NEWSLINK: “The Russians Were Involved. But It Wasn’t About Collusion” – New York Times/ DANIEL HOFFMAN

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

“… Having long considered the United States its main enemy, the Kremlin deploys a full quiver of intelligence weapons against America and its national security agencies, political parties and defense contractors. Its intelligence services, though best known for clandestine operations to recruit spies, also run covert ‘influence operations’ that often use disinformation to try to affect decisions or events in […]

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NEWSWATCH: “DID RUSSIA KILL A U.S. PRESIDENT? NEW CIA DOCUMENTS REVEAL SPY’S THEORY ABOUT JFK’S DEATH” – Newsweek/ TOM O’CONNOR

John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy and Other Parties in Open-Air Limousine On Street Just Before Assassination, With Crowd in Background, adapted from image at archives.gov

“The U.S. government released Monday a large trove of documents pertaining to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, including previously top-secret audio files and transcripts of the CIA interrogating a former Soviet spy who claimed to have intimate knowledge about the killer’s connection to Moscow.  In accordance with the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, which mandates that […]

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For the Chekists, Navalny is the Yeltsin of 1987, Portnikov says

Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – July 22, 2017) Many have forgotten that in May 1987, Boris Yeltsin, then head of the Moscow city committee of the CPSU, received representatives of the chauvinist and anti-Semitic Pamyat organization, thus sending a signal that he was someone the KGB and its allies could count on to defend their interests, Vitaly Portnikov […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Vladimir Putin’s Political Meddling Revives Old KGB Tactics. Russia is returning to the playbook of the Cold War in its covert efforts to interfere with elections in the West.” – Wall Street Journal/Andrew Weiss

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

“Last month, former CIA Director Michael Hayden said that, during the 2016 election, the Kremlin had pulled off a ‘covert influence campaign’ that ‘was probably the most successful in recorded history.’ It has become accepted wisdom that Russia’s interference in the presidential campaign represents a fundamentally new sort of intrusion into a modern democracy’s inner workings. But the Kremlin’s efforts […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Foes of Russia Say Child Pornography Is Planted to Ruin Them” – New York Times/Andrew Higgins

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

“… steeled by a dozen years in the Soviet gulag, decades of sparring with the KGB. and a bout of near fatal heart disease … Bukovsky, a tireless opponent of Soviet leaders and … Putin of Russia, is not a man easily put off his stride. But he got knocked sideways when British police officers … informed him that they […]

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Expert: Putin’s Reported Plan to Restore KGB May Reflect Fear of Overthrow

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

(Voice of America – voanews.com – Jim Kovpak – MOSCOW, September 26, 2016) The consolidation of Russia’s intelligence agencies into a massive security ministry, in effect recreating the old Soviet KGB, is a worrisome prospect for some Kremlin watchers. The plan reportedly under discussion would merge the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s principal security agency, the Foreign Intelligence Service and […]

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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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The Soviet Adventures Of Steve Jobs

Mac Computer file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Carl Schreck – April 1, 2016) In the summer of 1985, a young commercial attache at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow sat down with two representatives of the California computer company Apple who were visiting the heart of the Soviet empire. One was an “older guy,” the attache, Mike Merin, recalls. The other was “this lanky, […]

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Protecting Russia’s Culture Of Terror

FSB Building file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – The Daily Vertical: Brian Whitmore – March 30, 2016) How an autocratic regime chooses to prosecute its dissidents can be very revealing. Consider the case of performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky, who was arrested in November for setting fire to the entranceway to Lubyanka, the infamous headquarters of the Federal Security Service in Moscow. By targeting the […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Dmitry Medvedev’s interview with Euronews TV channel

Dmitry Medvedev file photo

(Government.ru – February 14, 2016) The Prime Minister spoke with Global Conversation presenter Isabelle Kumar on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference Question: Mr Prime Minister, thank you for joining the Global Conversation. The Syrian issue is a priority; it dominates the international agenda. It is now believed that we are approaching a turning point, although it remains to […]

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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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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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NEWSLINK The Independent (UK): “Alexander Litvinenko accused Vladimir Putin of being a paedophile four months before he was poisoned”

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NEWSWATCH Washington Post/Jim Hoagland: Vladimir Putin, failed spy

Putin Descending a Staircase

The Washington Post examines reports that Putin was actually not a successful KGB operative, but rather someone who used connections to boost his professional life with a move into politics.  Moreover, Putin reportedly has been said to have presented traits of recklessness out of step with a risk-averse KGB. They … traced a portrait of Putin as a failed spy […]

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The Public’s Top Picks for the Pedestal on Lubyanka Square

FSB Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Maria Naum – July 17, 2015) On Aug. 22, 1991 at the peak of euphoria over the failure of the coup against Mikhail Gorbachev, the statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky, founder of the Soviet secret police, was pulled from its pedestal on Lubyanka Square. Since then, the square has remained empty as the public and authorities […]

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Communists Storm Out of Moscow Duma Hearing on Monument to Feared Secret Police Chief

FSB Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – June 25, 2015) The Moscow City Duma courted controversy Wednesday with its determination that a proposed referendum question on the restoration of a monument to feared Soviet secret police chief Felix Dzerzhinsky was consistent with the law. But Dzerzhinsky – a Bolshevik revolutionary and founder of the dreaded Cheka secret police, which […]

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Moscow Edges Closer to First Referendum Since Soviet Collapse

FSB Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – June 23, 2015) Moscow looks set to get its first referendum in post-Soviet times – and one of the burning issues on the ballot will be the restoration of a monument to the founder of the secret police to central Moscow. On June 11, the Moscow election committee approved the Communist Party’s […]

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NEWSWATCH BBC: Vladimir Putin’s formative German years

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

[“Vladimir Putin’s formative German years” – BBC News – Chris Bowlby – Dresden, March 27, 2015] The BBC covers some of Vladimir Putin’s experiences earlier in life, including his first foreign posting as a KGB officer, in East Germany during the collapse of Soviet Communism in eastern Europe. They also explore speculation about the lasting impact of those experiences upon Putin’s perspective towards […]

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Historian on Spies and ‘Sosedki’ in Soviet 1960s

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Aliide Naylor – December 2, 2014) Historian Sheila Fitzpatrick first arrived in Russia as an Oxford student at the end of the 1960s. Before she and other students went, they had a meeting. “We were all summoned to the [British] Foreign Office to have a briefing. … We were taken down into a basement, with […]

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Honored Burials, Mass Grave for Theater Greats

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – October 13, 2014) Yury Lyubimov once told me about meeting the great director Vsevolod Meyerhold. This happened in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1987. I paid Lyubimov a visit to talk about his old friend, the playwright Nikolai Erdman, but the conversation, naturally and fortunately, took plenty of detours. The story in Lyubimov’s words […]

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How to Become a Russian Spy

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – October 3, 2014) When a young Vladimir Putin decided to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a spy, he headed to the local branch of the KGB in Soviet Leningrad. Wary of unsolicited applicants, the KGB officers turned Putin away, but not without some valuable advice: Go get an education, preferably in […]

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Interfax: Moscow commission rules not to reinstall monument to Dzerzhinsky on Lubyanskaya Square

File Photo of Partial FSB Headquarters Building Facade

MOSCOW. Feb 11 (Interfax) – The Moscow City Duma’s monumental art commission unanimously decided on Tuesday not to return a monument to Felix Dzerzhinsky, a prominent Soviet statesman and founder of the Soviet security services, to Lubyanskaya Square in central Moscow. “Taking into account the current circumstances in society, I propose refraining from returning the monument. This is more of […]

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Putin and Russian History

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

From: Arch Getty <getty@ucla.edu> Subject: Putin and Russian History Date: Fri, 26 Apr 2013 Putin and Russian History By J. Arch Getty J. Arch Getty is Professor of History at UCLA.  He is the author of several books on Russian history, including Practicing Stalinism: Boyars, Bolsheviks and the Persistence of Tradition, forthcoming from Yale University Press. An occupational hazard of […]

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‘Operative in the Kremlin’: De-mystifying Putin

Vladimir Putin file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Alexander Gasyuk, special to RBTH – April 24, 2013) Alexander Gasyuk is Rossiyskaya Gazeta’s Washington Bureau Chief “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin,” a new book by the Brookings Institution pundits, analyzes Russian President Vladimir Putin’s personality instead of surrounding stereotypes RBTH sat down with Fiona Hill, who serves as the director of […]

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Putin Borrows From Soviet Union on Social Justice

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Desk

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jonathan Earle – April 1, 2013) President Vladimir Putin described the Soviet Union as a land of opportunity and called for two Soviet relics, mandatory school uniforms and the “Hero of Labor” award, to be dusted off in the name of social justice, during an informal meeting with supporters in Rostov-on-Don on Friday. The Soviet […]

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Putin Says ‘Gave Up’ Eavesdropping After KGB

File Photo of Partial FSB Headquarters Building Facade

MOSCOW, March 29 (RIA Novosti) ­ Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday his time in the KGB had taught him that it was “bad” to listen into other people’s conversations. “It’s bad to eavesdrop,” a smiling Putin told a meeting of his newly revived All-Russian People’s Front. “I learned this from my time in the KGB. [And] I gave […]

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Ex-FSB Officer Shuns Litvinenko Inquest

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MOSCOW, March 12 (RIA Novosti) ­ A former officer of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) suspected by the British authorities of poisoning Russian ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko said on Tuesday that he will pull out of the inquest into the killing, blaming political pressure from London. Andrei Lugovoi, who met with Litvinenko days before his death in 2006, called a press […]

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Russia Implicated in Litvinenko Death

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Nikolaus von Twickel – Dec. 14, 2012) The dramatic affair about the death of Alexander Litvinenko resurfaced with force Thursday, when a lawyer told a London judicial hearing that an initial assessment of evidence showed that the Russian state is to blame for the mysterious poisoning of the Kremlin dissident. An examination of British government […]

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