TRANSCRIPT PART I: News conference of Vladimir Putin

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

[Click here for Transcript Part II] [Fuller Russian transcript and video here http://kremlin.ru/news/17173] (Kremlin.ru – December 20, 2012) Moscow Vladimir Putin’s news conference took place at the World Trade Centre on Krasnopresnenskaya Embankment. Over 1,000 Russian and 200 foreign journalists were accredited to cover the news conference. Channel One, Rossiya-1 and Rossiya-24 TV channels and Radio Mayak, Vesti FM and […]

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Russian Opposition Leaders Attend Student Protest

Sergei Udaltsov file photo

MOSCOW, December 19 (RIA Novosti) – Leading opposition figures joined students protesting against the inclusion of their university on Russia’s notorious “list of inefficient colleges” on Tuesday evening. Leftist opposition figure Sergei Udaltsov and two State Duma lawmakers from the A Just Russia party, Ilya Ponomaryov and Dmitry Gudkov, visited students, who began their sit-in in a lecture hall of […]

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State support for Russian agriculture to double despite WTO rules – minister

File Photo of U.S. Dairy Cows

(Interfax – Moscow, 18 December) State support for agriculture will double as part of the new state programme covering the 2013-2020 period. “Whereas under the existing state programme (for 2008-2012 – Interfax) we have been giving agriculture R100bn (3.25bn dollars at the current rate of exchange) a year on average, in the period until 2020 the mean figure of federal […]

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Bill Seeks to End Election of Governors

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Bratersky – December 19, 2012) A bill that could once again abolish direct gubernatorial elections, which were reinstated this year, was submitted to the State Duma on Tuesday by members of the majority United Russia party. Popular elections of governors were discontinued following the Beslan school hostage crisis in 2004, when Vladimir Putin, early […]

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Kudrin Lashes Out at Medvedev’s Cabinet

Alexei Kudrin file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Irina Filatova – December 19, 2012) Former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin on Tuesday castigated Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s Cabinet as inefficient, but he rejected speculation that he would come back to the government in the near future. Despite praising Medvedev’s personal contribution to the 18-year process of Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization during […]

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Kudrin Slams Russia for ‘Creeping De-Privatization’

Empty Boardroom

MOSCOW, December 18 (RIA Novosti) ­ Former Russian finance minister Alexei Kudrin on Tuesday slammed the authorities for allowing “creeping de-privatization” of the economy despite the government’s commitment to sell state-run companies in order to raise their efficiency and lure much-needed foreign investment. “Despite the declared goals of privatization, we are witnessing creeping de-privatization,” Kudrin said at a press conference […]

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Try being constructive: When protesters on municipal councils ‘get in the way’ of democracy

Map of Russia

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Anna Arutunyan – Anna Arutunyan is the politics editor of The Moscow News – Dec. 17, 2012) I should say something about the latest anti-government protest ­ how about 2,000 people showed up to the first white-ribbon demonstration that failed to get City Hall authorization, but… snore. The rallies have disintegrated into a mere tribute […]

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Pride of the nation: Searching for a new national idea, the Kremlin hedges its bets on patriotism

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

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Anna Arutunyan – Dec. 17, 2012) On the day that President Vladimir Putin called the nation to patriotism last week, Josef Stalin, wearing his recognizable overcoat against the frost, had a lot of “foreign stuff” to gripe about. “How can you talk of patriotism?” he said, puffing on a smokeless pipe as he stood at […]

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Kremlin to stay impregnable for 10-15 years – poll

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com –  Alina Lobzina – Dec. 18, 2012) After a year of tensions between the Kremlin and opposition-minded citizens not seen for over a decade, Russian society decisively split into three parts, with only a minority ready to push for thorough reforms, a new poll reveals. The reform efforts of the 20 percent of “wealthy, educated and […]

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No new legal acts needed on privatization procedure – Shuvalov

Igor Shuvalov file photo

MOSCOW. Dec 14 (Interfax) – All of the procedures for privatizing federal property are enshrined at the presidential and governmental level; the legislative framework is adequate to what should happen with privatization in the coming years, and it does not need to be enhanced, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said. “All procedures are now fixed in federal law, […]

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NEWSLINK: Russian politics: A new ideology for political ends: Vladimir Putin’s state-of-the-nation address

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

[Russian politics: A new ideology for political ends: Vladimir Putin’s state-of-the-nation address – The Economist – Dec. 15, 2012 – http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21568431-vladimir-putins-state-nation-address-new-ideology-political-ends] The Economist reports on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s State-of-the-Nation Address, noting what it saw as a values-oriented focus: For a man known for his pragmatism ­ even cynicism ­ President Vladimir Putin’s state-of-the-nation speech on December 12th was heavily […]

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Medvedev comments on proposed way to fight corruption

Dmitry Medvedev file photo

SKOLKOVO, near Moscow. Dec 13 (Interfax) – Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has poured cold water on a proposal for starting a crackdown on corruption in Russia by choosing one of the government’s activities, such as issuing passports, and making it completely transparent. The proposal came from a speaker at the “Open Government” conference in Skolkovo on Thursday. “I believe that […]

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Medvedev’s Gaffe And The Elite’s Jitters

Dmitry Medvedev file photo

(RFE/RL – Brian Whitmore – Dec. 13, 2012) When Dmitry Medvedev was caught by a live microphone last week referring to Investigative Committee agents as “kozly,” a deeply offensive insult in Russian, it sparked a minor scandal, embarrassed the prime minister, and infuriated many in the law-enforcement community. Medvedev’s gaffe cast a light on the turbulence that President Vladimir Putin’s […]

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Russian Power Tandem Wobbles as Medvedev Spars With Putin

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Henry Meyer and Ilya Arkhipov – Dec. 13, 2012) Vladimir Putin’s return to the Kremlin cemented his position atop Russia’s pecking order. Dmitry Medvedev, the protege he pushed aside, is having difficulty accepting that. “It’s not the easiest thing to do, when you become prime minister after serving as president,” Prime Minister Medvedev said in an […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Address to the Federal Assembly

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

(Kremlin.ru – Dec. 12, 2012) [Scroll Down for Transcript] The Kremlin Vladimir Putin made annual Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation which outlines priority targets for national political and economic development. The event took place in St George Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace and was attended by the members of the Council of Federation, State […]

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Putin Targets Transparency of Offshore Companies

Empty Boardroom

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Irina Filatova – Dec. 13, 2012) President Vladimir Putin expanded Russian vocabulary Wednesday, as he called for “deoffshorization” of the country’s economy, a measure he said would help repatriate capital channeled to offshore jurisdictions. In his state-of-the-nation address, which covered a wide range of economic issues, Putin pushed for agreements with tax havens that would […]

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Kasyanov sees liberal rhetoric in Putin’s message but doubts its implementation

Mikhail Kasyanov File Photo

MOSCOW. Dec 12 (Interfax) – Cochairman of PARNAS opposition party and former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov has said he agrees with many proposals made by President Vladimir Putin in his Wednesday message to the Federal Assembly but is not sure that all of them will be implemented. “A significant part of Putin’s speech was predictable. Just a year ago I […]

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Putin’s message indicates determination to continue old course – Communist Party

Kremlin and St. Basil's file photo

MOSCOW. Dec 12 (Interfax) – First Deputy Chairman of the Communist Party Central Committee and State Duma vice speaker Ivan Melnikov did not hear anything fundamentally new in President Vladimir Putin’s message to the Federal Assembly. “Judging by the document as a whole, I must say that one and the same idea is repeated year after year – the stage […]

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Putin’s address is declarative – expert Pavlovsky

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

MOSCOW. Dec 12 (Interfax) – Political expert Gleb Pavlovsky has mixed feelings about the state-of-the-nation address President Vladimir Putin presented at the parliament on Wednesday. He thinks the address is inertial. “The address does not contain fresh ideas; it is inertial, which means it is based on the principle “we have done this and that and we will carry on […]

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Putin Offers Little Political Reform

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Nikolaus von Twickel – Dec. 13, 2012) The government will continue to bolster the country’s economic and military prowess as well as dole out benefits to citizens, but political change can only be incremental, President Vladimir Putin said in his state-of-the-nation address Wednesday. Putin’s first major policy speech since he returned as head of state […]

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Only 8% of Russians happy with government – poll

Vladimir Putin file photo

MOSCOW. Dec 11 (Interfax) – The majority of Russians are discontent with the government although the share of happy persons has grown from 6% to 8% over the past years, Levada Center told Interfax on Tuesday. Fifty-two percent blame the government for inability to curb down inflation and to stop a decline in personal incomes. The respondents were polled in […]

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Russia’s Protests: Government Tactics Got Tougher with Time

File Photo of Moscow Winter Protest

MOSCOW, December 10 (RIA Novosti, Alexandra Odynova) ­ Amid last year’s large-scale opposition protests in Moscow, Russian leader Vladimir Putin jokingly compared himself to the powerful python Kaa from Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book.” Since then, Kremlin critics have certainly felt a squeeze, with authorities employing anti-opposition tactics that have ranged from counter-rallies and media campaigns to tough new legislation […]

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Putin’s Ally Warns of ‘Color Revolutions’

Kremlin and St. Basil's file photo

MOSCOW, December 9 (RIA Novosti) ­ Russia is concerned about a possible repeat of “color revolutions” that caused regime change in several post-Soviet republics in the mid-2000s with ambiguous results, a senior Russian official said on Sunday. “Events are in motion in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Ukraine; we’re dealing with it every day. Are these [events] a danger for us? Yes,” […]

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Russia Has More Freedom And Democracy Than USA – Senior Kremlin Official

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

(RIA Novosti Moscow, 9 December) First deputy head of the Kremlin administration Vyacheslav Volodin believes that no other country, including the USA, has the kind of democracy that Russia has. “It is not just that we have maximum democracy, it is also a fact that other countries have not had it, and still don’t. You know, if we take the […]

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NEWSLINK: Getting His Goat: Open criticism of Russian officials is allowed only when it is part of a plan

Dmitry Medvedev file photo

[Getting His Goat: Open criticism of Russian officials is allowed only when it is part of a plan – Masha Gessen – Masha Gessen is the director of Radio Liberty’s Russian Service and the author of “The Man Without a Face,” a biography of Vladimir Putin – New York Times – Dec. 10, 2012 – click here for full article] […]

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NEWSLINK: Post-interview ‘hot mic’ catches Russia’s Medvedev

Dmitry Medvedev file photo

[Post-interview ‘hot mic’ catches Russia’s Medvedev – AFP – Dec. 10, 2012 – click here for full article] AFP covers Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s recent remarks against security services, caught after a televised press conference was supposed to be over, but when at least one live feed was still running (from state-controlled Russia Today): Stark divisions within Russia’s elite […]

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TV Channels Passing Blame Over Leaked Medvedev Comments

Dmitry Medvedev file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Nikolaus von Twickel – Dec. 10, 2012) Television channels were passing the blame Monday after unofficial footage from an interview with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was leaked Friday. Footage that appeared on YouTube showed the prime minister just after the end of an hour-and-a-half interview, chatting freely with the journalists from the five channels that […]

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TRANSCRIPT: “A Conversation With Dmitry Medvedev.” Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev interviewed by five TV channels

Dmitry Medvedev file photo

(http://premier.gov.ru – Dec. 7 2012) Sergei Brilyov (Rossia 1 Channel): Good afternoon everyone. Good afternoon, Mr Medvedev. Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon. Sergei Brilyov: This is “A Conversation With Dmitry Medvedev.” I am confident that my colleagues and I are ready to ask some rather serious political and economic questions. But, first, I would like to ask you about your impressions […]

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NEWSLINK: President to deliver state-of-the-nation address to the Federal Assembly on December 12

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Desk

[President to deliver state-of-the-nation address to the Federal Assembly on December 12 – ITAR-TASS – RUSSIAN PRESS REVIEW – Dec. 6, 2012 – http://www.itar-tass.com/en/c142/590982.html] Itar-Tass covers plans for Russian President Vladimir Putin to deliver his state-of-the-nation address to the Federal Assembly on December 12: Experts are awaiting surprises which might become “the key priority” during the new presidential term. The […]

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NEWSLINK: Medvedev discusses corruption, tighter legislation, Opposition with TV journalists

Dmitry Medvedev file photo

[Medvedev discusses corruption, tighter legislation, Opposition with TV journalists – Itar-Tass – Lyudmila Alexandrova – Dec. 7 – http://www.itar-tass.com/en/c39/592431.html] Itar-Tass covers a recent interview by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev with Russian television networks: One of the first most acute questions was about the high-profile scandals and the potential involvement in them of some very high-ranking officials, including the former […]

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Putin’s Fear of Appearing Spineless

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Desk

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Michael Bohm – Michael Bohm is opinion page editor of The Moscow Times – Dec. 7, 2012) Speculation about President Vladimir Putin’s health problems was revived this week when he met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara. Judging from a Reuters photograph, it seemed that Putin was wincing as he lowered himself […]

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Kudrin Committee advises authorities not to irritate middle class, accelerate elite rotation

Alexei Kudrin file photo

MOSCOW. Dec 4 (Interfax) – The Civil Initiatives Committee of former Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin has urged the authorities not to tighten the screws on civil society regulation. “It is necessary not to tighten the screws on the regulation of civil society, free discussion and protest actions. Such measures do nothing but radicalize protests and ruin the authorities’ hope […]

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NEWSLINK: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: The revenge of the Soviet military

File Photo of Close-Up of Line of Russian Soldiers in Dress Uniforms for Parade

Far, far more serious than the shake-up’s implications for Russia’s military doctrine and modernization — and they are serious, because it is unlikely that Shoigu will succeed by retaining Soviet-era management practices — are its implications for the stability of the Putin regime and its reliance on clans, protection, corruption, and intimidation. The Serdyukov scandal is a hint that Putin is not in control, and that his political system has become vulnerable to fratricide.

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Skepticism greets Putin Net initiative: The president’s suggestion of a state fund for innovative online projects raises doubts over its political implications and its ability to attract private investment

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Dan Peleschuk – Dec. 3, 2012) Despite President Vladimir Putin’s newfound appreciation of the Internet as a useful tool to fight Russia’s “brain drain,” experts question how fair his proposed funding scheme will actually be. They argue his new proposal to help finance online start-ups may be little more than a cash cow for government-friendly […]

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NEWSLINK: Constitutional changes possible but not yet necessary – Putin

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Desk

[Constitutional changes possible but not yet necessary – Putin – Russia Today – Nov. 30, 2012 – http://rt.com/politics/president-state-mps-government-962/] Russia Today covers Russian President Vladimir Putin’s positions on how members of the Federation Council are chosen. Click here for the full article: http://rt.com/politics/president-state-mps-government-962/

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NEWSLINK: Corruption scandals dominate Russian headlines; Allegations have involved Russia’s defense and agriculture ministries and even the space program. Some wonder whether the regime is cracking down or fracturing

File Photo of Two Persons Shaking Hands and Exchanging Cash

[Corruption scandals dominate Russian headlines; Allegations have involved Russia’s defense and agriculture ministries and even the space program. Some wonder whether the regime is cracking down or fracturing. – Los Angeles Times – Sergei L. Loiko – Dec. 3, 2012 – http://articles.latimes.com/2012/dec/02/world/la-fg-russia-corruption-20121203] The Los Angeles Times covers recently exposed corruption scandals in Russia: … the news in Russia lately has […]

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Rumblings In The Republics: New Russian Nationalities Policy Sparks Outcry

Map of Russia

(RFE/RL – Nail Khisamiev, Robert Coalson – Dec. 1, 2012) A potentially explosive political kettle has been simmering in Russia for months, and it may well boil over in the weeks to come. Shortly after his return to the Kremlin in May, President Vladimir Putin ordered the drafting of a new State Nationalities Policy. The document, which was to be […]

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NEWSLINK: In Panicky Russia, It’s Official: End of World Is Not Near

Map of Russia

[Ellen Barry – New York Times – Dec. 2, 2012 – http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/world/in-panicky-russia-its-official-end-of-world-is-not-near-664630/] Ellen Barry of the New York Times covers Russia’s response to reports about the would-be Mayan Apocalypse: There are scattered reports of unusual behavior from across Russia’s nine time zones. * * * For those not schooled in New Age prophecy, there are rumors the world will end […]

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NEWSLINK: Snow traps drivers for days in giant Russia traffic jam

Map of Russia

(Snow traps drivers for days in giant Russia traffic jam – Reuters – Dec. 2, 2012 – http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/03/uk-russia-traffic-idUSLNE8B201620121203) Reuters reports on a two-days-and-counting, 120-mile-long traffic jam on a major Russian highway resulting from heavy snow and involving thousands of vehicles: Thousands of trucks and cars have been stuck on a major highway, some for more than two days, in a […]

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Putin Sets Parliamentary Address for Mid-December

Duma Session file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Dec. 3, 2012) President Vladimir Putin told leaders of the four State Duma factions that he would make his state-of-the-nation address in mid-December. The address is traditionally held in November, but a Kremlin source told Kommersant in late October that the address might be delayed amid disputes about its content. The faction heads met Putin […]

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No major successes in improving Russian investment climate yet, says Medvedev

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

(Interfax – Nov. 29, 2012) No substantial improvement in Russia’s investment climate has yet come about, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has said. “Unfortunately, we have had no fundamental successes here,” Medvedev said at a Thursday government meeting at which he presented the preliminary results of a half year of cabinet of ministers activity. “The task consists in the reduction […]

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Rumors about Putin’s back are highly exaggerated, president’s ability to work unaffected – Peskov

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Desk

MOSCOW. Nov 30 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to participate in sports as usual and the rumors about his back problems do not affect his ability to work, the president’s press officer Dmitry Peskov said. “We continue working and intends to continue working in the same mode. He has no intention of giving up sports. Like any sportsman, […]

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A ‘Kompromat’ War Of All Against All

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

(RFE/RL – Brian Whitmore – Nov. 29, 2012) Is it an anti-graft campaign? A purge of the elite? Or the start of a clan war? When police raided and searched the home of Rostelekom CEO Aleksandr Provotorov last week, it marked yet another chapter in what the Russian media has been describing as a Kremlin-backed war on corruption. The search […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev gives an interview to Kommersant newspaper

Dmitry Medvedev file photo

(http://premier.gov.ru – Nov. 29, 2012) Question: You’ve been Prime Minister for six months now. We can safely say that the organising phrase of forming the Government is over. Earlier you had outlined seven priority areas of the Government’s work including in the short term. What have you been able to resolve at this stage and what issues remain unresolved? Dmitry […]

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Putin Ready to Revive Russia’s Far East Mega Plan

File Photo of People Working on Car Amidst Siberian Woodlands and Meadows

NOVO-OGARYOVO, November 29 (RIA Novosti) ­ Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he was ready to rejuvenate government plans to create a mega state corporation to develop Russia’s depressed eastern Siberia and Far East. “The idea of a government corporation was discussed and I know that far from everyone shares this approach,” Putin said at a State Council meeting […]

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Better Business Climate Gets New Impetus

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Nikolaus von Twickel – Nov. 29, 2012) Business executives are urgently calling on the government to improve conditions for entrepreneurship, which they say remains massively underdeveloped because of stifling bureaucratic and administrative hurdles. If the country’s leaders do not act soon, they might put themselves in jeopardy, participants in a business conference said Wednesday. “Without […]

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Russian deputy PM says democracy depends on innovative economy

Skolkovo File Photo

(Interfax – Skolkovo, 28 November) Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vladislav Surkov has described innovative work as a priority political task because high technologies contribute to the development of democracy. “I think innovative work is a priority political task. It precedes party building, it precedes elections, it comes before everything else, because there will be no democracy without high technologies and […]

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Putin’s Repressive Power Is Tested and Found Lacking

Vladimir Putin file photo

(Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 9, Issue 217 – Pavel K. Baev – Nov. 28, 2012) A capacity for unleashing targeted repressions is crucial for the survival of authoritarian regimes, and President Vladimir Putin finds it increasingly difficult to demonstrate that he has such a capacity­or that he controls it. Health problems keep him confined to […]

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Medvedev: Repression Charges Are Pure Politics

Dmitry Medvedev file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Nov. 29, 2012) Saying the “repressive” label given to new laws on treason and other civil issues is “a pure political tactic,” Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev voiced support for the State Duma’s reinstating of criminal charges for libel ­ which overturned one of his own initiatives as president. In a wide-ranging interview published in Kommersant […]

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Russia’s Leadership ‘Tandem’ Losing Appeal – Poll

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

MOSCOW, November 29 (RIA Novosti) – The two men who form Russia’s ruling tandem – President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev – have seen their credibility and approval ratings drop over the past 11 months, the Levada polling agency said on Thursday. Putin’s credibility ratings fell from 41 percent in January to 34 percent in November, and Medvedev’s […]

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