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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Usmanov denies Navalny’s allegation of illegal transfer of mansion, land to SotsGosProyekt Foundation

Alisher Usmanov file photo

MOSCOW. April 12 (Interfax) – USM Holdings founder Alisher Usmanov says he transferred a plot of land and a mansion to the SotsGosProyekt Foundation in exchange for another plot of land for his sister. “My sister, Gulbakhor Burkhanova, […] wanted to live near me after the death of our parents. […] [Foundation head Ilya] Yeliseyev told me about Foundation projects […]

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Five Telling New Poll Results from Russia

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 6, 2017) Polls in Russia are anything but reliable guides to popular attitudes: Pollsters in many cases structure their questions to get the results those in power want; and the population often tells those conducting surveys not what they in fact think but rather that which they believe the authorities want […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Susan Rice Keeps Her Mask On; The press corps buys her story that ‘unmasking’ was no big deal” – Wall Street Journal

File Photo of Susan Rice and Barack Hussein Obama in St. Petersburg Russia, with Mural of St. Petersburg Scene in Background, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

“Susan Rice returned to the friendly confines of MSNBC … to respond to softball questions about the news that the #Obama national security adviser had ‘unmasked’ the identity of at least one member of the #Trump transition team … surveilled by U.S. #intelligence. … all the more imperative to hear her under oath before #Congress. … Rice didn’t deny that she had sought […]

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Russian PM Calls Opposition Corruption Charges ‘Rubbish,’ ‘Nonsense’

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – April 4, 2017) Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has for the first time responded to allegations of corruption made by opposition activists, calling them “rubbish” and “nonsense.” Medvedev said on April 4 the allegations, which have led to a series of street demonstrations by opposition protesters, had been made “to try to pull people out into […]

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Are Russian Teens Really About to Storm the Kremlin? Recent anti-corruption rallies will go down as Russia’s most youthful protests

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – March 30, 2017) When 12-year-old Gleb took to the stage at an anti-corruption protest in the Siberian city of Tomsk last week, few in the audience would have expected the moment to go viral. “It doesn’t matter who’s in power – Putin or Navalny,” Gleb said to rounds of applause. “The most […]

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NEWSLINK: “Where Will Russia’s Protests Lead? The anticorruption wave could give way to greater instability” – The National Interest/Alexander Lukin

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

“March 26 saw widespread protests against corruption in Moscow and several other big Russian cities. The formal cause was the absence of reaction by the authorities to the film He Is Not Dimon to You, produced and distributed online by the Foundation Against Corruption, headed by opposition activist Alexei Navalny. The film accused Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of corruption, showing […]

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Survey: Two-Thirds Of Russians Hold Putin Responsible For Corruption

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – March 28, 2017) More than two-thirds of #Russians believe that President Vladimir Putin is “entirely” or “significantly” responsible for massive corruption among state officials, according to a new survey by the Levada Center. [http://www.levada.ru/2017/03/28/institutsionalnaya-korruptsiya-i-lichnyj-opyt/] The March 28 survey found that 79 percent of Russians believe corruption has “completely infected” or “significantly infected” Russia’s organs of state […]

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More On Russia’s Protests

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore, The Morning Vertical – March 28, 2017) … There is no shortage of commentary on nationwide protests in Russia on March 26. Here’s a sampling: In The Atlantic, Julia Ioffe explains the significance of this past weekend’s protest. Leonid Ragozin has a piece in Bloomberg looking at Navalny’s campaign operation in Siberia and what […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Why Russian protests are making the Kremlin rethink 2018 presidential elections. The implicit choice in next year’s elections was looking like ‘Putin or nothing.’ But the breadth of protests Sunday organized by anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny is changing that equation.” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

Russia Regions Map

“… staging significant protest actions in almost 100 #Russian cities Sunday, Alexei Navalny has laid down a serious challenge to Vladimir Putin. The anti-corruption blogger-turned-politician wants to run for president in elections that are barely a year off, and has been conducting himself as if his campaign were already under way. The Kremlin has the means to prevent him, by invoking a […]

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David Filipov: “There were some pretty rough arrests, & 1 officer was hospitalized but for most of the day police in #Moscow were generally patient w crowds”

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

(David Filipov @davidfilipov (Washington Post) – Twitter – March 26, 2017) Washington Post correspondent David Filipov writes on twitter: “There were some pretty rough arrests, & 1 officer was hospitalized but for most of the day police in #Moscow were generally patient w crowds” [embedded tweet should also load below:] There were some pretty rough arrests, & 1 officer was […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Oil is the cause of Russia’s outsized corruption problem” – bne Intellinews/Ben Aris

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

“#Russia was wracked by protests over the weekend when an estimated 60,000 people took to the street in more than 80 cities large and small to decry rampant corruption. Russia does have an outsized corruption problem and its #oil wealth is to blame.  … the Russian government has identified corruption as probably the biggest drag on growth and has launched a […]

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Interfax: Moscow authorities believe their rejection of Navalny’s requested anti-corruption rally final

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Being Grabbed by Police at Protest

MOSCOW. March 18 (Interfax) – The Moscow authorities do not plan on reconsidering their refusal to approve the anti-corruption march scheduled by opposition activist Alexei Navalny and his supporters in Moscow for March 26, Vladimir Chernikov, the head of the regional security and anti-corruption department for Moscow, said. “This decision is final,” Chernikov said, replying to a relevant question from […]

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Who will make Russia “great again”? Russia’s legal-rational establishment has yet to emerge. But the rise of Alexei Navalny demonstrates that when it does, it will inevitably be nationalist.

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

(opendemocracy.net – Anna Arutunyan – March 15, 2017) Anna Arutunyan is a Russian-American journalist and the author of The Putin Mystique. A former fellow at the Kennan Institute in Washington, she currently lives and writes in Moscow. There has been quite a bit of whiplash in the way Alexei Navalny, Russia’s most promising opposition leader, has been regarded. One moment, […]

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Shevtsova on 15 Paradoxes of Putin’s Russia

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, March 11, 2107) Liliya Shevtsova, a Moscow-based analyst for the Brookings Institution, has once again provided a useful guide to some of the terminology that #Russians and analysts of #Russia often use without reflecting on the paradoxical quality of much of it and the ways in which that quality undermines their utility. […]

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Navalny: Political Change in Russia Is Only Solution to Corruption

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Voice of America – voanews.com – Danila Galperovich – March 10, 2017) MOSCOW – Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny recently caused a stir on the internet with a documentary-style video about the lifestyle of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev that has already been viewed millions of times. According to the 50-minute film, Medvedev owns palatial mansions, yachts […]

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NEWSLINK: “A film about a slain Putin critic gets a screening – just off Red Square” – Washington Post/David Filipov

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

“It takes about 700 steps at a leisurely pace to stroll from the lavish mall along Red Square to the bridge over the Moscow River where … Russia’s most prominent opposition leader was gunned down as he made that walk with his girlfriend. … in the shadow of the red brick Kremlin walls, an informal shrine marks the spot and […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Online dissidents expose the Russian prime minister’s material empire; The truth about Dmitry Medvedev lives on the Internet” – Washington Post

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

“… #Medvedev has been seen in [items] … ordered online and delivered to an address linked to a web of companies and charities controlled by close confidants and relatives. After months spent probing the network, the Anti-Corruption Foundation, headed by opposition activist Alexei #Navalny, has released a video and documentation it says show … Medvedev has accumulated more than $1 billion worth of […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russian corporate governance comes in from the ‘Caveman era'” – bne Intellinews/Jason Corcoran

“Russia’s new corporate governance code … in place for two years, is being increasingly adhered to, according to market participants. Other reforms undertaken by the Moscow Exchange – as well as an increase in domestic liquidity – is accelerating the trend for more companies to list in the Russian capital rather than in London. …” [featured image is file photo, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia pushes to rid itself of ‘Potemkin’ banks by 2019” – Reuters/Alexander Winning, Andrey Ostroukh

“Russia plans to extend a review of bank licenses for another two years, shutting down scores more banks after closing hundreds in the past four years, mostly for committing fraud or other crimes …. Vasily Pozdyshev, a deputy governor at Russia’s central bank, says … his team is still finding more propping up criminal activity and would need until 2019 …. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia dismisses sweeping corruption allegations against Medvedev” – Washington Post/David Filipov

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

… Navalny, who has said he will run for president in 2018, released … a report and … video detailing allegations that Medvedev has funneled more than $1 billion in bribes through companies and charities run by his associates to acquire vineyards, luxury yachts and lavish mansions. The Russian government quickly dismissed the accusations as an attention-grabbing stunt by a self-proclaimed presidential […]

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NEWSWATCH: “With court ruling, Kremlin moves to block political biggest threat: Navalny. The ruling reinstating a guilty verdict for anticorruption blogger Alexei Navalny effectively rules him out of next year’s presidential race. But it may help him remain a viable Kremlin opponent.” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

Kremlin and River

“The legal odyssey of Russia’s best-known opposition leader, anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny, has been mindbogglingly complicated, full of twists and turns. … with a simple and totally predictable political result. … a regional court’s ruling … upheld … Navalny’s embezzlement conviction and handed him a five-year suspended sentence … [making it] almost impossible for him to run against … Putin […]

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How Does Conflict of Interest Translate Into Russian? It Doesn’t.

Yury Chaika file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Irina Skrynnik – February 9, 2017) Russia’s Prosecutor General Yury Chaika gave his first detailed comments on the business owned by his eldest son, Artyom, and his younger son, Igor, in an interview last week. “Don’t you think it’s a delicate situation when a father – meaning you – serves on a high government post […]

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Sentence in ‘Kirovles case’ deprives Navalny of possibility of running in presidential elections under law on presidential elections in Russia – lawyer

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

MOSCOW. Feb 8 (Interfax) – Under the legislation on presidential elections, opposition politician Alexei Navalny cannot participate in the upcoming election campaign due to his conviction in the Kirovles case,” according to which he has been found guilty of embezzlement, his lawyer Olga Mikhailova told Interfax. “According to the law on [presidential] elections, a person convicted for a grave crime […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Hopes for Swift End to Track and Field Doping Exile” – AP

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

“… Russian track and field exists in limbo, banned since November 2015 as a series of investigations revealed widespread doping and alleged government officials helped to cover it up. … On Monday, track’s world governing body, the IAAF, will hold a council meeting with the stated aim of drawing up a road map for Russia’s return though, in some ways, […]

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Double Jeopardy: Why Kremlin Opponent Navalny is Back in Court

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ola Cichowlas – February 3, 2017) Alexei Navalny, the main leader of Russia’s so-called “non-systemic” political opposition, may again become a convicted felon. If that happens, he’d lose the chance to compete in next year’s presidential race, when Vladimir Putin will likely seek a fourth term in office. This week, as Navalny endures a retrial […]

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Over half of Russians approve of arrests of government officials suspected of corruption – poll

MOSCOW. Jan 18 (Interfax) – Most Russians know about and approve of the arrests of high-ranking officials suspected of bribery, embezzlement, and abuse of office, the VTsIOM public opinion service reported based on findings of a public opinion poll of 1,600 respondents conducted in 130 populated areas in 46 regions of Russia on December 17-18. As many as 55% of […]

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Ukraine’s corrupt counter-revolution

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

In Ukraine, revolution and reform has given way to reaction, with vested interests entrenching themselves even further. (opendemocracy.net – Sergii Leshchenko – December 30, 2016) Sergii Leshchenko is a Ukrainian journalist and a member of the Verkhovna Rada. All views expressed are made in a personal capacity. Last week, as the world prepared for the Christmas holidays, Ukrainian MPs gathered […]

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Putin’s War At Home

Russia Regions Map

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – December 28, 2016) As Vladimir Putin basks in his victories abroad, problems are piling up at home. Rustam Minnikhanov, the leader of oil-rich Tatarstan, has denounced a recent Kremlin decision to take more of his republic’s tax revenues, calling it “stupidity” and comparing it to Josef Stalin’s liquidation of the kulaks. Minnikhanov’s broadside […]

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Putin Bans Officials From Owning Foreign Assets Via Third Parties

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 29, 2016) Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law banning state officials from owning “foreign financial instruments” through third parties. The text of the new law – which applies to members of parliament, government officials, and law enforcement officers – was published on an official government legal website. The document defines foreign financial […]

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Putin briefed on election-rigging by regional officials

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

(Interfax – December 19, 2016) Russia’s election authority has briefed Vladimir Putin on violations during the last parliamentary poll, some of them “extremely serious”, privately-owned news agency Interfax reported. Breaches of the rules were identified in 23 parts of the country, Ella Pamfilova, head of the Central Electoral Commission, told Putin. “And in some places these were extremely, extremely serious,” […]

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RBTH: 2016 in review: Top 5 political events

Snowy Night on Red Square with Old St. Basil's Lit Up

From the war in Syria to high-level corruption and doping scandals, here are the stories that shook up Russian politics in the past year. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – OLEG YEGOROV, RBTH – December 19, 2016) 1. Intervention in Syria Although President Vladimir Putin stated in March 2016 that the operation in Syria, which began in September 2015, […]

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Medvedev says Ulyukayev’s dismissal after losing president’s trust is not ‘guilty verdict’

Alexei Ulyukayev file photo

MOSCOW. Dec 15 (Interfax) – The resignation of former Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev after he lost the president’s trust and confidence does not mean Ulyukayev has been found guilty of the crimes he has been accused of, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said. “The president made the decision to dismiss the former minister from his duties due to loss of […]

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RBTH: Over 1,000 Russian athletes involved in doping scandal – McLaren report

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

In a more detailed version of the report released in July, the head of the independent WADA commission has announced that the international doping scandal implicates over 1,000 Russian athletes, and has repeated accusations of state involvement. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ALEXEY MOSKO, RBTH – December 12, 2016) The publication of the long-awaited second part of the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian bribery probe widens amid reports of Kremlin power struggle” – Washington Post/David Filipov

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

“… Russia’s state-run news agency reported … more officials could be targeted in the corruption probe that has already led to the arrest of the … economic development minister. Other news reports … name[d] names, all of them of officials close to … Medvedev, leader of the so-called liberals, who tend to favor a smaller state role in society and […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Fate of Russia’s Liberals” – Stratfor

Alexei Ulyukayev file photo

Russia’s economic and political problems are piling up, and they may be putting members of the country’s more liberal circles at risk. In the most high-profile arrest to be made in post-Soviet Russia – and arguably, since the 1950s – Economic Minister Alexei Ulyukayev was detained … on charges of bribery and extortion. … Russian authorities [said] Ulyukayev received $2 […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian Opposition Leader Navalny’s Case Sent for Retrial” – AP

Alexei Navalny file photo

Russia’s Supreme Court on Wednesday scrapped a criminal conviction and sent the case of opposition leader Alexei Navalny for retrial, opening the door for his potential run for office.  … convicted in 2013 of embezzling timber …. Following unsuccessful appeals in Russia, Navalny, a trained lawyer, turned to the European Court of Human Rights which ruled in February that Russia […]

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The Loyalty of Fear; Putin sends a message to the elite with the arrest of Russia’s economic development minister

File Photo of Rosneft and Russian Flags Next to Rosneft Banner

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Eva Hartog, Mikhail Fishman – November 16, 2016) It was an awkward, dramatic national moment for Russia: a bonafide minister of the federal government standing in court as the defendant, facing corruption charges and promising his cooperation to prosecutors, pleading to be released on bail. The hearing ended slightly anticlimactically, with a decision to place […]

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Updates: Russian Economy Minister Ulyukayev Appears in Court on Corruption Charge

Alexei Ulyukayev file photo

The longstanding minister has been formally charged on corruption allegations. (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 15, 2016) Russian Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev has appeared in Moscow’s Baumansky court to face corruption allegations. Ulyukayev was charged with accepting a $2-million bribe on Tuesday, having been arrested by agents from Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) late on Monday night. The […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Makes U-Turn After Evicting Amnesty From Moscow Office” – Reuters

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

… Amnesty International can return to the Moscow office it was evicted from this week, a Kremlin human rights adviser said on Thursday …. Amnesty has been a vocal critic of Russia over its bombing campaign in Syria and had said it believed the eviction might be part of an official crackdown on civil society groups. … Kremlin officials have […]

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Russia Supreme Court Proposes Ban on Pre-Trial Detention for Economic Crimes

File Photo of Two Persons Shaking Hands and Exchanging Cash

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 3, 2016) The plenum of Russia’s Supreme Court has proposed banning the arrest of individuals accused of several varieties of economic crimes, the Prime news agency reported Thursday. According to the proposal, suspects can still be detained, but cannot be kept in pre-trial detention if they stand accused of several economic crimes: commercial fraud, […]

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Russians Losing Trust in Government and Putin – Poll

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 13, 2016) Trust in Russia’s government has plummeted by almost half in the past year, a survey by the independent pollster Levada Center revealed Thursday. Just 26 percent of respondents said that they trusted Russia’s government, down from 45 percent in 2015, the Interfax news agency reported. Only 22 percent said that they had […]

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NEWSLINK Carnegie Moscow/Andrey Movchan: “How Does the Head of an Anti-Corruption Agency Wind Up With $120 Million in Cash?”

Cash, Calculator, Pen

The $120 million in cash found in Dmitry Zakharchenko’s sister’s home must have come from some sort of illegal business activity-likely involving the contraband market.

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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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In Putin’s World, Crime Pays

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – October 3, 2016) By most objective standards, last week’s news should have been an unmitigated disaster for Vladimir Putin’s regime. By most objective standards, the Kremlin should be worried that it risks becoming an international pariah. By most objective standards, September 28 should have been a dark day for Russia. Dutch investigators on […]

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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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