Nearly Half of All Russians Now Say They Can Live without Relying on the State, Sociologists Find

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 27, 2016) Given everything that has occurred in Russia over the past five years, few have noticed what can only be described as “a quiet revolution”: the percentage of Russians who say they don’t need to rely on the state has increased from 34 to 44 percent, with an ever rising […]

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Putin’s Decade-Old Dream Realized as Russia to Price Its Own Oil

Oil Well file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Eduard Gismatullin – April 27, 2016) Russian President Vladimir Putin is on the verge of realizing a decade-old dream: Russian oil priced in Russia. The nation’s largest commodity exchange, whose chairman is Putin ally Igor Sechin, is courting international oil traders to join its emerging futures market. The goal is to increase revenue from Urals crude […]

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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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Despite Claims, Ukraine Not Free Of Russian Energy Dependence

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Colin Chilcoat – April 25, 2016) Now more than two years on since the revolutionary events on Maidan and Russia’s subsequent annexation of Crimea, Ukraine is still largely without its footing. Political infighting is again on the rise and the specter of massive corruption persists, stymying what have been positive, albeit small, steps toward reform. The country’s energy […]

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Interfax: Business confidence rises in Russian extractive, manufacturing sectors

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW. April 26 (Interfax) – The business confidence index in the Russian extractive industry grew for the third straight month in April, while the index in the manufacturing sector also grew, the Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat) said. The business confidence index in the Russian extractive sector improved to minus (-) 2% in April, from -3% in March, -4% in […]

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NEWSLINK Russia Direct: “How Ukraine’s new prime minister can put Kiev on a European path. Ukraine’s new government has a tough task ahead: It must deal with a controversial legacy of governance, improve its image abroad and fulfill plans for EU integration – all while reducing the nation’s dependence on Russian gas.”

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine » Read more

Putin Badly Needs a Domestic Plan

Alexei Kudrin file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – April 22, 2016) The Russian government has approved a sober, and sobering, economic forecast for the next three years. The country’s prospects look so joyless that President Vladimir Putin may finally start listening to the mainstream economists who have stuck with him despite his unconcealed preference for a huge public sector tempered with […]

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Russia will watch for “adverse consequences” of Ukraine-EU deal – Kremlin

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

(Interfax – April 21, 2016) Russia will only be “too happy” if Ukraine’s association agreement with the EU brings it economic stability and prosperity, but will take “balancing measures” if the deal has a negative impact on Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “This topic rather concerns the EU and Ukraine. As regards the economic aspect, to the extent that […]

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Barred From Hundreds Of Occupations In Russia, A Few Women Fight Back

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, April 17, 2016) Svetlana Medvedeva cannot rise to the top of her chosen profession for a very simple reason — she is a woman. The ambition of the 30-year-old mother of two is to earn a much better wage as the captain of a boat on the Volga River, which runs through […]

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On My Mind [re: Kudrin and Pamfilova]

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – April 21, 2016) You have to wonder what drives people like Aleksei Kudrin and Ella Pamfilova. Both were in the news this week. Kudrin accepted an offer to chair the Kremlin’s top economics think tank, the Center for Strategic Reform, and called for a fundamental restructuring of Russia’s economy and political system. And […]

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Hard Work vs. Magic

Kremlin and River

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Maxim Trudolyubov, Senior Fellow, Kennan Institute. Editor-at-Large, Vedomosti Daily – April 19, 2016) Russian officials still refer to “conditions for doing business” or “quality of governance” when discussing the country’s economic performance. But the lack of gravitas in these conversations is palpable. Russia’s official economic policymakers command an excellent understanding of the country’s economic problems, […]

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More Than Half of Russians Want New Soviet State – Poll

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 21, 2016) More than half of Russians would like to see the restoration of the Soviet Union, according to a poll released Tuesday. Although 58 percent of respondents said they would like to see a new socialist system, only 14 percent believed that it was likely to happen, the report by the independent Levada […]

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Russians Spend Half Their Incomes on Food For First Time Since 2008

File Photo of Older Russian Woman Shopping in Grocery Store

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 19, 2016) For the first time since 2008 Russians are spending more than half their monthly income on food, as falling real incomes force them to buy only basic necessities, a study published Tuesday revealed. In February, Russians spent 50.1 percent of their earnings on food products, including alcohol and tobacco, according to the […]

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How Russia is moving ahead with its Asian pivot

Asia Map

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recently visited Mongolia and Japan. His goal was to initiate a real “Eastern turn” in Russian foreign policy. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – GEVORG MIRZAYAN, RBTH – April 20, 2016) At first glance Russia made an Eastward turn a long time before the West imposed sanctions on the country. However, until now we […]

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Bilateral trade: Russia and U.S. must ‘avoid the point of no return’

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

Commodity turnover between Russia and the U.S. has declined by 50 percent since the introduction of sanctions However, Russia is not losing hope and is offering attractive conditions for small and medium-sized American businesses looking to invest in the country. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ANNA KUCHMA, RBTH – April 20, 2016) [Charts here http://rbth.com/business/2016/04/20/bilateral-trade-russia-and-us-must-avoid-the-point-of-no-return_586555] With the introduction […]

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NEWSWATCH: “An Earful for Vladimir Putin in Latest ‘Direct Line’ Call-In Show” – Wall Street Journal/Stephen Sestanovich

Kremlin and River

The discussion had a darker undercurrent. The system is rigged, many said, and those who have power abuse it. … Putin was asked why more political parties aren’t permitted so that United Russia faces some meaningful competition, and why … Kadyrov, Chechnya’s strongman leader, whom … Putin supports, is allowed to threaten political opponents with assassination. … Putin heard how […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Russia. Down But Not Out. Part I.” – Foreign Affairs/Maria Lipman, Sergei Guriev, Daniel Treisman, Katie Allawala

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

Over the past decade and a half, Vladimir Putin’s Russia has been an economic dynamo and a basket case, an imperfect democracy and a tightening tyranny, a constructive diplomatic actor and a serial military aggressor—sometimes all at once. The only constant has been surprise, as the zigging and zagging has left outside observers, and even many Russians, scratching their heads. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Russia: Down But Not Out.” – Foreign Affairs [issue table of contents with links]

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

Foreign Affairs foreignaffairs.com May/June 2016 issue Putin’s Russia Down But Not Out https://www.foreignaffairs.com/issues/2016/95/3 [There is limited access to free articles] Russia’s Perpetual Geopolitics Putin Returns to the Historical Pattern Stephen Kotkin Russian Politics Under Putin The System Will Outlast the Master Gleb Pavlovsky Russia’s Constrained Economy How the Kremlin Can Spur Growth Sergei Guriev The Revival of the Russian Military […]

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Putin Swears Off Stimulus as Policy Mix Moves Toward ‘Orthodoxy’

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Andrianova – April 17, 2016) It was by no means the showstopper of President Vladimir Putin’s annual call-in with Russians, complete as it was with digs at the U.S. and justice dispensed on live television. Two days after Bank of Russia Governor Elvira Nabiullina urged reforms and warned against the “big illusion” of using inflation […]

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Government incomes: Abyzov pulls into first place in 2015

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

MOSCOW. April 15 (Interfax) – Open Government Affairs Minister Mikhail Abyzov, the only member of the government on the Forbes list of billionaires, pulled ahead of other members of the government in terms of income last year, thanks to a near doubling of his own earnings and a decline for his main competitor, Alexander Khloponin. Abyzov and his wife had […]

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Former Finance Minister in Line for Top Position at Putin’s Think Tank

Alexei Kudrin file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anastasia Bazenkova – April 13, 2016) Former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin has been offered a senior position at Russia’s main think tank on economic policy and may participate in the development of a new economic strategy for the Kremlin. On Tuesday, Kudrin announced he would accept an offer to take a senior position at Russia’s […]

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What I Learned On Russian Television

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – The Daily Vertical: Brian Whitmore – April 15, 2016) I learned a lot more about the poor quality of Russian dairy products yesterday than I would care to know. I also learned that wages aren’t being paid, people can’t afford to buy medicine or pay utilities bills, that schools, kindergartens, and hospitals are being closed, that […]

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Russia’s in the red: As Russia’s personal debt crisis spirals out of control, collectors are turning to violence to ensure people pay on time. These stories aren’t for the fainthearted.

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

(opendemocracy.net – Sean Guillory – April 14, 2016) Sean Guillory lives in Pittsburgh, where he hosts the SRB podcast, a weekly podcast on Eurasian politics, history and culture, and blogs at seansrussiablog.org. You can follow him on Twitter @seansrussiablog. At this point, I should be numb to Russian horror stories. But several days ago, the following story struck a chord, […]

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Putin doesn’t expect Western sanctions to be lifted soon, says Russia to keep countersanctions in place

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

MOSCOW. April 14 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin does not expect the Western sanctions to be lifted from Russia in the near future. “I don’t think our partners will decide to lift the restrictions and limitations from our country in the near future,” Putin said during a Q&A session on Thursday. “Even though the Minsk Agreements on southeastern Ukraine […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Most Important Bank Needs a Bailout. VEB faces task of paying off about $20 billion in foreign-currency debt.” – Wall Street Journal

Cash, Calculator, Pen

When the Russian government needed to build up infrastructure in … Sochi ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, it turned to Russia’s most important lender: Vnesheconombank, the country’s state-owned development bank. … eventually holding the equivalent of at least $2.9 billion in overdue loans. … the bill is coming due. VEB for years kept its books in balance by […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian shopping mall activity continues 2016 recovery” – Intellinews.com

File Photo of Cash Register with Drawer Open and Hands of Cashier

Following a shaky start to the year – three of the first four weeks in 2016 saw annual decreases in footfall – activity in Russian shopping malls appears to have turned the corner, with the positive data of February continuing into March …. Click here for Intellinews.com: Russian shopping mall activity continues 2016 recovery [featured image is file photo, not […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Investors Starting to Show Interest in Russia Again: Credit Suisse.” – Reuters

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

Investors are starting to look at Russia again after cutting off exposure amid geopolitical tensions two years ago, the head of Credit Suisse’s $60 million Russian Equity Fund said. There are no big inflows yet but a rebound in Russian stock markets in the past few months as the oil price and the rouble have picked up is encouraging interest […]

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Why Hedge Funds Are Loading Up on Rubles

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Elena Popina – April 10, 2016) Managers of some of the best-performing funds from Berlin to New York are buying Russian ruble assets as the currency has rebounded 23 percent from a record low. Stuart Sclater-Booth, who helps oversee more than $40 billion at Stone Harbor Investment Partners, turned overweight on the ruble in mid-February and […]

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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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Russian Inflation Slows More Than Forecast as Ruble Shock Fades

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Andrianova – April 5, 2016) Russian inflation decelerated to the slowest pace in almost two years as withering consumer demand continues to weigh on prices and stronger oil propels a rally in the ruble. Consumer-price growth eased to 7.3 percent from a year earlier in March, compared with 8.1 percent in February, the Federal Statistics […]

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Russian Prime Minister: Ukraine Has ‘No Industry, or State’

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 5, 2016) Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev denounced Ukraine as having “neither industry, nor a state,” according to remarks published Monday on the Cabinet website. Medvedev was responding to a comment by an industry watchdog official, who compared mortality rates at Russia’s coal mines with those in Ukraine, in an attempt to defend Russia’s […]

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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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RIA Novosti : Economic crisis is biting but Russians remain stoical, poll shows

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(RIA Novosti – April 4, 2016) Russians are increasingly resigned about the state of the economy and do not think it will get better any time soon, according a new opinion survey. Pessimism grows A fraction over 37 per cent of respondents thought that the “crisis in the country” will extend beyond the next one or two years, according to […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Mikhail Lesin’s Strange Death in U.S. Follows a Fall From Russia’s Elite” – New York Times

U.S. Capitol at Twilight With Washington Monument, National Mall, Washington, D.C., Environs and Sunset in Background

It took more than four months for the city’s medical examiner to announce the cause of death … not a heart attack … but rather ‘blunt force injuries.’ But the autopsy left the manner of death undetermined. … fuel[ing] speculation … Lesin might have been murdered, presumably by a financial or political rival …. *** police … continue to treat […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Three Rules of Kremlin Power” – New York Times/Maxim Trudolyubov

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

… Stalin and … Putin … are very different leaders living in very different times. I just cannot help noticing that they seem to follow the same playbook for being a successful autocrat. … Rule No. 1 calls for attributing all victories to oneself — regardless of who or what contributed to the perceived success. … Rule No. 2: Failures […]

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