OBITUARY: Gennady Seleznyov, night rider of Russia’s rowdy parliament

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Nick Allen in Berlin – July 23, 2015) With President Vladimir Putin’s executive fist dominating the ‘vertical of power’, while parliament toes the Kremlin line, it’s easy to forget Russia’s heyday of real rough-and-tumble oppositional party politics in the first years after the Soviet collapse. So defiant from the outset was the legislature, still […]

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Seven New Laws That Will Change the Face of Russia

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – July 8, 2015) Russian lawmakers have kept themselves very busy this year. Over the course of its spring session, which ended Friday, Russia’s State Duma passed a total of 278 new laws. The majority of these were unremarkable – ratifications to international agreements, minor budgetary adjustments and a busload of measures aimed […]

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Kremlin chief-of-staff against moving Russian presidential election

File Photo of Sergei Ivanov, adapted from defense.gov image

(Interfax – June 20, 2015) It doesn’t make sense to move the 2018 presidential election to an earlier date, head of the Russian presidential administration Sergey Ivanov has said. “If you ask my opinion, I see absolutely no sense in this,” Ivanov said in an interview in the Vesti v Subbotu with Sergey Brilev programme on state-owned official Rossiya 1 […]

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Banned if they do, banned if they don’t; Unable to change things in their own country, Russians are quietly leaving for good – but they will still check out Crimea

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Julia Reed in Moscow – June 11, 2015) Each week in Russia some obscure Duma deputy no one has ever heard of before proposes a new law. Usually, the proposal gets instant and almost unanimous approval of the legislative body and within days becomes law, signed by the head of state. Usually it’s a […]

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Interfax: West loses tool of pressure on Russia after its withdrawal from G7 – Pushkov

File Photo of G7 Leaders and other Officials Around Round Table at the Hague, with Flags

MOSCOW. June 11 (Interfax) – The value of the G7 has markedly depleted in the U.S.’ eyes without Russia, State Duma International Committee Chairman Alexei Pushkov has said. “To my mind, the G7 is merely another incarnation of the Western alliance, a club for friends of the United States of America. So, I believe its value has markedly depleted even […]

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Election Shifts Show Kremlin Wary Of Fallout From Recession

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, June 1, 2015) The Kremlin is moving to bring next year’s parliamentary elections forward and set up snap gubernatorial votes in several provinces this year, maneuvering that analysts say shows the authorities fear a deepening recession could weaken them and galvanize the opposition. The State Duma elections in December 2011 catalyzed the […]

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Russia Could Use Prison Labor For 2018 World Cup

putin-fifa-meeting

(RFE/RL – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, May 25, 2015) A prominent member of parliament for the ruling United Russia party has drafted a bill to allow enterprises to employ thousands of convicts as a cheap workforce to build infrastructure for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The legal amendments reported on May 25 in leading business daily Kommersant create a mechanism […]

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Rights Groups Condemn ‘Dangerous’ Russian Undesirables Law

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, May 26, 2015) Rights groups named as potential targets of a new law allowing the government to brand international organizations “undesirable” and shutter their Russia operations have criticized the legislation, calling it a “dangerous” new weapon in a Kremlin campaign to suppress civil society. Activists expressed concern on May 26 that the […]

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NEWSLINK Washington Post: Legally silencing Russia’s undesirables

Russian State Duma Building file photo

Russia has just taken another step toward pernicious use of the law to buttress the authoritarian whims of its leader. Both houses of parliament recently passed legislation that would allow the government to label as “undesirable” — in effect, to outlaw — any foreign or international organizations deemed a threat to the “defensive capabilities or security of the state, to […]

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NEWSLINK Wall Street Journal: Move to Shift Vote for Russian Duma Seen Benefitting Putin. Support grows for holding parliamentary elections three months earlier, in September 2016

Russian State Duma Building file photo

Senior ruling-party politicians are throwing their weight behind a proposal to move Russia’s next parliamentary elections up three months to September 2016, a shift that could put opposition candidates at a further disadvantage by relegating the campaign to vacation season.

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Interfax: Issue of lifting sanctions from Russia should be raised by EU – Naryshkin

Russian State Duma Building file photo

MOSCOW. May 12 (Interfax) – Russian State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin said Russia will not initiate a discussion on the issue of the lifting of the anti-Russian sanctions. “We, of course, are not going to discuss any criteria for lifting the sanctions. The first step should be taken by the European Union, which took such unfriendly actions on Russia under […]

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NEWSLINK New York Times: Lawmakers Take Step to Remove Putin Critic [Ilya V. Ponomarev]

Russian State Duma Building file photo

Russian lawmakers took a major step on Tuesday toward ousting Ilya V. Ponomarev, the only member of Parliament who opposed the annexation of Crimea last year and one of the few elected officials who have repeatedly dared to challenge President Vladimir V. Putin publicly. New York Times: Lawmakers Take Step to Remove Putin Critic. (Ilya V. Ponomarev)

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Russian Political Opposition Uniting for 2016 Parliamentary Elections

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Spinella – April 3, 2015) Russia’s currently fragmented political opposition – which covers a broad spectrum of ideologies, from the far left to the far right – has agreed to form single alliance for next year’s parliamentary elections, newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported Thursday. Nine of Russia’s most prominent opposition politicians, including Mikhail Khodorkovsky and […]

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Sexism in Russia: On the retreat but still a long way to go

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

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Marina Obrazkova, RBTH – April 4, 2015) There is a prevalent idea in Russian society that men and women should behave according to some unwritten standards. However, it is the country’s women that are affected much more by discrimination. What kinds of problems does this create in daily life and how long is […]

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Soviet-Era ‘Objective Truth’ Bill Would Imperil Presumption of Innocence

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-FarberMarch 27, 2015) A freshly introduced draft law proposing to redefine the roles of Russian judges has courted controversy among legal circles who fear that if adopted, the measure would endanger the presumption of innocence by blurring the lines between judges and prosecutors. State Duma Deputy Alexander Remezkov of the ruling United Russia submitted an […]

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Pressure on Kolomoyskyi is U.S. attempt to create centralized Ukraine with strong anti-Russian govt – Duma deputy

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

MOSCOW. March 24 (Interfax) – The events around Ukrainian governor Ihor Kolomoyskyi attest that he is not among the people the West is planning to build relations with, says Mikhail Yemelyanov, first deputy leader of A Just Russia Party faction. “It is clear that Kolomoyskyi is not the politician with whom the U.S. and Europeans would like to deal, hence […]

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Interfax: Moscow will not stay indifferent to U.S. decision on lethal arms supplies to Kiev

File photo of Barack Obama and Petro Poroshenko facing one another, with Obama gesturing

(Interfax – March 24, 2015) Russia will not stay indifferent to Washington’s possible decision to begin supplying lethal weapons to Ukraine, Alexei Pushkov, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee in the State Duma, the lower chamber of Russia’s parliament, has said. “The Congress is urging the president of the United States to begin delivering weapons to the country which has […]

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Moscow Times: Russia Will Overcome Post-Crimea Challenges, Putin Vows

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – March 19, 2015) With the Kremlin walls glowing crimson in the background Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin praised tens of thousands of adulating fans for their support of Russia’s annexation of Crimea one year ago. He acknowledged that issues have mounted since the annexation, but assured the cheering crowd – the size of […]

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Pushkov does not expect improvement of Russia-U.S. relations

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

MOSCOW. March 16 (Interfax) – Chairman of the State Duma International Affairs Committee Alexei Pushkov is not expecting any improvement in Russia-U.S. relations in the foreseeable future. “Such hopes are expressed here from time to time: they are claiming that we will be good with America again when the crisis passes. No, we won’t be good with America, and this […]

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Russia Beyond the Headlines: New law will allow NGOs to lose ‘foreign agent’ tag – on certain conditions

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Yekaterina Sinelschikova, RBTH – March 3, 2015) Non-governmental organizations that were forced to register as “foreign agents” under controversial legislation will soon be able to lift that status – but only if they meet certain conditions that some NGOs say are unrealistic. Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court has taken action to free NGOs from […]

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Russian Patriarch Says Halving Abortions Will Help Solve Population Crisis

Patriarch Kirill file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – January 23, 2015) Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, crossed Russia’s shifting line between Church and politics in his first-ever address to the State Duma on Thursday, calling on lawmakers to ensure that traditional moral values are safeguarded in the country’s legislation. The Russian Orthodox Church is known to entertain close […]

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Why Do They Do It? A Glimpse Into the Russian Lawmaker Psyche

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – January 2, 2015) If the State Duma’s legislative initiatives may occasionally cause bewilderment or even outright laughter, lawmakers insist that they are in on the joke – with some adding that Russia’s parliament is not a place to make laws anyway, according to recent interviews. There has been no shortage of colorful […]

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RIA Novosti: One Russia not keen on recognizing Ukraine’s separatist regions

Russian Duma Building

(RIA Novosti – November 5, 2014) The One Russia and A Just Russia factions in the State Duma believe that the LDPR’s initiative to recognize the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics (DPR and LPR) is not relevant at the moment, the Russian RIA Novosti reported on 5 November. Even the Communist Party, although it supports the LDPR’s proposal, wants […]

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Interfax: Western sanctions only united Russian society – Naryshkin

Russian Duma Building

CHERKESSK. Oct 21 (Interfax) – The sanctions imposed by Western countries against Russia have united Russians, said State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin. Speaking at a meeting with members of the Karachay-Cherkessia People’s Assembly on Tuesday, he said that Western partners have been putting pressure on Russia, in particular, by introducing a number of sanctions, including personal ones, which “runs counter […]

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For the Russian elite, loyalty is all: Life has changed for Russia’s elite – and not just their holiday destinations…

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

(opendemocracy.net – Yelizaveta Surnacheva – October 16, 2014) Yelizaveta Surnacheva is a journalist at Kommersant. In the last six months, Russian officials, oligarchs, CEOs of state-owned businesses, parliamentary deputies, and regional governors have found themselves in a new world, with new missions, new economic circumstances, and new mechanisms for decision-making. Not many are comfortable with it, but enough of them […]

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Interfax: Parliament speaker justifies Crimea’s merger with Russia

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Interfax – October 8, 2014) The world should see the difference between Ukraine’s de facto annexation of Crimea in the 1990s and the self-identification of the people of Crimea in 2014, Russian State Duma speaker Sergey Naryshkin believes. He was speaking at a session of the Federation Council legislators council presidium session on 8 October, as reported by Russian privately-owned […]

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Dmitry Gudkov, L’Enfаnt Terrible of the State Duma

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – October 7, 2014) In a Russian parliament filled with yes-men, Dmitry Gudkov is Mr. Nyet. Since his election to the State Duma in 2011, the 34-year-old deputy has opposed many legislative initiatives of symbolic importance to the Kremlin. Gudkov – who has served as an independent since being ousted from the A […]

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Defense Ministry Dismisses Reports of Russian Paratroopers Killed in Ukraine

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – September 30, 2014) An opposition lawmaker who inquired about the reported deaths of Russian paratroopers in Ukraine has been told by the Defense Ministry that the accounts are “rumors” and that releasing information about military casualties would violate privacy laws. State Duma lawmaker Dmitry Gudkov – one of the few critics of President Vladimir Putin’s […]

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Russian Lawmaker: ‘Thin Line’ Keeps Russia, Ukraine From All-Out War

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 14, 2014) Only a “thin line” separates Russia and Ukraine from going to war, a pro-Kremlin lawmaker said, arguing that Moscow has been careful in its policies to avoid tipping the scale and that Kiev should demonstrate more restraint. The head of the federal parliament’s International Affairs Committee, Alexei Pushkov, said Wednesday that the […]

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Interfax: Pushkov not ruling out Russia’s pull-out from INF treaty

Alexei Pushkov file photo

MOSCOW. Aug 14 (Interfax) – The head of the State Duma International Affairs Committee, Alexei Pushkov, has not ruled out the possibility that Russia could withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. “Russia is not planning a series of denunciations of international agreements but it could exit those which no longer meet its national interests, those such as the […]

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Interfax: Naryshkin hopes Europe will understand risk of unwinding sanctions spiral

Russian State Duma Building file photo

MOSCOW. Aug 8 (Interfax) – Russia’s response to the anti-Russian measures taken by the West was forced and further unwinding of the “sanctions spiral” is absurd and dangerous, Russian State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin said. “As to the measures taken by Russia on the countries that initiated or support anti-Russia sanctions, they are a response aimed at protecting our citizens […]

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RIA Novosti: Russian Lawmaker [Pushkov] Bashes US Media as ‘State Department Spin-Offs’

Alexei Pushkov file photo

MOSCOW, August 6 (RIA Novosti) – Alexei Pushkov, a senior Russian lawmaker and chairman of the State Duma foreign affairs committee, on Wednesday lambasted American media outlets, saying the fifth pillar of US democracy has devolved into a State Department spin-off. “The US media are dead. Now they are just subdivisions of the US State Department,” Pushkov said in a […]

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Interfax: U.S. attempts to create some parallel law for itself, its allies – Pushkov

Alexei Pushkov file photo

MOSCOW. June 26 (Interfax) – While accusing Russia of violating international law, the United States attempts to create some parallel law for itself and its allies accessible only to chosen ones, Russian State Duma international affairs committee head Alexei Pushkov said. “It appears to me that the attempt to accuse us of violating international law pursues two goals – to […]

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Russia’s gamekeeper has turned poacher

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(opendemocracy.net – Mikhail Kreindlin – June 20, 2014) Mikhail Kreindlin is an expert at Greenpeace Russia on specially protected areas. Russia has a vast number of nature reserves and national parks. But the government body supposed to be protecting them is in fact destroying many of them by allowing development and mining. In Russia, as in other countries, there are […]

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RIA Novosti: Senior Russian MP calls for dissociation from USA on human rights issue

Alexei Pushkov file photo

(RIA Novosti – June 17, 2014) Head of the State Duma International Affairs Committee Aleksey Pushkov believes that it is time for Russia to admit a total divergence of opinions with the USA about the meaning of human rights, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported on 17 June. “It is time to record our complete dissociation from the USA […]

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Interfax: Pushkov: Russia-Ukraine relations entering new stage, serious conflict looming

Alexei Pushkov file photo

MOSCOW. June 17 (Interfax) – State Duma International Affairs Committee Chairman Alexei Pushkov suspects the U.S. has pushed Kyiv into refusing to pay for Russian gas. “Attacks on the Russian Embassy, yesterday’s attempt to attack the [Russian] Consulate in Odesa, the affront put upon the Russian president, the ongoing arrests of Russian journalists and the refusal to pay for gas, […]

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Duma Deputy Seeks to Unleash Prosecutors on Anatoly Chubais and Rusnano

Anatoly Chubais file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – June 10, 2014) Anatoly Chubais, head of the state-owned technology investment firm Rusnano and architect of Russia’s chaotic 1990s privatization, has dismissed allegations of fraud and embezzlement levied against him by State Duma Deputy Oksana Dmitriyeva, who has asked Russia’s Prosecutor General to investigate the company’s activities and leadership, Izvestia reported Monday. […]

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Russian upper house approves tougher “foreign agent” NGO law

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Interfax – Moscow, May 28, 2014) The Federation Council [Russia’s upper chamber of parliament] has approved a draft law giving the Justice Ministry authority to include a noncommercial organization [the usual Russian phrase for what is referred to elsewhere as NGOs] on the register of foreign agents, even if that same NGO has not applied for inclusion on the register. […]

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New Law Could Hit Russian Smokers With Massive Cigarette Price Hike

Cigarette Being Lit

(Moscow Time – themoscowtimes.com – May 28, 2014) As Russians brace themselves for a public smoking ban to come into effect on Sunday, lawmakers have submitted a new draft law hiking the minimum price on cigarettes in the latest bid to change the country’s attitude to smoking. The new law would see a 41-percent increase in the minimum price for […]

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RIA Novosti: Ukraine’s Presidential Vote ‘Step Forward’ – Russian Lawmaker

Russian Duma Building

MOSCOW, May 26 (RIA Novosti) – Russian State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin said Monday that Sunday’s presidential election in Ukraine was a step away from lawlessness and toward a lawful government in Kiev. “In general, the election is a step forward to return the legal environment to the state,” said Naryshkin, the speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament. “This […]

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RIA Novosti: Ukraine Better Off Holding Presidential Election – Parliament Speaker

Russian State Duma Building file photo

MOSCOW, May 14 (RIA Novosti) – Not holding the upcoming presidential elections in Ukraine scheduled for May 25 would be worse for the country than holding them, Russian State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin said Wednesday. “It’s difficult for me to imagine that such elections could be completely legitimate. But it is obvious that not holding [presidential] elections would be even […]

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Brush Up Your Shakespeare to Understand Today’s Russia

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – May 5, 2014) “Hamlet.” Has there ever been a better play to fall back on when you need to have a chat about Russia? “Words, words, words.” “To be or not to be.” “The rest is silence.” All phrases that sound loaded in many a Russian historical context. These days words get […]

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Russian Internet ‘One Step Away’ From Chinese Firewall

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – April 29, 2014) Amid growing criticism of its increasingly tighter regulation of the Internet, Russia’s official media watchdog on Monday vowed to continue its fight in the “information war,” saying freedom of speech “does not mean everything is permitted.” The government made clear at an annual meeting of top officials of the […]

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Creative Unions Seen to Back Kremlin Views

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Oleg Sukhov – April 28, 2014) Last week, the State Duma gave its final approval to a bill introducing criminal penalties for “spreading lies” about the Soviet Union’s role in World War II. The legislation, under which offenders face up to five years in prison, has prompted renewed allegations that the Kremlin is imposing a […]

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Duma Bill Ending Mayoral Elections Passes First Reading

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Christopher Brennan – April 17, 2014) The State Duma has approved in a first reading a bill that would put an end to direct mayoral elections in some of Russia’s largest cities in what critics said was an attempt to ensure the appointment of mayors loyal to the Kremlin. The bill was approved Tuesday by […]

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Russia’s First Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill Under Consideration by Duma

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Katie Davies – April 15, 2014) Russia’s first anti-sexual harassment law has been submitted to the State Duma, despite concerns among critics that its terms will be used to deport foreign workers unfairly. The changes will protect the honor and dignity of “the more beautiful, but weaker sex,” said Oleg Nilov, the bill’s author and […]

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Interfax: Initial democratic impulse of Ukrainians devalued by bet on radicals – Naryshkin

Russian State Duma Building file photo

PARIS. April 15 (Interfax) – Democracy in Ukraine, as well as in any other country, can not be affirmed via nationalists’ ideology, Russian State Duma Chairman Sergei Naryshkin said. “The initial democratic impulse of many people [in Ukraine] has been essentially devalued by depending on radicals – those, who rattle their sabers in a domestic civil conflict and do not […]

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Interfax: Stability in Ukraine is impossible without heeding Russian-speaking people’s opinion – Pushkov

Alexei Pushkov file photo

STRASBOURG. April 7 (Interfax) – There will be no stability in Ukraine until it begins heeding the opinion of the Russian-speaking population, Alexei Pushkov, the head of the Russian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the head of the State Duma committee on international affairs, said. “The situation in eastern Ukraine shows that stability […]

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Interfax: State Duma urges Kyiv to stop politically motivated pursuits

Russian State Duma Building file photo

MOSCOW. April 4 (Interfax) – Russia’s State Duma has unanimously passed a statement On Political Repressions in Ukraine, in which it expressed concerns about violations of pro-Russian citizens in the country. “While leaning on extremist forces and involving the law enforcement agencies, the self-proclaimed authorities use methods which violate peoples’ rights regarding their political opponents and resort to repressions and […]

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Bill to Toughen Law on Rallies Raises Concerns

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Oleg Sukhov – April 2, 2014) United Russia deputy Alexander Sidyakin late Monday submitted to the State Duma a bill introducing prison terms for repeat violations of a law on public rallies, stirring fears among analysts of a crackdown on the opposition. The move coincided with an effort by prosecutors to block all blogs being […]

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