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?

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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

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… 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

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(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.

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(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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Most Russians Think Government Corruption Is ‘Unacceptable’ – Poll

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 7, 2016) The majority of Russians (62 percent) believe corruption in government is wholly unacceptable and a further 27 percent believe it can never be condoned, a poll released on Friday by the independent Levada center pollster indicated. On the number of top government officials involved in corruption, 44 percent believe that the majority […]

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

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

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

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Russian Prosecutor General’s Office to Investigate Panama Papers

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 5, 2016) The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office will investigate data contained in the Panama Papers about Russians involved in offshore companies, press secretary Alexandr Kurennoi said Tuesday, the Interfax news agency reported. “The main goal of the inquiry will be to find out if Russian nationals mentioned in the documents acted according to the […]

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Putin’s a Pauper, His Friends Are Rich

Putin Descending a Staircase

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – April 4, 2016) Recent reports by two consortia of investigative journalists purport to have exposed the dealings and offshore accounts of some of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest associates. They don’t name him as a beneficiary of any account, suggesting that Putin is as poor as a church mouse — or would be […]

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Panama Papers scandal: Who is Russia’s Sergei Roldugin?

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

One of the sections of the international journalistic investigation into corruption offshore networks used by the world’s rich and powerful is devoted specifically to Russia. It focuses on renowned cellist Sergei Roldugin, who is also godfather to one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s daughters. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH – April 5, 2016) On Sunday […]

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‘Nothing To See Here’: Russia Shrugs At Latest Allegations Against Putin

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Robert Coalson -April 1, 2016) Earlier this week, Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov warned that Western media outlets planned an “information dump” aimed “personally” at President Vladimir Putin with the intention of “disrupting the situation in the country.” A couple days later, on March 31, the Reuters news agency published a report on alleged connections […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin associates had $2 billion in offshore accounts, report says” – Washington Post

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

An international collection of journalists published a report Sunday on the financial activities of a dozen current and former world leaders that said associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin have moved as much as $2 billion through offshore accounts. …  based on a data leak of 11.5 million records for 214,488 entities connected to people in more than 200 countries or territories. […]

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NEWSWATCH AP: “The Latest: Russian media keep mum on offshore scandal”

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

Russian media are keeping mum about the $2 billion found in offshore accounts linked to close friends of President Vladimir Putin. … an international coalition of more than 100 media outlets … details how politicians use banks, law firms and offshore shell companies to hide their assets. Putin’s close friends including a cellist from St. Petersburg were shown to be […]

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NEWSWATCH Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP): “UKRAINE: THE PRESIDENT’S OFFSHORE TAX PLAN”

Petro Poroshenko file photo, with additional men in background, adapted from image at state.gov

… actions by his financial advisers and Poroshenko himself … worth an estimated US$ 858 million, make it appear that the candy magnate was more concerned about his own welfare than his country’s – going so far as to arguably violate the law twice, misrepresent information and deprive his country of badly needed tax dollars during a time of war. […]

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WADA banned meldonium without studying period of its withdrawal from athletes’ blood – Mutko

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

MOSCOW. March 22 (Interfax) – Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has said that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) did not publish the results of research on meldonium before banning this substance. “It is necessary to thoroughly examine the problems of this substance’s [meldonium] withdrawal and retention in blood. We have received a reply from WADA that they did not do […]

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Interfax: Putin requests not to promote ‘conspiracy theory’ regarding doping scandal

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

(Interfax – March 16, 2016) Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on the chiefs of the Russian sports to refrain from politicizing the situation related to the meldonium use and from framing a ‘conspiracy theory’ with regard to Russian athletes. “Firstly, nothing should be politicized and no conspiracy theory should be promoted,” Putin said at his meeting with government members, […]

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Russia May Label Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation ‘Foreign Agent’

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anastasia Bazenkova – March 16, 2016) The All-Russian Interethnic Union of Youth has filed a request with the Russian Justice Ministry that they add the Anti-Corruption Foundation NGO – headed by the oppositioner Alexei Navalny – to its list of “foreign agents.” The group also requested that the Prosecutor General’s Office investigate Navalny for inciting […]

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Top U.S. Official: Ukraine Reforms Endangered By Oligarchs Fighting Back

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – WASHINGTON, March 15, 2016) A top U.S. administration official has taken pointed aim at the wealthiest Ukrainian tycoons, known as oligarchs, accusing them of undermining the country’s anticorruption reform efforts. Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European аnd Eurasian Affairs, warned on March 15 that, if efforts to liberalize the economy and fight endemic graft […]

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Who’s to blame for the meldonium: Russia’s athletes, doctors or officials?

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

The drug that has been banned since January 2016 may lead to the disqualification of several leading Russian athletes in the wake of the Maria Sharapova scandal. However, Russian officials and athletics insiders disagree on who should take responsibility for the latest doping debacle to engulf Russian sports. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – TIMUR GANEEV, SPECIAL TO RBTH […]

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‘Putin’s Children’ – Life, Crime, Terror on the Edge of Russia

Russia Map

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Oliver Carroll – February 26, 2016) The driver’s voice teeters between depression and aggression. “What kinduva life do yoo call this?!” he shouts. “Weerrall peepul … peeeeepul, for sheeettin sake! … Fook, Ruussia, yoo make me want to cry!” We veer from side to side of the snow-covered track. Outside, the mercury pushes twenty under, […]

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‘Why Didn’t You Run?’ – The Inside Story on the Arrest of Russian Billionaire Dmitry Kamenshchik

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Hobson – February 25, 2016) On the morning of Feb. 18, Dmitry Kamenshchik, Russia’s 27th-richest tycoon, packed a backpack with some spare clothes, a toothbrush, and shoes without laces – the essentials for a stint in prison. The billionaire owner of Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport was unemotional, says his lawyer. Ten days earlier, three current […]

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Something’s Rotten in the State of Ukraine; International aid groups grow impatient with the government.

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Ragozin – February 18, 2016) Two years have passed since a popular uprising in Kiev toppled a Russia-backed regime in Ukraine. The glory of that people power moment has faded, and Western supporters are losing patience with the government as corruption hampers efforts to jump-start the economy. The gross domestic product of the war-plagued country […]

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