, 2014) Russia has announced its intention to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 70-75 percent from 1990 levels by 2030. However, specialists interviewed by RBTH are divided on whether the plans are realistic, with some arguing that the pledge is incompatible with

Moscow Times: “WWF: Russia Only G8 Member With Growing Biocapacity”

Siberian Natural Scenery, with River, Trees, Hills

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexey Eremenko – October 14, 2014) Russia is the only country among the world’s biggest economies whose biological resources not only exceed its environmental footprint but are continuing to grow, a new study said. WWF Russia on Monday presented a report on Russia’s biocapacity, or the capability of its ecosystems

RIA Novosti: New Retaliatory Steps to Western Sanctions Not on Russia’s Agenda: Industry Minister

World Map Showing Continents, Greens, Browns, Ice

MOSCOW, October 14 (RIA Novosti) – Russia is not going to introduce new measures in response to Western economic sanctions, Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov told reporters on Tuesday. “We are not interested in responding [to Western sanctions] with some unreasonable measures. It’s our [Western] colleagues who should be thinking about when

Gref: Central Bank ruble policy ‘optimal’

Russian Central Bank file photo

MOSCOW. Oct 14 (Interfax) – The Central Bank of Russia’s ruble exchange rate policy is “optimal,” Sberbank of Russia (MOEX: SBER) President and CEO German Gref said. “The policy that the Central Bank is pursuing is, in my view, optimal from the standpoint of managing the exchange rate. The economy is self-tuning, because the processes

Fears of a Russian credit crunch greatly exaggerated, say analysts

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – October 14, 2014) On paper, Russian companies have huge foreign debts, and no way of refinancing them because sanctions effectively close Western capital markets to Russian borrowers. But with much of Russian corporate foreign debt in fact hidden equity investments from offshore zones, the figures seem much worse than

Interfax: Russia will protect itself from Western sanctions by long-term measures, says Lavrov

Sergei Lavrov file photo

(Interfax – October 14, 2014) Russia will use long-term measures to protect itself from Western sanctions, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said. “We will certainly adopt all the measures needed to protect ourselves from unlawful restrictions. You are aware of the resources that are being allocated for these purposes. Beyond any doubt, it will

Interfax: Europeans may have ancestors in Siberia – Russian Academy of Sciences

Siberian Natural Scenery, with River, Trees, Hills

(Interfax – October 14, 2014) A comparison of genomes of ancient Europeans and people living in contemporary countries has shown that a Siberian tribe is an ancestor of modern Europeans, said Olga Posukh, senior research fellow of the human molecular genetics laboratory of the Cytology and Genetics Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences’ Siberian branch.

RIA Novosti: Ukraine’s Parliament Speaker Signs Law on Special Status of Donbas Regions

Rada File Photo

MOSCOW, October 14 (RIA Novosti) – Ukraine’s parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchynov has inked a law on special status of parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and sent it to President Petro Poroshenko for signing, the Verkhovna Rada said on its website on Tuesday. The parliament approved the law introducing self-administration in parts of the

RIA Novosti: Ukrainian Nationalists’ Long Ascent to New Heights of Power

Ukraine Map and Flag

[Graphics here: en.ria.ru/analysis/20141014/ 194044957/Ukrainian-Nationalists-Long-Ascent-to-New-Heights-of-Power.html] MOSCOW, October 13 (RIA Novosti), Ekaterina Blinova – From the western Ukrainian city of Lviv to the front lines of the civil war, far-right neo-fascist groups have made their presence felt on and off the battlefield; these groups started to influence the country’s national consciousness following the country’s “Orange Revolution”, and gained

Interfax: EU will review Russia sanctions in late October – head of EU Delegation

EU Map

MOSCOW. Oct 14 (Interfax) – The European Union plans to review its sanctions against Russia at the end of October, the Head of the EU Delegation to Russia, Ambassador Vygaudas Usackas, said when answering a question from Interfax on the sidelines of the European Business Association forum in Moscow on Tuesday. The results of such

Moscow Times: Crimea to Hold First Census Since Russian Annexation

Ukraine Map and Flag

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 14, 2014) Russia’s statistics agency on Tuesday launched a sweeping census of the population in the Crimea region, which the country annexed from Ukraine in March. Residents will be asked to field 33 questions on their age, ethnicity, spouse and children, native language and housing and income, the regional

Poroshenko will play up crisis easing ahead of elections

Ukraine Map and Flag

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Teneo – October 14, 2014) Signs of easing tensions will likely dominate the news this week, but progress on crisis resolution will likely be overstated and is unlikely to motivate a relaxation of EU/US sanctions against Russia.Signs of easing tensions will likely dominate the news this week, but progress

Defense Minister: Kyiv’s Least Secure Job

Maidan Square file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Glenn Kates – October 13, 2014) With more than 3,500 people killed in ongoing fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian troops, it is perhaps fitting that the position in Kyiv with the least job security appears to be post of defense minister. President Petro Poroshenko nominated National Guard commander Stepan Poltorak as his

Ukrainian National Guard marches on presidential administration

Maidan Square file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – October 14, 2014) Soldiers from Ukraine’s National Guard have marched on the presidential administration in Kyiv demanding demobilisation, in the first sign of open unrest in Ukraine’s armed forces since the failure of the so-called “anti-terrorist operation” in the Donbass region of East Ukraine. Around 350 soldiers serving in

RIA Novosti: Lavrov: Window of Possibility for Ukrainian Crisis Settlement Now Open

Ukraine Map and Flag

MOSCOW, October 14 (RIA Novosti) – The window of possibility for finding a solution to the civil conflict in Ukraine is now open, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday. “Today, the window of possibility to overcome the Ukrainian crisis is open. Practical measures are being agreed upon and implemented on the basis of ceasefire

Russia signs raft of deals with China

China Map

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – October 14, 2014) Russia and China signed a raft of 40 agreements encompassing trade, energy, finance and technology, following a meeting between Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev and his Chinese counterpart, Li Keqiang, on October 14 in Moscow. The agreements demonstrate how Russia is looking for other options, after

Russia Plans Giant State Oil Services Company to Replace Western Firms

Oil Worker file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Panin- October 14, 2014) President Vladimir Putin has approved the creation of a state-owned oil exploration drilling corporation that will replace Western oil service companies forced to reduce operations in Russia by sanctions on Moscow over Ukraine, a news report said Monday. In a time of “sharply escalating international

Honored Burials, Mass Grave for Theater Greats

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – October 13, 2014) Yury Lyubimov once told me about meeting the great director Vsevolod Meyerhold. This happened in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1987. I paid Lyubimov a visit to talk about his old friend, the playwright Nikolai Erdman, but the conversation, naturally and fortunately, took plenty of detours.

Letter from America

File Photo of Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama Seated Before Russian and U.S. Flags

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Tim Ash, Standard Bank – October 13, 2014) I spent the last past week in DC trying to gauge better the Western response function to the crisis in Ukraine and with Russia. Herein are a few big picture take-outs from my discussions with a range of academics, journalists and

A new nuclear arms race?

Russia ICBM on Mobile Launcher

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Alexander Bratersky, special to RBTH- October 13, 2014) The current breakdown in bilateral relations between the U.S. and Russia has brought a return to rhetoric and attitudes previously associated with the Cold War. When a group of Russian high schoolers were shown an artificial launching site during an

RIA Novosti: Lavrov: Moscow Opposes Following ‘Primitive Scenario’ of Confrontation With West

Sergei Lavrov file photo

MOSCOW, October 13 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow opposes confrontation with the West as a joint international effort is required to counter threats to global stability, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday. “Despite the hostile behavior of the Western partners, we still oppose sliding into the primitive scenario of a direct confrontation between Russia and

Putin Deals China Winning Hand as Sanctions Power Rival

China Map

(Bloomberg – boomberg.com – Henry Meyer, Evgenia Pismennaya – October 13, 2014) Defying his former enemies in the U.S. and Europe may force Vladimir Putin to aid the ascent of his biggest rival in the east. Isolated over Ukraine, Russia is relying on China for the investment it needs to avert a recession, three people

Justice Ministry Moves to Liquidate Renowned Human Rights Group Memorial

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – October 13, 2014) Russia’s Justice Ministry has filed a claim with the Supreme Court seeking the liquidation of the Russian Memorial Society, an independent human rights group. Critics say the move exemplifies the Kremlin’s ongoing stifling of non-governmental organizations. The Russian Memorial Society, which was nominated for

Russians account decline in ruble exchange rate to international developments – poll

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Interfax – October 12, 2014) Over half of Russians (61 percent) admit that fluctuations in the exchange rate of the ruble have a certain impact on their lives while 13 percent don’t notice any impact, a Public Opinion fund poll indicates. In the opinion of 62 percent of respondents a stronger ruble is better for

Chances of Ebola epidemic reaching Russia are slim, say researchers

Ebola Virus, adapted from image at nih.gov with credit NAID

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Gleb Fedorov, RBTH – October 13, 2014)  Russia has an effective antibacterial system that helps avoid uncontrollable outbreaks of viruses similar to Ebola, says one of the country’s leading epidemiologists. Research by a Boston university also indicates that the chances of the Ebola virus spreading to Russia are currently minimal.

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