NEWSLINK: “The Russian government blocks Navalny’s website, as Instagram caves to the censor’s demands and YouTube wavers” – Meduza

Montage of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook Logos, adapted from image at nps.gov

“When the dust finally settled, the morning after Valentine’s Day, it was Instagram – not YouTube – that had complied with orders from Russia’s federal censor to delete content flagged as a privacy violation by a court in Ust-Labinsky. On February 9, Instagram was given three weekdays to delete 14 posts uploaded by a self-described escort who calls herself ‘Nastya […]

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NEWSLINK: “Expansion, Sanctions, and Opposition-Promotion: the West’s Failed Russian Transformation Strategy” – Russian and Eurasian Politics/ Gordon M. Hahn

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

“… The West’s post-Ukraine crisis sanction meanwhile are intended to undermine the regime from above. The hope in Washington and Brussels is that by pressuring state and private oligarchs close to Putin or the Kremlin, some may withdraw their support and seek either to remove Putin in a coup or join the opposition and remove him in a revolution or […]

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Roskomnadzor threatens to block sites that don’t delete info from Navalny film by Wed night

File Image of Laptop Computer, Tables and Mobile Device, adapted from image at energy.gov

MOSCOW. Feb 14 (Interfax) – Roskomnadzor has given websites that have yet to delete the information contained in the film made by Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation until Wednesday evening to do so, saying they will be blocked if they do not comply. “The monitoring of the sites that have failed to delete the prohibited information and remain in the Unified […]

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Russian Olympians’ Last Ditch Appeals to Compete in the Winter Games, Explained

Olympic Rings Lit at Night, adapted from image at state.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 8, 2018) Although Russia has long been a powerhouse in the Winter Olympics, its flag, anthem and tricolor will be absent from the games kicking off tomorrow in South Korea. After a blanket ban of the Russian Olympic team in December by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over doping allegations, individual athletes have still […]

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Interfax: Moscow City Court overturns sentence of Navalny foundation’s lawyer due to insufficient evidence

MOSCOW. Feb 5 (Interfax) – The Moscow City Court has acquitted Alexander Pomazuyev, a lawyer of Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation charged with resisting police during an unauthorized rally, and canceled his administrative arrest on Monday. “The court has overturned the ruling of Moscow’s Simonovsky District Court and halted the proceedings in the administrative case due to the failure to prove […]

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NEWSLINK: “Putin: From Oligarch to Kleptocrat” – New York Review of Books/Ruth May

Vladimir Putin

“… Putin’s real intention—and not from the day he entered the Kremlin, but from the day he left Dresden—was to reassert the authority of the autocratic state. …”

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Interfax: Putin warns against further politicization of global sports

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

NOVO-OGARYOVO. Jan 31 (Interfax) – Russia hopes that international sports organizations will not turn into government departments in certain countries however powerful these might seem sometimes, President Vladimir Putin said. “Of course, we very much feel for our athletes who could not go to the Olympic Games. We will do everything to support them,” Putin said at a meeting with […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia and Ukraine: More similar than either wants to admit” – bne Intellinews/Anders Åslund

“… Russians see themselves as economically superior while Ukrainians cherish their freedom. Yet … economically the similarities are greater than the differences. Their current fundamental problem is their absence of real property rights. … Russia experienced an attempt at serious market economic reform from 1991-94 … avoid[ing] Ukraine’s … hyperinflation in 1993. While Russia’s situation was bad, Ukraine’s was far […]

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Few Russians Think ‘Era of Oligarchs’ is Over

Arkady Dvorkovich file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 28, 2018) At Davos, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said that there aren’t any oligarchs left in Russia, a declaration that has attracted a great deal of attention both in Russia and abroad but very little support among Russians who continue to see oligarchs as an evil force in their […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Future of Navalny’s Opposition Movement; Why It Will Continue to Challenge the Kremlin” – Foreign Affairs/Anton Barbashin

“In March 2017 … Navalny released a shocking video investigation … reveal[ing] that Medvedev has been able to amass a tremendous fortune while in power … several mansions in Russia, a villa and property in Italy, and other assets worth roughly $1.2 billion. … spark[ing] a great deal of interest among Russians … receiv[ing] almost 26 million views on YouTube […]

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NEWSLINK: “Putin’s Russia Keeps Getting More Dangerous; The Ulyukaev verdict shows that personal loyalty to Putin cannot protect an official in the event of a conflict with those who are part of Putin’s inner circle” – The National Interest/ Sergey Aleksashenko

Alexei Ulyukayev file photo » Read more

Russia’s Channel One Will Broadcast Olympics, Despite Team’s Ban

Olympic Rings Lit at Night, adapted from image at state.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 12, 2017) Russia’s state-run Channel One television channel has announced that it will broadcast the 2018 Winter Game’s despite the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision last week to bar Russia’s team from competing. The IOC decision said that individual Russian athletes could participate in the Olympics in February if they proved to a panel […]

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What do Regular Russians Think of the IOC’s Olympic Doping Ban?

Olympic Rings Lit at Night, adapted from image at state.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 6, 2017) “This is undoubtedly a political decision,” says Igor, 40. In Moscow, news that Russia’s entire Olympic team had been barred from next year’s Winter Games was still sinking in on Wednesday afternoon. In the latest chapter of the Russian doping scandal, the International Olympic Committee’s President Thomas Bach on Tuesday evening announced […]

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NEWSWATCH: “What Does Putin Want? To Maintain His Power No Matter What; A big win for Putin in the March election would be a victory for the Russian autocratic state.” – NBC/ William Pomeranz

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Podium Gesturing

“In Russia … [elections] are acts of confirmation: The only real suspense … is whether … Putin will receive 70 percent or 80 percent …. Putin … surely understands that reform is the moment of greatest vulnerability for a Russian leader (just ask … Gorbachev). … Putin’s intent is always to maintain control, as recent prosecutions attest. * * * … At the top of […]

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Russian Elections Chief Says Navalny Cannot Run Until 2028

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – October 17, 2017 – article also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-navalny-elections-pamfilova-presidency/28799529.html) Russia’s top election official says that opposition politician Aleksei Navalny will not be eligible to run for office until about 2028. Speaking at a youth festival in the southern city of Sochi, Central Election Commission chief Ella Pamfilova warned Navalny and […]

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RUSSIALINK: “The Billionaire Adviser: A Story of Russia’s Anti-Corruption Campaign; The story of the arrest of Oleg Korshunov, deputy director of Russia’s prison system, looks at first glance like a victory in an anti-corruption campaign. But the truth is much more complex”  – Carnegie Moscow/ Olga Romanova 

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

“… Korshunov merely operated too blatantly, his detention is unlikely to change much, and he may eventually get free on parole …”  

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A Corruption Trial Splits the Kremlin; The former economy minister got caught in a sting, and no one knows where Putin stands.

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Evgenia Pismennaya, Ilya Arkhipov, Henry Meyer, Irina Reznik – October 11, 2017) The first prosecution of a minister for graft under Russian President Vladimir Putin contains the kind of details you’d expect in a spy novel, from hidden microphones and coded hand signals to homemade sausages and a bag stuffed with cash. The case against former […]

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Navalny Fund Publishes Retractions in Usmanov Libel Suit

Alisher Usmanov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 11, 2017) The Anti-Corruption Foundation has complied with a court order to publish retractions related to a video critical of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Foundation founder and opposition leader Alexei Navalny was sued for libel in April by Uzbekistan-born Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov over allegations of bribery. Navalny is currently serving a 20-day jail […]

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Interfax: Foreign activity on Kirovles case is attempt to influence 2018 elections in Russia – Federation Council

File Photo of Council of Europe Headquarters Building with Flags in Front

MOSCOW. Sept 25 (Interfax) – The high interest of structures of the Council of Europe in the Kirovles case is an attempt to influence the preparations for the presidential elections in Russia, the Russian Federation Council commission on the protection of state sovereignty said. “Foreign activity around the debate in the structures of the Council of Europe on the so-called […]

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How Western Election Monitors Help Putin

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

(The Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Fedor Krasheninnikov – September 7, 2017) Fedor Krasheninnikov is a well-known Russian journalist and political analyst. He has been a contributing opinion writer with the business newspaper Vedomosti and the independent online publication Snob.ru. Krasheninnikov also serves as political commentator for the radio station Echo of Moscow. He has organised environmental and political campaigns […]

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Serebrennikov says has no way of hiding abroad

Kirill Serebrennikov file photo, adapted from image at osce.usmission.gov

MOSCOW. Sept 4 (Interfax) – Theater producer Kirill Serebrennikov, who is charged with stealing 68 million rubles provided from the budget for the Platforma project, has said he has no way of hiding from investigators. “I have no way of running away or hiding, let alone [doing] anything else at this moment,” Serebrennikov said in the Moscow City Court on […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Marking time” – Kyiv Post Editorial [re: Ukraine]

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

“… Ukraine celebrates the 26th year of its independence …. in the Donbas, Russia’s war on Ukraine is a deadly stalemate …. in Minsk, peace talks to end the Kremlin’s military intervention and restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity are going round in circles …. In Kyiv, it’s politics as usual … with a powerful president lording over … an oligarchical system. The reform […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Show Trial of a Russian Theater Director; If it is not clear by now, let me say it in no uncertain terms: The #Serebrennikov case is a show trial” – Moscow Times/ John Freedman

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

“The arrest of director Kirill Serebrennikov … created a firestorm of reaction …. Serebrennikov’s arrest is the latest development in an affair that went public in late May. At that time, he was questioned about funds allegedly embezzled from theater projects mounted by an entity called Seventh Studio, an offshoot of the Gogol Center, where Serebrennikov has been artistic director …. […]

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Russian ex-deputy minister Aleksashenko detained in airport, released, then case on cultural valuables smuggling opened against him – source

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

MOSCOW. Aug 23 (Interfax) – A criminal case on charges of smuggling of cultural valuables was opened against Sergei Aleksashenko, a former Russian deputy finance minister turned public figure, a source in law enforcement structures told Interfax. “Aleksashenko was detained in a Moscow airport, where several orders of the Soviet era, prohibited to be exported, were seized from him,” the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Corruption Case Puts Sechin in the Spotlight” – Carnegie Moscow Center/ Konstantin Gaaze

Igor Sechin file photo

“The high-profile trial of former Russian economy minister Alexei Ulyukayev is not playing out according to the script that most analysts had expected. The prosecution’s case increasingly relies on the testimony of one man, state oil chief Igor Sechin, making this master of Kremlin intrigue potentially politically vulnerable. The powerful reputation of the official said to be Russia’s second most […]

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Interfax: Stage director Serebrennikov says charges brought against him absurd, asks court not to take him into custody

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

MOSCOW. Aug 23 (Interfax) – Stage director Kirill Serebrennikov, the art director of the Gogol Center theater, who has been charged with organizing the embezzlement of at least 68 million rubles allocated from the budget to Studio Seven, which he founded, for implementation of the Platforma theatrical project, has dismissed the charges as absurd. “The charges brought against me are […]

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Putin’s Renationalization Campaign: Fighting Corruption or Forcing Officials’ Loyalty? (excerpt)

Alexei Navalny file photo

(PONARS Eurasia – ponarseurasia.org – Hilary Appel, Wendy Chuyi Sheng – August 18, 2017) Hilary Appel is Podlich Family Professor of Government and George R. Roberts Fellow at Claremont McKenna College. Wendy Chuyi Sheng graduated from Claremont McKenna College in 2017 with degrees in Economics and Government. [Full text here http://www.ponarseurasia.org/memo/putins-renationalization-campaign-fighting-corruption-or-forcing-officials-loyalty] (PONARS Policy Memo) Large street protests returned to Russia […]

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How can Russia’s left work with Navalny? Across Russia, Alexey Navalny’s anti-corruption campaign is gaining an audience. Can Russia’s left benefit from the political opening he has provided?

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Being Grabbed by Police at Protest

(opendemocracy.net – KIRILL MEDVEDEV, OLEG ZHURAVLEV – August 21, 2017) Kirill Medvedev is a Moscow-based poet, translator, activist and a member of the Russian Socialist Movement. Oleg Zhuravlev is a researcher at the Public Sociology Laboratory (Russia), which he and his colleagues founded in 2012. He is also a PhD-candidate at the European University Institute (Italy) and teaches at the […]

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Piketty Zeroes In on Putin’s Pain Point; The West should stop relying on sanctions and instead target Russia’s massive offshore wealth.

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – August 14, 2017) After alerting the Western world to the alarming rise of inequality, Thomas Piketty has turned his attention to Russia. To someone who has lived through Russia’s transition from Communism to crony capitalism, his take on that transition reveals deep flaws in his overall methodology — but some of his conclusions […]

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The Stunning Story of Russian Minister Ulyukayev’s Arrest for Bribery, Explained

Alexei Ulyukayev file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 8, 2017) Alexei Ulyukayev, the first serving Russian minister to be arrested since the fall of the Soviet Union, will appear in court on Tuesday, after being accused of soliciting a bribe from the country’s largest oil company. The former Economic Development Minister has been under house arrest since his detention in the dead […]

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Kremlin Plan to Make Fight for Justice Centerpiece of Putin Campaign Seen Backfiring

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 26, 2017) Two anonymous sources “close to the Presidential Administration” tell the Znak news agency that Vladimir Putin plans to fight “the struggle against poverty and social injustice” a centerpiece of his re-election campaign in order to mobilize Russians against local and regional elites. But Znak commentator Yekaterina Vinokurova warns that […]

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Interfax: Defense finish reviewing evidence in Browder, Cherkasov dossier

File Photo of William Browder Seated at Table with Microphone as Woman Listens, with Image Watermark Saying Presented by Library of Congress with U.S. House of Representatives Seal, adapted from image at house.gov

MOSCOW. July 22 (Interfax) – The materials concerning Hermitage Capital Management co-founder William Browder and his business partner Ivan Cherkasov were sent for approval to the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office, the defense lawyer Alexander Antipov said on Thursday. “The defense finished reviewing the case files, currently, the dossier has been sent to the Prosecutor General’s Office but I don’t think […]

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Anti-Corruption Protests Didn’t Make Navalny More Popular – Poll

Kremlin and River

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 17, 2017) Highly publicized anti-corruption protests organized by opposition leader Alexei Navalny in June did not increase his popularity, the news outlet RBC reported Monday. Citing an unpublished report by independent pollster Lavada Center, RBC said the percentage of respondents who recognize Navalny and the Anti-Corruption Fund that he leads remained unchanged from March […]

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Nearly 40 Percent of Russian Economy Still in Shadow Sector

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 2, 2017) According to the international Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, 39.3 percent of the Russian economy remains in the shadow sector, making Russia one of the leaders in this regard and meaning that 35.55 trillion rubles (600 billion US dollars) of economic activity there are off the books and not […]

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Reconstructing the power vertical: the authoritarian threat in Ukraine; Subverting the fight against corruption, whipping up patriotic publics and coopting the media and judiciary – this is the face of authoritarian drift in Ukraine.

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

(opendemocracy.net – Mikhail Minakov – June 29, 2017) Mikhail Minakov is Associate Professor at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and President of the Foundation for Good Politics, Kyiv. He is also visiting professor at the Institute for European Studies, Europa-Universitaet Viadrina and editor-in-chief of the journal Ideology and Politics. Eastern Europe has become a source of short- and long-term risks for the entire […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Kremlin Critic Alexei Navalny Vows to Fight On; As legal obstacles to opposition figure’s presidential run multiply, he says in interview ‘Kremlin will have no choice’ than to let his campaign proceed” – Wall Street Journal/ Nathan Hodge

Alexei Navalny file photo

“… Navalny has mobilized thousands of demonstrators across [Russia] to protest corruption under … Putin. Now he says he is pressing ahead with a quixotic effort to run against his country’s powerful leader in elections next year. … despite … serious legal obstacles …. he was found guilty of embezzlement by a court in Kirov … a verdict he said was politically motivated to […]

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NEWSLINK: “‘Do you know what memes are?’ Billionaire Alisher Usmanov’s lawsuit against opposition leader Alexey Navalny goes to trial” – Meduza

Alisher Usmanov file photo

“On Tuesday, May 30, a Moscow court convened to consider the merits of a defamation lawsuit brought by billionaire businessman Alisher Usmanov against opposition politician Alexey Navalny and his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK). Usmanov is demanding that Navalny retract multiple accusations he made in a recent investigation into corruption allegedly involving Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, as well as allegations Navalny has […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Commissioner for Entrepreneurs’ Rights Boris Titov

Boris Titov file photo

(Kremlin.ru – May 26, 2017) Commissioner for Entrepreneurs’ Rights Boris Titov presented his annual report to the President. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, Mr Titov. Have you brought your annual report? Commissioner for Entrepreneurs’ Rights Boris Titov: Yes, Mr President. Time flies. We are completing the first five-year period in our work. Five years ago, you made a […]

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State, society and the individual in the Russian courtroom; One of Russia’s leading human rights lawyers discusses competing realities inside and outside the courtroom.

File Photo of Judge and Clerk in Russian Court, with Russian Flag Behind Bench

(opendemocracy.net – Igor Gukovsky – May 23, 2017) Igor Gukovsky is a campaigner with the Memorial Human Rights Centre, where he works on its programme supporting individuals prosecuted for political reasons and protecting civil society activists in Russia. For many, politically motivated criminal cases in Russia may seem like a foregone conclusion. The defendant is always found guilty, and the […]

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Interfax: Tragic events associated with informers in Russia, this institution must not migrate from sports to other spheres – Putin

Olympic Rings Lit at Night, adapted from image at state.gov

KRASNODAR. May 23 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for treating the idea of introducing an institution of informers into Russian sports with extreme caution, recalling that tragic events are associated with this phenomenon in the Russian history. Speaking at the presidential council on physical training and sports on Tuesday, Putin warned against this institution the creation which […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Dissent Shakes the Foundation of the Kremlin’s Power” – Stratfor

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

… Most of the dissidence in Russia today does not come in response to a specific incident – such as the electoral fraud that incited mass demonstrations in 2011-12 – but to the country’s political system more generally. With a few exceptions, rather than targeting the president himself, the current protests are aimed at corruption or economic stagnation. … To […]

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Putin Regime Now Entering Its Fifth and Final Phase, Yakovenko Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 9, 2017) Vladimir Putin’s regime, which has always been authoritarian and kleptocratic, nonetheless has evolved over the course of the last 18 years through four stages and now is entering its fifth and final one, according to Moscow commentator Igor Yakovenko (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5910CBCC3CA63). The first period lasted from 1999 to 2003, having […]

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NEWSLINK: “Dirty Jobs: Being a Governor in Russia is Proving Tough” – BearMarketBrief/ Fabrice Deprez

Russia Regions Map

“It’s a rough time to be a regional governor in Russia. Since last year, arrests and resignations of local leaders have piled up and accelerated in the last few weeks, with five governors gone since February. Described by some as a way for the Kremlin to prepare the presidential elections, whether by pumping ‘new blood’ into Russia’s political system or […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Hardliners urge Kremlin crackdown on social media; Russia has introduced increasingly draconian web laws but some are pushing for more” – Financial Times/ Max Seddon

File Image of Laptop Computer, Tables and Mobile Device, adapted from image at energy.gov

“… success in using social media to mobilise youthful anti-corruption protesters has sparked calls for the Kremlin to step up internet censorship. … [A]t a censorship conference … Oscar-winning film director Nikita Mikhalkov … showed a documentary that accused … Navalny of luring children to violent protests against … Putin. ‘… [Young people] don’t know any history and they won’t until they get a rubber […]

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By Focusing on Corruption Alone, Opposition Unwittingly Helping Kremlin, Pavlova Says

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 1, 2017) Aleksey Navalny and the liberals who support him have focused almost exclusively on the issue of corruption, a stance that reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of Russia’s largest problem and in fact distracts attention from it, according to US-based Russian historian Irina Pavlova. “The liberal intelligentsia practically unanimously supports Navalny […]

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Interfax: “Russian police act with far more restraint than some of their European counterparts – Putin”

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

SOCHI. May 2 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed accusations that police in Russia tend to use excessive force in curbing protests, saying that they have acted and will continue to act in line with the law. When asked by some Western reporters to comment on the way Russian authorities deal with opposition groups and protests at a news […]

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Does Putin Still Favor Sidekick Medvedev? After graft allegations sparked anti-Kremlin protests, the political future of Russia’s prime minister is cloudy at best.

File Photo of Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin with Heads Bowed Over Microphone

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Henry Meyer, Ilya Arkhipov, Evgenia Pismennaya, Irina Reznik – April 26, 2017) In past presidential elections, Russia’s Vladimir Putin has twice resorted to a sudden ouster of his prime minister to bolster results at the ballot box. Dmitry Medvedev, the longest-serving premier since Putin came to power in 2000, seemed likely to be an exception, even […]

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Is the anti-corruption agenda all that it’s cracked up to be?

File Photo of Two Persons Shaking Hands and Exchanging Cash

The fight against corruption is often sold as the pill to end all postsocialist ills. Activists and researchers in Poland, Russia and Ukraine give their views on why we need to challenge it. (opendemocracy.net – Editors of Opendemocracy Russia – April 21, 2017) Recent years have seen a rise in anti-corruption protest movements across postsocialist states. In January, thousands took […]

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