What Do Russians Really Think? The Truth Behind the Polls

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Eva Hartog – February 4, 2016) [Charts here http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/what-do-russians-really-think-the-truth-behind-the-polls/558537.html] The champagne corks were already popping for New Year’s Eve celebrations when several thousand Crimeans received an unexpected phone call. The voice on the end of the phone was a pollster from the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM). The pollster had just two questions:”Do you […]

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U.S. Senator Predicts Revelations Of Putin’s Wealth Will Destabilize His Rule

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – February 1, 2016) A senior U.S. lawmaker says revelations about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s wealth will be “destabilizing” to his rule as the Russian population becomes increasingly aware of them. U.S. Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Voice Of America on February 1 that the Russian people “are beginning […]

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Has the crisis driven back corruption in Russia?

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

The British television channel BBC One has reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s personal fortune totals $40 billion. At the same time, Putin himself has ordered officials to act “tough” in returning everything stolen and taken out of Russia. Could the economic crisis lead to a reduction in corruption in the country? (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA […]

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Russia Improves Position in International Corruption Rating

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 27, 2016) Russia was ranked 119th – together with Azerbaijan, Guyana and Sierra Leone – in Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index, up 17 points from its 2014 position. The rating was published on Transparency International’s website. In the 2014 index, Russia was ranked 136th, just behind Nigeria. Russia was 127th in 2013 and […]

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Ukraine’s Graft Fight Shows Little Progress, Transparency Says

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Volodymyr Verbyany – January 27, 2016) Ukraine’s efforts to stamp out corruption last year brought scant progress, according to Transparency International, which said civil society, journalists and whistle-blowers have been more effective than government officials in combating graft. The former Soviet republic’s score rose “only one additional point” in the 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index, the Berlin-based […]

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Sliding Support: It’s been two years since Euromaidan in Ukraine. What does polling and economic data show?

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(RFE/RL – January 24, 2016) [Graphics and links here rferl.org/fullinfographics/infographics/sliding-support-ukraine/27499595.html] Leadership: Waning Optimism Petro Poroshenko’s approval rating at the end of 2015 fell to just 17% — significantly lower than Viktor Yanukovych’s 28% before he was ousted. According to a January 2016 survey from Gallup, this low rating reflects Ukrainians’ growing dissatisfaction with Poroshenko’s leadership. Economy World Bank data suggests […]

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U.S. Official Says Putin Is Secretly Wealthy, Corrupt

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – January 26, 2016) The BBC is reporting that the United States has long considered Russian President Vladimir Putin to be secretly wealthy, corrupt, and focused on enriching his friends and allies. Adam Szubin, the U.S. Treasury’s acting secretary for terrorism and financial crimes, said in an interview with BBC Panorama that the Russian president had been […]

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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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British Inquiry Implicates Russia, Putin In Death Of Ex-Agent Litvinenko

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(RFE/RL – rferl.org – January 21, 2016) A British inquiry has concluded that the Russian government was behind the 2006 poisoning death of former Russian security agent Aleksandr Litvinenko and that President Vladimir Putin “probably approved” the killing. The findings, issued on January 21, said that there is a “strong probability” that it was carried out by Russian citizens Dmitry […]

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NEWSLINK Russia Today: “UK report points to ‘probable involvement’ of Putin, Russian officials in Litvinenko death”

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NEWSWATCH: “The Case Against Saakashvili. It’s temping to see Georgia’s crusading former president as the solution to all of Ukraine’s problems. Here’s why caution is in order.” – ForeignPolicy.com/Adrian Karatnycky

Mikheil Saakashvili file photo

Writing in Foreign Policy magazine, Adrian Karatnycky considers Georgian-turned-Ukrainian politician Mikheil Saakashvili. Mikheil Saakashvili is back. Having left his native Georgia after voters repudiated his party and his term as president expired, Saakashvili has revived his political fortunes on a much larger playing field — Ukraine. The former Georgian president has taken Ukrainian citizenship and rapidly emerged as one of the […]

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NEWSWATCH Reuters: “Ukraine health system in danger of collapse as reforms stall”

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

Reuters covers concerns over health care in Ukraine. A reform drive launched by the Western-leaning government installed after a pro-Moscow president, Viktor Yanukovich, was overthrown in a popular uprising last year has become mired in bureaucratic inertia, arguments and allegations of corruption. * * * [A] stalled health bill is one of many examples of the slow progress Ukraine is […]

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How to improve the Russian economy: Create a safe space for investors

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

Former Deputy Finance Minister and former deputy governor of the Russian Central Bank Sergei Alexashenko speaks about the economic challenges currently facing Russia, including sanctions, crisis management, the need for reform, and the country’s dependence on oil. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – MIKHAIL BOLOTIN, SPECIAL TO RBTH – December 16, 2015) RBTH: Recently economic experts have been speaking […]

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Russian Businessman Lashes Out At Kremlin, Becomes Cause Celebre

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

(RFE/RL – Carl Schreck, Mumin Shakirov – December 11, 2015) Russian entrepreneur Dmitry Potapenko’s address to a recent economic roundtable in Moscow began routinely enough, with a snapshot of his retail and food businesses at home and abroad. Things escalated quickly from there. With a Kremlin-loyal federal lawmaker looking on, the plainspoken Potapenko proceeded to upbraid the Russian government for […]

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How to Ignore a Corruption Scandal, Kremlin Style

Yury Chaika file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Hobson- December 10, 2015) Alexei Navalny has spent years publishing revelations of the ill-gotten luxuries of Russia’s elite and seeing them ignored by authorities. But when the blogger and opposition politician’s anti-corruption fund unveiled an investigation linking colleagues of Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika to the bloodiest bandits of recent years, Navalny thought they […]

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

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

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

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Quarter of Russians view doping charges against athletes as groundless

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Interfax – November 21, 2015) One quarter of Russians – 25 percent – believe the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) charges against Russian track-and-field athletes are groundless and can be explained by hostile attitudes toward Russia in general, the Levada Center public opinion foundation told Interfax after conducting a poll of 1,600 respondents in 134 populated areas in 46 regions of […]

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Kremlin proceeds from moratorium on death penalty in Russia

Sergei Mironov

MOSCOW. Nov 20 (Interfax) – Russian presidential press officer Dmitry Peskov has refrained from giving detailed comments on the proposal made by Sergei Mironov, chairman of the State Duma faction A Just Russia, to use the death penalty on terrorists, saying that the Kremlin currently proceeds from a moratorium on this measure of punishment. “It’s a very complex issue. There […]

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Russia’s Doping Scandal: The Main Allegations

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 13, 2015) An independent commission by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has recommended that the Russian athletics federation be declared “non-compliant” with anti-doping code, and be suspended from track and field competition, the report published Monday said. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president Sebastien Coe asked that Russia respond to the 350-page […]

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Russia to Consider Criminal Penalties for Doping, Sports Minister Says

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 12, 2015) Russia may introduce harsher penalties for doping, possibly making it a criminal offense, Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said at a press conference, the RIA Novosti news agency reported. “There are a number of measures we can take,” Mutko was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti on Wednesday. “We can introduce new kinds […]

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Ukraine Probes Attack on Chief Prosecutor Amid Calls He Resign

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Daryna Krasnolutska, Kateryna Choursina – November 3, 2015) Ukrainian authorities opened a criminal investigation into a sniper attack on Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, who’s under pressure to resign amid criticism he has hindered the country’s fight against graft. At about 10 p.m. Kiev time on Monday, an unknown assailant fired at a window in Shokin’s office […]

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Putin’s Mafia Statecraft

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – October 27, 2015) In the past couple years, Russian hackers have launched attacks on a French television network, a German steelmaker, the Polish stock market, the White House, the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. State Department, and The New York Times. And according to press reports citing Western intelligence officials, the perpetrators […]

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NEWSLINK Buzzfeed: Washington’s Man In Ukraine Can’t Stop His Country’s Corrupt Cronies. Ukraine’s Western allies backed Arseniy Yatsenyuk when he became prime minister and vowed to “wage a war” on graft. But as the country’s fight against corruption stalls, many in Kiev see his government as part of the problem

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Ukraine ‘breadbasket’ prepares for its next heyday

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Benjamin Rahr in London – October 7, 2015) Despite Ukraine’s 18-month old civil war and the loss of territories in the east of the country, it has impressively maintained its status as one of the world’s leading exporters of agricultural products. Now the pro-European government in Kyiv hopes that its agribusiness, bolstered by a […]

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Putin Pushing New Social Contract Based on Fighting Corruption Rather than Economic Growth, Petrov Says

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, September 24, 2015) The recent arrests of governors is part of a broader effort by Vladimir Putin to create a new social contract with the population, Nikolay Petrov says. In the old one, he offered stability and economic growth; now that he cannot offer those things, he is pushing himself forward as […]

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Saakashvili for Prime Minister of Ukraine?

Mikheil Saakashvili file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Marc Champion – September 23, 2015) After 24 years of independence and two revolutions, the promise of reforms that would turn Ukraine from a kleptocracy enabled by Soviet-era institutions into, say, Poland still hasn’t materialized. Popular patience is wearing thin. So three months ago, President Petro Poroshenko sent his friend (and Russia’s bete noire) Mikheil Saakashvili […]

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A Loyal Governor Feels Putin’s Wrath

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – September 21, 2015) Russia has never seen a corruption case like this. The successful governor of the Komi Republic, who was faultlessly loyal to President Vladimir Putin, has been accused of leading a criminal organization that allegedly included a number of his region’s top officials. As cheap oil forces Russians to tighten their […]

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‘Team Georgia’ graftbusters open container of worms in Odesa clean-up

Mikheil Saakashvili file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Graham Stack in Odesa – September 21, 2015) Odesa region governor Mikheil Saakashvili wants to crack down on corruption and the shadow economy in Odesa’s ports, and with the appointment to the post of regional prosecutor of Davit Sakvarelidze he now has the power to do this. After intense lobbying in Kyiv, the former […]

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Corruption is Putin’s biggest failing, finds poll

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Lottie Millington in London – September 17, 2015) [Charts here http://www.bne.eu/content/story/bnechart-corruption-putins-biggest-failing-finds-poll] Corruption is Vladimir Putin’s biggest presidential failing, according to a survey by Russia’s independent Levada Center. According to the survey respondents, some of Putin’s biggest failures were dealing with the “fight against corruption and bribery”, and improving “relations between Russia and the West”. […]

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Kids of Russia’s billionaires charge into business

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

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris in Moscow – September 14, 2015) It’s been just under a quarter of a century since the fall of the Soviet Union and in that time a relatively small group of men have become fabulously wealthy in the rough and tumble of Russia’s “wild capitalism”. As most of Russia’s tycoons are approaching […]

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Russia’s Regional Elections Marred by Pressure on Observers, Fraud

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – September 14, 2015) Multiple violations were registered by independent elections watchdogs during Sunday’s regional elections across Russia, and in the most drastic development, the office of an observers’ organization was raided by police who said they had reason to believe it was a murder scene. The Central Elections Commission (CEC) said it […]

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Khodorkovsky Calls for Civil Disobedience against Unjust Laws and Putin’s Unjust System

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 27, 2015) Mikhail Khodorkovsky says that Russian citizens are fully entitled not to observe unjust laws imposed not to promote justice but to protect the power of Vladimir Putin, a potentially dramatic development in the relationship between the Russian opposition, the Russian people, and the Kremlin. In a blog post on […]

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Russian ombudsman slams ex-Defence Ministry official’s parole as “elite” justice

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Interfax – August 25, 2015) Russian human rights ombudsman Ella Pamfilova has strongly condemned a court decision to release on parole Yevgeniya Vasilyeva, a key figure in the Oboronservis case, suggesting the move amounted to “elite” justice, privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax reported on 25 August. Earlier on 25 August, a court in Vladimir Region granted Vasilyeva parole after she […]

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Ukraine’s largest lender PrivatBank investigated for diverting $1.8bn of IMF funds

International Monetary Fund Logo Over Ukraine Flag

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Graham Stack in Kyiv – August 24, 2015) PrivatBank, Ukraine’s largest lender partly owned by controversial oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, is under criminal investigation by the authorities for fraudulently diverting around what was then about $1.8bn, the bank has confirmed. “We are aware of the existence of criminal proceedings. PrivatBank fully cooperates with the investigators […]

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UKRAINE – Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#163 :: Wednesday Afternoon 19 August 2015

St. Basil's Domes

Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#163 Wednesday Afternoon – 19 August 2015 A project sponsored through the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs The contents do not necessarily represent the views of IERES or the George Washington University. JRL homepage: russialist.org JRL on Facebook: facebook.com/russialist JRL on Twitter: twitter.com/JohnsonRussiaLi Support JRL: russialist.org/funding.php Support for JRL is provided in […]

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Why are we so worried about the Russian doping scandal?

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

Fresh allegations over doping in international athletics have cast plenty of shame and doubt. They also reveal the west’s political prejudices and ignorance. (opendemocracy.net – Rolf Fretheim, Thomas Rowley – August 14, 2015) Rolf Fredheim is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Cambridge, where he works on […]

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Western Experts Cry Foul Over Russian Books Published in Their Names

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Howard Amos – August 10, 2015) Prominent Western experts and journalists accused a Russian publishing house Sunday of pirating their work and printing books using their names without their permission or prior knowledge. Journalists Luke Harding and Edward Lucas and U.S.-based Russia expert Donald Jensen confirmed to The Moscow Times that they did not know […]

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Russian Opposition Cornered by Authorities in Regional Election Race

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – August 10, 2015) Attempts by the opposition’s Democratic Coalition to take part in upcoming regional elections have been thwarted by local election commissions’ refusal to register its members as candidates, in what analysts say is a concerted effort to nip opposition bids in the bud. The coalition, which consists of opposition firebrand […]

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RBTH: Proposed extensions to Russian police powers spark controversy

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Being Grabbed by Police at Protest

A new bill proposing to extend policemen’s rights, including those concerning the use of weapons, has provoked major disagreements among Russian public figures and rights activists. While its authors believe that extending police authority is necessary for defending the rights of fellow policemen, critics worry that if the law is adopted it will legitimize police brutality and may be used […]

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