Internet Censorship Faces Obstacles

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Nikolaus von Twickel – November 14, 2012) As the number of websites banned or blocked under the new Internet law continues to grow, the country’s media watchdog backpedaled Tuesday by acknowledging that censoring content was technically and legally difficult, and it promised to remove popular sites from the blacklist. The Mass Media Inspection Service said […]

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Russian premier says nothing has changed in his relations with Putin

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

(Interfax – Moscow, 13 November) [Prime Minister] Dmitriy Medvedev has said that after stepping down as president and moving to the government, his relations with Vladimir Putin have not changed. “As regards about our relations with the president – I have commented on this topic many times – nothing has changed since I went to work in the government while […]

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Despite Putin’s ‘Promise,’ Anti-Treason Law Comes into Force

Vladimir Putin file photo

MOSCOW, November 14 (Marc Bennetts, RIA Novosti) ­ A controversial law on state treason that critics fear could be used to stamp out political dissent came into force in Russia on Wednesday, two days after President Vladimir Putin told human rights workers he was ready to “review” it. The law, initiated by the Federal Security Service (FSB), and signed by […]

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Putin’s Human Rights Council Gets 39 New Members

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Yekaterina Kravtsova – November 13, 2012) President Vladimir Putin’s human rights council gained 39 new members on Monday as its total membership count rose from 40 to 62 in a reshuffle that saw more than a dozen leave. A longtime head of the council told The Moscow Times that, in its expanded form, the panel […]

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Brezhnev’s Children

Leonid Brezhnev and Richard Nixon Sitting and Talking, as Nixon Gestures, with Third Man Standing and Leaning Closely Between Them

(RFE/RL – Brian Whitmore – November 8, 2012) In many ways, the current battle for Russia’s future began 30 years ago this week. On November 10, 1982, Leonid Brezhnev died, sparking a generational change in the Soviet leadership and setting in motion an ongoing cycle of reform and reaction in Russia that remains incomplete and inconclusive to this day. The […]

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Kremlin Human Rights Body Bound to Be Less Critical of Govt – Analyst

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

MOSCOW. Nov 12 (Interfax) – The new composition of the Council on Civil Society Development and Human Rights, a 39-member Kremlin consultative body, as approved by President Vladimir Putin “significantly devalues the presence of critics of the government” the council, an analyst said on Monday. “If one looks at who has been included in the council, one can say that […]

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Rights activists says torture still used in Russia

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

(Interfax – Moscow, 8 November) According to human rights activists, torture is still practiced in Russia and people complain of ill-treatment received at detention centres, police, army and mental hospitals. “Human rights organizations have registered incidents of torture and ill-treatment in the prison system. They have also seen an increase in complaints in recent years. Tortures in remand centres are […]

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Head of Critical Elections Monitor Joins Rights Council

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 12, 2012) The head of a U.S.-funded elections watchdog famous for its critical commentary on Russia’s electoral system was included in Vladimir Putin’s presidential human rights council on Monday. Putin is expected to chair a council meeting late Monday, Interfax reported, citing the Kremlin press service. Lilia Shabanova, head of the Golos election watchdog […]

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Russians’ Confidence in Police Grows a Little – Poll

Russian Police Officer file photo

MOSCOW. Nov 12 (Interfax) – Nothing changed with renaming of Russian militia into police, said 64% of 1,600 respondents polled by the Superjob.ru portal in late October. The opinion was expressed by 71% in a similar poll in 2011. Ten percent believe there is a certain deterioration (8% last year), and 5% claim changes for the better (3% in 2011). […]

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Putin: Police Reform Cannot Be Considered Finished

Russian Police Officer file photo

MOSCOW. Nov 10 (Interfax) – The reform of the Russian police system cannot be considered finished, and further efforts are needed to improve it, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev on Saturday. “The reform of which it has been said so much and which is being carried out perhaps cannot be considered finished. […]

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Russian opposition leader targets corruption, mismanagement in utilities

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Interfax – November 8, 2012) Moscow, 8 November: Opposition figure and blogger Aleksey Navalnyy has announced the launch of a new project, called RosZhKKh, for fighting corruption and shortcomings in the work of utilities and municipal services companies. “It is common knowledge that ZhKKh (Russian abbreviation for utilities and municipal services) in Russia is a black hole that sucks in […]

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Shoigu Inherits Armed Forces at Crossroads

Sergei Shoigu file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Bratersky and Jonathan Earle – November 9, 2012) When Sergei Shoigu took the reins of the Defense Ministry on Thursday, he officially inherited a military at a crossroads, torn between tradition and the half-completed reforms of his disgraced predecessor, Anatoly Serdyukov. Shoigu will have to decide between maintaining a large, conventional force or pursuing […]

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Confidence Ratings of Russian President, Premier Stabilize – Poll

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

MOSCOW. Nov 8 (Interfax) – The decline in confidence ratings for President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, which started after the March presidential election in Russia, has slowed. Their confidence ratings stood at 42-44% and 36-38% respectively in September-October, the Public Opinion Foundation reported on Thursday. The Foundation held its latest poll of 3,000 respondents in 204 towns […]

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NEWSLINK: Kremlin Can’t Decide Whether Russia is Heir to the Soviet Union or to Imperial Russia, Inozemtsev Says

Romanov Family Photo

(Kremlin Can’t Decide Whether Russia is Heir to the Soviet Union or to Imperial Russia, Inozemtsev Says Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 7 – http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2012/11/window-on-eurasia-kremlin-cant-decide.html) Paul Goble, in Window on Eurasia, examines an argument by Vladislav Inozemtsev, head of the Civic Force Party, that the Kremlin is wrestling with how to regard Russia’s heritage in terms […]

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The war between the president’s men

Putin Descending a Staircase file photo

(Dmitri Travin – opendemocracy.net – November 6, 2012 – Dmitri Travin is Research Director at the European University in St. Petersburg’s Centre of Modernization Studies) The Russian regime may present a united front to the world, but behind the scenes the cracks are beginning to show. In the week when Putin fired a senior government member, Dmitri Travin looks at […]

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Kudrin Does Not See Way Back to Govt For Now

Alexei Kudrin file photo

MOSCOW. Nov 6 (Interfax) – Former Russian finance minister and current head of the Civil Initiatives Committee, Alexei Kudrin, is not upset with Dmitry Medvedev, who sacked him when he was president, and does not regret quitting the government. “I will say that at the moment I do not see the conditions for my return,” Kudrin said in an interview […]

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NEWSLINK: Putin dismisses defense minister after scandal

Anatoliy Serdyukov file photo

(Putin dismisses defense minister after scandal – Reuters – Thomas Grove – November 6, 2012 – http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/06/us-russia-defence-idUSBRE8A50A820121106) Reuters covers Russian President Vladimir Putin’s sacking of defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov after a multi-million dollar corruption scandal.  Putin replaced Serdyukov with former emergencies minister Sergei Shoigu, who has enjoyed a strong  public approval rating: Putin’s announcement made at a meeting with Shoigu […]

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NEWSLINK: Defense chief firing key step in Russia’s military reform ­- experts [Shoigu replaces Serdyukov]

Sergei Shoigu file photo

(Defense chief firing key step in Russia’s military reform ­ experts – Russia Today – November 6, 2012 – http://rt.com/politics/serdyukov-defense-shoigu-minister-061/) Kremlin-backed media source Russia Today reports on the replacement of Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov with former Emergencies Ministry chief Sergey Shoigu: President Vladimir Putin sacked Serdyukov after his ministry was drawn into a major scandal over alleged selling off […]

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Russian MPs and senators praise defence minister’s dismissal

Anatoliy Serdyukov file photo

(Interfax – November 6, 2012) The dismissal of Russian Defence Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov has been welcomed by senior figures in the Duma and the Federation Council, media sources reported. Serdyukov’s critics pointed to the way the military are being reorganized and to a fraud scandal that has recently erupted at the ministry. They contrasted this to the record of his […]

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Summer is cancelled for Russia’s bureaucrats -­ but will they play ball?

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

(Mikhail Loginov – www.opendemocracy.net –  November 2, 2012- Mikhail Loginov is a journalist and novelist based in St. Petersburg. He is the author of the recently published bestselling political thriller “Battle for Kremlin”.) October is Russia’s local election month, and some regions have just elected governors for the first time in seven years, part of an electoral reform designed to […]

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[TRANSCRIPT:] Vladimir Putin congratulated Russians on the National Unity Day.

Map of Russia

(Kremlin.ru – November 4, 2012) During the reception, Russian state decorations were presented to foreign citizens for their contribution to strengthening cooperation with Russia and developing Russian culture abroad. Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky presented the decorations. Speech at a reception marking National Unity Day PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Good afternoon, friends. Congratulations on the National Unity Day! This […]

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Water Privatization in Russia: More Than a Drop in the Ocean

File Photo of Water Facet with Drop of Water Coming Out

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Luka Oreskovic – November 2, 2012) Without water, humans can only live for a few days. Yet only about 1 percent of the earth’s water is suitable for human consumption. Rising GDP brings increases in demand for food production, including meat, which demands the greatest amount of water. Treating water is therefore a key utility. […]

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Defense Spending and Policy Discussions Are Splitting the Russian Elite

Russian Nuclear Submarine file photo

(Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 9, Issue 200 – Pavel Felgenhauer – November 2, 2012) Last week, the public standing of one of President Vladimir Putin’s most powerful cohorts­ — Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov­ — was seriously undermined when Russia’s Investigation Committee (Slyedstvenny Kommitet Rossye­SKR) publicly accused the defense ministry­-controlled holding company “Oboronservis” of corruption and […]

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Law on State Secrets Applies to Limited Number of People, Nothing to Worry About – Kostin

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

MOSCOW. Oct 31 (Interfax) – Civil Society Development Fund Head Konstantin Kostin thinks there is no reason to criticize the latest amendments to the Law on State Secrets. He called the negative reaction of certain human rights activists “emotional.” “I have seen nothing extraordinary in these amendments. Any country wants to protect its interests, including state secrets,” he told Interfax […]

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Russian Govt Confirms Mechanism to Block Access to Banned Online Content

File Photo Dmitry Medvedev at Desk with Laptop Computer

MOSCOW. Oct 30 (Interfax) – The Russian government has confirmed a mechanism to block Web sites with banned content. On October 26, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a resolution, due to come into force on November 1, that approves a list of banned Web sites and determines the criteria for the list operator’s work, as well as a procedure for […]

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Critics Fear Wide Reach of New Anti-Treason Bill

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

MOSCOW, October 31 (Dan Peleschuk, RIA Novosti) – The new anti-treason bill approved today by Russia’s upper house of parliament has prompted concern from experts, academics and human rights advocates, who say it could be used against almost anyone. “I see a lot of people around me who are experts and journalists who have become cautious, and who are becoming […]

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National Unity Day Still Just a Day Off for Most

Map of Russia

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 31, 2012) Only 16 percent of Russians will celebrate National Unity Day this weekend, while for most other people the holiday is little more than a day off work, according to a poll released Wednesday. Despite its growing popularity since 2005, when the Nov. 4 holiday was instituted, a quarter of respondents could not […]

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Back in time… or not: Standard time did not arrive in Russia ­… but the situation may yet change, and more confusion is expected

Analog Clock Artist's Rendition

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Kristen Blyth – October 29, 2012) Last Sunday, Russian social network users woke up and began pitching fits over the Daylight Savings time change ­ or lack thereof ­ in Russia. “What time is it really?” demanded bewildered gadget-users whose computer time may have turned back one hour but whose phone clocks remained the same. […]

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MOSCOW BLOG: Liberals take off gloves in first clash with Kremlin old guard

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

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – October 24 ,2012) It was the first head-to-head clash between the young liberal team in Russia’s cabinet and the old guard Siloviki faction in the presidential administration. On balance, the liberals are seen as having sneaked a win. The battle lines have been drawn since Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev appointed a surprisingly reform-minded […]

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Less Than Quarter of Russians Content With Cabinet – Poll

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

MOSCOW. Oct 19 (Interfax) – Only 23% of Russians polled by the Public Opinion Foundation on October 13-14 in 43 regions gave good grades to the Cabinet. Moreover, 40% spoke negatively of Cabinet operations while 11% know nothing about the Cabinet’s work. Among ministries the best marks went to the Emergency Situations’ Ministry (56% were satisfied), the Ministry of Communications […]

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Russia Hopes to Improve Doing Business Ranking Through Tax Administration – Minister

Empty Boardroom

MOSCOW. Oct 17 (Interfax) – Russia hopes improve its ranking on the Doing Business index by improving tax administration, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said. In the last Doing Business index, Russia was number 120. The country’s authorities have selected this index as an indicator of the success of their efforts to improve the business climate. In his first instruction after […]

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Medvedev Backs 3 Extended Holidays for 2013

Dmitry Medvedev file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 17, 2012) The country will enjoy three extended public holidays next year: 10 days for the New Year, five days for May Day and four days for Victory Day, according to a decree signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday. After an extra working day on Saturday, Dec. 29, the 10-day New Year […]

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NEWSLINK: Russia’s Putin sacks member of Medvedev’s cabinet

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

Russia’s Putin sacks member of Medvedev’s cabinet – Reuters – Gleb Bryanski – October 17, 2012 – http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/17/russia-putin-government-idUSL5E8LH6ZB20121017 Reuters covers a move by Russian President Vladimir Putin to remove a member of Dmitry Medvedev’s cabinet: Putin signed a decree dismissing Regional Development Minister Oleg Govorun, one of two ministers he had publicly criticised last month, and replacing him with Igor […]

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Towns Face Budget Battles They Can’t Win

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Rachel Nielsen – October 16, 2012) In a recent comedy sketch show, a police officer forks over the pay raise that he hid from his wife after she hears President Vladimir Putin announce the increase on TV. “Vladimir Vladimirovich,” the policeman mutters on the “6 Kadrov” television show, “thank you for raising our salaries, but […]

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The return of Sechin: An apparent compromise in a government rivalry places Putin’s key ally back in the picture

Igor Sechin file photo

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Anna Arutunyan – October 15, 2012) President Vladimir Putin has reportedly okayed a plan by the state-owned Rosneft oil company to buy BP’s 50 percent stake in TNKBP ­ and this may be part of a larger compromise with Putin’s key ally, Igor Sechin, who controls Rosneft. That compromise, analysts said, could affect everything from […]

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NEWSLINK: How Will History Judge Putin?

Vladimir Putin file photo

“How Will History Judge Putin?” – US-Russia.org – October 15, 2012 – http://us-russia.org/392-how-will-history-judge-putin.html Following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 60th birthday, US-Russia.org holds a discussion about the current state of Putin’s historical legacy, with a panel featuring Vlad Sobell, Sergei Roy, William Dunkerley, Anatoly Karlin, Patrick Armtrong, Alexei Pankin, Richard Sakwa, Alexander Rahr, and Martin Seiff.  Click here for the full […]

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Kudrin Offered Mega-Regulator Job

Alexei Kudrin file photo

STRASBOURG, October 8 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin has been offered the post of head of Russia’s new financial mega-regulator, he disclosed on Monday. “Yes, I have received the offer but I’m not ready so far to discuss it in detail,” Kudrin said on the sidelines of the global forum for democracy in Strasbourg. First Deputy […]

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Not Possible to Support Social Protections, Large Army, Many State Properties Simultaneously – Dvorkovich

Arkady Dvorkovich file photo

MOSCOW. Oct 3 (Interfax) – Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich has called it impossible for Russia to simultaneously have a high level of social protection, a large army, and a lot of state properties. “We cannot allow ourselves to simultaneously have a very high level of social protection in a system built on paternalistic principles, at the same time […]

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USAID Gone, Kremlin Tightens Control Over Non-Profits

Kremlin and St. Basil's

Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jonathan Earle – October 2, 2012 On Monday, the same day that the U.S. Agency for International Development ended its 20-year presence in Russia, President Vladimir Putin proposed bringing nonprofit groups that provide social services under closer government supervision. A plan outlining criteria for evaluating the quality of services provided by nonprofits, as well as […]

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Russia is running out of cash

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Outdoor Rally with Microphone in Hand and Heavy Coat

Dmitri Travin – www.opendemocracy.net – September 28, 2012 Dmitry Travin is Research Director at the European University in St. Petersburg’s Centre of Modernization Studies As the Russian government tries to put together its budget plan for 2013-2015, it is clear that it cannot possibly meet all its pre-election promises. Dmitry Travin looks at the financial crisis facing the country. The […]

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Medvedev Seen Hanging in the Balance

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

Nikolaus von Twickel – Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – September 28, 2012 When Dmitry Medvedev announced on Sept. 24, 2011, that he would step aside to let Vladimir Putin return as president, he disappointed critics and supporters alike. Disgruntled observers described him as a “political corpse.” A year later, Medvedev is prime minister and leader of United Russia ­ two […]

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Battle between liberals, Siloviki heats up over Rosneftegaz cash

Igor Sechin file photo

(Business New Europe – September 21, 2012) Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has ordered his cabinet to draw up urgent plans to “seize” 95% of the RUB130bn (€3.2bn) sitting on Rosneftegaz’s accounts to meet President Vladimir Putin’s demands to increase spending on state salaries and infrastructure investment. The move would emasculate Rosneftegaz CEO and Kremlin insider Igor Sechin’s plans to […]

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Russian Finance Minister Answers Putin’s Criticism Of Three-Year Federal Budget

Anton Siluanov file photo

(Interfax – Moscow, 19 September)  The Russian president’s decrees of 7 May, which reflect (Vladimir Putin’s) election campaign ideas, are a priority, and R1,145bn (36.7bn dollars) is to be spent on their implementation over the next three years, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told journalists. “The implementation of the decrees is a priority. For all the ministries and agencies, this […]

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