NEWSWATCH: “Four Warning Signs Of Instability In Russia” – Forbes.com/George Friedman

Russia Regions Map

“Russia has four areas of instability: the distribution and prevalence of wage arrears, pressure on its banking system, low-level social and economic unrest, and government purges. … Russia’s economy is highly regionalized. More than a fifth of Russia’s wealth comes from Moscow and its surrounding areas. The central government keeps the Russian Federation together by redistributing wealth to the interior. […]

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Russia Eyes Reforms to 13 Percent Flat Income Tax; A new series of reform proposals could tie tax rates to income levels

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Kupfer – February 22, 2017) #Russia has long prided itself on its simple 13 percent flat income #tax rate. But a series of reform proposals could push the country towards a progressive alternative. The Finance Ministry, the Economic Development Ministry and the Center for Strategic Research (CSR) are actively developing reforms for the Russian […]

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Putin Moving to Depoliticize Entire Russian System, Stanovaya Says

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 21, 2017) Vladimir Putin’s installation of technocrats as governors in place of politicians is likely to have an impact on the country’s systemic parties, leading to their de-politicization as well by means of the replacement of the aging politicians who head them now by younger pragmatic functionaries, according to Tatyana Stanovaya. […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Meeting with Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Kremlin.ru – February 21, 2017) Sergei Sobyanin updated the President on Moscow’s socioeconomic development in 2016, the implementation of several large transport projects, including the launch of the Moscow Central Circle (MCC) railway line, and renovation of the housing stock. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Sobyanin, let us talk about Moscow’s performance in 2016 and plans for 2017. Moscow […]

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Putin Orders Demolition of Moscow’s Iconic Post-War Apartment Blocks

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Katie Davies – February 21, 2017) Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the complete demolition of Moscow’s post-war Khrushchevkas: Soviet housing blocks which once offered hope to millions of families after World War II. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced on Tuesday that 1.6 million Muscovites were still living in the buildings, many of which were […]

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Putinism as Gaullism; There are limits of defining a regime by the name of its leader, but Putinism has the echoes of post-war France, and of its president.

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

(opendemocracy.net – Marlene Laruelle – February 21, 2017) Marlene Laruelle is assistant director at the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University. She is also co-director of PONARS Eurasia, and the author of several books on Russian and Central Asian politics and society. The Russian state under Vladimir Putin’s leadership […]

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Interfax: Moody’s upgrades Russia rating outlook to stable

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW. Feb 20 (Interfax) – Moody’s Investors Service has changed the outlook for Russia’s sovereign ratings to stable from negative. Russia’s issuer rating and the rating for Russian government bonds have been affirmed at Ba1, and the short-term rating has been affirmed at Not Prime, the rating agency said in a press release. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov welcomed Moody’s decision. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “After 100 years, his tsar is in the ascendant. A century after the Russian Revolution, Vladimir Putin is taking inspiration from opposing legacies – imperial authority and Soviet military might – to project his power.” – The Sunday Times (UK)/Robert Service

Romanov Family Photo

“Over the next few months, Russia will be marking the centenary of its revolution, and the country’s president,Vladimir Putin, will be explaining its meaning to his people. … a task … Communist rulers used to undertake on an annual basis. They stood in a grim line in Red Square and took the salute from a parade of troops, Communist Party […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting of Federal Security Service Board

(Kremlin.ru – February 16, 2017) Vladimir Putin took part in an annual expanded meeting of the Federal Security Service (FSB) Board to discuss the FSB’s results for 2016 and the priority tasks for ensuring Russia’s national security. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. These annual FSB Board meetings give us a chance to meet and not only thoroughly analyse […]

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The Suspense Is Now Over For Russia’s Political Elite: Putin Is Running

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowimes.com – Mikhail Fishman – February 16, 2017) Late in 2016, things did not look so rosy for Vladimir Putin. The Russian economy was in decline, the country was isolated on the global stage, and the president was a figure shunned by Western nations. Some commentators even began to entertain the possibility that Putin would use the […]

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Re: The Gathering Storm

Eurasia Map

Subject: The Gathering Storm Date: Fri, 27 Jan 2017 From: David Law <davidmurraylaw@gmail.com> The Gathering Storm By David Law Senior Associate, Security Governance Group; former Head of NATO Policy Planning and Speechwriting Unit With Donald Trump now sworn in as the American President and Commander-in-Chief, here are some thoughts on where the world may be headed. In 1948, Winston Churchill […]

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

Kremlin and River

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

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Russia Set to Send ‘Bull Terrier’ Ambassador to Washington; Russia appears to be falling back on Soviet-era policy of disarmament as the focal point for relations with the U.S.

Anatoly Antonov and Others Facing U.S. Official with U.S. and Russian Flags on Table

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner, Mikhail Fishman – February 9, 2017) Few watching the Russian Defense Ministry’s Dec. 2, 2015 press conference could have guessed the man speaking was a professional diplomat, let alone a skilled negotiator. “[Turkish President Recep] Erdogan and his family are at the heart of this criminal business. But even if their faces are […]

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

Yury Chaika file photo

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

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Russian Government Named Biggest Threat to Competitive Economy

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 8, 2017) Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) has named the state the biggest threat to healthy competition in the Russian economy. The agency is now asking President Vladimir Putin to sign a presidential decree reducing the government’s role in key economic sectors over the next two years, the Vedomosti newspaper reported Wednesday. The decree […]

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

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

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

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Support for Death Penalty in Russia Plummets

Kremlin and River

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 8, 2017) The number of Russians who support the death penalty has plummeted by 24 percent over the past 15 years. Just 44 percent of Russians would like to see the return of the death penalty, compared in 68 percent in 2002, a survey by independent pollster the Levada Center revealed on Wednesday. Thirty-two […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Presentation of the 2016 Presidential Prizes in Science and Innovation for Young Scientists

File Photo of Test Tubes with Algae Displaying Different Colors, Part of U.S. Energy-Related Research; from nrel.gov

(Kremlin.ru – February 8, 2017) Vladimir Putin presented Presidential prizes in Science and Innovation for Young Scientists in the Kremlin on Russian Science Day. The prizes were established in 2008 and are awarded for research results that contribute to advancing natural and technical sciences and the humanities and for creating new equipment and progressive technologies that will boost the knowledge-based […]

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Protests in Russia Increasing in Number but Not Yet Coming Together to Threaten Kremlin

Moscow Protest File Photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 7. 2017) Protest actions are becoming increasingly frequent across the Russian Federation, but they have not assumed the “massive” level of those earlier in this decade and thus do not yet threaten the powers that be, experts say. But they have the potential to do so as the economic situation in […]

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Despite Expectations, the Communist Party of Russia is Not Withering Away, Levada Center Sociologist Says

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 7, 2017) The KPRF is “one of the few parties which has been able over the course of long years to preserve its core electorate” which remains ideologically attached to it and to have a clear organizational structure, Denis Volkov says, features that make it possible to say that “namely the […]

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NEWSLINK: “We can’t let Trump go down Putin’s path; Russia’s experience shows why Americans must act now to safeguard democratic institutions.” – Washington Post/Michael McFaul

File Photo of Barack Obama Sitting at Desk with Mike McFaul Standing Next to Him Facing Him

“Michael McFaul is director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and a Hoover fellow at Stanford University, and a contributing columnist to The Post. He was previously special assistant to President Barack Obama at the National Security Council from 2009 to 2012 and U.S. ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014.”  

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NEWSWATCH: “#Russia’s City of Rebels: St. Petersburg is a place of protest against power — and the only major Russian city in which the opposition still has a voice. Why?” – Der Spiegel/Christian Neef

St. Petersburg Landmark

“… Voter turnout alone shows that #StPetersburg is the place where people rebel against the despotism of #Moscow’s policies. … when there was a vote on the new Russian parliament, less than a third of St. Petersburg residents cast ballots. … only 13 percent of eligible voters … voted for #Putin’s government party. In Chechnya, 91 percent voted for the […]

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Double Jeopardy: Why Kremlin Opponent Navalny is Back in Court

Alexei Navalny file photo

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

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Russia has not recognized DPR, LPR passports – Peskov

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

MOSCOW. Feb 3 (Interfax) – Russia has not officially recognized the passports of people who live on the territory of the self-proclaimed Donbas republics, there are specific humanitarian actions by the local authorities and companies, Russian presidential press officer Dmitry Peskov said. During a meeting with journalists on Friday, Peskov was asked to comment on a report that the passports […]

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Russians Less Convinced by Political Talk Shows than Audience Figures Suggest, Journalists Say

Adapted File Photo of TV Set in Russia with Camera, Camerman, Woman on Set in Background

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 2, 2017) Significant percentages of Russians watch political talk shows which now make up as much as 90 minutes of prime time every night, but that fact does not mean that they are entirely pleased by the structure and content of these shows or are greatly influenced in ways that help […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Vladimir Putin, Mikhail Men, Alexander Novak, Nikolai Nikiforov, Vitaly Mutko at] Meeting with Government members

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

(kremlin.ru – February 1, 2017) Vladimir Putin met with Government members to discuss possibilities for further developing treasury monitoring of budget spending, the situation with co-funded housing development, and a number of other current issues. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon colleagues. Today, we will discuss the results of work and further development for treasury monitoring of budget spending. […]

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Russian Government Starts Free Land Giveaway in Country’s Far East

Siberian River, Forest, Mountain

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 1, 2017) #Russian citizens can now claim a hectare of free land in the country’s remote Far East in a bid to rejuvenate the sparsely-populated region. Free plots of land are on offer in the Kamchatka, Primorye, Khabarovsk, Amur, Magadan and Sakhalin regions, the republic of Sakha, or the Jewish and Chukotka autonomous districts. […]

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Moscow Counting on Russians Passively Accepting Raising Pension Age beyond Male Life Expectancy

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 2, 2016) The Russian government doesn’t have to worry about widespread protests over its reported plans to raise the pension age of Russian males in 2018 to one older than their average life expectancy, a Russian scholar in Yakutsk says. The opposition will complain, but it doesn’t have the votes in […]

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How Can Russia Reverse its Negative Demographic Trend?

Couple in Hospital with Newborn

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Pavel Aptekar – February 1, 2017) Russia has long had a demographic crisis. That is why, 10 years ago, leaders introduced “maternity capital” – a special program encouraging couples to have more children. Participants receive government payouts for every successive child after their first. Families must use the money for specific needs – paying off […]

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‘Extreme Individualism’ of Russians Makes Cooperation with Others, Even the State, Problematic, Sociologist Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 1, 2017) Russian society today is “extremely individualistic,” Larisa Nikolskaya says, with most people focusing on their own survival rather than any broader goals, a pattern that simultaneously prevents the formation of groups for the promotion of any political cause and makes Russians less willing to sacrifice for the state than […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Rouble’s revival gives Russia an unexpected headache” – AFP

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

It was a step that seemed unimaginable a year ago: the Russian authorities stepping in to stop the country’s currency from getting too strong. … The finance ministry said Putin himself had decided that the surplus oil revenue would not be used for ‘additional spending’ but would go towards buying foreign currencies to bolster the country’s depleted reserve funds. … […]

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Moscow Unlikely to Achieve Life Expectancy Gains It had Projected, Health Ministry Admits

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 26, 2016) The Russian health ministry has changed its target figures on reducing mortality rates and extending life expectancy by 2020, a reflection experts say of the fact that the Russian government no longer expects to be able to improve the health of the population as much as it did. Ministry […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia investment and political stories go their separate ways” – bne/Intellinews/Ben Aris

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

“There are two Russias at the moment. The first is the evil “Putin’s Russia” that kills journalists, bombs civilians and invades other countries. Then there is “bull Russia”, where investors have been making fat profits ….”

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Moscow State University Board of Trustees meeting

Moscow State University file photo

(Kremlin.ru – January 25, 2017) Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the Moscow State University (MGU) Board of Trustees. On the agenda were the interim results of the programme for developing MGU through to 2020 and progress in developing the Vorobyovy Gory science and technology cluster. Other items on the agenda included developing fundamental science and the higher education system […]

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Putin’s War On The ’90s

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – January 25, 2017) Vladimir Putin wants to relitigate the 1990s. He seems determined to erase an entire decade. He wants a do-over. He wants backsies. And this, I believe, is one of the keys to understanding the Kremlin leader’s behavior. It explains Putin’s memorable comments that Ukraine, which like the rest of the […]

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De-dollarization of economy, banking system proceeding at full speed, to continue – Central Bank

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW. Jan 24 (Interfax) – De-dollarization of the #Russian economy and #banking system is proceeding at full speed given the preferences of the public and companies and this process will continue, the head of the Central Bank of #Russia’s research and forecasting department Alexander #Morozov said at a roundtable in the State #Duma. “De-dollarization in the economy is proceeding at […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia shouldn’t pin hopes for lifting of sanctions on foreign elections – Medvedev” – RT/Russia Today

File Photo of Dmitry Medvedev with United Russia Logos Behind Him

“‘It’s time to discard the illusions that any sanctions imposed on our country would be lifted. Obviously, they are there to stay for a long time. And don’t lay your hopes on someone else’s elections,’ [Medvedev] said Sunday, in a speech addressing a United Russia party meeting in Moscow. …”

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RUSSIALINK: “Deputy Prime Minister: Too Early to ‘Discharge’ Russia’s Economy ‘From Hospital'” – Sputnik News

Igor Shuvalov file photo

“… ‘We could say that we have been discharged from the hospital, when we have a sustainable growth and increase in our citizens income. At the moment we can not see it,’ Shuvalov told the Rossiya-24 broadcaster …”

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Putin Country; As authoritarian control and renewed superpower tension dominate headlines, telling stories of Russia’s everyday heroes can reveal lost alternatives.

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

(opendemocracy.net – Susan Richards – January 19, 2017) Susan Richards is a non-executive director and founder of openDemocracy. She has produced a number of feature films and written a prize-winning book, Epics of Everyday Life, about the lives of ordinary Russians in the transition from communism. Lost & Found in Russia, Encounters in the Deep Heartland, which covers the period […]

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PM Medvedev sees drastic improvement of infrastructure as key economic growth condition

Moscow Roads

GORKI. Jan 20 (Interfax) – The Russian authorities will be unable to attain economic growth rates higher than the world’s average without a drastic improvement in infrastructure, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said. “As you know, we are drafting a comprehensive government action plan for the period until 2025. Our primary objective is economic growth rates above the world’s average,” […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Listen, liberal. Alexei Kudrin wants to liberalise Russia’s economy to save it. But with Donald Trump’s election, many Russians think Putin’s model is winning.” – The Economist

Alexei Kudrin file photo

“… Kudrin’s verdict was grim. Russia, he said, is at a low pace of economic growth even compared with the period of stagnation in the 1970s and 1980s that led to the Soviet collapse. The reasons go well beyond low #oil prices and Western sanctions: The main problems lie within Russia and they are structural and institutional.’ Russia lags far […]

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

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

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Share of Russians Willing to Protest. Never Large, has Fallen Since 2014, Levada Expert Says

Moscow Protest File Photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 17, 2017) The share of Russians willing to protest or take part in any political activity at all, never large in the best of times, has fallen significantly since Vladimir Putin began tightening the screws in 2014. Instead, ever more Russians are showing their willingness and ability to adapt to the […]

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Another Fatal Flaw in Russia’s Company Towns: Business More Powerful than the State

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 14, 2016) Russia’s 300-plus urban centers known as “monogorods” or “company towns” where the vast majority of the population have been the subject of episodic discussions typically triggered when the chief firm closes down, the population is impoverished, and protests arise. Then, these places where more than ten percent of the […]

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TRANSCRIPT EXCERPTS: [Medvedev at] The 8th Gaidar Forum

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Government.ru – January 12, 2017) The Gaidar Forum is an ongoing project for discussing topical problems of our time. The forum was first held in 2010 and is dedicated to the memory of Yegor Gaidar, researcher, economist and ideologist of Russian reforms of the early 1990s. The forum’s discussions center around topics concerning Russia’s status and strategic role in the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Twenty years ago, Russians loved the US. Where did it all go wrong? In the immediate post-Soviet era, Russians held the US in high esteem. But that started to change amid economic woes and Western adventurism in the Balkans and Middle East.” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin

“… Time magazine’s July 15, 1996, cover. … depicts Russian President Boris Yeltsin, recently reelected … grinning and clutching an American flag under the headline ‘Yanks to the Rescue!’ The story tells of a group of high-powered US political consultants who were secretly brought to Russia amid the hard-fought presidential elections of 1996, in which a beleaguered Mr. Yeltsin was […]

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Russian Ministry Airs Drastic Proposals To Snuff Out Smoking

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, January 10, 2017) Since 2013, Russia has banned smoking in restaurants and taken serious measures to reduce its huge number of smokers. Now, drastic proposals aired this week could put Russia on course to try and eradicate the habit altogether. The Russian Health Ministry on January 9 proposed a blanket ban on […]

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Prosecutors should continue paying more attention to protecting fair business from pressure, unjustified checks – Putin

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

MOSCOW. Jan 11 (Interfax) – Fair business must be reliably protected by the state, including from unjustified checks, prosecutors must continue work in this direction, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “Fair, honest, transparent business must be reliably protected by the state, including from unjustified checks and other pressure,” he said at a meeting on the occasion of the 295th anniversary […]

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Econ Ministry to prepare measures in Feb to improve Russia’s Doing Business rating

Empty Boardroom

MOSCOW. Jan 11 (Interfax) – The Economic Development Ministry plans to prepare a list of measures in February to further improve Russia’s Doing Business rating. “The need to further improve the business climate has been spoken of. Here standard work for moving further ahead is underway. Russia made a very big step in the Doing Business rating, for instance, over […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Higher School of Economics Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Kremlin.ru – January 9, 2017) Yaroslav Kuzminov updated the President on the implementation of the Academic Excellence Project 5-100. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Kuzminov, the Higher School of Economics will mark its 25th anniversary this year. How will you celebrate this notable event? Rector of the Higher School of Economics Yaroslav Kuzminov: We will celebrate it with new […]

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