Half of Russians Support Tough NGO Sanctions

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 11, 2013) Over half of Russians support tough measures implemented against NGOs, while nearly a third don’t know what activities these organizations are actually engaged in, a Levada Center poll suggests. A controversial law was passed in November requiring all groups that receive foreign funding and engage in “political activity” to register as “foreign […]

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Memorial refuses to be recognized as foreign agent

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Interfax – MOSCOW. July 10, 2013) The Russian human rights and educational society Memorial has dismissed Prosecutor General Yury Chaika’s statement that Memorial has set up a ramified structure in order to evade registration as a foreign agent. “Memorial (branches) emerged in many cities and consolidated into one organization on its own, and it had nothing to do with those […]

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The Moscow Front

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – July 9, 2013) With Moscow’s election months away and the result likely predetermined, the next big showdown in the Russian capital should come as early as next week. In the last couple days, more than 6,000 people have already joined a special Facebook page calling on Russians to gather on Moscow’s Manezh Square […]

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Inter-Ethnic Conflicts in Russia Reflect the Erosion of State Power, ‘Vedomosti’ Says

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, July 10, 2013) Russian officials have long sought to dismiss ethnic conflicts as being product of the everyday disputes people have rather than clashes between two nationalities, but today the editors of “Vedomosti” offer another and more disturbing diagnosis by suggesting that such conflicts “above all” are a reflection of “the continuing […]

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Putin Officials, Judges Seen Topping Russia Corruption in Survey

Hands Opening Envelope Containing Cash

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anton Doroshev & Ilya Arkhipov – June 9, 2013) Police, judges and lawmakers, as well as bureaucrats, are seen in Russia as the most corrupt groups, fueling popular discontent with the government, according to a global survey by Transparency International. Five percent of Russian respondents rated President Vladimir Putin’s anti-corruption campaign as effective, a sharp drop […]

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For $50 Million You Too Can Enter Putin Moscow Playhouse

Vladimir Putin file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Stepan Kravchenko, Evgenia Pismennaya & Irina Reznik – July 10, 2013) Josef Stalin built a massive luxury apartment compound across the river from the Kremlin to both reward and spy on his closest comrades. The one Vladimir Putin built for his clique is smaller and harder to find. Tucked among a warren of Soviet-era structures about […]

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Supreme Court Clarifies Difference Between Bribes and Payment

File Photo of Man Placing Stack of Large Bills into Inside Pocket of Suitcoat

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 10, 2013) The receipt of payment for professional services cannot be considered a bribe, the Supreme Court has ruled, a news report said Wednesday. A bribe is the receipt of money or services in return for actions performed by a public official using the authority delegated to him, the court said. The ruling may […]

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High-ranking civil servants won’t have right to accept money from abroad – government

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Interfax – MOSCOW, July 9, 2013) Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed an anti-corruption directive which prohibits civil servants from engaging in activities funded by foreign or international organizations. The ban will apply to civil servants employed by the Pension Fund, Social Insurance Fund, Federal Mandatory Health Insurance Fund and other organizations where appointments and dismissals are ordered by the […]

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Russians Prefer Patriotic Leaders, Not Liberals or Conservatives

Map of Russia

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, July 10, 2013) ­ Many more Russians approve of politicians labeled as “patriots” than they do “liberals,” “conservatives” or even “nationalists,” according to a state survey published Wednesday. Eighty-five percent of respondents expressed a positive sentiment toward “patriot” politicians, while only 6 percent viewed them negatively, Russia’s VTsIOM pollster reported. Some 59 percent said they approve […]

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Russian rights ombudsman sets hopes on changes to controversial NGO law

Vladimir Lukin file photo

(Interfax – July 9, 2013) Russia’s human rights ombudsman, Vladimir Lukin, has said he hopes the controversy over Russia’s “foreign agent” NGO law will subside if the legislation is amended to clearly distinguish between organizations engaged in political activity and those working on social issues, Russian privately-owned Interfax news agency reported on 9 July.(1) “Everything depends on which amendments are […]

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Medvedev calls on business to work more closely with government

Dmitry Medvedev file photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW, July 10, 2013) Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has called on Russian business to more closely work with the government in conditions of a complex economic situation in the country and changes in the world model for economic growth. “For the state and for business it is important not to waste time and to act in conjunction, […]

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Russian privatisation programme in complete disarray

Empty Boardroom

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – July 10, 2013) Russia’s privatisation programme fell into complete disarray on July 9 after the state-owned shipping giant Sovcomflot announced it would float a 25% stake on the New York Stock Exchange later this year. The decision to launch an IPO on the US exchange comes only a few months after Russian President Vladimir […]

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Russia puts spending on guns ahead schools

File Photo of Russian Tanks in Military Parade

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – MOSCOW BLOG – July 9, 2013) The Russian government has just approved the next three-year budget that runs to 2016 that has cut spending on education and health in favour of boosting it on reequipping the armed forces. Relations between Russia and the west are probably at their lowest ebb since the fall of […]

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Architectural Preservation’s Politics

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Delphine d’Amora – July 9, 2013) The battle over the preservation of Moscow’s architectural heritage has become visibly political in recent weeks, as prominent opposition parties criticized acting mayor Sergei Sobyanin’s policies. Several candidates have promised to address the issue in the run-up to this September’s mayoral race. The primary catalyst in the debate has […]

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Penalties for environmental pollution rise by degree of magnitude in Russia

File Photo of Smokestacking Spewing Cloud of Discharge

(Interfax – MOSCOW, July 8, 2013) Penalties for violating the rules of water use and harmful emissions in Russia, which aim to stimulate energy conservation and environmentally clean technologies, have grown by a degree of magnitude, the Russian Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said in a press release. The administrative fine for violating water use rules when taking water without […]

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Collateral Damage from Three New Russian Laws

Russian Duma Building

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, July 6, 2013) Three new pieces of Russian legislation appear likely to inflict serious collateral damage on that country, eliminating a defender of Lake Baikal against industrial pollution, inflicting new suffering on the already hard-pressed numerically small peoples of the north, and destroying some of the last vestiges of federalism in the […]

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Russian NGOs received over 30 billion rubles of financing in six months – Prosecutor General

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Interfax – July 9, 2013) Over 2,000 non-governmental organizations (NGO) operating in Russia received over 30 billion rubles since the new law on NGOs came into effect, Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika said. “Since the law came into effect – since November 2012 until April 2013 – NGOs received generally (…) 30.8 billion rubles,” Chaika told Russian President Vladimir Putin. […]

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Navalny’s day in court: politics and protection

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Being Grabbed by Police at Protest

(Moscow News – Anna Arutunyan, Editor & Correspondent at themoscownews.com – July 8, 2013) With the verdict in opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s trial scheduled for July 18, the bets are on: will he get six years in jail like the prosecutors asked? Or a suspended sentence? What’s interesting about this question is that the answer has very little to do […]

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Gordeyeva and Russian emigrants: Brave Sir Robins?

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Natalia Antonova, Acting Editor-in-Chief – July 8, 2013) Journalist Katerina Gordeyeva’s recent Colta.ru essay, “The impossibility of an island,” has caused quite a stir among Russian intellectuals. In the essay, Gordeyeva spoke about letting go of the illusion that Russia’s progressive middle class can live on its own special island, separate from reality. She urged […]

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Navalny Defiant in Closing Remarks

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Natalya Krainova – July 8, 2013) Prosecutors on Friday asked a Kirov court to sentence political opposition leader Alexei Navalny to six years in prison and a $30,000 fine on charges of stealing timber from a state-owned company in 2009, but even in the face of such charges Navalny was defiant in closing arguments. Many […]

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58 Percent of Russians Now Say Kremlin Using Repression

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, July 8, 2013) Ever more Russians tell pollsters the Kremlin is repressing its political opponents, a reflection of their own anger about declines in their standard of living and of their sense that the country is increasingly unstable, according to experts who nonetheless argue that these popular attitudes will not produce a […]

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Academy reform to be done in 3 years, no dismissals planned – Duma committee head

Russian Duma Building

(Interfax – MOSCOW, July 4, 2013) Transformations in the Russian Academy of Sciences will be evolutionary and take three years. Corresponding members may become academicians in that period, the Academy administration will be abolished, and the Academy’s Agency for Scientific Institutes will manage Academy property and research centers. “There will be no haste; transformations will begin unhurriedly, one or two […]

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Ethnic Identity No Longer Primary One for Russians, Tishkov Says

Map of Russia

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, July 4, 2013) Russians increasingly identify themselves not in ethnic terms but in others, a development that the director of the Moscow Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology says should not lead anyone to conclude in “alarmist” terms that ethnic Russians are “losing their self-identification.” Instead, Valery Tishkov told a Moscow roundtable yesterday, […]

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Magnitsky-Linked Official is Suspect in Fraud Case – Report

File Photo of Man Placing Stack of Large Bills into Inside Pocket of Suitcoat

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, July 5, 2013) ­ A former tax inspector included on a draft version of the Magnitsky List of Russian officials banned from the United States for human rights abuses has become a suspect for Russian investigators looking into a huge tax scam, Kommersant newspaper reported Friday. Olga Tsymai, a former employee of the Federal Tax Service, […]

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Mikhail Kasyanov: “Tightening of the screws increases our chances”

Mikhail Kasyanov File Photo

(Institute of Modern Russia – imrussia.org – July 2, 2013) In June, former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, co-leader of the Republican Party of Russia­People’s Freedom Party (RPR­PARNAS), visited the United States. In an interview with IMR Advisor Olga Khvostunova, Kasyanov discussed the opposition’s plans for the new political season and shared his views on the situation in Russia. Recent […]

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Russia: Detained Opposition Mayor Pleads Innocence

Yevgeny Urlashov file photo

(RIA Novosti – July 4, 2013) Yaroslavl mayor Yevgeniy Urlashov has pleaded not guilty to charges of extorting a bribe, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported on 4 July. He made the statement at a court session that had been convened to decide whether to keep him in custody. Urlashov, who belongs to Mikhail Prokhorov’s Civil Platform opposition party, […]

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Russian Opposition Mayor Arrested in Corruption Case

Yevgeny Urlashov file photo

(RIA Novosti – July 5, 2013) A court in Yaroslavl ruled early on Friday to arrest an opposition politician who won a rare landslide victory against the ruling United Russia party in a mayoral election last year. Yaroslavl Mayor Yevgeny Urlashov was charged along with four of his colleagues on Thursday with extorting a 14 million ruble ($420,000) bribe, investigators […]

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Case Against Yaroslavl Mayor Looks Legitimate, Rights Activists Say

Yevgeny Urlashov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Natalya Krainova – July 5, 2013) Investigators officially charged Yaroslavl Mayor Yevgeny Urlashov and a group of his subordinates with attempted bribery Thursday as members of the Kremlin human rights council met to discuss the case, which Urlashov’s supporters say they suspect has been fabricated by his political enemies. But members of the council, generally […]

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Golikova Odds-on to Head Audit Chamber

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 5, 2013) Former Health and Social Development Minister Tatyana Golikova could be appointed head of the Audit Chamber as early as Friday by President Vladimir Putin, several government sources said, Vedomosti reported Thursday. Golikova, currently a presidential aide, was tipped to replace Sergei Stepashin as soon as a new law prescribing the re-election of […]

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Medvedev Says He’s Pleased to Learn Future Pension Size

Two Babushkas file photo

(RIA Novosti – BLAGOVESHCHENSK, Bashkiria, July 3, 2013) ­ As Russian officials put the finishing touches on a new pension plan that would peg Russian citizens’ retirement money to their labor record and wages, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday that he was pleased to learn his future pension size was more than $2,000 a month. Medvedev calculated his future […]

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Putin: Defense programs must not be heavy burden on economy, social sector

Russian Nuclear Submarine file photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW, July 5, 2013) The development of Russia’s armed forces should not deprive the national economy and public sector of financial resources, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “The defense programs should be reasonable and should not be a heavy burden on the country’s economy and public sector,” Putin said at a Russian Security Council meeting dealing with the […]

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Veteran human rights defender: Russia should scrap ‘foreign agents’ law

Lyudmila Alekseyeva file photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW, July 4, 2013) A veteran Russian human rights defender insisted on Thursday that Russia ditch its law that prescribes “foreign agent” status for foreign-funded Russian nonprofit organizations (NPOs) that are involved in domestic political activities. “I am convinced that this law must be repealed,” Lyudmila Alexeyeva, leader of the Moscow Helsinki Group, told Interfax. She was commenting […]

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Police Raid Academy of Sciences in Illegal Immigration Sweep

Adaptions of Image from Livermore.gov of Element 118 Atoms

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, July 5, 2013) ­ Russia’s prestigious Academy of Sciences, whose members are currently engaged in a fierce battle against government-proposed reforms, found itself under fire yet again Friday when police raided the basement of its Moscow headquarters for illegal immigrants. After receiving a tip-off late Thursday that the basement was being used as a makeshift hostel, […]

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Putin Calls on Moscow Airports to Reveal Owners’ Identities

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, July 3, 2013) ­ All Moscow airports must disclose their beneficiary owners as part of a plan to create a unified aviation hub for the capital, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday, in a move that appears to put pressure on Domodedovo airport whose beneficiary owners have refused to reveal themselves. “It is essential that all […]

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Scientists Slam Academy Reform

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Natalya Krainova – July 3, 2013) The State Duma is set to vote Wednesday in a first reading on a heavily criticized bill sponsored by the government that would strip the Russian Academy of Sciences of an important source of revenue: the right to lease its premises. On Tuesday, around a thousand researchers held a […]

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Putin: academic institute directors should not be appointed by bureaucrats

Artist's Conception of Nanotechnology Components

(Interfax – MOSCOW, July 3, 2013) Bureaucrats should not have the right to appoint directors of academic institutes, President Vladimir Putin said. “I would like to call your attention to a key provision of this draft law [reforming the Academy], i.e. the establishment of an agency managing Academy assets and essentially performing one of its main functions – the appointment […]

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Business Amnesty Bill Approved

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Bratersky – July 3, 2013) The State Duma on Tuesday passed in the third and final reading the long-awaited economic crimes amnesty bill, which will free several thousand businessmen from the nation’s prisons. But despite the fact that the legislation was supported by all of the Duma parties when it was being prepared, only […]

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Human rights activist Alexeyeva skeptical of declared economical amnesty

Lyudmila Alekseyeva file photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW, July 2, 2013) Russia’s oldest human rights activist, head of the Moscow Helsinki Group Lyudmila Alexeyeva said she criticized the economic amnesty declared by the Russian State Duma on Tuesday. “The obligation to repay damages undercuts this entire amnesty. This is a fly in the ointment,” Alexeyeva told Interfax on Tuesday. “If a person indeed did steal, […]

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Duma Makes Nominations For Audit Chamber Chief

Russian Duma Building

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Guennadi Moukine – July 2, 2013) The State Duma has approved the nominations of Sergei Stepashin, Tatyana Golikova and Andrei Makarov as candidates to head the Audit Chamber, leaving it up to President Vladimir Putin to choose one of them or award the position to somebody else by October 1, 2013, news reports said Monday. […]

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Russian rights body urges Putin to improve authorities’ relations with NGOs

Vladimir Putin file photo

(Interfax – Moscow, July 1, 2013) The presidential council for human rights (CHR), having examined the situation with the eviction of members of the movement For Human Rights from their office, has urged the head of state to take measures to protect non-commercial organizations (NGOs) in cases of this kind. “Considering this conflict in the general context of current tasks […]

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Moscow News: Why gay pride parades aren’t getting us very far in Russia

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow News – Anna Arutunyan, Editor and Correspondent at themoscownews.com – July 1, 2013) This article contains information not suitable for readers younger than 18 years of age, according to Russian legislation. I have a very good friend who is convinced that being gay is a curable disease. Or, at least, he was convinced, until we spoke about it. During […]

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Russian regulator proves first case of insider trading

File Photo of Man Placing Stack of Large Bills into Inside Pocket of Suitcoat

(Interfax – MOSCOW, July 2, 2013) The Federal Financial Markets Service (FFMS) has for the first time proven a case of insider trading on the Russian market, the head of the regulator, Dmitry Pankin said on his official blog. The case concerns transactions with shares in cosmetics firm Kalina (RTS: KLNA) in the fall of 2011, ahead of the announcement […]

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Putin Signs ‘Blasphemy’ and ‘Gay Propaganda’ Bills

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 1, 2013) President Vladimir Putin has signed the so-called “blasphemy bill” and the “gay propaganda bill” ­ two pieces of legislation that have outraged the liberal opposition. Both bills were passed unanimously by the State Duma on June 11, 2013, and their full texts appeared on the Kremlin’s site Sunday. The blasphemy law will […]

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Pressure ratchets up on major Russian NGO

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Yulia Ponomareva, RBTH – July 1, 2013) The Movement For Human Rights is among dozens of organizations teetering on the brink of a shutdown for protesting new legislation on NGOs and the first one that authorities have evicted by force. Lev Ponomarev, a 71-year-old human rights activist, is going through a hard time […]

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The Big Chill: Critics Say Kremlin Waging A War On Ideas

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Robert Coalson – July 1, 2013) It’s not a great time to be a freethinker in Russia. Offending somebody’s religious sensibilities could get you prosecuted according to legislation signed this weekend by President Vladimir Putin. Criticizing the wrong person with a snarky comment on a social network could run afoul of a vaguely worded law criminalizing […]

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Leading Russian Internet Companies Object To New Anti-Piracy Law

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(RIA Novosti – Moscow, June 27, 2013) Russian internet companies have published an open letter against the “anti-piracy” bill, which was approved by the senators on Wednesday (26 June). It was posted on the website of the Russian Association of Electronic Communications (RAEC). The authors of the appeal are Mail.ru Group, Yandex, Afisha-Rambler-SUP, Google Russia, Ozon.ru, the Association of Internet […]

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Anti-money-laundering plan to increase Rosfinmonitoring’s role – Transparency International

Hands Opening Envelope Containing Cash

(Interfax – MOSCOW, June 27, 2013) Yelena Panfilova, the head of the Russian office of Transparency International, sees President Vladimir Putin’s statement on plans to draw up a national anti-money-laundering plan as a sign of strengthening the Financial Monitoring Agency’s (Rosfinmonitoring) functions. “I believed that Rosfinmonitoring had been the one responsible for answering these problems all these years. Rosfinmonitoring does […]

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Lobbying hampering privatization in Russia – Medvedev

Empty Boardroom

MOSCOW. June 27 (Interfax) – The chronic non-fulfillment of privatization plans in Russia is related not just to the market situation but to lobbying also, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at Thursday’s Cabinet meeting, which discussed a truncated version of the privatization program. “Let’s be honest, this also has something to do with the energy of lobbying by selected […]

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Russian Academy of Sciences system is obsolete, will be reformed – Medvedev

Artist's Conception of Nanotechnology Components

(Interfax – MOSCOW, June 27, 2013) Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the system of the Russian Academy of Sciences needs to be reformed, adding an appropriate draft law is being drawn up. Medvedev told a government meeting that the Cabinet will consider reforming the system of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the appropriate draft federal law. “Russia now […]

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Jailed businessmen await amnesty or pardon?

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

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Marina Obrazkova, special to RBTH – June 26, 2013) The Russian president’s unexpected initiative may set back preparation of the law. The economic amnesty decree is almost ready, according to members of the lower house of Russia’s Federal Assembly. The State Duma deputies hope to get the bill passed by July 5. Yet, […]

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