Big Data Convert Channels Big Brother to Take Russia’s Pulse

Central Bank of Russia file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Andrianova – August 22, 2017) Raw numbers no longer cut it for Russia’s central bank in its effort to keep up with the economy. Instead, the man running its research and forecasting wants to know how Russians really feel by mining “big data,” gathered from social media and online stores. The Bank of Russia has […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Tavrida National Youth Educational Forum – KremlinRu

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

(Kremlin.ru – August 21, 2017) During his working trip to the Republic of Crimea, Vladimir Putin attended the Tavrida National Youth Educational Forum. The President was introduced to thematic exhibitions of various creative teams, photo artists, architects and urban designers. The President spoke in an informal setting with both organisers and participants of the annual forum. The Tavrida National Youth […]

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Interview with Mikhail Zygar — 1917-2017: An ominous anniversary for Russia; Here is why the Kremlin is not eager to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 1917 revolution and use it in its political goals.

File Photo of Revolutionaries Marching in Moscow in 1917, adapted from image at state.gov

[Interview conducted, transcribed and adapted by Pavel Koshkin, Former Editor-in-Chief, Russia Direct] Mikhail Zygar, the author of the project “1917.Free History”, talks to Johnson’s Russia List (JRL) about the reasons why the Russian authorities don’t use the 100th anniversary of the 1917 revolution in their political goals. He also discuses the lessons the Kremlin should learn from these dramatic events […]

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How can Russia’s left work with Navalny? Across Russia, Alexey Navalny’s anti-corruption campaign is gaining an audience. Can Russia’s left benefit from the political opening he has provided?

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Being Grabbed by Police at Protest

(opendemocracy.net – KIRILL MEDVEDEV, OLEG ZHURAVLEV – August 21, 2017) Kirill Medvedev is a Moscow-based poet, translator, activist and a member of the Russian Socialist Movement. Oleg Zhuravlev is a researcher at the Public Sociology Laboratory (Russia), which he and his colleagues founded in 2012. He is also a PhD-candidate at the European University Institute (Italy) and teaches at the […]

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Putin’s Would-Be Successors Ranked Ahead of 2018 Elections

Kremlin and River

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 21, 2017) Ahead of presidential elections scheduled for March next year, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and opposition firebrand Alexei Navalny are among President Vladimir Putin’s potential successors, according to a new ranking produced by a Russian think-tank. Published by the independent Peterburgskaya Politika NGO on Monday, the list casts current […]

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A Lesson for Today: August 1991 Coup Failed because KGB Didn’t Support It, Gennady Gudkov Says

File Photo of Gennady Gudkov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 20, 2017) Force structures have invariably played a key role in all revolutions, revolts, or palace coups, either by supporting the incumbent regime or supporting its challengers, Gennady Gudkov says; and August 1991 was no exception because in his view, the attempted coup failed because it did not have the backing […]

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Only an Anti-War Movement Can Shatter the Putin Regime, Yakovenko Says

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(Paul Goble – Staunton, August 15, 2017) There are anti-war attitudes in Russia, Igor Yakovenko says; but “there is no anti-war movement” despite the fact that Russia has been killing people in Ukraine for four years and in Syria for two and the even more significant problem for the country that “Putin is war.” Instead of focusing on creating such […]

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Russian Translator Censors Putin Questions at Game of Thrones Q&A

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 16, 2017) Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin is known for his excessively gorey plot twists, but for his Russian translator, exposing the writer to questions about President Vladimir Putin would have been a step too far. When a journalist from the Fontanka.ru outlet asked Martin during a press conference in St. Petersburg […]

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U.S. Religious Freedom Report Names Russia ‘Country of Concern’

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 16, 2017) A U.S. report on religious freedoms puts Russia on a par with countries like North Korea and Sudan in its treatment of religious minorities. The annual report produced by the state United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said Russian authorities’ policy towards minorities ranged from “administrative harassment to arbitrary imprisonment […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting on developing Northwest Russia’s transportation infrastructure

European Portion of Commonwealth of Independent States

(Kremlin.ru – August 16, 2017) Vladimir Putin held a meeting in Kaliningrad on the opportunities for developing transportation infrastructure in Northwest Russia. The heads of relevant ministries and agencies and a number of regional heads from the Northwest Federal District took part. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues. We are here to discuss the development of transportation infrastructure […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin announces cuts to defence spending in 2018” – RIA Novosti

File Photo of Russian Tanks in Military Parade

(RIA Novosti – August 15, 2017) Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced cuts to defence spending in 2018 as a part of next year’s federal budget, state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reported on 15 August. “I would like to recall that significant savings are under review for next year’s budget, and incidentally, by means of reducing spending on defence. This […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Without reforms, economic sclerosis awaits; What are Putin’s economic policy options if he retains power in 2018?” – Intersection/ Georgy Bovt

Kremlin and River

“… it is increasingly difficult for a country like present-day Russia to survive and ‘wait through’ the present. The longer anyone postpones the political decisions about launching some ‘healing measures’, the larger the scale of economic and technological collapse there will be; the economic model will inevitably become less and less competitive the more policy makers sit on their hands. […]

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Five years of Russia’s Foreign Agent Law; Russia’s Foreign Agent Law has made the existence of many NGOs practically impossible. But solidarity is rising among organisations that are working against these restrictions.

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

(opendemocracy.net – Daria Skibo – August 14, 2017) Daria Skibo is a sociologist and researcher at the Centre for Independent Sociological Research, St Petersburg. Russian civil society received July’s news happily: the case against Valentina Cherevatenko, the first person to face criminal charges under Russia’s Foreign Agent law, was dropped. In June 2017, Cherevatenko, head of the Women of the […]

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Fascism Remains a Greater Threat in Russia than in the U.S., Mitrokhin Says

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 14, 2017) The clashes in Charlottesville have raised the specter of the rise of fascism in the United States, but Yabloko leader Sergey Mitrokhin says that while Donald Trump has unleashed these forces and Vladimir Putin currently is trying to control them, fascism remains a far greater threat in Russia than […]

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Econ Min approves creation of priority development areas in 11 mono-cities

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

St. Petersburg. Aug 11 (Interfax) – The Russian Economic Development Ministry has approved the creation of priority development areas (PDA) in 11 mono-cities – cities that are predominantly dependant on one industry or factory – in nine constituent members of the Russian Federation, the minstry’s press service said. The Economic Development Ministry commission has approved the creation of PDAs in […]

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Alexey Navalny and the moral pillars of democracy; Will the restoration of democratic institutions in Russia usher in a liberal paradise? The answer could very well be “no”.

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(opendemocracy.net – William Echols – August 11, 2017) William Echols formerly served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kazakhstan and has an MA in International Politics from Queen’s University Belfast. He has spent nearly 10 years living and traveling around the post-Soviet world, working as a volunteer, journalist, teacher and translator. He is also the founder of the blog Russian […]

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Moscow’s Makeover Swaps Soviet Grit for Urban Sparkle; Smart city apps, historically accurate trees, a working subway. While Washington obsesses over sanctions and hacks, Russia is rebranding its capital as a model of urban planning.

Moscow Aerial View Satellite Image File Photo, adapted from image at jpl.nasa.gov

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Valerie Stivers – August 10, 2017) [Text with photos bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-08-10/moscow-s-makeover-swaps-soviet-grit-for-urban-sparkle] Moscow felt medieval when I first arrived almost 20 years ago, in January 1998, seeking adventure. There were few billboards, advertisements, or shop windows filled with merchandise. The women working at my local producti, or small grocery store, wore shawls, had moles and wens, and weighed […]

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Dissent in Russia: a festival of disobedience? What kind of freedom do the latest wave of protesters want? Has a new kind of Russian emerged since the collapse of the USSR? The conclusion of our interview with one of Russia’s leading sociologists, Lev Gudkov.

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

(opendemocracy.net – August 10, 2017) Lev Gudkov is a Russian sociologist, director of the analytical Levada Center and editor-in-chief of the journal The Russian Public Opinion Herald. He is the author of numerous books and articles on sociology and inter-ethnic relations in Russia For the last 28 years, The Levada Center has been one of Russia’s most important surveyors of […]

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Interfax: Udaltsov plans to consolidate Left Front, urges left forces to nominate sole presidential candidate

File Photo of Sergei Udaltsov Speaking Outdoors, Holding Microphone and Gesturing

  MOSCOW. Aug 10 (Interfax) – Prominent leftist Russian opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov, who served four years and six months in a penitentiary for organizing mass disturbances, plans to revive the Left Front organization and work toward consolidating leftist forces, including those in parliament, to nominate a sole candidate in the 2018 presidential elections. “The nearest objectives that I see […]

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Released Russian Activist Udaltsov Vows To Continue Protests, Won’t Back Navalny

File Photo of Sergei Udaltsov Speaking Outdoors, Holding Microphone and Gesturing

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Aug. 10, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/putin-calls-us-senator-mccain-old-world-but-admires-his-patriotism/28537171.html) Sergei Udaltsov, a prominent Russian opposition activist who was released on August 8 after nearly five years in custody, has vowed to revive his dormant Levy Front (Left Front) movement and hold new protests. But at a news conference in Moscow on […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Meeting with Accounts Chamber Chairperson Tatyana Golikova

Tatiana Golikova file photo

(Kremlin.ru – August 10, 2017) Vladimir Putin had a working meeting with Chairperson of the Accounts Chamber Tatyana Golikova to discuss the results of the organisation’s work over the first half-year and the state of progress on instructions given following the Direct Line event. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ms Golikova, let’s start with the results for the first six […]

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If Navalny Takes Power He Could End Up Like Putin, Says Khodorkovsky

Kremlin and River

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 9, 2017) Former tycoon turned opposition politician Mikhail Khodorkovsky has warned Russians against pinning their hopes on Alexei Navalny, saying that if he should come to power, the country would face “hard times.” “On one hand, I would feel joy [if Navalny won.] A change in leadership is a good thing,” the former CEO […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia Wants Innovation, but It’s Arresting Its Innovators” – New York Times/ Andrew Higgins

Skolkovo File Photo

“… The troubles of Mr. Trubitsyn, however, may help explain why such a breakthrough has proved so elusive: The Russian state, which Mr. Putin has made the main vehicle for his plans for the nation’s resurgence, often stifles growth. A bureaucracy empowered by a steady erosion of democratic checks and balances can often smother new ideas. Grand state-directed projects to […]

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The Stunning Story of Russian Minister Ulyukayev’s Arrest for Bribery, Explained

Alexei Ulyukayev file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 8, 2017) Alexei Ulyukayev, the first serving Russian minister to be arrested since the fall of the Soviet Union, will appear in court on Tuesday, after being accused of soliciting a bribe from the country’s largest oil company. The former Economic Development Minister has been under house arrest since his detention in the dead […]

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Navalny Was ‘Joking’ When he Said the Kremlin Could Murder Him

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Being Grabbed by Police at Protest

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 8, 2017) In an interview with the Ekho Moskvy radio station on Monday, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny said he had been “joking” when he said in earlier comments that there was a 50 percent chance he would killed by the Russian authorities for his political activism. In an interview with U.S. television channel […]

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Pussy Riot members en route to Moscow from Yakutsk where they were supposed to face trial after detention

File Photo of Pussy Riot Members in Courtroom Enclosure, With Man Showing Papers to One While Female Guard Looks On

YAKUTSK. Aug 8 (Interfax) – The Yakutsk City Court has once again proven unable to decide on an administrative penalty for two members of the Pussy Riot punk group, Maria Alyokhina and Olga Borisova, who were detained on Monday for staging an unpermitted action in support of Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov. “The judge decided to return the administrative material […]

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Kremlin Plans Rapid Healthcare Reform in Time for Presidential Election

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 7, 2017) Russian authorities will unroll healthcare reform nationwide in time for presidential elections next year, the Vedomosti newspaper reported, citing a source close to the Kremlin. The Health Ministry says the organizational reforms for clinics, which were piloted last year, can reduce waiting times twelve-fold and boost consumer satisfaction by 10-15 percent. Implementation […]

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RUSSIALINK: “[Putin] Trip to Tyva, August 1-3” – Kremlin.ru

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

(Kremlin.ru – August 7, 2017) [5 minute video here http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/55308] On August 1-3, Vladimir Putin made a two-day stop in Tyva, southern Siberia, on his way to Blagoveshchensk. The President went to hard-to-access taiga, fished in a mountain lake cascade, went spearfishing, sunbathed, went down mountain rivers, rapids and anabranches on powerboats and rafts, went on mountain hikes on foot […]

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Putin hasn’t Destroyed Russia but Rather Russia has Destroyed Him, Konchalovsky Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 3, 2017) Many people accuse Vladimir Putin of destroying Russia, film director Andrey Konchalovsky says; but instead “Russia has destroyed Putin” because like any Russian ruler, he finds it hard “rule a state whose population has no idea about democracy … and by according to inviolable tradition voluntarily delegates all power […]

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Will New U.S. Sanctions Regime Finally Hit Putin and Those Closest to Him?

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 2, 2017) Western sanctions on Russia up to now have hit the ordinary people of that country, although not as hard as the countersanctions the Kremlin itself has imposed. But the Western actions have done less to affect those closest to Vladimir Putin who, unlike the Russian people, may be in […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia’s Villages, and Their Way of Life, Are ‘Melting Away'” – New York Times/ NEIL MacFARQUHAR

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

“… With Russia’s natural population growth entering an extended period of decline, villages like Baruta are disappearing from across the country’s continental expanse. * * * Russia’s demographic problem dates back at least 100 years, to the upheaval of the 1917 revolution, followed by Stalin’s purges in the 1930s. Both events curbed population growth, foreshadowing the devastating impact of World […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia to become a net borrower for first time in a decade” – bne Intellinews

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“… Russia has been dipping into its rainy day Reserve Fund to cover the federal budget deficit but this fund is due to run out of money sometime next year. Now the government is actively preparing to dip into its other sovereign fund, the National Welfare Fund, that was set up to meet future pension payments, but now will be […]

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Like the Tsarist One a Century Ago, ‘Putin’s System Could Fall Apart in a Single Day,” Gontmakher Says

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 27, 2017) A century ago, Nicholas II looked all powerful and yet he was overthrown and his country disintegrated, Yevgeny Gontmakher says; and today, Vladimir Putin looks even more powerful and with far greater popular support but because of the shortcomings of his system, it could “fall apart in a single day.” […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Joint news conference with President of Finland Sauli Niinisto (Q&A excerpt)

European Portion of Commonwealth of Independent States

(Kremlin.ru – July 27, 2017) Vladimir Putin and Sauli Niinisto gave a joint news conference following bilateral talks. Question from Yle (retranslated): My question concerns the military exercises conducted jointly by China and Russia in the Baltic Sea. I would like to ask President Putin: What message are China and Russia sending to others, what message do they want to […]

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Moscow’s Facelift as Modernization

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – MAXIM TRUDOLYUBOV – July 27, 2017) Maxim Trudolyubov, Senior Fellow with the Kennan Institute and editor-at-large with Vedomosti, has been following Russian economy and politics since the late 1990s. He has served as an opinion page editor for Vedomosti and editor and correspondent for the newspaper Kapital Central Moscow has been a scene of digging […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Risks Decades of Low Growth Under U.S. Sanctions: Putin Adviser”- Reuters

Alexei Kudrin file photo

“Russia risks being saddled with U.S. sanctions for decades, curbing economic growth and preventing it from regaining its status as a leading economic power, an adviser to President Vladimir Putin said …. Alexei Kudrin told Reuters that the current proposed tightening of sanctions in Washington should not have any serious impact. But he called for a major structural reform program […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting of the Agency of Strategic Initiatives Supervisory Board

Russia Regions Map

(Kremlin.ru – July 26, 2017) Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting in Petrozavodsk of the Supervisory Board of the autonomous non-commercial organisation Agency for Strategic Initiatives to Promote New Projects. The participants discussed the results of ASI’s work over the first half of 2017 and promising projects planned for implementation in 2017-2018. They include a package of measures to develop the […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with representatives of socially oriented and charitable organisations and volunteer movements

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

(Kremlin.ru – July 26, 2017) Before the meeting, the President visited the Petrozavodsk State University IT park, where he was taken around a display area with projects that are being implemented with support from the Agency for Strategic Initiatives. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, friends, good afternoon. I have always liked meeting with people who spend years doing what […]

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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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Two New Signs Russians are Ceasing to Trust the Kremlin’s Messages

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 25, 2017) In a lead article today, the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta say that for the first time fewer than half of all Russians say they trust government TV in large part because the economy and its problems are the primary focus of Russians in their everyday lives but the last […]

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NEWSWATCH PONARS Eurasia: “See our updated list of course syllabi & recommended reading”

Eurasia Map

(PONARS Eurasia – ponarseurasia.org – June 15, 2017 – ponarseurasia.org/article/see-our-updated-list-course-syllabi-recommended-reading) Several PONARS Eurasia members have made their syllabi available to our readership. Visit the Course Syllabi/Recommended Reading page: ponarseurasia.org/article/see-our-updated-list-course-syllabi-recommended-reading

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Russian Futurologists Missing the Most Important Point, Shelin Says

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 22, 2017) Russian futurology, currently experiencing an unprecedented boom, is focusing on the question of who might succeed Vladimir Putin rather than on the more important question of what kind of a country Putin or someone else will have to rule, according to Rosbalt commentator Sergey Shelin. Shelin says that most […]

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VIDEO & TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Meeting with students from Sirius Educational Centre (transcript continued from JRL#141)

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

(Kremlin.ru – July 21, 2017) [Video of event with English translation youtube.com/watch?v=EhwWSiLlJ3I] Vladimir Putin met with students from the Sirius Educational Centre for Talented Children in Sochi…. [transcript appears below] Question: Good afternoon, Mr President. I am Kirill Lakhminov from Moscow. As you know, the world is on the verge of a breakthrough in biotechnology. I have a question. How […]

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For the Chekists, Navalny is the Yeltsin of 1987, Portnikov says

Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – July 22, 2017) Many have forgotten that in May 1987, Boris Yeltsin, then head of the Moscow city committee of the CPSU, received representatives of the chauvinist and anti-Semitic Pamyat organization, thus sending a signal that he was someone the KGB and its allies could count on to defend their interests, Vitaly Portnikov […]

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Putin’s No Good, But Where’s the Alternative?; No opposition leader can muster a vision inspiring enough to compete.

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – July 21, 2017) Leonid Bershidsky is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru. No wonder it’s so difficult to imagine Russia without President Vladimir Putin: Even his most vehement opponents can’t seem to offer an alternative vision for the […]

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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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Muscovites Hesitant to Protest Housing Demolition Scheme, Poll Finds

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 24, 2017) Only one-third of Muscovites who voted against a controversial housing demolition program would participate in protests against the scheme, according to a poll published by independent pollster the Levada Center. The poll, conducted at the request of the RBC news outlet, revealed that 34 percent of those living in apartment blocks who […]

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Interfax: Aggression among people manifestation of weakness – Putin

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

SOCHI. July 21 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he usually manages to contain his aggressive mood and in those rare cases when he does lose his temper he is angry with himself. “Of course, I too constantly experience stressful and semi-stressful situations, I don’t like a lot of things, but I have still learnt how to control […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Meeting with students from Sirius Educational Centre

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

(Kremlin.ru – July 21, 2017) [Russian with video here http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/55114] Vladimir Putin met with students from the Sirius Educational Centre for Talented Children in Sochi. Vladimir Putin answered the students’ questions and reviewed some of their projects. The President was shown, among other things, a device for laboratory blood testing, the so-called Lab of the Future, which, according to its […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin tries to woo Russian teens with live TV show” – AFP

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“… Putin on Friday took part in a live television show, fielding questions from Russian youngsters in an apparent bid to connect with teenagers who have been flocking to opposition rallies. Putin, his shirt collar unbuttoned, faced his young audience at an educational centre for gifted children from 10 to 17 year of age in the Black Sea city of […]

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