Review: Arkady Ostrovsky’s ‘The Invention of Russia’

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

This new history tells a compelling, if normative, story of how Russia’s journalists and entrepreneurs threw off their former shackles, only to put them back on again. (opendemocracy.net – Maxim Edwards – February 3, 2016) Maxim Edwards is Commissioning Editor at oDR. He writes on nationalism, inter-ethnic and inter-religious relations, with a focus on post-Soviet countries. His articles have appeared […]

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Virtual Stalinism

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – February 2, 2016) Russian officials seem to have developed an execution fetish of late. One example, of course, is the disturbing video Ramzan Kadyrov posted on Instagram showing opposition figures Mikhail Kasyanov and Vladimir Kara-Murza in the crosshairs of a sniper’s rifle. Another is the bizarre series of animated clips Vladimir Putin’s All-Russian […]

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Just How Bad is Putin? Ever More People Are Counting the Ways

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 31, 2016) As the number of Vladimir Putin’s violations of international law and normal morality grows, ever more people are offering lists of the actions for which he must be held accountable. Three particularly interesting examples of that trend have been offered over the last several days. Russian journalist Oleg Kashin […]

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Half of Russians don’t trust conclusions made by British in Litvinenko case

Radioactivity Symbol

(Interfax – January 31, 2016) Over half of Russians (53%) believe the London court had no real grounds to accuse Russian officials of involvement in the death of former Federal Security Service official Alexander Litvinenko, Levada Center has reported. The poll, which surveys 1,600 respondents, was conducted in 137 populated areas of 48 regions of Russia on Jan. 22-25. The […]

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Ever more Russians are at risk of repression as Putin’s Russia heads toward totalitarianism

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – January 27, 2016) There is an old observation that in a democracy, anything that isn’t prohibited is permitted; in an authoritarian system, anything that isn’t permitted is prohibited; and in a totalitarian one, anything that is permitted is compulsory and any failure to go along can result in arrest or worse. Judging from […]

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As Ruble Nosedives, Russians Are Priced Out Of Live-Saving Western Treatment

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Claire Bigg – February 1, 2016) As the ruble continues its catastrophic tumble, hitting another historic low last month, the pain is being felt keenly across Russia. Among those worst hit are patients in need of urgent surgery abroad or other life-saving treatment billed in foreign currencies. “It all started with a bad cough and a […]

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Russian Investigative Committee gives ICC data on S. Ossetia conflict crimes

Georgia Map

(Interfax – January 28, 2016) The Russian Investigative Committee has provided the International Criminal Court (ICC) with the files of a criminal case opened into the crimes committed during the 2008 armed conflict in South Ossetia, Investigative Committee director Alexander Bastrykin has said. “The Investigative Committee of Russia conducted a thorough investigation into the crimes committed by the Georgian military,” […]

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Article on Russian-Chechen Tensions Draws Chechen Ire

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – January 27, 2016) Chechnya’s regional legislature has demanded an investigation for possible “extremism” into an article by a Russian political analyst who wrote that mutual resentment between Russians and Chechens has been growing and was on the verge of an “explosion.” Magomed Daudov, speaker of the Chechen parliament, said political analyst Andrei […]

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NEWSLINK: “How a liberal bastion is persevering in an increasingly illiberal Moscow. The Andrei Sakharov Center, one of the last safe spaces for Russia’s liberal community, has been fined and fined again for its purported ‘political activity.’ But celebrity support and crowdsourcing have kept it alive.” – Christian Science Monitor

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Interfax: Inquiry against 5 people charged over Nemtsov’s murder completed

Nemtsov March of Mourning

(Interfax – January 26, 2016) The criminal investigation opened against five people charged over the killing of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov has been completed, a lawyer for one of the suspects told Interfax. “The investigation has notified me today that the inquiry as part of this case has been completed,” lawyer Mussa Khadisov, who represents suspect Anzor Gubashev, said. […]

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Fear Once Again Dominating Russian Society, Gudkov Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 24, 2016) For first time since the late 1980s, fear has come to dominate the lives of Russians, although many are unwilling to acknowledge this directly preferring instead to say that they are not afraid but that others are, a typical case of projection of their own situation, according to Lev […]

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Kadyrov Set to Play Hardball With Russian Opposition

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – January 22, 2016) Konstantin Senchenko, a Krasnoyarsk lawmaker, found himself in the spotlight this month when he was the first to oppose Ramzan Kadyrov in his anti-opposition campaign. Kadyrov called opposition activists “enemies of the people” – a term used during Stalin’s era as a criminal charge – and in his speech […]

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Grounds For (A Little) Optimism? Russian public opinion on human rights

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

Despite Putin’s clampdown on Russian civil society, public opinion trends point to growing support for civil liberties. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate on public opinion and human rights. (opendemocracy.net – Theodore P. Gerber – January 18, 2016) Theodore P. Gerber is the Director of the Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia and Professor of Sociology at the […]

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If Putin Sacks Kadyrov, He Could Lose the North Caucasus; If He Doesn’t, He Could Lose Russia

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 19, 2016) Ramzan Kadyrov’s increasingly outrageous statements confront Vladimir Putin with what for him is a Hobson’s choice: if he sacks Kadyrov, he will undermine his longstanding approach to the North Caucasus and quite possibly lead to a situation in which Moscow could no longer hold it. But if the Kremlin […]

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Head of Chechnya says his controversial comments not aimed at “legal opposition”

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

(Interfax – Moscow, January 18, 2016) Head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov has said that his comments, which caused an outcry, were not aimed against the lawful opposition in Russia; he expressed the view that Russian human rights commissioner Ella Panfilova “was too hasty” to criticize him. “I was not talking about the lawful opposition, which raises social and economic problems, […]

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Agents of Change: Promoting Tolerance and Acceptance in Russia

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Vasily Kolotilov – January 18, 2016) A rehearsal is being held in a large hall – light streaming in through floor-to-ceiling windows onto the performers. Some dance, some sit sprawled across the floor watching their compatriots. “Kostik, stand up, you’re going to get cold,” the choreographer scolds. A young man slouched on the wooden parquet […]

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Pamfilova criticizes Kadyrov’s words about non-system opposition

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

MOSCOW. Jan 13 (Interfax) – Russian human rights ombudsman Ella Pamfilova has criticized the statement made by Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Chechnya, saying that representatives of the non-system opposition are “enemies of the people” who should face trial for sabotage. “Such statements are not only pointless, but also harmful because they render a disservice to the country’s president and […]

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Law Guaranteeing Phone Call After Arrest Comes Into Force in Russia

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 11, 2016) A law outlining the right of a detainee to make a phone call no later than three hours after being arrested has come into force in Russia, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta state-owned newspaper reported Sunday. “A suspect as soon as possible, but not later than three hours after he [or she] was arrested, […]

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Russia’s politics of paranoia

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

Russian society tries to keep its nerve. The Kremlin thrives on it, the papers amplify it-but nobody can quite control this profound paranoia. (opendemocracy.net – ANNA ARUTUNYAN – December 22, 2015) Anna Arutunyan is a Russian-American journalist and the author of The Putin Mystique. She is currently a fellow at the Kennan Institute in Washington. Russian society tries to keep […]

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Ukrainian Refugees Say Russia Not So Welcoming Anymore

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Svitlana Prokopyeva and Tony Wesolowsky – PSKOV, Russia – December 18, 2015) Svitlana Moroz, her two sons, and her elderly mother have lived in the spartan Sport hotel in Pskov, in western Russia, for nearly a year and a half now. But they and hundreds more like them who fled the fighting at home in eastern […]

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Magnitsky’s mother asks Chaika to confirm publicized facts concerning her son

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

(Interfax – December 22, 2015) The mother of Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died at a Moscow jail in 2009, has asked the Russian Prosecutor General, Yury Chaika, to provide evidence for the claims he made in a letter to the Kommersant daily regarding her son and the activity of the fund’s head, William Browder. “The information you disseminated […]

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RBTH: “Russia and the EU: United by the refugees’ tragedy; Similar approach to border controls is key to managing migration.”

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(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – DMITRY BABICH, SPECIAL TO RBTH – December 8, 2015) Dmitry Babich is a political analyst at Sputnik International. In recent years, Russia and the European Union have developed a taste for stressing what divides them, particularly the “differences in values” which presumably make us two worlds apart. But there is at least one […]

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RBTH: “Russia can now ignore rulings by European human rights court”

European Court of Human Rights Building file photo

The Russian State Duma has passed a law making it possible to recognize, upon a motion from the president or the government, some rulings by international courts as unenforceable in Russia. While critics say the law is aimed at limiting the powers of the European Court of Human Rights, an RBTH source says the state is merely defending its sovereignty […]

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Russia’s Supreme Court overturns ruling to fine “foreign agent” NGO

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

(Interfax – December 7, 2015) The Russian Supreme Court has revoked a ruling to fine a St Petersburg-based NGO, Institute of Regional Press, over its refusal to be labelled a “foreign agent”, privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax reported on 7 December. “The judges failed to find formal components of the crime in the actions of the rights activists. It is […]

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Two-thirds of Russians feel free – poll

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

MOSCOW. Dec 8 (Interfax) – The percentage of Russians who feel free has grown from 52% in 2013 to 66% now, and 27% do not have this feeling compared to 39% two years ago, the Levada Center told Interfax. According to the sociologists, a fifth of Russians (22%) think that a dictatorship is possible in Russia within a few years, […]

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NGO U.S. Russia Foundation for Economic Advancement and Rule of Law recognized as undesirable in Russia

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MOSCOW. Dec 4 (Interfax) – The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has recognized a non-governmental organization (NGO) from the United States – the U.S. Russia Foundation for Economic Advancement and the Rule of Law (USRF) – as an undesirable organization in Russian territory, Prosecutor General’s Office spokesperson Marina Gridneva told Interfax on Friday. “The president of the foundation is a U.S. […]

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We’re right here; Building a society inclusive of autism in Russia involves battling with myths, superstition and the Soviet legacy. But civil society is forging ahead.

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

(opendemocracy.net – Natalia Antonova – December 2, 2015) Natalia Antonova was born in Kyiv and grew up in North Carolina. She works as a journalist and playwright. All over the world, autism is a condition that attracts scrutiny and controversy-it is both highly variable and often poorly understood. In Russia, a society still struggling with inherited Soviet disdain of anything […]

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Russian Minister: Security Concerns Justify Restricting Civil Rights

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – November 28, 2015) Russia’s interior minister said restricting civil rights is justifiable if security considerations demand it, according to a television interview that was broadcast Thursday night and prompted criticism from human rights advocates. Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev told NTV television that police and security agencies must “tighten the screws” in case […]

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Soros Foundation recognized as undesirable in Russia

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

(Interfax – November 30, 2015) The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has recognized undesirable several foreign non-profit organizations, such as the Open Society Foundation and the Assistance Foundation in Russia. “This decision was taken, following an address by the Federation Council of the Russian Federal Assembly to the Russian general prosecutor, foreign minister and justice minister to inspect the organizations, which […]

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Russian Justice Ministry Report on NGO Memorial Heads to Court

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Joanna Kozlowska – November 21, 2015) The Justice Ministry report accusing the rights group Memorial of “undermining the constitutional order and calling for the overthrow of the Russian government,” following the ministry’s inspection of the NGO’s activities and dated Oct. 30, has been sent to a magistrates’ court in Moscow’s Tverskoy district, the RIA Novosti […]

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Interfax: DPR prepares new draft amnesty law that will take into account conditions of prisoner exchange on both sides

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

DONETSK. Nov 20 (Interfax) – Darya Morozova, human rights ombudsman in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), said that the law on amnesty adopted by Ukraine does not suit the conflict in Donbas and that the DPR is working on its own version. “The republic is not blackmailing anyone, but insists on the fulfillment of the sixth point of the Minsk […]

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Kremlin proceeds from moratorium on death penalty in Russia

Sergei Mironov

MOSCOW. Nov 20 (Interfax) – Russian presidential press officer Dmitry Peskov has refrained from giving detailed comments on the proposal made by Sergei Mironov, chairman of the State Duma faction A Just Russia, to use the death penalty on terrorists, saying that the Kremlin currently proceeds from a moratorium on this measure of punishment. “It’s a very complex issue. There […]

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Russian ombudsman probes into high-profile prisoners’ complaints

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Interfax – November 17, 2015) Russian Commissioner for Human Rights Ella Pamfilova has sent an official letter to the Russian prison authorities asking them to provide urgent medical help to the brother of prominent opposition activist Aleksey Navalnyy – Oleg Navalnyy, who is serving his prison sentence after being convicted for embezzlement, privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax news agency reported […]

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UN refugee agency delivers aid to eastern Ukraine for first time in months

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

(United Nations – UN News Centre- un.org – November 9, 2015) [Reprinted with the permission of the United Nations.] The United Nations refugee agency has managed to deliver aid for the first time in over two months to areas of eastern Ukraine beyond Government control where two million people are in urgent need of assistance, reaching 12,000 people – a […]

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Russian Justice Ministry Accuses Memorial Of Calling For Regime Change

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – RFE/RL’s Russian Service – November 10, 2015) Russia’s Justice Ministry has accused the prominent nongovernmental organization Memorial of “undermining the foundations of the constitutional order of the Russian Federation” and of calling for “a change of political regime” in the country. The ministry sent the Memorial Human Rights Center notification of the accusations on November 9 […]

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Ukraine: Europe’s forgotten refugees

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

While the world focuses on refugees arriving in Europe from warzones in the Middle East, the plight of those fleeing war in Ukraine has been forgotten. (opendemocracy.net – Sara Cincurova – November 20, 2015) Sara Cincurova is a freelance journalist focusing on human rights. She is a former family support worker and holds a Master’s degree from the Paris Descartes […]

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New Museum Stakes Claim to Russia’s Gulag Legacy

File Photo of Gulag Victim Ivan Burylov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Howard Amos – November 5, 2015) [Photos here http://www.themoscowtimes.com/arts_n_ideas/article/new-museum-stakes-claim-to-russias-gulag-legacy/542211.html] Russia’s largest museum devoted to the horrors of the Soviet gulag has opened, even as many Muscovites remain unwilling to talk about political repression. Moscow’s new Gulag Museum opened Friday even as the country remains polarized by the legacy of its brutal system of Soviet-era prison […]

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Détente NOW!

Europe Map

Subject: Détente NOW! Date: Fri, 30 Oct 2015 From: “Dr. Christian Wipperfürth” <cwipperfuerth@email.de> Your readers might be interested in the “Détente NOW!” – Initiative by leading members of the Social Democratic Party (which takes part in the German government), the industrie and NGOs. It can be found at http://www.cwipperfuerth.de/2015/10/detente-now-english/ —- Pax Christi Press Release (translation) Berlin, October 2015 For a […]

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Russian Incidence of Tuberculosis Falls by 30% Over 10 Years

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 3, 2015) Russian incidence of tuberculosis has fallen by 30 percent over the past 10 years, the country’s health minister said Friday, according to the RIA Novosti news agency. Since 2005, incidence of tuberculosis infections in Russia has decreased by 30 percent, while the mortality rate from the disease has decreased twofold, Veronika Skvortsova […]

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Ukraine Probes Attack on Chief Prosecutor Amid Calls He Resign

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Daryna Krasnolutska, Kateryna Choursina – November 3, 2015) Ukrainian authorities opened a criminal investigation into a sniper attack on Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, who’s under pressure to resign amid criticism he has hindered the country’s fight against graft. At about 10 p.m. Kiev time on Monday, an unknown assailant fired at a window in Shokin’s office […]

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Case against Moscow’s Library of Ukrainian Literature may be closed

Vladimir Markin file photo

(Interfax – October 30, 2015) A criminal investigation launched against the director of the Moscow-based Library of Ukrainian Literature, Natalya Sharina, who is a suspect in a case opened into the spreading of extremist literature, may be closed, a source in law enforcement agencies told Interfax. “The case against Sharina may be closed on the basis of the Prosecutor’s Office’s […]

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Reclusive Russian Family’s Last Survivor Toughs It Out In The Taiga

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

(RFE/RL – Nick Holdsworth – October 28, 2015) SIBERIAN TAIGA, Russia — Agafia Lykova emerges from the thick forest on the banks of the Abakan River like an image from Russian folklore. Dressed in ragged black sackcloth with a tattered head scarf and a triangular prayer amulet hanging from a beaded cord around her neck, she greets visitors arriving by […]

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NEWSLINK Christian Science Monitor: Inside the Kremlin’s velvet grip, Russia’s civil society struggles to survive. Workers at Memorial, Russia’s leading human rights monitor, live under constant, unyielding pressure from the government, which is trying to stymie dissent.

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