NEWSWATCH: “Politkovskaya Ten Years On” – Sean’s Russia Blog/Sean Guillory

Anna Politkovskaya file photo

It’s been ten years since an assassin put four bullets in Anna Politkovskaya — three in her chest, one in her head, the hallmark of a contract hit. … We can recall her career and her drive to cover the horrors of #Chechnya in ways few would. … We can quote her many articles and books for their continued relevance. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “This Week Marks the 10th Anniversary of Anna Politkovskaya’s Murder; The legacy of the fearless Russian journalist’s muckraking reporting still lives on.” – The Nation

Anna Politkovskaya file photo

Katrina vanden Heuvel, Publisher and Editor of The Nation, memorializes slain Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya on the 10-year anniversary of Politkovskaya’s assassination, and considers some of the dangers and other challenges impacting Russian journalists. It is 10 years since Russia and the world lost a great and courageous journalist. The killing of Anna Politkovskaya on October 7, 2006, was horrifying […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The murder that killed free media in Russia; A decade after the assassination of Anna Politkovskaya, news organisations increasingly avoid topics that could anger the Kremlin” – The Guardian (UK)/Shaun Walker

File Photo of Mourners with Photo of Anna Politkovskaya

 … In the decade since [Anna] Politkovskaya’s death, the space for independent journalism in Russia has narrowed …. Since 2006, the Committee to Protect Journalists has recorded 20 journalists’ killings, while Freedom House has counted 63 violent attacks on reporters. But for the most part, the threat of closure keeps publications in line and encourages self-censorship. … news sources have […]

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Russian Officials Dig In On MH17, As Critics Decry ‘Politics Of Denial’

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – September 29, 2016) MOSCOW — A series of denials by Russian officials and state-media allegations of bias and foul play present a view that is starkly discrepant with international criminal investigators’ findings, announced this week, over the downing of a Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine in 2014. The Joint Investigation Team’s (JIT) interim […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Implicated in Shooting Down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Over Ukraine” – New York Times

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

A Dutch-led investigation has concluded that the powerful surface-to-air missile system … used to shoot down a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine two years ago, killing all 298 on board, was trucked in from Russia at the request of Russian-backed separatists and returned to Russia the same night. … largely confirm[ing] the already widely documented Russian government role not only […]

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NEWSWATCH: “More of Kremlin’s Opponents Are Ending Up Dead. A Pattern That Suggests State Involvement” – New York Times

Kremlin and River

In a series of public meetings on Capitol Hill … [Vladimir] Kara-Murza, a leader in the Russian opposition, urged American lawmakers to expand economic sanctions against the Russian government under a law known as the Magnitsky Act. That would hasten political change in Russia, he argued. … in Moscow a month later, in May 2015, the changes Mr. Kara-Murza detected […]

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Russian ‘Gun-For-Hire’ Rinat Akhmetshin Lurks In Shadows Of Washington’s Lobbying World

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Mike Eckel – WASHINGTON – July 17, 2016) The hoots and jeers began the minute the movie ended and the lights went up on the seventh floor of the Newseum, a Washington museum dedicated to the free press. The film was a semifictionalized look at the story of Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian lawyer who helped uncover […]

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The fallout from the conduct and conclusions of the Litvinenko Inquiry

File Photo of British Parliament Building, Big Ben, Thames, adapted from image at loc.gov

Subject: The fallout from the conduct and conclusions of the Litvinenko Inquiry Date: Fri, 10 Jun 2016 21:43:05 +0100 From: Julia Svetlichnaja (svetlichnaja@gmail.com) Below is my Open letter to the Home Secretary and other parliamentarians regarding the findings of the Litvinenko Enquiry. It has not been published as I was awaiting, to no avail, some response so that it could […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Chechnya: Russia’s Islamic State? Troubled republic in secular Russia has been thoroughly ‘Islamized’ by staunch Putin ally” – Wall Street Journal/YAROSLAV TROFIMOV

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

In theory, Chechnya – though overwhelmingly Muslim – is an integral part of the secular Russian Federation, governed by the same laws as Moscow. In practice, however, this North Caucasus republic of 1.4 million people, ravaged by two wars of secession, lives under very different rules. Under strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, a former rebel who has become a fervent ally of […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Ukraine Declares War on Journalism” – New York Times/IAN BATESON

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

…. We were collectively labeled “terrorist collaborators” for gaining accreditation from the separatists. The list’s publishers claimed not to know what the consequences would be of releasing this information, but it seemed clear that the intent was to encourage people to take action against the journalists on their own. * * * trying to encourage ‘patriotic’ journalism, in which the […]

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RBTH: The Georgian on their mind: Why Russians still approve of Stalin

Joseph Stalin file photo

Public opinion surveys show that today support for Stalin in Russia is the highest it has been since the fall of the Soviet Union. More than half of Russians believe that he played a positive role in the history of the country and the Communist Party is even planning to use the image of the Soviet leader in the next […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Former U.S. diplomat criticizes Canada’s ‘weakness’ on Russia” [Michael McFaul] – The Globe and Mail (Canada)

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

… Obama’s former ambassador to Russia says Canada is showing a ‘sign of weakness’ by not pushing ahead with a promised U.S.-style Magnitsky Act that would punish Russians deemed to be human-rights violators with visa bans and asset freezes. … McFaul, who served as the U.S. envoy to Moscow from 2012 to 2014 and before that was … Obama’s special […]

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Could a union do anything to protect Russian journalists?

Physical attacks and management interference have put Russian journalists’ safety – and their ability to work freely – back on the table. A new union will have to survive in an increasingly hostile environment. (opendemocracy.net – Nataliya Rostova – May 16, 2016) Nataliya Rostova is a visiting scholar at the Kennan Institute, senior correspondent for current affairs portal Slon.ru and […]

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Putin calls free press enemy of frauds, bribers, not administration

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

ST. PETERSBURG. April 7 (Interfax) – The free press can be an enemy only for frauds and bribers, not the administration as such, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “The free press can only be an enemy for frauds, bribers and criminals, but there can be no such situation for the administration as such, which is serving people,” Putin said at […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Mikhail Lesin’s Strange Death in U.S. Follows a Fall From Russia’s Elite” – New York Times

U.S. Capitol at Twilight With Washington Monument, National Mall, Washington, D.C., Environs and Sunset in Background

It took more than four months for the city’s medical examiner to announce the cause of death … not a heart attack … but rather ‘blunt force injuries.’ But the autopsy left the manner of death undetermined. … fuel[ing] speculation … Lesin might have been murdered, presumably by a financial or political rival …. *** police … continue to treat […]

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NEWSWATCH: “What is the best way to describe Vladimir Putin’s Russia?” – Reuters/John Lloyd

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

In January of this year, a British judge, Robert Owen, said … Putin … was ‘probably’ a murderer. * * * Litvinenko’s widow, Marina … called on Prime Minister David Cameron to expel all Russian spies … and for a range of … sanctions … on several figures close to the murder … includ[ing Putin] himself. * * * In […]

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Russia Is Giving up on Its Tragedies-and on Itself

Tower and Building Inside Kremlin

(Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 13, Issue 45 – Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Pavel K. Baev – March 7, 2016) Pavel K. Baev is a research professor at the Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO) and nonresident senior fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe at Brookings. President Vladimir Putin’s approval rating is regularly accepted as a proxy […]

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NEWSLINK Russia Direct/Ivan Tsvetkov: “Russian liberals warn Putin that Kadyrov could be dangerous. A recent report from the liberal opposition released on the anniversary of the murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov raises some serious questions about the political influence and future intentions of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.”

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A year on, what do we know about Boris Nemtsov’s murder?

Nemtsov March of Mourning

Russia’s powerful Investigative Committee has announced that it has solved the murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov after a probe lasting almost a year. But who killed Nemtsov and why is the investigation seen as inconclusive? RBTH looks back at the most headline-grabbing murder of 2015. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH – February 26, 2016) […]

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Russian Opposition Battles Fear, Disunity Following Nemtsov’s Death

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – February 25, 2016) Ilya Yashin was in the middle of a press conference presenting a special report on the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov – a genre invented and made successful by his late friend and ally Boris Nemtsov – when a police officer tried to force everyone to leave the building. The […]

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Chechen Separatist Leader: Kadyrov Is Here To Stay

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Natalya Golitsyna – February 19, 2016) One of Ramzan Kadyrov’s staunchest critics says the Chechen leader remains one of the most powerful men in Russia despite mounting criticism over his ruthless tactics. According to Akhmed Zakayev, the exiled head of the Chechen separatist government, Kadyrov has accumulated so much clout that Russian President Vladimir Putin himself […]

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Moscow Authorities Approve March in Honor of Slain Kremlin Critic Nemtsov

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 18, 2016) Moscow City Hall has approved a rally to mark the one-year anniversary of the death of Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov, opposition party member Konstantin Merzlikin told The Moscow Times on Wednesday. The authorities have given permission for 50,000 people to attend the memorial event, which is due to take place on Feb. […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Dmitry Medvedev’s interview with Euronews TV channel

Dmitry Medvedev file photo

(Government.ru – February 14, 2016) The Prime Minister spoke with Global Conversation presenter Isabelle Kumar on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference Question: Mr Prime Minister, thank you for joining the Global Conversation. The Syrian issue is a priority; it dominates the international agenda. It is now believed that we are approaching a turning point, although it remains to […]

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Interfax: Casualties of law enforcement agencies reduce threefold in North Caucasus in 2015 – Interior Ministry

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

(Interfax – STAVROPOL, Feb 11, 2016) A decline in the number of clashes, bombings and shelling incidents continued in the North Caucasus in 2015, head of the Russian Interior Ministry department in the North Caucasus Federal District Sergei Chenchik said at a coordination conference of district police chiefs in Pyatigorsk. “The number of shelling incidents, bombings and clashes was significantly […]

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Russia’s Got Talent: Kadyrov’s Electoral Politics

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Maxim Trudolyubov – February 3, 2016) Maxim Trudolyubov is a Senior Fellow at the Kennan Institute and the Editor-at-Large of Vedomosti, an independent Russian daily. Mr. Trudolyubov was the editorial page editor of Vedomosti between 2003 and 2015. He has been a contributing opinion writer for The International New York Times since the fall of […]

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NEWSLINK: “How Litvinenko’s poisoning fits into Putin’s power play. Everything Vladimir Putin has done to reassert Russian power has seemed farfetched, outlandish and inconceivable-until he did it” – Maclean’s (Canada)/Michael Petrou

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NEWSLINK TASS: “Russia’s ex-PM asks FSB to launch criminal proceedings against Chechen leader”

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo » Read more

Virtual Stalinism

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – February 2, 2016) Russian officials seem to have developed an execution fetish of late. One example, of course, is the disturbing video Ramzan Kadyrov posted on Instagram showing opposition figures Mikhail Kasyanov and Vladimir Kara-Murza in the crosshairs of a sniper’s rifle. Another is the bizarre series of animated clips Vladimir Putin’s All-Russian […]

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Peskov on Kasyanov’s plans to await president’s response to threats from Kadyrov: “This is his right”

Mikhail Kasyanov File Photo

MOSCOW. Feb 2 (Interfax) – The Kremlin has said that PARNAS opposition party leader, Mikhail Kasyanov, has a right to expect a response from the Russian president, as the guarantor of the constitution, to Chechen head Ramzan Kadyrov’s Instagram publication with threats toward the non-systemic opposition and Kasyanov personally. “This is his right,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on […]

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Just How Bad is Putin? Ever More People Are Counting the Ways

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 31, 2016) As the number of Vladimir Putin’s violations of international law and normal morality grows, ever more people are offering lists of the actions for which he must be held accountable. Three particularly interesting examples of that trend have been offered over the last several days. Russian journalist Oleg Kashin […]

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Half of Russians don’t trust conclusions made by British in Litvinenko case

Radioactivity Symbol

(Interfax – January 31, 2016) Over half of Russians (53%) believe the London court had no real grounds to accuse Russian officials of involvement in the death of former Federal Security Service official Alexander Litvinenko, Levada Center has reported. The poll, which surveys 1,600 respondents, was conducted in 137 populated areas of 48 regions of Russia on Jan. 22-25. The […]

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Interfax: Russian Investigative Committee completes inquiry against five Nemtsov murder suspects – Markin

Boris Nemtsov file photo

MOSCOW. Jan 29 (Interfax) – The Russian Investigative Committee has informed the suspects and their lawyers that it has completed its criminal inquiry opened into the murder of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, the committee’s spokesman Vladimir Markin told Interfax on Friday. “Today, the suspects in this criminal case have been informed that the investigation has been completed, and in […]

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NEWSLINK: “How a liberal bastion is persevering in an increasingly illiberal Moscow. The Andrei Sakharov Center, one of the last safe spaces for Russia’s liberal community, has been fined and fined again for its purported ‘political activity.’ But celebrity support and crowdsourcing have kept it alive.” – Christian Science Monitor

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Interfax: Inquiry against 5 people charged over Nemtsov’s murder completed

Nemtsov March of Mourning

(Interfax – January 26, 2016) The criminal investigation opened against five people charged over the killing of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov has been completed, a lawyer for one of the suspects told Interfax. “The investigation has notified me today that the inquiry as part of this case has been completed,” lawyer Mussa Khadisov, who represents suspect Anzor Gubashev, said. […]

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Antony Penaud: Reflections on the Litvinenko case

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Subject: Reflections on the Litvinenko case Date: Mon, 25 Jan 2016 From: Antony Penaud <antonypenaud@yahoo.fr> Antony Penaud completed his DPhil at the University of Oxford in 2000. His essays on Russia and Ukraine are on www/scribd.com/antonykharms. He is French and lives in London. I returned last Thursday from a holiday in Moscow, and on the Gatwick train I picked up […]

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NEWSLINK The Independent (UK): “Alexander Litvinenko accused Vladimir Putin of being a paedophile four months before he was poisoned”

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VIDEO: What the Litvinenko assassination accusation means for the Kremlin

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PBS interviews former Ambassador Mike McFaul and Steven Lee Myers of The New York Times about a British investigative report into the assassination of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko, including implications for the Russian government and Russian President Vladimir Putin.  Video below; click here for original post and transcript. MICHAEL MCFAUL…: … it’s very important, even if nothing more comes […]

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Nemtsov’s daughter, associate believe his murder not solved yet

Nemtsov March of Mourning

(Interfax – January 21, 2016) The daughter of the murdered Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, Zhanna Nemtsova, said she did not agree with Chairman of the Russian Investigations Committee Aleksandr Bastrykin that her father’s murder had been solved, privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax reported on 21 January. “I do not think that the murder has been completely solved, unlike Bastrykin,” […]

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