Kremlinology: an intervention; Protests and strikes across Russia show that the country’s “silent majority” is becoming louder. But are pundits even listening?

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

(opendemocracy.net – Sean Guillory – September 13, 2016) Sean Guillory lives in Pittsburgh. He hosts the SRB podcast, a weekly podcast on Eurasian politics, history and culture, and blogs for seansrussiablog.org. You can follow him on Twitter @seansrussiablog. Writings on contemporary Russia are mostly variations on the same subject: Vladimir Putin; his rise to and iron grip on power. Western […]

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NEWSWATCH: “A Powerful Russian Weapon: The Spread of False Stories” – New York Times

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

The New York Times addresses concerns about Russian disinformation campaigns, including Russia’s reputed involvement with a rash of misleading material on social media disrupting NATO-related debate in Sweden. With a vigorous national debate underway on whether Sweden should enter a military partnership with NATO, officials in Stockholm suddenly encountered an unsettling problem: a flood of distorted and outright false information on […]

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NEWSLINK The Nation/Sarah Lindemann-Komarova: “How A Siberian Mom Took on Politics as Usual in Russia and Won.”

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

In Siberia, Natalia Pinus is taking on established political forces and challenging the idea that Russian democracy is no more than a puppet show

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Russians blame government for price rise, insufficient social protection – poll

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW. Aug 25 (Interfax) – Russians mostly criticize the national government for “being unable to deal with the price rise and shrinking household income” (42%) and “failing to ensure social protection” (34%), the Levada Center told Interfax. The price rise problem is losing its topicality (48% in January 2016 vs. 55% in 2015), while social protection demands are on the […]

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A Long Jump: Russia Claims Moral Victory From Rio Olympics

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, August 22, 2016) Russia’s medal haul at the Summer Olympics in Rio was the country’s smallest since the 1912 games in Stockholm, but that did not deter various officials and pundits from spinning the result as a victory for Moscow — or a moral one, at the least. With much of its […]

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Angry Farmers Stage Tractor March on Moscow

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Howard Amos – August 22, 2016) Several hundred farmers from southern Russia complained of intense police harassment Monday as they entered the second day of a drive towards Moscow they are staging to raise awareness about the problem of local corruption. In the space of 24 hours, their convoy of tractors and cars was stopped […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Why Russia’s Olympic scandals could benefit Vladimir Putin” – Yahoo

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

If you think the Russian doping scandal has brought shame and humiliation to Vladimir Putin’s nation, perhaps you need to think again. Experts on Putin and Russia tell Yahoo Sports it may be the opposite: that the doping allegations and the Paralympic ban actually has confirmed suspicions widely held – the rest of the world is unfairly biased against Russia. […]

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Confessions of a Kremlin conspiracy theorist; Let’s face it: movements inside Russia’s power structures often signal exactly what we want them to.

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(opendemocracy.net – Mark Galeotti – August 1, 2016) Mark Galeotti is currently Professor of Global Affairs at New York University and a visiting fellow at the ECFR, although from August he will be principal director of the Mayak Intelligence consultancy in Prague and senior researcher at the Czech Institute for International Relations. He blogs on Russian security affairs at In […]

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Vladimir Putin Is His Economy’s Worst Enemy

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – July 27, 2016 – Editorial) Russian President Vladimir Putin urgently needs to revive his country’s economy. His greatest obstacle will be himself. While Americans argue about the extent of Russia’s intervention in the U.S. presidential election, Putin is battling a recession at home. To that end, he has recently focused on the ruble’s exchange rate: A […]

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‘Thieves-in-law’: Russia’s close-knit criminal corporation

Hands Opening Envelope Containing Cash

In mid-July, the police detained Shakro Molodoi, or Shakro the Young, a king of the underworld and infamous “thief-in-law,” who lived in a lavish mansion in Moscow. In the 1990s and early 2000s, people like him were the protagonists of popular Russian TV series, later forgotten – but the “thieves” themselves have not gone anywhere. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – […]

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Hybrid Business — The Risks In The Kremlin’s Weaponization Of The Economy

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Commentary: Mark Galeotti, Anna Arutunyan – July 20, 2016) Mark Galeotti is a senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations Prague and director of the consultancy Mayak Intelligence. Anna Arutunyan is a Moscow-based journalist and writer, author of The Putin Mystique. “How many divisions does the pope have?” Josef Stalin was meant to have […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Ban Russia From the Rio Olympics” – New York Times

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

The latest and most comprehensive report on Russia’s cheating at the 2014 Winter Olympics gives the International Olympic Committee all the evidence it needs to ban every Russian team from the forthcoming Rio Games. The report, commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency to investigate a fast-growing body of evidence against Russia, is damning and unequivocal. … it affirms ‘beyond a […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Bar Russia from the Rio Olympics” – Washington Post

File Photo of Sochi Olympics Banner Near Highway in Warm Weather with Vehicle and Cyclicsts Nearby

At the Winter Olympics in Sochi … no Russian athletes tested positive for doping, and to much celebration they took home 33 medals, more than any other nation. … behind the scenes, a system was in place that concealed the use of performance-enhancing drugs by … Russian athletes. … doping and coverups have been carried out by Russia across a range […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Statement in response to the report by the World Anti-Doping Agency

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

(Kremlin.ru – July 18, 2016) President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Recent events and the tense atmosphere that has formed around international sport and the Olympic movement involuntarily recall the situation in the early 1980s. Back then, many Western countries, citing the deployment of Soviet troops in Afghanistan, boycotted the Moscow Olympics. Four years later, the Soviet Union retaliated by boycotting […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Doping Scandal. A new report finds that Olympic cheating was state policy.” – Wall Street Journal editorial

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

Less than three weeks before the Summer Olympics in Rio … an independent probe … produced the most damning evidence to date of a vast, state-sponsored #doping program run by #Russia’s sports officials that included corrupting the testing lab at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. … the report sets up a choice as delicate as it is momentous: whether to ban […]

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Kremlin: Russia Will Not Boycott Rio Olympics

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 11, 2016) Russia will not boycott the upcoming Olympic Games in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday, Russian media reported. Peskov said that “Russia has always looked down on [Olympic] boycotts,” the Gazeta news website reported Monday. He promised to use “all possible mechanisms” to ensure the participation of Russian […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Pyatt: High hopes, some regrets, one big question” – Kyiv Post/Brian Bonner

Geoffrey R. Pyatt file photo

Pyatt is part a big turnover … coming in the Western diplomatic corps, as ambassadors who served during the EuroMaidan Revolution and the start of Russia’s war against Ukraine are being reassigned …. * * * It was in support of Ukrainians’ fight against their corrupt authorities that Pyatt took one of his stronger and more memorable stands. … * […]

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RBTH: St. Petersburg State University researchers battle corruption

Cropped File Photo of Two Men in Business Suits Shaking Hands and Passing Cash

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Gleb Fedorov, RBTH – June 29, 2016) After studying more than 36,000 regional laws and regulations, researchers from St. Petersburg State University (SPbU) have found vague words and terminology that could be misused by corrupt officials. One of the most well-known sayings in Russia is “the law is like a horse harness, it […]

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Governor Belykh’s Arrest Has Russian Elite on Edge

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Mikhail Fishman – June 30, 2016) For the last decade, regional governors in Russia are usually appointed apparatchiks, with faces unrecognizable outside their home territory. There are some exceptions to the rule, like Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of the republic of Chechnya. Another rare exception was Nikita Belykh, the governor of the Kirov region, a […]

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Lack of Solidarity Among Russian Opposition an Ominous Echo of 1937, Pavlova Says

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 27, 2016) The reaction of many Russian opposition figures to the arrest of corrupt figures today eerily and ominously echoes the reaction of many ordinary Soviet citizens to the arrest and then execution of many corrupt officials in the late 1930s, according to Irina Pavlova, a US-based Russian historian. And the […]

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All Russians Are Tainted by Putin’s Regime

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – June 21, 2016) The International Olympic Committee’s decision to let Russian athletes compete in the Rio Olympics if they can prove that they haven’t used performance-enhancing drugs won’t be popular with other countries. Nonetheless, it was the right call. But it also carries some unpleasant undertones: It formally requires Russians to prove that […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Olympic Ban Adds to Russia’s Culture of Grievances” – New York Times

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

When a global governing body for sports barred Russia’s track and field team from the 2016 Summer Olympics on Friday over a wide-ranging doping scandal, it was greeted in Russia, as is so often the case here these days, with a deep sense of victimhood. …Putin …called the decision ‘unjust, of course.’ …. Click here for New York Times: Olympic […]

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Banned Russian Runners Struggle to Keep Their Careers Afloat

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – June 11, 2016) His first international race, the Kanazawa marathon was a special occasion for Viktor Ugarov, 30. Thousands of amateur Japanese runners took part, but none, in the end, provided serious competition for the runner from Irkutsk. Ugarov, who a year earlier had finished fifth in the Russian Championship, ended up […]

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Deconstructing Moscow’s Constructivist Legacy

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ola Cichowlas – June 9, 2016) [Photos here http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/deconstructing-moscows-constructivist-legacy/571579.html] When Moscow city deputy Alexandra Parushina asked the men in bulldozers if they had permission to tear down a 1920s housing estate in her constituency on June 6, security guards threw her to the ground. While they held her down, injuring her leg, the demolition began. […]

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Anti-doping rule breakers will be harshly punished – Mutko

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

MOSCOW. June 9 (Interfax) – The harshest measures will be taken against those who were caught violating anti-doping rules, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said. “If this is established, naturally, we will take the harshest measures against every person. All our correspondence will be examined, and even if anyone participated in this scheme with him [Grigory Rodchenkov, former head of […]

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Interfax: Russia won’t put up with unsubstantiated slander against it on issue of doping in sports – Peskov

Dmitry Peskov file photo adapted from image at kremlin.ru/wikimedia commons

MOSCOW. June 8 (Interfax) – Russia is against the use of doping in sports, but that does not mean that it is ready to put up with unsubstantiated slander against it on this issue, Russian presidential press officer Dmitry Peskov said. “We all remember that the Russian president has given an absolutely clear signal that the use of any types […]

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Russian Election Commission Head Says ‘No One Is Untouchable’ on Violations

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – June 6, 2016) The head of Russia’s Central Election Commission, Ella Pamfilova, said that an interdepartmental working group is being set up to quickly react to election violations, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta government daily reported Monday. The working group will include representatives of the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Interior Ministry and the Investigative Committee, Pamfilova said […]

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NEWSWATCH: “‘Anti-travelogue’ on Putin’s Russia wins £10,000 Ondaatje prize. Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev takes prize honouring writers who best ‘evoke the spirit of a place” – The Guardian

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

… Pomerantsev said he had been struck by the ‘state-reinforced psychology of the new Russia, the insistence that all identities are mutable, that nothing is true and everything is possible.’ Born in Ukraine and now living in London, Pomerantsev has worked as a journalist, film-maker and as a consultant for the EU and World Bank. * * * Judge and […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s reported doping is a subversion of the Olympic ideal” – Washington Post

sochi-olympics-200

… The latest evidence is a detailed report in the New York Times that Russian officials clandestinely carried out a doping program at the Sochi Games by giving athletes performance-enhancing drugs and then tampering with their urine samples to cover it up. The … account comes from the director of the Russian anti-doping agency at the time, who played a […]

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Interfax: Mutko believes in rebirth of Russian track and field athletics

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

MOSCOW. May 20 (Interfax) – After the restoration of its rights, Russian track and field athletics should start with “a clean slate,” Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told Interfax. “The majority of the disqualifications happened in track and field athletics and we will immediately set everything right and, I believe, start with a clean slate. At this stage, if everything […]

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The Monster Under The Kremlin

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – May 19, 2016) At first glance, the massive shoot-out at Moscow’s Khovanskoye Cemetery this past weekend seemed pretty retro. What, after all, reminds us more of the 1990s than rival Russian gangs staging a deadly brawl in a turf war over control of the lucrative burial business? What is more reminiscent of the […]

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Panama Papers: Are Russian entrepreneurs actually moving back onshore?

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

The latest information published from the Panama Papers shows that some Russian billionaires began closing their offshore companies after the beginning of the governmental de-offshorization campaign in 2015. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – ALEXEI LOSSAN, RBTH – rbth.ru – May 16, 2016) According to the business newspaper RBK Daily, the expanded database of the so-called Panama Papers, published in May […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Revelations of State-Backed Doping Should Bar Russia From Rio Olympics” – New York Times/JULIET MACUR

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

Accusations of Russian doping and reported claims of systematic distribution of performance-enhancing drugs and of bribes paid to cover up positive tests would be enough to scare off officials of any event worried about safeguarding its credibility. … you have to wonder what officials from the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee are thinking now, in light of […]

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Putinism won’t end with a bang, but a warrant; New charges concerning several leading Russian officials reveal the greatest threat to the Kremlin’s hold on power – elite corruption.

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

(opendemocracy.net – Mark Galeotti – May 10, 2016) Mark Galeotti is currently Professor of Global Affairs at New York University and a visiting fellow at the ECFR, although from August he will be principal director of the Mayak Intelligence consultancy in Prague and senior researcher at the Czech Institute for International Relations. He blogs on Russian security affairs at In […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Kudrin and Poroshenko will fail because corruption is the system in Russia, Ukraine” – bne Intellinews/Ben Aris

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

… The irony is that Russia and Ukraine find themselves in exactly the same place: both countries are suffering from an economic miasma and both need deep and far-reaching reforms if they are to prosper. The difference between them is that Russia is half way through the process and will very like actually make some more reforms, whereas Ukraine is at the […]

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RBTH: Polls: Corporate corruption in Russia falls to U.S. level

Cropped File Photo of Two Men in Business Suits Shaking Hands and Passing Cash

Russian companies have recorded a drop in the number of kickbacks and bribes in their sectors, a study by Ernst & Young has revealed. According to the survey, corporate corruption in Russia has dropped so much that it is now on a par with the U.S. A similar conclusion has been reached by experts from PwC. (Russia Beyond the Headlines […]

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VIDEO & NEWSWATCH PBS: “Two years into new regime, grim realities persist in Ukraine”

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

Ukraine has faced many challenges in the two years since violent protests drove the country’s president from office. The Russian occupation of the Crimean Peninsula in particular sparked a military conflict between pro-Russian secessionists and Ukraine’s government. Correspondent Kira Kay and Producer Jason Maloney from the Bureau for International Reporting take us inside Ukraine to asses the country’s struggle for […]

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Same Level of Corruption Recorded in Russian, U.S. Businesses – Survey

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 23, 2016) Thirty-four percent of respondents in Russia and and the United States agree that bribery and corruption are widespread in their country, a survey by multinational financial services company EY reported. The survey results show business professionals in both countries agreed that corruption in business was widespread in their respective nations. EY – […]

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Were the Panama Papers Planted? Who Cares.

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – April 15, 2016) Last week, a respected Russia scholar in the U.S. speculated that the Kremlin might be behind the so-called Panama Papers, the big dump of data about offshore accounts that has implicated several countries’ officials in shady dealings. And on Thursday, President Vladimir Putin of Russia blamed the U.S. for the […]

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In Ukraine, Expats and Romantics Are Out

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – April 15, 2016) The new Ukrainian cabinet, confirmed by the parliament on Thursday, is more interesting for the people it doesn’t include than for those it does. Ukraine’s experiment with bringing foreign reformers and private sector professionals into the government is now officially over, and it has failed. President Petro Poroshenko tapped his […]

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How Greed and Incompetence Put Russia’s Heritage at Risk

Novodevichy Convent file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ekaterina Motyakina – April 14, 2016) The Novodevichy convent is a rare glimpse of tranquility in Russia’s bustling capital. Perched on the banks of the Bolshoi Novodevichny Lake, the convent’s golden domes and soaring bell towers have given refuge to Moscow’s needy since the 16th century. When cultural and scientific agency UNESCO designated it a […]

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On My Mind

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – April 11, 2016) In many ways, corruption is the new communism. The Soviet Union sought to spread communism and establish a bloc of nations loyal to Moscow. Vladimir Putin’s Russia seeks to spread its corrupt business model to establish a bloc of nations dependent upon Moscow. The Soviet Union tried to co-opt Westerners […]

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The pitchforks are coming; Farm workers in the depths of southern Russia are hardly a protest constituency, but corruption and corporate raids have pushed them to the brink. They may even take their grievances to Moscow – by tractor.

Russia Regions Map

(opendemocracy.net – Svetlana Bolotnikova – April 7, 2016) Svetlana Bolotnikova is a Russian journalist and correspondent for KavPolit, an online publication specialising in political developments in the Caucasus. Aleksei Volchenko, 37, is a farmer in Kalininsky district, in the Kuban area of southern Russia. There are no large cities or towns here, just stanitsy, Cossack villages. Residents either work their […]

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Panama Papers scandal: What was the reaction in Russia?

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

Even though most Russian newspapers wrote about the discovery of the Panama offshore bank accounts belonging to politicians and businessmen close to Vladimir Putin, public reaction to the scandal was rather muted. Russians exchanged jokes and comments about the information policy of the main Russian TV channels, which, unlike the newspapers, did not report on the scandalous leak. (Russia Beyond […]

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