NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Liberals in the Crosshairs: The Russian opposition’s troubles are only beginning.” – The National Interest/Maria Snegovaya

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

As Russia approaches parliamentary elections scheduled in September 2016, the prospects for Russia’s so-called nonsystem liberal opposition look increasingly gloomy. Not only have democratic opposition leaders failed to create a unified coalition yet again, as in essentially every previous election – a failure that will likely diminish their already limited chances to win seats in Russia’s federal and regional parliaments […]

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The Monster Under The Kremlin

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – May 19, 2016) At first glance, the massive shoot-out at Moscow’s Khovanskoye Cemetery this past weekend seemed pretty retro. What, after all, reminds us more of the 1990s than rival Russian gangs staging a deadly brawl in a turf war over control of the lucrative burial business? What is more reminiscent of the […]

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Ukrainian blogger gets long sentence for expressing contentious views

Ukraine Map and Flag

(Human Rights in Ukraine – khpg.org – Halya Coynash – May 13, 2016) Ruslan Kotsaba, a controversial Ivano-Frankivsk journalist and blogger, has been sentenced to three and a half years’ imprisonment. The Ivano-Frankivsk City Court found the journalist, who has been in detention for 14 months guilty of obstructing the legitimate activities of the Ukrainian Armed Forces over a video […]

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Jailed for Protesting Against the Kremlin – Life 4 Years After Bolotnaya

Russian Riot Police file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Eva Hartog – May 13, 2016) The Bolotnoye protest followed disputed parliamentary elections that saw the ruling United Russia secure a narrow parliamentary majority and Putin return to the presidency. The lights went out without so much as a flicker in the Moscow apartment shared by Andrei Barabanov, his mother and girlfriend one evening in […]

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‘All Its Members Faced Jail’: Alekseyeva Recalls Birth Of Russia’s Oldest Rights Group

Lyudmila Alekseyeva file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Claire Bigg, Yelena Polyakovskaya – May 12, 2016) Few activists today can speak firsthand about the creation of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Russia’s oldest operating human rights organization, 40 years ago. Lyudmila Alekseyeva is one of them. At 88, she is Russia’s best-known human rights activist and among the last Soviet-era dissidents still active in the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “As Russians Struggle to Pay Bills, Debt Collectors Mimic the Mob” – New York Times

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

They have stripped and sexually abused a woman, severely burned a toddler by firebombing a house and broken a woman’s pinkie as a warning. Gang members, bandits, mobsters? … These are debt collectors, a peculiarly Russian variety … flourishing amid the country’s economic turmoil. … With unpaid debts mushrooming, collection has turned into something of a blood sport reminiscent of […]

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NEWSLINK Russia Direct/Marina Obrazkova: “Making sense of Russia’s strange new choice to defend human rights. The appointment of new human rights ombudswoman Tatyana Moskalkova has provoked a mixed reaction within Russian society in part because she is a former law enforcement official and a conservative politician who supported a series of controversial laws”

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo » Read more

Russians Will Stop Supporting Putin Only When They See His Weakness, Yakovenko Says

Putin Descending a Staircase

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 24, 2016) Given the longstanding servility of the Russian people, Vladimir Putin can be deprived of popular support only by showing how weak he in fact is, according to commentator, something that requires the opposition within Russia to unite and the West to reduce to a minimum any contacts with him. […]

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Alarm bells ring as chief Maidan crimes investigator threatened with criminal charges

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(Human Rights in Ukraine – khpg.org – Halya Coynash – April 21, 2016) Civic activists and Euromaidan victims’ lawyers have sounded the alarm about a major offensive against Serhiy Horbatyuk and his special investigative department which has been described as the “last bastion within the Prosecutor General’s Office really doing anything to investigate Euromaidan-related crimes”.  Several criminal investigations have been […]

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Barred From Hundreds Of Occupations In Russia, A Few Women Fight Back

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, April 17, 2016) Svetlana Medvedeva cannot rise to the top of her chosen profession for a very simple reason — she is a woman. The ambition of the 30-year-old mother of two is to earn a much better wage as the captain of a boat on the Volga River, which runs through […]

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Interfax: Positive attitude to Lenin in Russia tops 50% – poll

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(Interfax – April 20, 2016) The share of Russian citizens who positively assess the historical role of Vladimir Lenin has grown from 40 percent to 53 percent in the past ten years, the Levada Center told Interfax. The opinion was mostly voiced by pensioners (67 percent), Russians older than 55 (66 percent), people with primary education (59 percent), people with […]

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Russia’s in the red: As Russia’s personal debt crisis spirals out of control, collectors are turning to violence to ensure people pay on time. These stories aren’t for the fainthearted.

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

(opendemocracy.net – Sean Guillory – April 14, 2016) Sean Guillory lives in Pittsburgh, where he hosts the SRB podcast, a weekly podcast on Eurasian politics, history and culture, and blogs at seansrussiablog.org. You can follow him on Twitter @seansrussiablog. At this point, I should be numb to Russian horror stories. But several days ago, the following story struck a chord, […]

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Putin calls free press enemy of frauds, bribers, not administration

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

ST. PETERSBURG. April 7 (Interfax) – The free press can be an enemy only for frauds and bribers, not the administration as such, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “The free press can only be an enemy for frauds, bribers and criminals, but there can be no such situation for the administration as such, which is serving people,” Putin said at […]

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NEWSWATCH Kyiv Post: “Protester who tore up Poroshenko’s photo gets 4.5 years in jail”

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

A court in Vinnytsia, a city 270 kilometers southwest from Kyiv, sentenced local activist Yuriy Pavlenko to 4.5 years in prison for hooliganism with a use of a weapon. Pavlenko denies the charges, saying that he is being punished for publicly tearing up the portrait of Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko during a protest action. … activists protested to stop the […]

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Constitutional Crisis in Russia and How to Resolve It

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

(Institute of Modern Russia – imrussia.org – March 28, 2016) [Full report here imrussia.org/en/news/2540-constitutional-crisis-in-russia-and-how-to-resolve-it] Today, there is every indication that Russia is facing an anti-constitutional coup. Power is being concentrated in the hands of unconstitutional authorities who have replaced constitutional institutions. It isn’t clear who Russia is governed by, let alone who controls its people. What are the specifics of […]

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‘They Took Everything Away’: Russia’s Disabled Hit Hard By New Rules

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Claire Bigg – March 14, 2016) Daniil is 5 years old, but he has spent more time in the hospital than many adults. Last year, he was treated four times at the intensive-care unit of his local hospital in Magnitogorsk, an industrial city in Russia’s Urals region. Daniil suffers from congenital adrenal hyperplasia, a life-threatening genetic […]

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NEWSWATCH: Washington Post editorial: “Russia’s latest show trial”

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

The Obama administration keeps betting that Vladi­mir Putin is genuinely interested in a diplomatic settlement in Ukraine. The case of Nadiya Savchenko offers powerful evidence to the contrary. … Savchenko, 34, is a Ukrainian army officer who served with the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and later volunteered for a battalion that fought Russia’s invasion of her country’s eastern provinces in […]

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Legitimized Elections: The Kremlin Plays a New Game

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Hobson – March 11, 2016) There was nothing unusual about the weeks running up to the 2009 Moscow City Duma election. United Russia, the party of power, hogged airtime on television and radio. Opposition candidates were routinely barred from running. Municipal workers ripped other parties’ fliers from the city streets. Maria Zheleznova observed the […]

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Russia Is Giving up on Its Tragedies-and on Itself

Tower and Building Inside Kremlin

(Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 13, Issue 45 – Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Pavel K. Baev – March 7, 2016) Pavel K. Baev is a research professor at the Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO) and nonresident senior fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe at Brookings. President Vladimir Putin’s approval rating is regularly accepted as a proxy […]

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VIDEO & ARTICLE: “The Masters Of Nothing”

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – The Daily Vertical: Brian Whitmore – March 11, 2016) Is it real or is it parody? Chechnya’s human rights ombudsman said a group of journalists and human rights activists brutally assaulted en route from Ingushetia this week may have staged the attack themselves. Meanwhile, the head of the Russian Skating Union said that the reason Russian […]

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Hooliganism case opened after attack on journalists and rights activists on Ingush-Chechen border

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

MOSCOW. March 10 (Interfax) – A criminal investigation has been opened after unknown persons attacked a minibus carrying human rights activists and journalists on the administrative border between Ingushetia and Chechnya, in Russia’s North Caucasus, last night, a spokesman for the region’s security services told Interfax. “A criminal case has been launched under Article 167 (deliberate destruction or damage of […]

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Even motor processions are now a demonstration in Russia

Moscow Roads

A law signed into force by Russian President Vladimir Putin equates car processions to demonstrations and the establishment of tent cities in public places – to protesting. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – March 10, 2016) Motor processions and tent camps in public places in Russia have been added to the list of events defined by law in Russia […]

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Putin signs law commemorating victims of political repressions

File Photo of Prison in Russia with Wall, Barbed Wire, Guard Tower

(Interfax – March 9, 2016) Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a bill reinforcing the right of central-government bodies and local authorities to conduct measures to perpetuate the memory of the victims of the political repressions and provide support for nonprofit organizations involved in such efforts. The bill was proposed by the Russian government. The law reinforces the […]

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Like, Share, Convict: Russian Authorities Target Social Media Users

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – March 10, 2016) [Chart here http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/like-share-convict-russian-authorities-target-social-media-users/562015.html] It was a throwaway comment, forgotten almost the minute it was written. Then again, Viktor Krasnov could hardly have predicted the trouble those three words -“God doesn’t exist” – would cause. He couldn’t have imagined that two VKontakte users would file a formal complaint to the […]

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NEWSLINK TASS: “Russian blogger stands trial on charges of insulting believers’ religious feelings”

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

Interfax: Number of inspections of NGOs declining – Justice Minister

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

MOSCOW. March 2 (Interfax) – Russian Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov said the number of inspections of non-government organizations (NGOs) scheduled for this year is declining. “When organizing inspections of NGOs, the Justice Ministry uses information received from other public administration agencies, and it has to be said that the total number of inspections conducted in 2015 went down 12% from […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Ukrainian Jews Flee To Israel Amid Anti-Semitic Attacks in War-Torn Ukraine” – The Jewish Press (New York)/Tazpit News Agency

Torah Scrolls

Over 100 Ukrainian Jews fled war-torn Ukraine and arrived in Israel on Tuesday, February 23. Many Ukrainian Jews have been leaving their country of birth due to violence and frequent anti-Semitic attacks. They were assisted by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), which has been spearheading a project of bringing Jews to Israel from countries engulfed by war. […]

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‘Why Didn’t You Run?’ – The Inside Story on the Arrest of Russian Billionaire Dmitry Kamenshchik

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Hobson – February 25, 2016) On the morning of Feb. 18, Dmitry Kamenshchik, Russia’s 27th-richest tycoon, packed a backpack with some spare clothes, a toothbrush, and shoes without laces – the essentials for a stint in prison. The billionaire owner of Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport was unemotional, says his lawyer. Ten days earlier, three current […]

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Post-Soviet parliamentarian drama: a view from ‘the gods’ in Kiev

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

The political history of Russia’s neighbours can be described in terms of one long conflict between a presidential authoritarian tendency and democratic parliamentarianism. Parliaments are the key. (opendemocracy.net – Mikhail Minakov – February 22, 2016) Mikhail Minakov is Associate Professor at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and President of the Foundation for Good Politics, Kyiv. He is also director of the Krytyka Institute, […]

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Putin’s Pre-emptive Strike: Kremlin Moves to Liquidate ‘Foreign Agents’

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – February 19, 2015) Activist Pavel Chikov could react only with sarcasm when a court handed down a winding up order against his Agora legal advocacy association. “As the first NGO ever to have been liquidated in a Russian court, we are so proud,” he wrote on Twitter. The next day, another organization, […]

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The Extortionist In The Kremlin

Syria Map

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – The Daily Vertical – Brian Whitmore – February 15, 2016) If there was ever any doubt that Russia is engaging in little more than a game of geopolitical extortion in Syria, there shouldn’t be any more. By targeting opponents of Bashar al-Assad, Moscow has effectively assured that Syria’s civil war will continue indefinitely. By indiscriminately bombing […]

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Interfax: Casualties of law enforcement agencies reduce threefold in North Caucasus in 2015 – Interior Ministry

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

(Interfax – STAVROPOL, Feb 11, 2016) A decline in the number of clashes, bombings and shelling incidents continued in the North Caucasus in 2015, head of the Russian Interior Ministry department in the North Caucasus Federal District Sergei Chenchik said at a coordination conference of district police chiefs in Pyatigorsk. “The number of shelling incidents, bombings and clashes was significantly […]

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Moscow’s Overnight Demolition Blitz Sparks Legal Debate

Snowy Night on Red Square with Old St. Basil's Lit Up

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova, Vasily Kolotilov – February 11, 2016) You could hear a young woman yelling, but her voice was diluted in the sound of bulldozers, smashed glass and metal. “What are you doing?! There are people still in there! Stop it!” she said. Several police officers stood outside, watching the bulldozer do its work without […]

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A law beyond improvement; Defining “political activity” may seem like an academic exercise, but in Russia, it is an existential one.

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

Defining “political activity” may seem like an academic exercise, but in Russia, it is an existential one. (opendemocracy.net – Tanya Lokshina – February 8, 2016) Tanya Lokshina is Russia program director at Human Rights Watch. In May 2013, as Russia was craving positive international publicity before the Sochi Olympic Games, the secretary general of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland, […]

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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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NEWSLINK: “How Litvinenko’s poisoning fits into Putin’s power play. Everything Vladimir Putin has done to reassert Russian power has seemed farfetched, outlandish and inconceivable-until he did it” – Maclean’s (Canada)/Michael Petrou

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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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