Minister Seeks Extra $1.4Bln in Farm Subsidies

Field of Grain file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anatoly Medetsky – February 6, 2013) Agriculture Minister Nikolai Fyodorov on Tuesday asked for an additional $1.4 billion in farming subsidies this year, as grain prices are growing and WTO commitments are taking effect. Total federal spending on supporting farmers was initially projected at 158 billion rubles ($5.3 billion) this year. Following a less-than-spectacular crop […]

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Moscow likely behind Kirov lawmakers’ idea of no confidence in Governor Belykh – analysts

Nikita Belykh file photo

MOSCOW. Feb 5 (Interfax) – Political analysts believe the intention of a group of members of the Kirov regional legislature to express no confidence in Governor Nikita Belykh has been endorsed by some influential political forces both in the region and in Moscow. “Mr. Belykh is not very popular with the local elites and is perceived as an outsider. Perhaps […]

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Belykh Faces Ouster by Regional Lawmakers

Nikita Belykh file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Yekaterina Kravtsova – February 6, 2013) Nikita Belykh, the liberal governor of the Kirov region and a former opposition leader, is facing a new wave of pressure from opponents after 19 regional lawmakers announced their intent to put forward a no-confidence vote against him. Investigators raided Belykh’s office last week in connection with the alleged […]

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Medvedev Seen Clinging to Job as Putin Frets About Economy

File Photo of Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin with Heads Bowed Over Microphone

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Henry Meyer and Ilya Arkhipov – February 6, 2013) Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is clinging to his job as President Vladimir Putin grows increasingly frustrated with his protege’s inability to boost growth, three current and former Kremlin advisers said. Putin criticized Medvedev’s government last week for failing to adapt to a “post-crisis” economic model. That followed […]

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CORRUPTION WATCH: Putin calls for public oversight of power sector

Cropped File Photo of Two Men in Business Suits Shaking Hands and Passing Cash

(Business New Europe – bne.com – February 5, 2013) After dubbing it the most corrupt sector in Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin has moved again to crack down on graft in the utilities sector by calling for public oversight of the sector. Public councils are to be set up to oversee the sector and Putin said this will be done […]

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Is Putin afraid of the Caucasus?

Map of Caucasus and Central Asia

(www.opendemocracy.net – Daniil Kotsyubinsky – February 4, 2013) Daniil Kotsyubinsky is Russian historian and journalist based in St. Petersburg Russian lawmakers have given preliminary approval to a law to allow governors to be appointed in the country’s 83 regions, reversing last year’s move to restore direct elections. As Daniil Kotsyubinsky reports, this issue is unimportant in itself, but it exposes […]

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Russian Government Now Views Internet as Main Threat to Its Position, Agora Says

File Photo Dmitry Medvedev at Desk with Laptop Computer

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, February 4, 2013 – http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/02/window-on-eurasia-russian-government.html) The growth in Internet use in the Russian Federation over the last year has meant that “for the first time, the Internet began to be considered by the Russian government as the main source of threat to its well-being and stability,” according to the annual report of […]

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Police Began Violence At Protest, Panel Says

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Winning – February 4, 2013) Members of the Kremlin’s human rights council believe that police, not activists, instigated violence at a May opposition protest, a council member said Friday. “The qualification of the Bolotnaya Ploshchad protest as a mass riot was artificially thought up by the Investigative Committee. It does not reflect the reality […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin:] Meeting of the Council for the Local Self-Government Development

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Speaking with Flag Behind Him and Microphones in Front

(Kremlin.ru – January 31, 2013) The Kremlin, Moscow Vladimir Putin held a meeting of the Council for the Local Self-Government Development. Participants discussed improving the regulation of local self-government institutions. PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Good afternoon, colleagues. I am glad to welcome everyone to our Council’s meeting, one which is attended by the new members. Heads of urban districts, […]

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Russia sinks to 148th place on Press Freedom Index

File Photo of Russian Television Studio

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – www.rbth.ru –  Yulia Ponomareva, Combined report – February 4, 2013) Russian media fell near the bottom of the list on the 2013 Press Freedom Index. The authors of the rating, Reporters without Borders, cite President Putin’s return to power as the main catalyst in the increase of repression aimed against the opposition. Russian media personages, […]

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Officials Call for Budget Discipline

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com –  Irina Filatova – February 1, 2013) Finance Ministry and Central Bank officials on Thursday called for strict adherence to existing budget policy, saying the measure is critical to achievement of the high rates of economic growth set by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Attaining an annual 5 percent increase in gross domestic product is “very ambitious,” […]

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Shoigu the most popular Russian minister – poll

Sergei Shoigu file photo

MOSCOW. Feb 1 (Interfax) – Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ranks first on the Cabinet members popularity chart (the prime minister and deputy prime ministers excluded), with 90% of respondents polled recently giving him highest marks, the Public Opinion Foundation pollster (FOM) has announced. Sixty-eight percent of respondents polled on January 26 and 27 highly appraised his work since he took […]

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Russian official experts say Human Rights Watch politically biased

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Interfax – January 31, 2013) Member of the Russian Public Chamber political analyst Sergey Markov has said that a report by the international human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW), which criticized Russia, was politically motivated, Russian Interfax news agency reported on 31 January. “Human Rights Watch is a very good organization on the whole. However, their observations about Russia […]

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Last Year’s Repression ‘Worst’ in Decades

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

(Moscow  Times – moscowtimes.com – Nikolaus von Twickel – February 1, 2013) A leading rights group lashed out at President Vladimir Putin on Thursday by saying he had “unleashed the worst political crackdown” in the country’s post-Soviet history after returning to the Kremlin last year. Human Rights Watch’s annual report, released Thursday, says the string of restrictive laws enacted since […]

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United Russia proposes bill allowing regions to forgo direct gubernatorial elections

Map of Russia

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – www.rbth.ru – Yulia Ponomareva, Combined report – January 31, 2013) Nine months after popular gubernatorial elections were re-introduced on the initiative of former President Dmitry Medvedev, a 90 percent majority in the Russian Duma votes “yes” on a bill that gives regional legislatures the right to scrap them. President Putin believes the measure could prevent […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Putin chairs meeting on government priorities through 2018

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Speaking with Flag Behind Him and Microphones in Front

(Kremlin.ru – January 31, 2013) Vladimir Putin chaired an expanded meeting of the Government of the Russian Federation. The meeting discussed the guidelines for the Government’s performance through 2018. * * * PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Good afternoon, colleagues, Last year we outlined a strategy for our activities in the long term. We identified our priorities and targets in […]

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Main risks for Russia are internal, not external – Medvedev

Dmitry Medvedev file photo

MOSCOW. Jan 31 (Interfax) – The main risks that Russia faces are not external, but internal, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at an expanded government session on Thursday. “And all the main risks are not external, but internal. I’m referring to the forecast reductions in the working-age population, the low quality of state management, the far-from-ideal investment climate, the […]

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NEWSLINK: Russian state TV talk show discusses controversial State Duma bills

Kremlin and St. Basil's

[Russian state TV talk show discusses controversial State Duma bills – BBC Monitoring/Rossiya 1 – January 27, 2013] BBC Monitoring reports on the Rossiya 1 television program “Sunday Night with Vladimir Solovyev” and its January 27, 2013, broadcast covering Duma bills: The 27 January edition of the “Sunday Night with Vladimir Solovyev” talk show on state-owned Rossiya 1 TV featured […]

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NEWSLINK: Riot Police Stand By and Watch Attack on Homosexual Activists

Russian Duma Building

[“Riot Police Stand By and Watch Attack on LGBT Activists” – Vedomosti – January 31, 2013] Vedomosti reports on a demonstration in front of the Duma featuring homosexual behavior in the form of same-sex kissing, broken up by “Orthodox fundamentalists,” with police reportedly then arresting only the homosexual demonstrators: … Russian authorities seem to have given up their monopoly on […]

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NEWSLINK: Russian ex-finance minister tipped to be premier before long

Alexei Kudrin file photo

(Russian ex-finance minister tipped to be premier before long – BBC Monitoring/Ekho Moskvy Radio – January 30, 2013) BBC Monitoring reports on Ekho Moskvy and Argumenty Nedeli covered of alleged systematic down-grading of how state-controlled Russian television presents Dmitry Medvedev to the viewing public: Russia’s national TV channels have been told to reduce their coverage of Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev, […]

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Majority of Russians against early Duma elections – poll

Duma Session file photo

MOSCOW. Jan 29 (Interfax) – A little more than half of Russians are against the hypothetical dissolution of the State Duma and early parliamentary elections – about twice as many as those who want new elections, an opinion poll suggests. Moreover, more than two-thirds of Russians don’t want to take part in protests such as those that have been rocking […]

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$60 Oil Price Will Eat up Russia’s Oil Fund ­ Survey

Oil Well file photo

MOSCOW, January 29 (RIA Novosti) ­ Russia’s Oil Wealth Fund will be totally consumed if world oil prices plunge to $60 per barrel and stay at that level for a year, experts from the Russian School of Economics (VSE) said on Tuesday. That scenario presents “a shock not only for the budget system but also for the economy as a […]

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Defense Ministry Gets ‘D’ for Corruption

Russian Nuclear Submarine file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 29, 2013) The Defense Ministry’s opacity makes it difficult to determine whether anti-corruption reforms are being carried out, Transparency International said in a report released on Tuesday in which it gave Russia a “D-” grade on an A to F corruption index. The rating put Russia on par with Turkey, Belarus, and China, and […]

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Pressure Growing on Serdyukov With New Allegations

Anatoliy Serdyukov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 29, 2013) The net appears to be closing on former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov after military investigators opened an investigation into extravagant improvements at a dacha belonging to his brother-in-law, a news report said Monday. Serdyukov resigned in disgrace last month amid allegations that several of his close associates had enriched themselves via the […]

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Liberal governor advised by Navalny has office searched; Firebrand opposition leader Alexei Navalny may be linked to the investigation into Nikita Belykh, the head of the Kirov region.

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – www.rbth.ru – Yulia Ponomareva – January 29, 2013) The office of Kirov Governor Nikita Belykh was searched by investigators Tuesday in a probe into the privatization of a local vodka factory, which investigators claim was sold for a below-market price in 2010. Prominent opposition leader and anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny, who served as an adviser […]

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Privatizations should be done in Russia, but infrastructure needs to be readied – Putin

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Speaking with Flag Behind Him and Microphones in Front

NOVO-OGARYOVO. Jan 25 (Interfax) – Privatization deals should be carried out on Russian markets, but the infrastructure needs to be put in place, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting dedicated to stock market development. “These deals should occur on Russian trading floors,” he said. “Privatization done within the country is testament to the fact that our plans to […]

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Russian civil, administrative laws are quite modern – Medvedev

Dmitry Medvedev file photo

MOSCOW. Jan 25 (Interfax) – Major amendments have been made to the Russian legal system but accusatory bias and mistrust in judges inherited from “the dark years of history” are still to be overcome, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview with the Swiss newspaper Neue Zurcher Zeitung. “Concerning the adjustment of laws, the legal system and the […]

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State Duma may put “Pozner law” on hold

Duma Session file photo

MOSCOW. Jan 28 (Interfax) – The State Duma is ready to accept apologies from television journalist Vladimir Pozner, saying the draft “Pozner law” will be “put on hold.” Pozner apologized for his earlier criticism of the State Duma on his program on Sunday evening. After that criticism, parliamentarians drew up a bill prohibiting journalists who have another country’s citizenship in […]

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As New Ban Looms, Gays in Russia Face Uphill Battle

Map of Russia

MOSCOW, January 24 (Dan Peleschuk, RIA Novosti) ­ Pavel Samburov exudes confidence when he recalls the night in October, on International Coming Out Day, when a group of masked hoodlums stormed and ransacked a Moscow gay club. “They worked as a team,” Samburov says nonchalantly, taking a drag from a cigarette, then snuffing it out. “It was an organized attack.” […]

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Bill to Limit Gubernatorial Elections Approved

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jonathan Earle – January 24, 2013) State Duma deputies on Wednesday overwhelming passed in its first reading a bill that would give regional assemblies the right to abolish direct elections for governors, likely weakening a key pro-democracy reform signed last year by then-President Dmitry Medvedev. A total of 403 deputies voted in favor of the […]

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Professional, independent board directors for govt companies have positive impact – Medvedev

Empty Boardroom

MOSCOW. Jan 23 (Interfax) – Introducing professional and independent directors to the boards of government companies has a positive impact and the authorities continue to work toward this, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at a plenary session of the World Economic Forum in Davos called “Development Scenarios for Russia.” “The boards of public companies mostly have professional and independent […]

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Liquidating Non-Russian Republics Would Be Dangerous for Moscow, Lazarenko Says

Map of Russia

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 23, 2013 – http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/01/window-on-eurasia-liquidating-non.html) There has been much talk about the possibility that Moscow will liquidate the non-Russian republics, but there has been almost none about exactly how the center would do that.  That makes such talks “unserious” because it means the advocates of such a change do not understand just […]

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Sobyanin promises to get rid of corrupt officials

Sergei Sobyanin file photo

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Evgeniya Chaykovskaya – January 23, 2013) Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin promised to rid the city authorities of any potential corrupt officials. “I would like to stress a position of principle for the Moscow government that finding corruption and detaining bribe takers is a big help to city authorities,” Sobyanin said at an open meeting of […]

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Russian retirement: mixed outlook for 2013

File Photo of Two Elders Walking Outdoors

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Anastasia Matveyeva, Moskovskiye Novosti – January 21, 2013) New calculations for pensions and a funded component, a possible luxury tax and a special structure that will come to manage Russian currency reserves are the main economic events that are expected in the coming year. How will these reverberate on us, and what will they will […]

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Defense Ministry top-dog arrested on embezzlement charges

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Yulia Ponomareva, Combined report – January 21, 2013) The biggest anti-corruption campaign in the Defense Ministry in years has yielded its first arrest, at the agency’s very top. The head of the ministry’s Facilities Department has been placed behind bars for two months. New arrests have been made as part of the high-profile […]

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Russia to Keep State Control of Shelf – Dvorkovich

Map of Barents Sea and Polar Environs

MOSCOW, January 22 (RIA Novosti) ­ Russia has no plans to allow foreign companies to work independently on the country’s continental shelf but will let them develop offshore deposits there in partnership with Russian state firms, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said on Tuesday. “As for the admission of foreign companies, no changes are planned, which means foreign companies can […]

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Ministers Offered WTO Training

WTO Logo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Roland Oliphant – January 21, 2013) Government ministers were offered a free crash course in WTO rules after one of the country’s most senior financiers savaged officials for failing to understand the organization Russia finally joined last year. Pascal Lamy, the head of the World Trade Organization, said Friday that the group would be willing […]

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OSCE in need of renewal – Lavrov

File Photo of OSCE Banners

MOSCOW. Jan 18 (Interfax) – The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe must get rid of imbalances and double standards by 2015, becoming a fully-fledged international organization with its own charter, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. “Russia sees the Helsinki + 40 initiative as an important step that aims to launch the process of the OSCE’s renewal and […]

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Left-Wing Economist to Draft Government Strategy

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Bratersky – January 21, 2013) A left-wing economist who advocated firing Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will help draft the government crisis strategy in case of economic turmoil, according to a presidential order published in December, Vedomosti reported Friday. Sergei Glazyev will be on a task force that will develop the strategy. It will also […]

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Russian Energy Review in 2012: Consolidating State Control in an Uncertain Market

Oil Well file photo

(Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 10, Issue 10 – Jamestown Foundation: jamestown.org – Margarita Assenova – January 18, 2013) Increased state control and consolidation of the oil and gas sector marked Russia’s energy developments in 2012, while the state budget remained heavily dependent on energy revenues. At the same time, Russia’s markets in Europe are shrinking due to the economic crisis […]

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The Duma Lacks Principles

Russian Duma Building

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – David Edwards – January 21, 2013) David Edwards is chief copy editor at The Moscow Times. An obscure Washington state politician once said her votes on proposed legislation were based on conscience, constituency and caucus ­ in that order. She may be on to something. United Russia deputies in the State Duma who voted for […]

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State Recommends Schoolchildren Watch 100 Films

Movie Theater file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Bratersky – January 18,  2013) The culture and education ministers on Thursday presented a list of 100 Soviet and Russian films that schools will be advised to show students to strengthen their cultural values and to build bonds with their parents and teachers from older generations. “This is not a list of the best […]

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Key laws come into force in 2013

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines/Ogoniok – Evgeny Kozichev, Ogoniok magazine – January 17, 2013 – http://rbth.ru/society/2013/01/17/ key_laws_to_come_into_force_in_2013_21969.html) This year, Russian citizens will enjoy some new rights, but lose some old ones. Ogonyok has compiled a list of the most important legal novelties of 2013. International relations On January 1, 2013, the Dima Yakovlev law (“On measures against persons involved in abuse […]

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Russians Doubt Public Smoking Ban – Poll

No Smoking Symbol

MOSCOW, January 17 (RIA Novosti) – Most Russians do not support the government’s move to impose a complete ban on smoking in public places and believe the emphasis should be on helping smokers quit, a pollster said on Thursday. The State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, is to consider the anti-smoking bill in its second reading on January 25. […]

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Shuvalov Firm on Tax Policy

Igor Shuvalov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 16, 2013) First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said Wednesday that the government would not raise taxes for business before 2018, provided that events of a “global” scale do not influence the situation. In an interview published in Kommersant on Wednesday, Shuvalov said that the government finalized its midterm tax strategy last year. “Up […]

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The ‘Nuanced Look’: Russia’s Defense Minister Considers Majors Reform Reversals

Sergei Shoigu file photo

(Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 10, Issue 7 – Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Robert McDermott – January 15, 2013) Russia’s new defense minister, Army-General Sergei Shoigu, under the guise of pursuing “nuanced changes” to the Armed Forces’ reform managed by his predecessor Anatoly Serdyukov, is reportedly considering systemic revisions to the entire process. These range from revising the reformed military […]

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Russia’s Legislature Opens Spring Session

Duma Session file photo

MOSCOW, January 15 (RIA Novosti) ­ The State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, kicked off its spring session Tuesday with promises to consider, within weeks, a raft of bills on everything from the return of independent candidates in legislative elections to bans on smoking and the “propaganda” of homosexuality. The legislative body also gave preliminary approval to a bill […]

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Only president can evaluate efficiency of ministers – Medvedev

File Photo of Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin with Heads Bowed Over Microphone

NOVOZAPOLYARNY, Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District. Jan 15 (Interfax) – Evaluation of the government efficiency is an exclusive area of the Russian president, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev believes. “In the opinion of Medvedev, the only person eligible to evaluate the efficiency of certain ministers and the government is the president,” the prime minister’s press secretary Natalia Timakova said. She thus commented on […]

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Only One Russian NGO Registered as Foreign Agent

Kremlin and St. Basil's

MOSCOW, January 16 (RIA Novosti) – Russian Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov said on Wednesday that only one non-governmental organization in Russia has so far registered as a foreign agent under a recently introduced law on NGOs. Russia’s controversial new law, obligating non-governmental organizations financed from abroad and involved in political activity to register as “foreign agents,” came into force last […]

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NEWSLINK: Political reforms failed to change anything in Russian politics; Failed Reforms: Political Reforms: Gubernatorial Elections Resemble Appointments, Competition Among Parties Remains Inadequate

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

[Failed Reforms: Political Reforms: Gubernatorial Elections Resemble Appointments, Competition Among Parties Remains Inadequate – Vedomosti – Maria Zheleznova – January 15, 2013 – no public link to English-language version] Vedomosti covers analysis by Alexei Kudrin’s Civil Initiatives Committee (CIC) that finds that gubernatorial elections resembled appointments, competition among political parties remained inadequate, and turnout continued to decline. Changes in party […]

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