Interfax: Navalny tells of his questioning at Investigative Committee

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Marching on Street with Others in Background; adapted from image at commons.wikimedia.org by Evgeny Feldman, subject to Creative Commons license; original image at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FEV_1795_(cropped1).jpg, with license information at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en and https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode

MOSCOW. Feb 6 (Interfax) – The Russian Investigative Committee on Tuesday questioned the opposition politician Alexei Navalny in connection with injury caused to police officers during an unauthorized rally on January 28. “Today I was questioned by the Investigative Committee which explained to me what it was probing. I was shown a police report which contained this ridiculous phrase, literally: […]

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NEWSWATCH: “How to Monitor Russia’s Next Election” – Moscow Times/Grigory Melkonyants (Golos)

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

  “… The country, the composition of the Central Elections Commission (CEC) and electoral laws have all changed. … changing the rules ahead of every federal election has become something of a tradition in Russia. Golos has calculated that the authorities introduced 15 amendments to presidential election legislation between 2012 and 2017. In total, 59 out of the law’s 87 […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin Supporters’ Election Pitch: Remember Stalingrad; Video made at memorial to WWII victory is part of patriotic wave ahead of Russia’s March election” – Wall Street Journal/James Marson

Large Mother Russia Statue Near Volgograd

“… the video has also been chided for taking things too far, including on state television, underscoring the tension around the Kremlin’s efforts to drum up support despite a stagnant economy and a fall in living standards in recent years. * * *  Putin has made commemoration of the World War II [Stalingrad] victory a centerpiece of his rule, portraying […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Surprising Success of Putinomics; Behind Putin’s Formula for Holding Onto Power” – Foreign Affairs/Chris Miller

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“… Russia survived the twin challenges of the oil price crash and Western sanctions thanks to a three-pronged economic strategy. First, it focused on macroeconomic stability-keeping debt levels and inflation low-above all else. Second, it prevented popular discontent by guaranteeing low unemployment and steady pensions, even at the expense of higher wages or economic growth. Third, it let the private […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s media scene: not just a state affair; Despite Western preconceptions of a Soviet-like puppet media, the Russian news landscape is quite diverse, with outlets public and private, big and small. But government influence remains a critical concern” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

Collage of Russian Newspapers

“… Today’s Russian media is a mixture of old Soviet products – which have evolved but often retain dependency on the support of the state or Kremlin-friendly oligarchs – and a few independent ones that answer to business or politically minded owners. … most information about national and foreign affairs comes from the three big Moscow-based TV networks and national-scale […]

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The symbolic meaning of the presidential elections for Russian liberals; The Sobchak and Navalny campaigns are two very different options for the future of Russia’s democratic movement.

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(opendemocracy.net – Alexander Kynev – February 6, 2018) Alexander Kynev is a Russian political scientist. This article originally appeared on Republic in Russian. On the pages of Vedomosti, I recently analysed the electoral options that democratically-oriented voters have under various electoral systems and various pre-electoral choice of candidates. I would now like to draw attention to the long-term strategic consequences […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Starving Wolf No Longer: Can Russia Sustain Its Military? Russia is having to balance its demand for more advanced weapons with a slew of other priorities” – Moscow Times/Michael Kofman

Russian Soldiers Marching

“… the military … will probably continue operations [in Syria]. … [and] continue to fuel its other major conflict, Ukraine … supporting proxy forces in breakaway republics in the … east. But … Russia’s … Armed Forces are at a crossroads. Divergent spending priorities, resource constraints and myriad dilemmas loom …. * * * The Armed Forces may expand, but … […]

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NEWSLINK: “2018 election is no problem for Putin – but what about 2024? Vladimir Putin dominates Russian politics, but legally he can only serve two terms” – The Guardian/Shaun Walker

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

“… With nothing much at stake this time around, the Kremlin’s most pressing problem for the 2018 vote is ensuring enough people show up on polling day to make the turnout percentage respectable – which the opposition are trying to bring down through calls for a boycott. The problems on the 2024 horizon are far more serious. …”

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NEWSLINK: “The Perils of Change: Russians’ Mixed Attitudes Toward Reform” – Carnegie Moscow/ANDREI KOLESNIKOV, DENIS VOLKOV

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

“Summary: Most Russian citizens do not express a strong desire for sweeping change and do not have in mind a specific road map for reforms. And yet most Russians understand that the country cannot move forward, or even stay in place, without reforms. …”

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Russian Society Moving to the Left Rather than to the Right, Kirillova Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 1, 2018) Many people assume that the neo-traditionalist course of the Putin Administration is moving Russian society to the right opening the way to a right-wing dictatorship, but in fact, Kseniya Kirillova notes, there are many indications that Russian society is moving to the left on key issues of social justice. That […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin to Push State-of-Nation Speech Closer to March Vote, Officials Say” – Bloomberg/Stepan Kravchenko, Ilya Arkhipov, Evgenia Pismennaya

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

“The Kremlin has decided to delay … Putin’s annual state-of-the-nation speech to [take place] closer to the March 18 vote [providing] a key platform … to lay out priorities for his next presidential term, according to three officials familiar with the plans. … Putin is expected to discuss proposals for higher spending on popular domestic programs like health and education, while […]

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NEWSLINK: “Grigory Yavlinsky’s Program Gives Russian Society a Chance to Preserve Its Dignity; The leader of the opposition Yabloko Party is a candidate in the Russian presidential election” – The Nation/Nadia Azhgikhina

Grigoriy Yavlinskiy file photo

“The leader of the opposition Yabloko Party, Grigory Yavlinsky, is a candidate in the March 18 Russian presidential election. … one of the rare truly democratic and professional politicians on the Russian political scene. His platform is consistent. This is his third run, twice against Putin. …. His program presents a realistic alternative agenda. He demands to end wars in […]

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Belykh case reveals flaw of Russian law enforcement: lack of mercy for the ill – Kudrin

Nikita Belykh file photo

MOSCOW. Feb 2 (Interfax) – The case of Nikita Belykh, the former governor of the Kirov region, who has been sentenced to eight years in jail, is a manifestation of the absence of mercy for sick people, Russia’s former finance minister, Alexei Kudrin, said. “Among other things, the Belykh case revealed the most anti-humane flaw of our law enforcement system: […]

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Kremlin’s New Approach to Dissent has Marginalized Even Navalny, ‘Nezavisimaya Gazeta’ Says

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Marching on Street with Others in Background; adapted from image at commons.wikimedia.org by Evgeny Feldman, subject to Creative Commons license; original image at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FEV_1795_(cropped1).jpg, with license information at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en and https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 30, 2018) The Russian authorities have “learned how to marginalize the actions of the opposition without the use of force,” the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta say; and unless Aleksey Navalny can come up with a slogan that will unite more of the opposition than does his call for a boycott, he […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Why Did the Trump Administration Pass the Buck on Sanctioning Russia?” [excerpt] – Russia Matters/David Szakonyi

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

David Szakonyi is an assistant professor of political science at George Washington University This week’s highly anticipated news on additional Russia sanctions landed with a thud. For weeks, both Moscow and Washington had been astir about the impending steps the Trump administration would take against Russia based on legislation reluctantly signed by the president nearly six months ago” and overwhelmingly […]

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NEWSLINK: “Putin: From Oligarch to Kleptocrat” – New York Review of Books/Ruth May

Vladimir Putin

“… Putin’s real intention—and not from the day he entered the Kremlin, but from the day he left Dresden—was to reassert the authority of the autocratic state. …”

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Investors Take U.S. List Of Russian ‘Oligarchs’ In Stride — For Now

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Carl Schreck – January 30, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-investors-brush-off-us-treasury-oligarchs-list/29007996.html) For months Russia’s business and political elite were fretting about the planned release of a U.S. list of potential Russian targets for fresh sanctions — including government officials and “oligarchs” purportedly close to the Kremlin. After that unclassified list […]

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Why The List Matters

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – January 31, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/daily-vertical-transcript-why-the-list-matters/29009462.html) So by now we’ve all probably heard the initial reaction to the U.S. Treasury Department’s much-anticipated list of the most influential Russian officials and oligarchs who could be subject to future sanctions. It’s nothing more than a “who’s who” […]

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NEWSLINK: “DC Think Tanks Fail To Deliver Russian ‘Sanctions’ Smackdown, Market Up” – Forbes/ Kenneth Rapoza

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

“… The bulk of the names on the list, including Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller, VTB Bank president Andrey Kostin, and metals tycoon Oleg Deripaska, were all names on ‘black’ and ‘gray’ lists circulating between the State Department and Washington think tanks for months. Treasury said that the appearance on the list does not mean they are banned from traveling to […]

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NEWSLINK: “Washington added every Russian billionaire to its ‘list of oligarchs.’ Does that make sense? Who are these ‘oligarchs’?” – Meduza

File Photo of Two Persons Shaking Hands and Exchanging Cash

“1. What Happened? … 2. Who does Washington consider an “oligarch” in Russia? … 3. But who are “oligarchs” really? It is just very rich business people? … 4. Who are Russia’s oligarchs? Where’d they come from? … 5. Is this the only definition of “oligarchy”? … 6. Does Russia have “oligarchs” today? …”

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Interfax: Increase in number of minors taking part in unauthorized rallies is problem – human rights council

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

MOSCOW. Jan 31 (Interfax) – The number of minors taking part in unauthorized events has increased considerably, the Russian presidential human rights council said. “One of the problems is a considerable number in the percentage of minors. At Sunday’s event, by 3:30 p.m., some 60% [of the participants] were minors,” Kirill Kabanov, a member of the human rights council, said […]

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Russia’s presidential elections: predictable results with an unpredictable aftermath; This March, Russia goes through the motions of yet another (re)election. Here are the contenders, and a few reasons why their contest may just be worth watching.

Kremlin and River

(opendemocracy.net – Ilya Budraitskis – January 29, 2018) Ilya Budraitskis is Moscow-based historian and political writer. He is current member of editorial board of Moscow Art Magazine, Openleft.ru and LeftEast. [“A strong president for a great country”. Campaign office for Vladimir Putin’s (re)election, Kazan, January 2018. Photo (c): Maksim Bogodvid / RIA Novosti. All rights reserved.] This article originally appeared […]

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Yekaterinburg Mayor Yevgeny Roizman on Why Russians Should Boycott the Elections

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 29, 2018) The Moscow Times spoke with opposition politician Yevgeny Roizman, who has been the mayor of Yekaterinburg since he defeated a United Russia candidate in 2013. Roizman has openly supported opposition leader Alexei Navalny in calling for an electoral boycott of the upcoming presidential elections. Here is why. On the presidential election in […]

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Few Russians Think ‘Era of Oligarchs’ is Over

Arkady Dvorkovich file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 28, 2018) At Davos, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said that there aren’t any oligarchs left in Russia, a declaration that has attracted a great deal of attention both in Russia and abroad but very little support among Russians who continue to see oligarchs as an evil force in their […]

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NEWSLINK: “The name of the game is cruelty. Why Russia’s State Duma wants to ban a ‘baiting stations’ in the training of hunting dogs, and why the Senate is opposed.” – Meduza

Russian State Duma Building file photo

“In mid-January, the State Duma created a mediation committee to review draft legislation that would ban ‘baiting stations,’ where hunting dogs are trained to attack leashed wild animals. Co-sponsored by Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, the bill passed the lower house of Russia’s parliament in December 2017, before running into rare opposition from the Federation Council, which soon voted down the […]

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NEWSLINK: “Project Inertia: The Outlook for Putin’s Fourth Term” – Carnegie Moscow/Andrei Kolesnikov

Putin Descending a Staircase

“Do not expect modernization after Putin’s 2018 reelection. Instead, the system he built will function on autopilot as the Russian leader continues to lose direct control over events, ideas, and actions. But that doesn’t imply democratization. In essence, the head of state finds himself chained to the galley that he built himself”

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NEWSLINK: “STALIN, PADDINGTON, AND THE PRESS” – irrussianality/Paul Robinson

File Photo of Reel of Film

“What do Josef Stalin and Paddington Bear have in common? Answer: The Russian Ministry of Culture has tried to ‘ban’ films about them – or at least that what recent headlines would have you believe. The truth is a bit more complex. …”

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Russians So Overwhelmingly Apolitical that Poll Numbers are Meaningless, Kagarlitsky Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 20, 2018) Given that 90 percent of Russian society is “apolitical,” Moscow commentator Boris Kagarlitsky says, “it is impossible” to say how much support Vladimir Putin or anyone else has. Indeed, asking that question under Russian conditions now is completely inappropriate. This comment from the director of the Institute of Globalization […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “Vladimir Putin spoke at meeting for Supreme Court 95th anniversary” – KremlinRu

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Kremlin.ru – January 23, 2018) The meeting was held at the Supreme Court building in Moscow and was attended by members of the judiciary, the Government and the Federal Assembly. The history of Russia’s supreme legislative authority for civil, criminal and administrative cases and economic disputes began with the establishment of the Supreme Court of the RSFSR in 1923. In […]

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NEWSLINK: “Was This Russian General Murdered Over the Steele Dossier? The notorious dossier on Trump that Republicans want to discredit may well have been credible enough in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s eyes to get at least one person killed” – Daily Beast/Amy Knight

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

NEWSLINK: “Russia faces 6 more years of stagnation under Putin” – CNN/ Alanna Petroff

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“Russian President Vladimir Putin looks set to win re-election in March, extending his stay in the Kremlin to 2024. For Russia’s economy, that likely means six more years of anemic growth. …”

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NEWSLINK: “Ksenia Sobchak has the signatures she needs to join Russia’s presidential race” – Meduza

Ksenia Sobchak file photo

  “… Currently, the only two presidential candidates formally registered to appear on the ballot in March are LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovskyand the Community Party’s candidate, Pavel Grudinin. …”

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Interfax: Russian Constitutional Court doesn’t accept Navalny’s complaint over participation in presidential election

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

ST. PETERSBURG. Jan 19 (Interfax) – The Russian Constitutional Court has refused to accept Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny’s complaint about the norms of the court’s law on presidential elections. The court’s ruling, dated January 18, is available on the court’s website. The Russian Constitutional Court earlier scrutinized a norm similar to that contested by Navalny as part of a […]

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73% of Russians Plan To Vote for Putin – Survey

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 18, 2018) The majority of Russians say they will go to the polls to vote for Putin in the March 2018 presidential elections, according to a survey published by the state-run Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) on Wednesday. Another polling agency, the independent Levada Center, announced last week that they would not be […]

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Tyumen city hall approves Navalny supporters’ Jan 28 rally

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Marching on Street with Others in Background; adapted from image at commons.wikimedia.org by Evgeny Feldman, subject to Creative Commons license; original image at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FEV_1795_(cropped1).jpg, with license information at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en and https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode

TYUMEN. Jan 19 (Interfax) – Supporters of Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny have been permitted to hold a rally in Tyumen on January 28, a city administration representative told Interfax on Friday. “We have issued permission for the rally, which will take place at Zarechny Park,” the representative said. The opposition originally sought permission for a procession along Tsvetnoi Boulevard […]

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Moscow City Hall proposes three alternative venues for Jan. 28 opposition rally

Moscow Protest File Photo

MOSCOW. Jan 19 (Interfax) – Moscow authorities have proposed three alternative venues for a rally the Russian opposition plans to hold in the center of Moscow on January 28 – places in the city’s northeast, southeast and northwest, a Moscow City Hall spokesperson told Interfax. “We have responded to this application by suggesting three options: a rally at Sokolniki Park, […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Government members – KremlinRu

Kremlin and River

(Kremlin.ru – January 16, 2018) Vladimir Putin held the first meeting with Government members this year. Minister of Transport Maxim Sokolov reported to the meeting participants on passenger air and rail transportation volumes during the New Year holidays and over 2017. Head of the Federal Agency for Tourism Oleg Safonov reported on the growth of domestic, inbound and outbound tourist […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Future of Navalny’s Opposition Movement; Why It Will Continue to Challenge the Kremlin” – Foreign Affairs/Anton Barbashin

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Marching on Street with Others in Background; adapted from image at commons.wikimedia.org by Evgeny Feldman, subject to Creative Commons license; original image at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FEV_1795_(cropped1).jpg, with license information at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en and https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode

“In March 2017 … Navalny released a shocking video investigation … reveal[ing] that Medvedev has been able to amass a tremendous fortune while in power … several mansions in Russia, a villa and property in Italy, and other assets worth roughly $1.2 billion. … spark[ing] a great deal of interest among Russians … receiv[ing] almost 26 million views on YouTube […]

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RUSSIALINK: “The 9th Gaidar Forum; The 2018 Gaidar Forum’s main theme is Russia and the World: Values and Virtues. [speech by Dmitry Medvedev]” – GovernmentRu

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Government.ru – January 16, 2018) The Gaidar Forum is an ongoing discussion platform for pressing current issues. The forum has been held annually since 2010 in memory of Yegor Gaidar, a researcher, economist and ideologist of the early 1990s reforms in Russia. Forum discussions centre on Russia’s place and strategic role in the world. Among forum moderators are high-ranking politicians […]

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RUSSIALINK: [Putin at] Meeting with participants of the Forum of Small Towns and Historical Settlements – KremlinRu

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

Vladimir Putin met with participants of the Forum of Small Towns and Historical Settlements that opened in Kolomna. The forum is devoted to preserving and developing the cultural, tourism and economic potential of small towns. Before the meeting the President visited an exhibition of projects for a comfortable urban environment. Vladimir Putin looked over the stands of the Ministry of […]

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Interfax: Russian Foreign Ministry suggests barring U.S. diplomats from monitoring presidential election

File Photo of U.S. Embassy Moscow, with Russian Foreign Ministry Building in Distance

MOSCOW. Jan 17 (Interfax) – A proposal to deprive United States diplomats of the right to monitor Russia’s upcoming presidential election has been forwarded to the Russian Central Elections Commission (CEC), a source at the Foreign Ministry told Interfax. “The Russian Foreign Ministry assumes that the U.S. side did not allow [Russian] diplomats who planned to visit some polling stations […]

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NEWSLINK: “Do Russians Want Change?” – Carnegie Moscow/Andrei Kolesnikov, Denis Volkov

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

“Russians do not express an overwhelming desire for change. Few understand how it could occur in their country. But most recognize that Russia cannot move forward without reform. In Russia, hoping for change often appears to be a lost cause. The public’s social expectations are seldom high, and they often get what they expect: very little. But Russia’s upcoming March […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia Weighs Biggest Spending Spree Since Putin’s Re-Election” – Bloomberg/Andrey Biryukov, Ilya Arkhipov, Evgenia Pismennaya, Anna Andrianova, Olga Tanas

Putin Descending a Staircase

“Russia’s government is discussing a proposal to turn on the fiscal taps in what would be the biggest domestic spending spree since President Vladimir Putin last ran for re-election in 2012. …”

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NEWSWATCH: “Kremlin tries to stir voters’ interest in Putin’s election campaign; Slick, US-style apparatus set up in effort to present Russian poll as a contest” – Financial Times/ Kathrin Hille

Russia Regions Map

“… With 18 years in power … far-reaching control over institutions from parliament to courts and the election watchdog, and no serious challenger, [Putin] can afford to skip wooing voters …. the Kremlin frets that too smooth a campaign is dangerous. … voters’ passivity [includes] resignation that they cannot effect political change anyway … [that] could metastasise into widespread disaffection […]

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VCIOM: 81% of respondents to vote for Putin in election

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

MOSCOW. Jan 15 (Interfax) – Of the 67% of respondents surveyed by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM) who said they firmly intend to vote in the coming presidential election, over 80% said they are inclined to vote for Vladimir Putin, Valery Fyodorov, the head of the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM), said. “We are presenting another rating, […]

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Snob: The Mathematics of a Boycott

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

(Institute of Modern Russia – imrussia.org – January 12, 2018) Dmitry Oreshkin argues that Navalny’s call for a boycott is good step for him, but not for voters Even before he was officially denied nomination as a presidential candidate, Alexei Navalny called on his supporters to boycott the presidential elections. Political commentator Dmitry Oreshkin discusses why this is good step […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Putin at] Meeting with heads of Russian print media and news agencies” – KremlinRu

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

(Kremlin.ru – January 11, 2018) Ahead of Russian Press Day marked on January 13, Vladimir Putin met with heads of Russian print media and news agencies in the editorial office of the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper. The discussion focused on current professional issues. The President congratulated media representatives on their professional holiday. In December 2017, during Vladimir Putin’s annual news conference, […]

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