Bill on multi-million fines for slander on social networks may pass State Duma in fall – Isayev

Russian State Duma Building file photo

IZHEVSK. July 26 (Interfax) – The State Duma will debate bills introducing increased fines for the dissemination of illegal content and slander on social networking sites in the fall session, Andrei Isayev, first deputy head of the United Russia faction on legislative activities, said. “At the beginning of the fall session, they [the authors of legislative initiatives] will insist on […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Across Russia, Protesters and Kremlin Backers Seek the Upper Hand; In towns like Izhevsk, a reinvigorated opposition is running into efforts to nip the movement in the bud” – Wall Street Journal/ James Marson

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

“… Protest leaders face fines and jail time for minor infractions, relatives of activists receive warnings from bosses, and students are told not to attend rallies, according to opposition supporters. … The movement has energized Russia’s youth, who make up the bulk of protesters. … But protests are still relatively small. Opposition leaders say people are preoccupied with their own problems, […]

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Russia Leading ‘Assault’ on Freedom of Expression – HRW

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 18, 2017) Russian authorities have clamped down on Internet freedoms and introduced “invasive” surveillance” online, under the pretext of fighting extremism, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report published today. The report criticizes Russia for unjustly imprisoning dozens based on their activity online and for introducing new laws that give the government tools […]

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Why Russian Officials Want to Control the Social Sciences; In authoritarian regimes, the social sciences are the most vulnerable to state interventions

Bookcase file photo, adapted from image at nlm.nih.gov

(Moscow Times/Kennan Institute – themoscowtimes.com –  wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Irina Olimpieva – July 11, 2017) Irina Olimpieva is a senior researcher at St. Petersburg Center for Independent Social Research On June 23, the Board of Trustees of the European University in St. Petersburg accepted the resignation of the rector, Oleg Kharkhordin. The EUSP is a private Russian university operating as a […]

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Putin Needs an Intelligentsia that Complains but Knows Its Place, Shevtsova Says

Kremlin and River

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 7, 2015) Vladimir Putin needs a constantly complaining but one that knows what not to criticize – his person and immediate entourage – and how not to act – by taking part in demonstrations or in politics – so that Russia will appear to be a civilized country and popular anger […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Kremlin Critic Alexei Navalny Vows to Fight On; As legal obstacles to opposition figure’s presidential run multiply, he says in interview ‘Kremlin will have no choice’ than to let his campaign proceed” – Wall Street Journal/ Nathan Hodge

Alexei Navalny file photo

“… Navalny has mobilized thousands of demonstrators across [Russia] to protest corruption under … Putin. Now he says he is pressing ahead with a quixotic effort to run against his country’s powerful leader in elections next year. … despite … serious legal obstacles …. he was found guilty of embezzlement by a court in Kirov … a verdict he said was politically motivated to […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russian Social Media Seen as Threat to Ukraine and to Cybersecurity. Kiev has shut down Russian Facebook-like platforms VKontakte and Odnoklassniki” – Wall Street Journal

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

“Ukraine has taken a drastic step in a continuing cyberwar with Russia, its powerful, nuclear-armed neighbor: shutting down Russia’s homegrown versions of Facebook. The Ukrainian government earlier this month blocked Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki, Russian-language social media platforms that are hugely popular across the former Soviet Union, saying they were serving as vehicles for pro-Russian propaganda. …”

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NEWSWATCH: “Hardliners urge Kremlin crackdown on social media; Russia has introduced increasingly draconian web laws but some are pushing for more” – Financial Times/ Max Seddon

File Image of Laptop Computer, Tables and Mobile Device, adapted from image at energy.gov

“… success in using social media to mobilise youthful anti-corruption protesters has sparked calls for the Kremlin to step up internet censorship. … [A]t a censorship conference … Oscar-winning film director Nikita Mikhalkov … showed a documentary that accused … Navalny of luring children to violent protests against … Putin. ‘… [Young people] don’t know any history and they won’t until they get a rubber […]

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NEWSLINK: “A New Organization Is Battling Russia’s Culture of Impunity. To end the attacks on journalists, activists, and writers, Freedom of Speech is standing for the best traditions of Russian civil society.” – The Nation/ Nadezda Azhgikhina

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

“… the declaration of the new association, Freedom of Speech, appeared on the website of Ekho and other media, demanding that the perpetrators of the threats be held responsible and also that there be an end to the culture of impunity in general. …”

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NEWSWATCH: Re: Attack on Kyiv activist – Jeffrey Burds/ Facebook

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

[Jeffrey Burds reported on Facebook about the stabbing of university student and activist Stas Sergienko in Ukraine. An initial post is embedded below. Further information here: facebook.com/jeffrey.burds?hc_ref=NEWSFEED&fref=nf] “URGENT: I have very sad news to report. This afternoon, 20 April 2017, our friend and outspoken activist in Kyiv, a young university student Stas Sergienko was followed by a ‘Nazi gang’ and stabbed multiple times. Thankfully, Stas survived–after emergency […]

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NEWSLINK: “The arts thrive in Putin’s Russia – though they play a complex game of censorship; Russia’s art scene prospers in a bizarre critical climate fostered by the Kremlin. We may not know the rules, but we know our place” – The Guardian (UK)/Natalia Antonova

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

“… The Russian state’s paradoxical nature becomes especially apparent when considering the country’s thriving arts scene. It is these contradictions of governance, and their peculiar influence on the Russian art world, that aid and abet Putin’s rule, and ultimately, help generate support for the Russian president. So is there censorship? Yes, some people would argue – but it’s not clearly […]

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Interfax: March 26 rally organizers warned of illegality of staging rallies in city center – Moscow authorities

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

MOSCOW. March 23 (Interfax) – Moscow authorities have considered all the applications filed by organizers for public events to be held in central Moscow on March 26, Vladimir Chernikov, head of the Moscow Department for Regional Security and Combating Corruption, told Interfax on Thursday. “The Department has received five applications from a group of people for public events to be […]

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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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Moscow Court Overturns Fine for Independent Russian News Outlet RBC

Igor Sechin file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 1, 2017) A Moscow court has overturned the decision to fine independent Russian news outlet RBC for libelling oligarch and Putin ally Igor Sechin. An RBC report published in April 2016 claimed that Sechin, the CEO of Russian oil giant Rosneft, had asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to block the company’s minority stakeholder from […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Updates Plan to Counter Cyberattacks and Foreign Influence” – New York Times

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

The Kremlin published a new plan … against what it described as stepped-up cyberattacks and ‘information-psychological’ methods by foreign intelligence agencies …. updat[ing] a similar information security doctrine put in place by … Putin in 2000. … American officials have mulled retaliating against Russia for … hacking before the presidential election …. The 16-page document sketches out … threats … […]

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NEWSLINK New York Times: “In Meeting, Putin Vows to Protect Artistic Freedom in Russia”

Russian Jail File Photo Showing Outer Wall, Windows, Barbed Wire

“President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, in a meeting with film directors and artists, vowed on Friday to protect artistic freedom in the country but also said a court was right to give one director a 20-year prison term. …”

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Streaming Wars: The Real Fight Behind Russia’s False YouTube ‘Ban’

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 30, 2016) Internet video giant YouTube will not be forced out of Russia under a new bill regulating online streaming services, the Russian government has confirmed. “We can officially say that all talk of YouTube facing legal restrictions is simply not true,” Deputy Communications Minister Alexei Volin told the Rambler News Service on Wednesday. […]

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Ukraine blacklists over 500 films and TV series

File Photo of Reel of Film

KYIV. Nov 30 (Interfax) – The National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine has published a list of films and television series which have been banned by the Ukrainian State Film Agency from screening in 2014-2016. The list, which includes 544 audiovisual works, was published on the Council’s website on Wednesday. “In 2014-2016 the State Film Agency denied […]

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In Russia’s media, censorship is silent; A new survey of 100 Russian journalists reveals their perceptions of professional challenges, objectivity and freedom.

Satellite Dishes

(opendemocracy.net – Nataliya Rostova – November 23, 2016) Nataliya Rostova is a visiting scholar at the Kennan Institute and author of the GorbyMedia project. The idea of conducting a survey of Russian journalists came to me after seeing something similar in New York magazine, which earlier this year polled 113 people working in the US media on the problems and […]

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Russian Supreme Court Wants Fewer Extremism Prosecutions

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anastasia Kornya – November 10, 2016) The Russian authorities have stepped up their fight against extremism, convicting approximately three times as many people on such charges in recent years. The greatest increase concerns convictions on Article 282 of the Criminal Code – “incitement of hatred or enmity” – with that number rising from 149 in […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Politkovskaya Ten Years On” – Sean’s Russia Blog/Sean Guillory

Anna Politkovskaya file photo

It’s been ten years since an assassin put four bullets in Anna Politkovskaya — three in her chest, one in her head, the hallmark of a contract hit. … We can recall her career and her drive to cover the horrors of #Chechnya in ways few would. … We can quote her many articles and books for their continued relevance. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The murder that killed free media in Russia; A decade after the assassination of Anna Politkovskaya, news organisations increasingly avoid topics that could anger the Kremlin” – The Guardian (UK)/Shaun Walker

File Photo of Mourners with Photo of Anna Politkovskaya

 … In the decade since [Anna] Politkovskaya’s death, the space for independent journalism in Russia has narrowed …. Since 2006, the Committee to Protect Journalists has recorded 20 journalists’ killings, while Freedom House has counted 63 violent attacks on reporters. But for the most part, the threat of closure keeps publications in line and encourages self-censorship. … news sources have […]

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Most Russians Say They Want to Live in a Democracy But Don’t Support Democratic Values, Survey Finds

Russia Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 3, 2016) A majority of Russians – 57 percent – say they want to live in a democratic state, according to a new survey conducted by Germany’s Friedrich-Nauman Foundation; but an equal or even larger number of them support government actions that undermine any chance of Russia becoming a liberal democracy. […]

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Interfax: Kremlin criticises media’s take of “Yarovaya laws”

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

(Interfax – September 26, 2016) The Kremlin has criticised media coverage of the so-called “Yarovaya package” of anti-terrorist laws, accusing journalists of being too emotional in their reporting and exaggerating the laws’ provisions, privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax reported on 26 September. “All of these themes are being reflected in the media within a very lively discussion. Much of it […]

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The terror against Ukraine’s journalists is fueled by political elites

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

The inaction of law-enforcement institutions and unrestricted hate speech by top officials is enabling further violence against Ukrainian journalists. (opendemocracy.net – Maxim Eristavi – September 6, 2016) Maxim Eristavi is a Ukrainian journalist, writer and civil rights advocate. He is a co-founder of Hromadske International, foreign news desk for the region’s biggest independent broadcaster. Watching a video of journalists running […]

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In Ukraine, not only heroes deserve justice; A Ukrainian blogger sentenced for his scandalous views on the conflict in the Donbas has just been released. Whatever his shortcomings, Ruslan Kotsaba deserved our solidarity.

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

(OpenDemocracy – opendemocracy.net – Maxim Edwards and Thomas Rowley – July 17, 2016) Maxim Edwards is Commissioning Editor at oDR. Tom Rowley is Lead Editor at oDR. He is currently finishing a PhD on Soviet dissent at the University of Cambridge. Last Thursday, Ruslan Kotsaba addressed journalists in a west Ukrainian courthouse, tears running down his face. “This is a […]

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What Russia’s New Draconian Data Laws Mean for Users

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – July 14, 2016) After three years of relative silence, NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden spoke up: “[President Vladimir] Putin has signed a repressive new law that violates not only human rights, but common sense. Dark day for Russia.” For the man who fled to Russia after blowing the lid off the NSA’s unprecedented […]

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RBTH: Medvedev: Global community must work together to regulate internet; The Russian prime minister has urged the international community to act together in addressing global challenges.

File Photo Dmitry Medvedev at Desk with Laptop Computer

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ALEXEI LOSSAN, RBTH – May 23, 2016) Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has emphasized the importance of international cooperation on addressing new global challenges, including regulation of the internet, while admitting that the country has been feeling the pressure of Western sanctions. “Our companies and citizens have been subjected to pressure for two […]

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A Euro ‘vision’ of discord: The reaction from Russia and Ukraine

Joseph Stalin file photo

Eurovision, Europe’s most popular song contest, has pitted Russia against Ukraine. The winning song and the results of the jury have prompted considerable commentary in both countries, turning an apolitical show into yet another frontline in an ongoing media war. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – OLEG YEGOROV, YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH – May 17, 2016) The Eurovision 2016 winning […]

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Eurovision meets its Waterloo as Russia-Ukraine rivalry takes center stage

Joseph Stalin file photo

While Russian officials lost no time in lashing out over Ukraine’s Eurovision victory with a song about the Stalinist deportations of the Crimean Tatars, the results of the public vote suggest that Russia-Ukrainian enmity doesn’t extend to the general public. But the overtly political nature of the winning song may mark a watershed for the competition. (Russia Beyond the Headlines […]

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Could a union do anything to protect Russian journalists?

Physical attacks and management interference have put Russian journalists’ safety – and their ability to work freely – back on the table. A new union will have to survive in an increasingly hostile environment. (opendemocracy.net – Nataliya Rostova – May 16, 2016) Nataliya Rostova is a visiting scholar at the Kennan Institute, senior correspondent for current affairs portal Slon.ru and […]

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Ukrainian blogger gets long sentence for expressing contentious views

Ukraine Map and Flag

(Human Rights in Ukraine – khpg.org – Halya Coynash – May 13, 2016) Ruslan Kotsaba, a controversial Ivano-Frankivsk journalist and blogger, has been sentenced to three and a half years’ imprisonment. The Ivano-Frankivsk City Court found the journalist, who has been in detention for 14 months guilty of obstructing the legitimate activities of the Ukrainian Armed Forces over a video […]

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NEWSLINK Russia Direct: “How does the Internet fit into Russia’s security strategy? Against the background of continuing confrontation with the West and growing domestic authoritarianism, the Kremlin is continuing on a path of increased state control of the Russian Internet and a significantly expanded view of information security.”

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NEWSLINK TASS: “Russian blogger stands trial on charges of insulting believers’ religious feelings”

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

Censors would starve in modern Russia

Bookcase file photo, adapted from image at nlm.nih.gov

Maya Kucherskaya, a writer, linguist, literary critic and director of the newly opened Creative Writing School, the first such center for budding authors in Russia, talked to RBTH about professional writing, censorship and Russia’s book market. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YULIA VINOGRADOVA, SPECIAL TO RBTH – February 17, 2016) RBTH: How is the Creative Writing School different […]

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RIA Novosti: Putin warns against moves to close Ukrainian library in Moscow

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

(RIA Novosti – December 25, 2015) Vladimir Putin has intervened in the case of the Library of Ukrainian Literature in Moscow, whose director is in custody and facing charges of inciting hatred, RIA Novosti news agency reported on 25 December. Natalya Sharina was held on 28 October when the Investigations Committee carried out a search of the Library and found […]

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Case against Moscow’s Library of Ukrainian Literature may be closed

Vladimir Markin file photo

(Interfax – October 30, 2015) A criminal investigation launched against the director of the Moscow-based Library of Ukrainian Literature, Natalya Sharina, who is a suspect in a case opened into the spreading of extremist literature, may be closed, a source in law enforcement agencies told Interfax. “The case against Sharina may be closed on the basis of the Prosecutor’s Office’s […]

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Smooth censorship in Russia

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

Everybody understands everything, everybody knows everything, and no one says anything aloud. (Opendemocracy.net – Gregory Tumanov – October 27, 2015) Grigory Tumanov is a Moscow based journalist and blogger. He is a staff correspondent for Kommersant daily, one of Russia’s most respected publications. Follow him on Twitter @scumsquad The history of censorship in Russian media runs for pages and pages. […]

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Russian Academia Divided Over FSB Vetting of Research Papers

FSB Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – October 22, 2015) A report this week of research papers and scientific articles becoming subject to vetting by the Federal Security Service (FSB) before publication rattled Russian academics, coming on the heels of several cases in which people have been accused of espionage and treason in connection with their professional activities. The […]

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Patron Saint Of Russian Journalism Despairs Over Putin’s Television

File Photo of Russian Television Studio

(RFE/RL – Roman Super, Robert Coalson – MOSCOW – September 20, 2015) If Russian journalism has a patron saint, his name is Yasen Zasursky. The ailing 85-year-old headed the Moscow State University (MGU) journalism department for more than 40 years before becoming its president emeritus in 2007. The roster of respected journalists who received their diplomas from him is astounding: […]

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RBTH: Why Russians support Internet censorship

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

According to a joint report by American researchers and Russian sociologists, 49 percent of Russians are not opposed to Internet censorship. They do not perceive attempts to control the Internet as an infringement on the freedom of speech, experts explain. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Yekaterina Sinelschikova, RBTH – August 22, 2015) Nearly half of Russians (49 percent) […]

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NEWSLINK Globe and Mail (Canada): “Russia’s Brief, Shining Moment”

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

Mark MacKinnon visits the unassuming city in the shadow of the Urals where, not long ago and for not very long, free expression was allowed to flourish. In fact, it was encouraged and even financed by the state. Then something happened.

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re Antony Beevor’s book re WWII

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

Subject: re Antony Beevor’s book re WWII Date: Fri, 7 Aug 2015 15:51:31 +0100 From: Antony Penaud <antonypenaud@yahoo.fr> Antony Penaud completed his D.Phil. (University of Oxford) in 2000. He is French and lives in London. His essays on Russia and Ukraine can be found on www.scribd.com/antonykharms — The headline of Beevor’s article in The Guardian (1) is “By banning my […]

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Moscow Times/VTsIOM/Penn: Six in Ten Russians Would Support Internet Censorship During a Crisis

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – August 4, 2015) Nearly six in 10 Russians would support the government if it decided to pull the plug on Internet access inside the country in a crisis situation, a recent poll indicates. Support for online censorship or cutting off Internet access altogether was the highest among Russians who never or rarely […]

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Russian Poll Shows Strong Support For Internet Censorship

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – August 3, 2015) A new poll shows that nearly three-fifths of Russians would support “shutting off the Internet” in the event of a national emergency. According to the poll by the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM), 58 percent of Russians would support such a move, while 49 percent support the idea of […]

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The Year in Theater: Murky Demons on the Loose

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

  (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – July 23, 2015) Words can be fashionable. They may be dangerous. The word of this year in Russian culture, I would argue, has shades of both. The lexical item of “obscurantism”-“mrakobesie” in Russian, suggesting demonic murk and gloom – is everywhere to be found in discussions of art these days. “In […]

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