NEWSWATCH: “Russia Makes U-Turn After Evicting Amnesty From Moscow Office” – Reuters

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

… Amnesty International can return to the Moscow office it was evicted from this week, a Kremlin human rights adviser said on Thursday …. Amnesty has been a vocal critic of Russia over its bombing campaign in Syria and had said it believed the eviction might be part of an official crackdown on civil society groups. … Kremlin officials have […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Aims to Disrupt Other Western Elections, U.S. Officials Say; Electoral chaos in West being sowed to safeguard Putin’s hold on power, Kremlin watchers say” – Wall Street Journal/Alan Cullison

Stylized Artist's Depiction of Shadowy Figures in Dark Coats and Dark Hats, One Carrying a Briefcase

… Russian-backed hacking … that has rocked the presidential campaign may peak on Election Day, but is likely to continue next year and into 2018 as Moscow seeks to influence U.S. politics and key elections in Europe … administration officials warn. Russian meddling … may become more potent in Europe than in the U.S., White House officials and other experts […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia may be wounded, but it can still bite; The country is in decline, but Vladimir Putin is willing to take bold risks” – Washington Post

Kremlin and River

Whoever wins Tuesday’s presidential election will face an assertive, aggrieved Russia whose risk-taking behavior under … Putin is increasingly worrisome …. pushy, headstrong Russia presents a paradox … most measures … a country in decline, with a sagging economy, an underdeveloped technology base and a shrinking population. Corruption pervades nearly every sector. The collapse of the Soviet Union is still […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s oil output in October hits new post-Soviet era high” – Reuters

Oil Well file photo

Russia’s oil output set a new post-Soviet era record high in October, rising 0.1 percent from September to 11.2 million barrels per day (bpd), energy ministry data showed …. underscor[ing] the difficulty the government could have in freezing output levels as part of a global pact with other top producers [to impact prices] …. Oil and gas sales account for […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Being Russian in Putin’s Russia; Russia is still struggling to define itself nearly a century after the Soviet Union was established.” – Stratfor

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

“… Putin has inherited the problem of unity. … He needs an actionable ideology he can implement at the political and cultural level. … Through heavy-handed propaganda, Moscow has used the current stand-off with the United States to rally nationalist fervor against a common enemy. Following Russia’s failures to prevent a revolution in Ukraine, it presented Crimea as a source […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Moldovan Presidental Election Goes to Runoff” – AP

Moldova Map and Flag

Moldova’s presidential election will go to a runoff after a pro-Russian candidate narrowly missed winning a majority … Igor Dodon won 48.26 percent, while pro-European rival Maia Sandu scored 38.42 percent. … Moldovans, angry about high-level corruption, were divided about whether to seek closer integration into Europe or rekindle ties with Moscow. Click here for AP: “Moldovan Presidental Election Goes […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s renewed might rests on weak economic foundations. Putin bravado does not extend to modernisation of the economy” – Financial Times/Neil Buckley

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

… the gap between the image … Putin portrayed … and the reality was exposed by a sobering assessment of Russia’s economy by another senior official … further emphasised by a draft budget … envisaging a 27 per cent cut in defence spending …. the official … made it clear how Russia’s ambitions clash with its capabilities. … western sanctions […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Welcomes Growing Wave of ‘Red Tourists’ From China. Nostalgia for Communist past as well as capitalist bargain-hunting draw more Chinese visitors.” – Wall Street Journal

Asia Map

Russia’s relations with the West have deteriorated amid the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria and its economy has been battered by punitive sanctions and low oil prices. But the country is welcoming record numbers of Chinese visitors, who are taking advantage of a weak ruble, visa-free group travel, and the opportunity to retrace Communist history. … More than 1.1 million […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian oil production reached post-Soviet high. Moody’s says profitability of Russian energy companies will be robust” – UPI

Oil Well file photo

A ratings agency assessing the profitability of Russian energy companies said oil production for September reached a post-Soviet high. … Sanctions and lower crude oil prices put pressure on the Russian economy. Moody’s said … most Russian energy companies were shielded by a look toward the domestic market and state-controlled banks. … Meeting with … Putin this week, … Medvedev […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Most Republicans Believe Russia Is Meddling in U.S. Election: Reuters/Ipsos Poll” – Reuters

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

Most Republicans believe Russia is attempting to influence the U.S. presidential election, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll …. 55 percent of U.S. adults, including 51 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of Democrats, said they thought Russia was trying to tip the scales in the Nov. 8 presidential election …. The U.S. government has accused Russia of … cyber attacks […]

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VIDEO: The State of U.S.-Russia Relations – Council on Foreign Relations Event – Stephen F. Cohen, Fiona Hill, Robert Levgold, Stephen Sestanovich

Russian Jet Buzzing U.S. Navy Destroyer, adapted from U.S. Navy photo

(Council on Foreign Relations event – Oct. 21, 2016) Stephen F. Cohen, Professor Emeritus of Russian Studies and Politics, New York University and Princeton University Fiona Hill, Senior Fellow and Director, Center on the United States and Europe, Brookings Institution Robert Legvold, Marshall D. Shulman Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, Columbia University; Author, Return to Cold War Presider: Stephen […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russians Conduct Nuclear-Bomb Survival Drills as Cold War Heats Up. Bomb shelters are upgraded, gas masks tested amid strained relations between Putin and U.S.” – Wall Street Journal

Radioactivity Symbol

Russian authorities have stepped up nuclear-war survival measures amid a showdown with Washington, dusting off Soviet-era civil-defense plans and upgrading bomb shelters …. At the Kremlin’s Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Cold War is back. [Russia] recently held its biggest civil defense drills since the collapse of the U.S.S.R., with what officials said were 40 million people rehearsing a response […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The New Poor: How The Ongoing Crisis Has Devoured Russia’s Small Middle Class” – Moscow Times/Boris Grozovsky

Cash, Calculator, Pen

This winter will mark three years since Russia abruptly embarked on a course of political and economic isolation. Lower oil prices and the devaluation of the ruble dealt a serious blow to the population’s economic well-being. By its own evaluation, Russia’s middle class shrank by more than 16 percent, shedding an incredible 14 million people. Click here for Moscow Times/Boris […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Kremlin-Backed Broadcaster RT Says Loses UK Banking Services” – Reuters

File Photo of British Parliament Building, Big Ben, Thames, adapted from image at loc.gov

Russia accused Britain of political censorship … after a British state-owned bank withdrew its services from Kremlin-backed Russian broadcaster RT. … A spokeswoman for Prime Minister Theresa May distanced the British government from the row, saying it was up to NatWest who it offered services to based on its own appetite for risk. … British broadcast regulator Ofcom has ruled […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Antarctic marine reserves deal within reach as Russia thaws environmental stance. After five years of failed negotiations, conservations are hopeful Russia is prepared to make a deal to protect the Ross Sea and East Antarctica” – The Guardian (UK)

Antarctica Map

An international agreement to protect some of Antarctica’s unique and pristine marine ecosystems could be reached within a fortnight …. Delegates from 24 nations and the European Union gathered in Hobart on Monday to commence two weeks of talks at the annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). … If an agreement is […]

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NEWSWATCH: “America’s Russia Policy Has Failed; Here are seven things the next U.S. president should do to put Washington back in the driver’s seat” – Foreign Policy/Thomas Graham, Matthew Rojansky

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

By any number of measures, Washington’s Russia policy has failed. While ostensibly suffering from diplomatic and economic isolation under a U.S.-led international sanctions regime, Moscow has succeeded in challenging a wide range of American interests, most notably in Ukraine, Syria, and cyberspace. Coming up with a new approach on Russia should therefore be a top priority … 1) Understand That […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Oil hits one-year high as Russia ready to join output caps” – Reuters

Oil Well file photo

Oil prices jumped as much as 3 percent on Monday, with Brent hitting a one-year high, after Russia said it was ready to join OPEC in curbing crude output and Algeria called for similar commitments from other non-OPEC producers. … “Russia is ready to join the joint measures to cap production and is calling for other oil exporters to join,” […]

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NEWSWATCH: “What Clinton and Trump need to know about Putin’s Russia” – The Hill/Ariel Cohen

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

When Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump address security challenges … Putin’s Russia will loom large. This is no longer post-communist Russia attempting the transition to a market-based democracy and looking up to the West. That transformation was an epic failure. In Putin’s words, ‘Russia is rising from its knees’. … therein lies the threat. … The next American president will […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Politkovskaya Ten Years On” – Sean’s Russia Blog/Sean Guillory

Anna Politkovskaya file photo

It’s been ten years since an assassin put four bullets in Anna Politkovskaya — three in her chest, one in her head, the hallmark of a contract hit. … We can recall her career and her drive to cover the horrors of #Chechnya in ways few would. … We can quote her many articles and books for their continued relevance. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Dealing with a simmering Ukraine-Russia conflict” – Brookings/Fiona Hill, Steven Pifer

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

A major foreign policy challenge that will confront the new U.S. administration from day one is Ukraine and its conflict with Russia. … Minsk II … that was to end the fighting in … Donbas … has yet to be implemented. There is little sign that Moscow wants a settlement, apparently preferring a ‘simmering’ rather than ‘frozen’ conflict, where it […]

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NEWSWATCH: “This Week Marks the 10th Anniversary of Anna Politkovskaya’s Murder; The legacy of the fearless Russian journalist’s muckraking reporting still lives on.” – The Nation

Anna Politkovskaya file photo

Katrina vanden Heuvel, Publisher and Editor of The Nation, memorializes slain Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya on the 10-year anniversary of Politkovskaya’s assassination, and considers some of the dangers and other challenges impacting Russian journalists. It is 10 years since Russia and the world lost a great and courageous journalist. The killing of Anna Politkovskaya on October 7, 2006, was horrifying […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The murder that killed free media in Russia; A decade after the assassination of Anna Politkovskaya, news organisations increasingly avoid topics that could anger the Kremlin” – The Guardian (UK)/Shaun Walker

File Photo of Mourners with Photo of Anna Politkovskaya

 … In the decade since [Anna] Politkovskaya’s death, the space for independent journalism in Russia has narrowed …. Since 2006, the Committee to Protect Journalists has recorded 20 journalists’ killings, while Freedom House has counted 63 violent attacks on reporters. But for the most part, the threat of closure keeps publications in line and encourages self-censorship. … news sources have […]

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NEWSWATCH: “New Cold War? Russia, U.S. Relations At Lowest Point Since 1970s” – NBC

Kremlin and River

An American spy working undercover in Moscow is tackled and beaten at the gates of the U.S. Embassy. A Russian fighter jet flies within 30 feet of a U.S. Navy ship. Russian intelligence agencies hack into an American political party, and soon afterward embarrassing emails become public. The same Russian government that invaded and annexed Ukrainian territory in Crimea is […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian PM expects modest economic growth in early 2017” – Reuters

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

… Medvedev expects modest growth in the economy early 2017 …. The Russian economy has struggled following the introduction of international sanctions against Moscow in 2014 over its role in the Ukraine crisis. … According to a Reuters poll, Russian inflation will fall to just over 6 percent by the end of the year as monetary policy is kept tight, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Implicated in Shooting Down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Over Ukraine” – New York Times

Ukraine Air Crash Scene with Uniformed Security Personnel, Flames, Smoke

A Dutch-led investigation has concluded that the powerful surface-to-air missile system … used to shoot down a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine two years ago, killing all 298 on board, was trucked in from Russia at the request of Russian-backed separatists and returned to Russia the same night. … largely confirm[ing] the already widely documented Russian government role not only […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian politics. The hollow election. The lowest-ever turnout for Duma elections suggests Vladimir Putin is losing touch with his political base.

Russia Regions Map

The Economist reports on low participation in Russia’s 2016 Duma elections. … The Kremlin made every effort to ensure the elections were as sterile and low-profile as possible. It banned and harassed genuine opposition parties and their leaders. … it persuaded many that nothing depended on voters. The official turnout was 48% – the lowest ever in the history of […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The United States Must Be the World’s Policeman; Only America has the material and moral greatness to stop the slide into chaos and foster peace.” – The Wall Street Journal/Anders Fogh Rasmussen

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

Barely had I been seated before Vladimir Putin told me that NATO – the organization that I then headed – no longer had any purpose and should be disbanded. … in December 2009, I sensed … Putin was challenging the world order that the U.S. created so successfully after World War II. Beginning in 2014, he invaded Ukraine and launched […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Why the Kremlin’s big win in Russian elections may not be a victory” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

Russian State Duma Building file photo

… United Russia … may have won a crushing victory in Sunday’s parliamentary elections … undoubtedly … a huge boost for … Putin. But the most common remark about the now-concluded election campaign is that it was “very boring.” … an odd moment for Russia …. buffeted by two years of economic recession and still-escalating political tensions with the West. […]

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NEWSWATCH: Michael McFaul and Barack Obama share insights about Russia

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

Michael McFaul on Twitter, Sept. 9, 2016: [tweet will appear below, yet might take some extra time to load for some users] If Obama seized control of Fox, allowed only supporters in Congress, closed the NRA & arrested Trump, he too might have 80% approval rating — Michael McFaul (@McFaul) September 9, 2016 Barack Obama, Speech in Philadelphia, Sept. 13, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Aligned with Russia in Syria, Pentagon awkwardly treads on new terrain” – Reuters

Syria Map

… the reactions of U.S. military officials range from caution to outright skepticism over a Geneva-based ‘joint integration center’ that may soon bring together American and Russian militaries to discuss shared targets for the first time since World War Two. … U.S. officials past and present voiced concerns about the initiative, underscoring the Pentagon’s long-public criticism about the way Russia […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Post-Election Economy: Down, But Not Out. Parliamentary elections are rapidly approaching, but this time politicians aren’t making any pie-in-the-sky promises.” – Moscow Times/Boris Grozovsky

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

By any measure, the Russian economy is deep in a classic recession: GDP has dropped for the sixth consecutive quarter. If Russia had political competition, these elections would pose a challenge for both the ruling party and the opposition. But without real competition, politicians are under little pressure to lift the economy out of the current crisis. … * * […]

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VIDEO NEWSWATCH: PBS NewsHour: “How would the candidates navigate high-stakes ties with Russia?”

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

(PBS Newshour – September 8, 2016) What kind of relations should the U.S. have with Russia and President Vladimir Putin? It’s a question that could affect the future of the Syrian conflict and European security, and the two candidates have strikingly different takes. Judy Woodruff speaks with former Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon, an advisor to the Clinton campaign, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Far Right in Ukraine During the ‘Euromaidan’ and the War in Donbas September 2016” – Ivan Katchanovski

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

Abstract This paper analyzes the role of far right in the Ukrainian politics during the ‘Euromaidan’ and the war in Donbas. The issue of the involvement of Ukrainian far right organizations in the “Euromaidan” and the war in Donbas have been politicized and polarized. Russian and separatist politicians and the media often presented the “Euromaidan” as a “fascist coup” and […]

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NEWSWATCH: Andrew S. Weiss/@andrewsweiss: “Nicely done esp Assange’s little-noted parroting of Russian narrative on #Ukraine, proxy attacks on Moscow’s rivals” [re: New York Times: “How Russia often benefits when Julian Assange reveals the West’s secrets”]

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

Andrew S. Weiss [Vice President for Studies, Carnegie Endowment, Russia and Eurasia Program], on twitter at @andrewsweiss, “retweets” the New York Times article “How Russia often benefits when Julian Assange reveals the West’s secrets,” commenting: “Nicely done esp Assange’s little-noted parroting of Russian narrative on #Ukraine, proxy attacks on Moscow’s rivals” The “tweet” should appear below, although it might take […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russians Hacked Two U.S. Voter Databases, Officials Say” – NBC

United States Map

Hackers based in Russia were behind two recent attempts to breach state voter registration databases, fueling concerns the Russian government may be trying to interfere in the U.S. presidential election … the FBI [sent] a ‘flash alert’ earlier this month to election officials nationwide, asking them to be on the lookout …. * * * U.S. intelligence officials have previously […]

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NEWSWATCH Strobe Talbott/@strobetalbott: “Hitler invented “the big lie” that would be widely believed because no one “could distort the truth so infamously.” [Re: New York Times: A Powerful #Russian Weapon: The Spread of False Stories]

Satellite Dishes

Strobe Talbott of The Brookings Institution comments on twitter about Russia’s information war, forwarding a link from a New York Times article. His “tweet” should appear below, yet it might take some time to load for some users. You can also click here to go directly to the “tweet:” twitter.com/strobetalbott/status/770368906531901440 Hitler invented “the big lie” that would be widely believed […]

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NEWSWATCH: “A Powerful Russian Weapon: The Spread of False Stories” – New York Times

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

The New York Times addresses concerns about Russian disinformation campaigns, including Russia’s reputed involvement with a rash of misleading material on social media disrupting NATO-related debate in Sweden. With a vigorous national debate underway on whether Sweden should enter a military partnership with NATO, officials in Stockholm suddenly encountered an unsettling problem: a flood of distorted and outright false information on […]

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NEWSWATCH Anne Applebaum/@anneapplebaum: “finally – finally! – Russia’s extraordinary disinformation campaign is creeping towards the front pages”

Satellite Dishes

[Anne Applebaum, on twitter at @anneapplebaum, comments upon Russian disinformation and links to a story from the New York Times, “A Powerful Russian Weapon: The Spread of False Stories;” her tweet should be embedded below, yet it might take some time to load for some users; her tweet also can be accessed through this link: twitter.com/anneapplebaum/status/769960717877383168] finally – finally! – […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Sources of Russian Conduct. Kennan’s Long Telegram needs an update for Putin’s Russia.” – The National Interest/Thomas Graham

Eurasia Map

Writing a lengthy piece for The National Interest, Thomas E. Graham of Kissinger Associates comments upon U.S.-Russian relations. … we need to see Russia in a global context. Today, we largely see it through a European prism, which inevitably magnifies the discord between us as we fall back on memories of the Cold War…. But, if Russia is not a […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Chance to Change History” – Stratfor

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

Twenty-five years ago, an unsuccessful coup attempt, known as the August Coup, was launched by a group of hawkish Communist Party members and security elites against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, in what was widely seen as one of the key moments that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. * * * A keen student of history, Vladimir Putin […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Playing With Fire in Ukraine” – New York Times

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

Two years after President Vladimir Putin of Russia annexed Crimea and began destabilizing eastern Ukraine, tensions are rising anew, with news reports suggesting that he may be preparing for yet another military confrontation with the pro-Western government in Kiev. … regardless of his intentions, the provocations, real or feigned, could spin out of control. It is essential for Europe and […]

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NEWSWATCH: “More of Kremlin’s Opponents Are Ending Up Dead. A Pattern That Suggests State Involvement” – New York Times

Kremlin and River

In a series of public meetings on Capitol Hill … [Vladimir] Kara-Murza, a leader in the Russian opposition, urged American lawmakers to expand economic sanctions against the Russian government under a law known as the Magnitsky Act. That would hasten political change in Russia, he argued. … in Moscow a month later, in May 2015, the changes Mr. Kara-Murza detected […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Emerges as a Campaign Issue That Can’t Be Ignored” – Wall Street Journal

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

Russian troops move to the Ukrainian border. Russian jets take off from a base in Iran to attack targets in Syria. Russian #hackers are accused of breaking into Democratic websites. Ukrainian investigators say they believe a top Republican campaign operative took millions in fees from a pro-Russian party. … Add it up and you get an inescapable reality: Russia and […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Why We Need Kremlinology Again. How a careful study of behind-the-scenes power struggles can open a window into a closed society” – The American Interest/ Anders Aslund

Kremlin and River

The increasing opacity of Russian politics has opened a window of opportunity for Kremlinology to make a comeback. … I see Kremlinology as the formalized study of hard facts in a closed society, observing appointments, organization, decrees, and formal speeches. Kremlinology has no role in an open society, but Russia today is no open society, though it is far from […]

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NEWSWATCH: “THE VERY STRANGE WRITINGS OF PUTIN’S NEW CHIEF OF STAFF” – The New Yorker/Masha Gessen

Kremlin and River

… Putin changed his chief of staff, replacing an old K.G.B. colleague, Sergei Ivanov, with Anton #Vayno, a younger, little-known bureaucrat who has been serving as deputy chief of staff. … The possibilities are endless …. Vayno, who is forty-four, … not a surprising choice. … a member of the Putin clan for years, and, for at least the past […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Can government reshuffles bring any hope for #Russia?” – bne Intellinews/Mark Galeotti

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

The unexpected removal of Sergei Ivanov … has inevitably created a frenzy of kremlinological speculation. A reshuffle is certainly underway … there is clearly some longer-term political goal. However, one aspect which has largely been neglected has been how this will affect the governance of #Russia in the short term, and the perennially any-day-now prospects of meaningful economic reform. … […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian government finds itself under social spending pressure in election season” – bne Intellinews

Two Babushkas file photo

The Russian government will discuss either indexing pensions by 8.6% on September 1 or making a one-time payment to pensioners …. Despite the ongoing efforts to consolidate the budget amid the unprecedented fiscal squeeze, the government might have to give in to increasing social spending as the two-year election season starts …. The Russian government needs to find RUB2 trillion ($31bn) from somewhere […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin underestimated Ukrainians and overestimated his ability to divide NATO – Pyatt” – Ukraine Today

Geoffrey R. Pyatt file photo

‘Implementation of Minsk-2 means all the Russian troops go out; it means Ukraine’s control over the international border is restored; it means all the hostages are released; it means all of the tanks, and BMPs, and GRAD missiles, and mortars, all of these heavy weapons go back. The first point of the Minsk agreement was a comprehensive ceasefire, and the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s personnel moves. Dancing in the dark. Desk shuffles in the Kremlin signal something, but no one knows what.” – The Economist

Kremlin and River

The Kremlin’s political nature resembles its physical structure: a walled fortress whose interior is invisible to those on the outside. … when … Putin sacked Sergei Ivanov, his powerful chief of staff, the Kremlin released only a cryptic video in which … Putin thanked … Ivanov for his 17 years of service. The move’s real meaning was left to speculation. […]

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NEWSWATCH: Russia Today/RT: “Communications Ministry mulls total control over Russian sector of the web – reports”

File Photo of Little Girl at Computer Next to Globe

Kremlin-backed Russia Today/RT announced that the Rusian government is contemplating a takeover of Russian portions of the internet: The Communications Ministry has prepared a bill that formally defines critical digital infrastructure and allows only Russian companies to own the hardware and databases that control the .ru and .рф domains of the internet, mass media report. Russian business newspaper Vedomosti reported […]

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