‘Everyone Lost the Russian Presidential Elections’ Except Putin’s Favored Few, Yavlinsky Says

Grigoriy Yavlinskiy file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 21, 2018) In the March 18 elections, Vladimir Putin “received a mandate to change nothing … not in the struggle with corruption, not in health care, and not in education,” Grigory Yavinsky says. Therefore, everyone lost the elections: those who voted for Putin,” those who voted for his opponents left and […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin to Back $162 Billion Spending Spree for New Term” – Bloomberg

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“… Putin is planning a roughly 10 trillion-ruble ($162 billion) increase in spending on health care, education and infrastructure, hoping to kick-start sputtering economic growth in his new presidential term, according to people familiar with the plans. …. Some of the new spending will be offset with cuts … — the budget already calls for gradual reductions in military spending […]

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NEWSWATCH: “How to Stop Vladimir Putin’s Mafia; The real enemy is a group of about 100 beneficiaries of the regime and several thousand accomplices” – Wall Street Journal/Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky file photo

“… The West’s real enemy – and the enemy of the Russian people too – is a group of about 100 key beneficiaries of the Putin regime, and several thousand of their accomplices, many of whom hold posts in the Federal Security Service and the presidential administration.  Most of these people began their careers in the criminal underworld of St. […]

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RUSSIALINK: Interfax: “Duma speaker warns of Russia’s dangerous dependency on U.S. pharmaceutical imports”

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

MOSCOW. April 20 (Interfax) – Russia must take efficient measures to swiftly make available in its market domestically produced medicinal drugs to secure itself from a possible halt of U.S. imports, State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said. “The U.S. has around 50 billion rubles of annual net profit from supplying pharmaceuticals to our country,” Volodin told reporters on Friday after […]

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NEWSLINK: “Permanent Stagnation: Putin’s Invisible Fourth-Term Agenda; The symbolic and real dimensions of Russian politics are in radical contradiction of each other” – Carnegie Moscow/Andrei Kolesnikov

Putin Descending a Staircase

“… Putin’s hopes for a brief honeymoon after Russia’s utterly predictable and boring presidential election were quickly dispelled. While Western observers are captivated by the fallout from the lurid poisoning of a former Russian double agent in the UK, a sweeping wave of new U.S. sanctions, and the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons against its own people, Russians have […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Silicon Valley Giants Face a Test in Russia; Russian censors are going after Telegram, but the pressure is on Amazon, Google and Facebook too” – Bloomberg/Leonid Bershidsky

Montage of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook Logos, adapted from image at nps.gov

“The Russian authorities’ first experiment with blocking a popular messenger application — Telegram — is not working out so far. The web censorship agency, Roskomnadzor, has blocked millions of internet addresses to beat Telegram into submission, but it’s still widely available even without any bypass mechanisms, while numerous legitimate sites have experienced downtime. … Russian social networks have exploded with […]

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RUSSIALINK: “State TV Still Biggest and Most Trusted News Source for Russians – Poll” – Moscow Times

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 18, 2018) A new survey has shown that state-run television maintains its hold on the Russian public’s news consumption habits despite a trend in which young Russians are increasingly getting their news online. Among Russians polled by the independent Levada Center, 85 percent said they watch television for news about Russia and the world. […]

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Russia haunts the western imagination; The dividing line between authoritarian Russia and liberal democracies is growing ever thinner.

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

(opendemocracy.net – Ivan Krastev – April 16, 2018) Ivan Krastev is Visiting Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Programmes at The Graduate Institute and Geneva Permanent Fellow, Institute for Human Sciences (IWM), Vienna. He is also Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia. He is author of After Europe (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017). If a Martian were sent to earth with […]

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NEWSWATCH: “U.S. postpones fresh sanctions on Russia, Kremlin retaliation options limited” – bne Intellinews/Ben Aris

Nikki Haley file photo, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

“The Trump administration postponed imposing yet another round of sanctions to the ‘near future’ in the wake of … airstrikes on Syria. … Nikki Haley said … the U.S. would impose fresh sanctions … that would primarily target Russia’s defence sector and single out companies … linked to chemical weapon production. Russia’s markets opened flat … the next day … […]

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NEWSLINK: “Autumn of the Oligarchs; Vladimir Putin’s Billionaire Buddies Are Getting Scared, and Not Just of Sanctions” – The Daily Beast/Amy Knight

Kremlin and River

“Some of the oligarchs now face major U.S. sanctions, while others are getting arrested on the Kremlin’s orders. Is Putin’s circle of the shameless rich beginning to crumble?”  

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Medvedev:] Government report on its performance in 2012-2017” [Excerpt] – GovernmentRu

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Government.ru – March 11, 2018) [Full text government.ru/en/news/32246/] “The Government of the Russian Federation <…> shall submit to the State Duma annual reports on the Government’s performance, including on issues formulated by the State Duma.” (Constitution of the Russian Federation, Article 114, Clause 1, Subclause “a”). Excerpts from the transcript: Dmitry Medvedev: This year, the head of the country’s executive […]

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NEWSWATCH VIDEO: “Putin’s Next Act” – Brookings/ Julia Ioffe, Vladimir Kara-Murza, Angela Stent, Strobe Talbott, Alina Polyakova

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

(Brookings event – April 4, 2018) “… Putin’s third term as Russia’s president was defined by a return to aggressive foreign policy … military interventions in Ukraine and Syria, interference in elections in the United States and Europe … a crackdown on domestic dissent. … as Russia’s economic model and political system seem[] increasingly stagnant …. What might Putin’s fourth […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Putin at] Meeting of the State Council on promoting competition” – KremlinRu

Russia Regions Map

(Kremlin.ru – April 5, 2018) In the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin chaired a State Council meeting on priority areas of activity of the Russian regions to promote competition in the country. Head of the Republic of Udmurtia Alexander Brechalov, Head of the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service Igor Artemyev, Minister of Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin and Governor of the Ulyanovsk Region Sergei Morozov […]

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Why Ekaterinburg needs a directly elected mayor; One of Russia’s biggest cities is losing the right to elect its mayor. The position may be symbolic, but so is its loss.

Yekaterinburg file photo

(opendemocracy.net – Dmitry Kolezev – April 5, 2018) Dmitry Kolezev is deputy editor of Znak.com. He lives in Ekaterinburg. [opendemocracy.net/od-russia/dmitry-kolezev/why-ekaterinburg-needs-a-directly-elected-mayor] At the beginning of this week, several thousand residents of Ekaterinburg attended a demonstration against plans to cancel elections for the position of city mayor. People held placards bearing democratic slogans. Prominent city residents spoke from the stage, including the […]

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Kremlin’s Political Clans Start Competing Ahead of Possible Reshuffle

Kremlin and River

(Voice of America – voanews.com – Jamie Dettmer – MOSCOW, April 3, 2018) Reelected to a new term, Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to announce his ministerial lineup next month, but there are already signs that his long-time prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, is being reined in amid maneuvering by Moscow’s political clans, say analysts. One of Medvedev’s oligarch allies, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “POLL: Christian Values on Sodomy, Abortion, Surge In Russia – 83% Reject Homosexuality; ‘abortions have decreased eight-fold in Russia over the past 25 years'” – RussianFaith

Ultrasound and Photo of Prenatal Child file photo

“… [Numbers of] Russians … who consider abortion unacceptable ha[ve] tripled over … the past 20 years, from 12% to 35%. The number …  condem[ing] adultery and same-sex relationships … also significantly increased, according … [to the] Levada Center … [A]  late December 2017 [survey] showed that the majority of Russians (68%) condemn extramarital sexual relations, while only 50% condemned […]

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NEWSLINK: “Is Putin a C.I.A. Agent?” – Thomas L. Friedman/New York Times

New York Times Masthead from 1913 adapted from image at loc.gov

“… Because Putin has undertaken so many actions in recent years that contributed to the weakening of Russia’s economy and human capital base that you have to wonder whether he’s secretly on the C.I.A.’s payroll. …”

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NEWSWATCH: “Is it a crime to worship God? According to Russia, yes.” – Washington Post

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

“… Dennis Christensen … of Denmark, has been held [in Russia] in pretrial detention for 11 months … about to be tried on charges of organizing … activities of an ‘extremist organization,’ the Jehovah’s Witnesses. … [potentially] fac[ing] 10 years in prison. … the Russian Supreme Court declared the group ‘extremist’ and banned it from operating [in Russia]; there were […]

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From Tatiana Stanovaya: “Exclusive analysis about Russia; New project dedicated to Russian politics”

View of Kremlin from River, adapted from image at rpolitik.com

Subject: Exclusive analysis about Russia Date: Tue, 3 Apr 2018 From: Tatiana Stanovaya <analysis@rpolitik.com> New project dedicated to Russian politics Dear colleagues, I would like to present you a new issue of analytical Bulletin #2(3)2018 «RUSSIAN POLITICS. Unvarnished and Undiluted». https://rpolitik.com/category/bulletins/ Main headlines: The Kemerovo fire. What impact it will have on the FSB’s growing role? Ziawudin Magomedov and the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian Billionaire Arrest Jolts Stocks, Fuels Cabinet Shake-Up Speculation” – Bloomberg/Ksenia Galouchko, Ilya Arkhipov, Stepan Kravchenko

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

“The arrest of one of Russia’s best-connected billionaires on charges of fraud and embezzlement knocked shares in his companies lower and fueled speculation it could be the harbinger of a shake-up in the cabinet …. [Dagestani-born] Ziyavudin Magomedov was arrested … with his brother … as he prepared to fly to the U.S. … he denied the charges but was […]

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NEWSLINK: “Direct mayoral elections are abolished in Yekaterinburg” – Meduza

Yekaterinburg file photo

“A day after a protest in the capital, legislators in the Sverdlovsk regional parliament adopted a third and final reading of a law that abolishes the direct election of Yekaterinburg’s mayor. … Instead of the popular vote, Yekaterinburg’s mayor will now be selected by city deputies from a list of candidates determined by a ‘competition committee.’ …”

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Central Election Commission Chairperson Ella Pamfilova” – KremlinRu

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

(kremlin.ru – April 3, 2018) Vladimir Putin met with Central Election Commission Chairperson Ella Pamfilova. Central Election Commission Chairperson Ella Pamfilova: Mr President, I would like to congratulate you on your convincing victory at the election and to present your certificate. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much, Ms Pamfilova. I would like to express gratitude to all […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russian Professor Warns of Putin Hit list: ‘It’s Very Cold Warrish'” – Nina Khrushcheva

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

“Russian-American professor Nina Khrushcheva talked about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s retaliatory strategy against state enemies and warned that his hit list and weapons development program is reminiscent of Cold War tensions. …”  

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NEWSLINK: “Putin’s Grim Reality: Public Fury Over Children’s Deaths in Mall” – New York Times

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

“… Putin traveled to the town of Kemerovo to lay flowers next to a memorial for the at least 64 people, many of them children, who died in the fire on Sunday. Some of them died as they banged on locked exit doors and screamed into cellphones for help from their parents. …”  

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian President Putin promises justice after Siberian shopping mall blaze tragedy” – bne Intellinews

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

“… details emerge of the fire that has killed 64 people, according to the latest official report, including 41 children, making this the worst tragedy of its type in Russia’s history. Twenty people were rescued … about 100 were evacuated. 15 people remain in hospital …. [O]ne of the owners of the mall has been arrested [for] criminal negligence …. […]

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Interfax: Supervisory bodies need reform in wake of Kemerovo tragedy – Matviyenko

Valentina Matviyenko file photo

MOSCOW. March 28 (Interfax) – The Kemerovo tragedy has shown that the system of supervisory and inspection bodies in Russia needs reform, Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said. “We have so many supervisory agencies, inspection agencies in the country, but the situation with the shopping center in Kemerovo showed that this system needs a thorough analysis, a reform, a […]

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Putin Won Because His People Support Him and Would Have Even If Vote had Been Free and Fair, Pastukhov Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, March 25, 2018) On March 18, Vladimir Putin “won something more than elections: he won the battle for ‘the collective unconsciousness’ of the Russian people; and because he did so, Vladimir Pastukhov argues, the Kremlin leader would have won even if the vote had been fully free and fair And that constitutes […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “Meeting with local activists in Kemerovo” – KremlinRu

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

(Kremlin.ru – March 27, 2018) Vladimir Putin met with local activists who expressed low confidence in the shopping mall fire investigation. The group of activists includes family members of those killed and injured in the fire who do not trust the official data regarding the number of victims. The meeting took place in a forensic medical office where the activists […]

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Interfax: Medvedev to meet with all parliamentary factions ahead of government report in State Duma – Volodin

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

MOSCOW. March 27 (Interfax) – Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will have separate meetings with members of all four parliamentary factions ahead of the government report in the State Duma scheduled for April 11, State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said. “On March 28, a meeting with the faction of the [Liberal Democratic Party of Russia] LDPR is planned to take […]

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Interfax: Russian Constitutional Court restricts use of house arrest

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

ST. PETERSBURG. March 24 (Interfax) – House arrest cannot be used in charges that do not envisage imprisonment and deviation from this rule is only possible in a situation when the person has already breached a preventive measure before, the Russian Constitutional Court has ruled. The decision was posted on the court website on Friday. The claim was filed with […]

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“Gangster’s paradise: how organised crime took over Russia; Under Vladimir Putin, gangsterism on the streets has given way to kleptocracy in the state” – The Guardian (UK)/Mark Galeotti

“… The challenge posed by Russian organised crime is a formidable one – and not just at home. Across the world, it trafficks drugs and people, arms insurgents and gangsters, and peddles every type of criminal service, from money laundering to computer hacking. For all that, much of the rest of the world remains willing – indeed, often delighted – […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin thanks nation for re-election, promises ‘breakthrough'” – AP

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

“… the Central Election Commission officially declared [Putin] the winner … with nearly 77 percent of the vote … on track to become the nation’s longest-serving leader since … Stalin. … Putin’s most serious rival … Navalny, was barred from the race because of a criminal conviction widely seen as politically motivated. Observers reported numerous incidents of ballot stuffing and […]

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Interfax: Dvorkovich: president to decide income tax rate; difference between 13% and 15% not critical

Arkady Dvorkovich file photo

MOSCOW. March 22 (Interfax) – The difference between the current individual income tax rate, 13%, and the rate now under discussion, 15%, is not dramatic, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said, emphasizing that the president would make a final decision on the rate. “The 13% income tax rate is not a fetish. I don’t think that the difference between 13% […]

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Kremlin Officials Split Over Putin’s Economic Promises

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 23, 2018) Russian fiscal policymakers are wrangling over how to fulfil newly re-elected President Vladimir Putin’s spending promises, with one senior Kremlin figure advocating a quick but painful revenue grab and another a more radical overhaul of taxation. During his campaign Putin promised higher healthcare and infrastructure spending, but did not say how this […]

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RUSSIALINK: “A Mandate for Stagnation: After Russia’s Presidential Election” – Carnegie Moscow

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

“… Putin is beginning his fourth term as president of Russia. Andrei Kolesnikov, the head of the Domestic Politics and Political Institutions program at the Carnegie Moscow Center, discusses the elections results, some surprises in the presidential race and what comes next ….”

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Putin] Address to Russia citizens” – KremlinRu

Kremlin and River

(Kremlin.ru – March 23, 2018) Vladimir Putin addressed the citizens of Russia following the announcement of the presidential election official results by the Central Election Commission. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Citizens of Russia, friends, Today the Central Election Commission announced the final results of the Russian presidential election. Over 67 percent of voters, which is over 73 million citizens, […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin’s Hawks Got the Confirmation They Wanted; The Russian president defeated his strongest opponent — voter apathy” – Bloomberg/Leonid Bershidsky

Kremlin and River

“… The election was fake because Putin’s most vocal and most politically talented rival, Alexei Navalny, wasn’t allowed to run because of a trumped-up criminal conviction. It was fake because the “opposing candidates” were hand-picked by the Kremlin and because the majority of Russian media are under direct or indirect Kremlin control. It was also fake because of a fierce […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Putin at] Meeting with candidates for post of Russian Federation President” – KremlinRu

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

(Kremlin.ru – March 19, 2018) Vladimir Putin met with candidates who ran in the presidential election. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues. The election campaign is over, and I wanted to meet with you. I hope that today we will talk, first of all, about the campaign, and most importantly, about what needs to be done to ensure […]

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NEWSWATCH: “What to Expect From Putin and a Resurgent Russia” – AP

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

“… [Putin’s] domestic opponents are largely resigned to another six years in the shadows. …. Even widespread voting violations are unlikely to dent Putin’s armor. … accusations that he meddled in the U.S. election and sponsored a nerve agent attack in Britain have only bolstered his standing at home. Here’s a look at what to expect … NEW COLD WAR? … SYRIA […]

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NEWSLINK: “‘Russia is attempting something that nobody but America has tried in 30 years’ Why is Moscow’s foreign policy what it is? Meduza asks the experts” – Meduza

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“In recent years – thanks to the annexation of Crimea, the intervention in eastern Ukraine, and the war in Syria – foreign policy has come to influence the everyday lives of ordinary Russians both directly and indirectly. At the same time, however, state officials have often failed to explain the full logic behind these momentous decisions. To learn more about […]

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NEWSLINK: “It’s the Series Finale for “That Putin Show;” Today’s election in Russia will bring another empty political spectacle to a close. But the contest over the country’s future will just be getting started.” – Jacobin/SEAN GUILLORY

File Photo of Screenshot of Vladimir Putin Addressing Federal Assembly, adapted from video at kremlin.ru

“… Putinism is increasingly exhausting itself as its internal contradictions become more visible. …”

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “Answers to media questions; Vladimir Putin answered questions from Russian and foreign journalists following the completion of the presidential election.” – KremlinRu

Kremlin and River

(Kremlin.ru – March 18, 2018) President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good evening. Question: Good evening. What is your predominant emotion today? How do you feel, and what plans do you have for tomorrow? Vladimir Putin: The predominant emotion is gratitude to the voters for their choice, for the trust they have placed in me. Gratitude for their assessment of our […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia: Sham Elections for a Dictator” – Freedom House

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

“‘… ‘… Putin will win by an overwhelming margin thanks to regime-controlled media that glorifies the leader and demonizes his critics, the regime’s monopoly of all sources of economic power and wealth, and the removal of all serious opposition candidates through fraudulent legal maneuvers or by assassination.  Russia’s fake elections are now a model for autocrats in other countries, from […]

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With Russia’s Presidential Elections Looming, Ksenia Sobchak Has Already Moved On; “This presidential campaign was just the beginning.”

Ksenia Sobchak file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 16, 2018) Vitaly Shkliarov was tired. But with just two days to go until Russia’s presidential election, Ksenia Sobchak’s campaign strategist could see the finish line – and sleep – in sight. Sobchak, however, was only getting started. On Thursday afternoon, the clock was counting down until the former reality television star was due […]

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Kemerovo governor warned not to use administrative resources in election – Pamfilova

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

MOSCOW. March 16 (Interfax) – The Russian Central Elections Commission (CEC) has sent the Kemerovo region’s governor a telegram warning him not to use administrative resource in the presidential election. “The Kemerovo region needs monitoring. We sent a telegram to the governor today warning him that administrative resource cannot be used,” CEC Chair Ella Pamfilova said during a meeting with […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Real Drama in Russia’s Election: How Many Voters Will Show Up? Putin is poised to win another term as president, and efforts to boost turnout recall Soviet-era elections” – Wall Street Journal/Thomas Grove

Russia Regions Map

“… the challenge for the Kremlin [is] not how to assure [Putin’s] victory … but how to boost voter turnout and legitimize an uncompetitive election. … in the northern Yamal-Nenets region … residents of voting age will be able to take their pictures against an election banner at a voting booth and post it on VKontakte, one of Russia’s most […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian Voters Left Guessing at Putin’s Economic Plan” – Reuters

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“… Putin will enter Sunday’s election with little agreement among his top policymakers on an economic strategy for his next term …. Many Russians … prospered … [when] high oil prices contribut[ed] to bumper growth rates before … 2008 …. But the economy sank into recession after Western … sanctions … [over] Ukraine. A collapse in oil prices and the […]

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NEWSLINK: “Does Putin’s Russia reject the West?” – BBC/Sarah Rainsford

File Photo of British Parliament Building Including Saint Stephen's Tower Containing Big Ben

“Amid the furor over a nerve agent spy attack in the UK, Russia is holding a presidential election. … Putin is expected to win yet another term in office. Do ordinary Russians share his outlook? …”  

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On the Russian Presidential Campaign Trail in Siberia: Part Two: Putin, Grudinin, Titov and the Meaning of Life

File Photo of Car on Road in Siberian Town

Subject: Part Two Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2018 From: Sarah Lindemann-Komarova <echosiberia@gmail.com> On the Russian Presidential Campaign Trail in Siberia Part Two: Putin, Grudinin, Titov and the Meaning of Life By Sarah Lindemann-Komarova [Founder, Siberian Civic Initiatives Support Center 1995 – 2014. Helped to establish this as the hub for the first civil society development support network in the former […]

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On the Russian Presidential Campaign Trail in Siberia; Part One: Ksenia Sobchak

Ksenia Sobchak file photo

Subject: The Siberian Campaign Trail Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2018 From: Sarah Lindemann-Komarova <echosiberia@gmail.com> On the Russian Presidential Campaign Trail in Siberia Part One: Ksenia Sobchak By Sarah Lindemann-Komarova [Founder, Siberian Civic Initiatives Support Center 1995 – 2014. Helped to establish this as the hub for the first civil society development support network in the former Soviet Union.] [Text with […]

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