President Trump’s Boris Yeltsin Moment

Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – February 15, 2017) Leonid Bershidsky is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru. President Donald Trump is irritated about the media furor surrounding the departure of his national security adviser. “The real scandal here is that classified information is […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Two explosive reports on Trump and Russia. Zero on-the-record sources.” – Washington Post/Callum Borchers

Satellite Dishes

“… Which is it? Is the media making up fake nonsense? Or is the intelligence community leaking real information? …. anonymity invariably promotes skepticism about sources’ motives. The Times wrote that ‘all of the current and former officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the continuing investigation is classified.’ That makes sense; it also makes sense to wonder whether […]

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NEWSWATCH: “A way to get real news to Russia; A U.S. attempt to counter disinformation takes shape in Current Time” – Washington Post

Satellite Dishes

… Current Time television, a product of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Voice of America, is a 24/7 Russian-language television network based in Prague … aimed at audiences inside Russia as well as the borderlands of the former Soviet Union. … intended to provide ‘fair and accurate reporting, serving as a reality check on disinformation that is driving conflict […]

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Does Putin have a Trump Problem with the Media? Russians Say It is Failing to Report or Understand His Words

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Podium Gesturing

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 9, 2017) Since emerging on the public scene, Donald Trump has lashed out at what he calls “the lying media” for failing to report what he says and choosing instead to distort his message, a pattern that he says explains his preference for trying to reach the American people directly via […]

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NEWSWATCH: “LIFE UNDER ALTERNATIVE FACTS” – The New Yorker/Mikhail Iossel

There was no real cognitive dissonance existing in the minds of most people in the Soviet Union of the nineteen-seventies and eighties. Everyone knew that everything said on the radio or on television, everything (with the exception of weather reports or sports results) was a blatant lie, spoken pro forma …. no one was duped into thinking this was actually […]

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Russians Less Convinced by Political Talk Shows than Audience Figures Suggest, Journalists Say

Adapted File Photo of TV Set in Russia with Camera, Camerman, Woman on Set in Background

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 2, 2017) Significant percentages of Russians watch political talk shows which now make up as much as 90 minutes of prime time every night, but that fact does not mean that they are entirely pleased by the structure and content of these shows or are greatly influenced in ways that help […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia investment and political stories go their separate ways” – bne/Intellinews/Ben Aris

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

“There are two Russias at the moment. The first is the evil “Putin’s Russia” that kills journalists, bombs civilians and invades other countries. Then there is “bull Russia”, where investors have been making fat profits ….”

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Free issues of Slavic Review in Washington

U.S. Capitol at Twilight With Washington Monument, National Mall, Washington, D.C., Environs and Sunset in Background

Subject: Free issues of Slavic Review in Washington Date: Mon, 16 Jan 2017 20:17:47 -0500 From: Yale Richmond <yale.richmond@verizon.net> Would you like to have 34 hard print issues of the Slavic Review (Vol. 67. #3 to Vol. 75, #4)). I no longer have use for them, and rather than trash them, I am looking for someone who might find them […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Inside the belly of Russia’s ‘propaganda machine’: A visit to RT news channel; US security services have fingered the channel as a key player in the Kremlin’s efforts to sway Western politics. But inside its offices, RT seems a far cry from what the US says it is – and what it aspires to be.” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

Satellite Dishes

… The network appears to have changed focus about five years ago to become more about promoting the Russian point of view on international affairs, and much less about covering Russia per se. It also became a platform for coverage of social problems in Western societies, government malfeasance, corporate non-accountability, and the dysfunctions of democracy that often contrasts in tone, […]

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NEWSLINK: “Lessons From Russia: Verify Everything, Don’t Publish Rumors” – New York Times/Masha Gessen

Satellite Dishes

“… I was the editor of a monthly magazine and wanted the journalist to expand his report for my publication. ‘I made it up,’ he said breezily when I called him. That could mean several things. He could indeed have made the story up. Alternatively, he could have been lying when he said he had made it up. Maybe he […]

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Golden Skepticism; Wild allegations in unverified Trump dossier fail to impress Kremlin critics and supporters alike

File Image of Laptop Computer, Tables and Mobile Device, adapted from image at energy.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ola Cichowlas – January 12, 2017) In the past 24 hours, on both sides of the Atlantic, the Internet has exploded in incredulity, responding to an unverified dossier published by BuzzFeed News, describing U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s alleged relationship with the Kremlin. The 35-page report features several salacious and uncorroborated claims about Trump’s ties to […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russian Media Chief Dismisses U.S. Report on Propaganda Efforts” – Wall Street Journal

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

Head of RT news channel calls American intelligence assessment on election interference ‘comedy hit of the year’

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Ellen Mickiewicz: “RT”

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

Subject: RT Date: Sun, 8 Jan 2017 19:59:35 -0500 From: Ellen Mickiewicz <ellen.mickiewicz@gmail.com> Ellen Mickiewicz, James R. Shepley Emeritus Professor of Public Policy and Political Science Duke University The Report from the U.S. Intelligence Community is notable for its factual mistakes and misleading conclusions. Whether misleading is deliberate or simply lack of information they could have accessed is not known. […]

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Kremlin Propaganda Effort Ever Less Effective on Russians, Surveys Show

Kremlin and River

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 8, 2016) The messages Kremlin propaganda is disseminating and the actual beliefs of Russians are increasingly diverging, except on the “sacred” issue of approval for Vladimir Putin, surveys show, an indication that his regime’s media efforts are ever less successful in shaping public attitudes, according to Igor Yakovenko. The Russian commentator […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian government hackers do not appear to have targeted Vermont utility, say people close to investigation” – Washington Post

File Photo of Vermont Mountains and Forest, Adapted From Image at usda.gov

As federal officials investigate suspicious Internet activity found last week on a Vermont utility computer, they are finding evidence that the incident is not linked to any Russian government effort to target … the utility …. An employee at Burlington Electric Department was checking his Yahoo email account … and triggered an alert indicating … his computer had connected to […]

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NEWSLINK Financial Times: “Russia’s spat with the U.S. is not a return to the cold war. In that era, truth and facts still meant something, writes Peter Pomerantsev.”

File Photo of Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan at Table Signing Documents

“Russia and the US are at it again, involved in a dance of psychological games and information tricks. Hacking and fake news are the weapons of choice today. These are partly the products of technological change, but ideology and history play a role, too: the so-called post-truth age is shaped by decades of relations between the US and Russia. Today’s […]

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NEWSLINK Forbes/Kalev Leetaru: “‘Fake News’ And How The Washington Post Rewrote Its Story On Russian Hacking Of The Power Grid”

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

On Friday the Washington Post sparked a wave of fear when it ran the breathless headline “Russian hackers penetrated U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont, U.S. officials say.” The lead sentence offered “A code associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont utility, according […]

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Sharing The Foreign Service Journal’s Focus on the new #Russia at 25

State Department Building and U.S. Flag

Subject: Sharing The Foreign Service Journal’s Focus on the new #Russia at 25 Date: Mon, 12 Dec 2016 From: Shawn Dorman <dorman@afsa.org> This is Shawn Dorman, editor of The Foreign Service Journal, the foreign affairs and diplomacy magazine published by the American Foreign Service Association 10 times a year. One of our authors this month, retired FSO Louie Sell, suggested […]

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In Russia, the Refrigerator is Finally Defeating the TV but Not Having the Political Impact Many Expected

File Photo of Older Russian Woman Shopping in Grocery Store

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, December 12, 2016) For months, Moscow commentators have suggested that Russians are caught between what the Kremlin shows them on television and what they see in their increasingly empty refrigerators and predicted that eventually the refrigerator would defeat the TV and that this would have immediate political consequences. The findings of two […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Updates Plan to Counter Cyberattacks and Foreign Influence” – New York Times

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

The Kremlin published a new plan … against what it described as stepped-up cyberattacks and ‘information-psychological’ methods by foreign intelligence agencies …. updat[ing] a similar information security doctrine put in place by … Putin in 2000. … American officials have mulled retaliating against Russia for … hacking before the presidential election …. The 16-page document sketches out … threats … […]

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NEWSLINK The New Yorker: “THE PROPAGANDA ABOUT RUSSIAN PROPAGANDA”

Satellite Dishes

“In late October, I received an e-mail from ‘The PropOrNot Team,’ which described itself as a ‘newly-formed independent team of computer scientists, statisticians, national security professionals, journalists and political activists, dedicated to identifying propaganda— particularly Russian propaganda targeting a U.S. audience.’ PropOrNot said that it had identified two hundred Web sites that ‘qualify as Russian propaganda outlets.’ The sites’ reach […]

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Russia Weaponized Social Media in U.S. Election, FireEye Says

File Image of Laptop Computer, Tables and Mobile Device, adapted from image at energy.gov

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Chris Strohm – December 1, 2016) Russia’s government didn’t just hack and leak documents from U.S. political groups during the presidential campaign: It used social media as a weapon to influence perceptions about the election, according to cybersecurity company FireEye Inc. Material stolen by Russia’s intelligence services was feverishly promoted by online personas and numerous fake […]

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How Russian Propaganda Really Works in the West

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – November 28, 2016) Until recently, the phenomenon of Russian government propaganda was only interesting to a small group of Russia experts, news junkies and counter-propaganda fundraisers. It was mainly seen as a tool for keeping Russians supportive of Vladimir Putin. No longer. Thanks to post-U.S. election blame games, and the upcoming election season […]

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Streaming Wars: The Real Fight Behind Russia’s False YouTube ‘Ban’

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 30, 2016) Internet video giant YouTube will not be forced out of Russia under a new bill regulating online streaming services, the Russian government has confirmed. “We can officially say that all talk of YouTube facing legal restrictions is simply not true,” Deputy Communications Minister Alexei Volin told the Rambler News Service on Wednesday. […]

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Ukraine blacklists over 500 films and TV series

File Photo of Reel of Film

KYIV. Nov 30 (Interfax) – The National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine has published a list of films and television series which have been banned by the Ukrainian State Film Agency from screening in 2014-2016. The list, which includes 544 audiovisual works, was published on the Council’s website on Wednesday. “In 2014-2016 the State Film Agency denied […]

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NEWSLINK The Nation/Stephen Cohen: “False Narratives, Not ‘Fake News,’ Are the Real Cold War Problem. Any détente initiatives by President-elect Trump must break with spurious U.S. accounts of the new Cold War.”

Artist's Rendition of U.S. Embassy, Moscow, with the Russian Foreign Ministry in the Background

“Nation Contributing Editor Stephen F. Cohen and John Batchelor continue their weekly discussions of the new US-Russian Cold War. (Previous installments are at TheNation.com.) ….”

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Kremlin Media Doesn’t have Long-Term or Profound Impact on Young, Surveys Show

Adapted File Photo of TV Set in Russia with Camera, Camerman, Woman on Set in Background

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 28, 2016) Surveys of university-age Russians over the last decade show that these young people quickly accept the regime’s list of enemies but almost as quickly shift when the regime’s outlets do and that these shifts have little impact on the way in which young Russians view their country’s place in […]

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In Russia’s media, censorship is silent; A new survey of 100 Russian journalists reveals their perceptions of professional challenges, objectivity and freedom.

Satellite Dishes

(opendemocracy.net – Nataliya Rostova – November 23, 2016) Nataliya Rostova is a visiting scholar at the Kennan Institute and author of the GorbyMedia project. The idea of conducting a survey of Russian journalists came to me after seeing something similar in New York magazine, which earlier this year polled 113 people working in the US media on the problems and […]

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Putin Weaponizes Democracy

Europe Map

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – November 14, 2016) [RFE/RL budget: $108.414 million (FY2016)] Don’t look now but Russia just picked up two more allies in Europe. Don’t look now, but pro-Moscow candidates just won the presidencies of Moldova and Bulgaria. Don’t look now, but Vladimir Putin appears to be on a roll. The Kremlin leader is no democrat. […]

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Russian Supreme Court Wants Fewer Extremism Prosecutions

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anastasia Kornya – November 10, 2016) The Russian authorities have stepped up their fight against extremism, convicting approximately three times as many people on such charges in recent years. The greatest increase concerns convictions on Article 282 of the Criminal Code – “incitement of hatred or enmity” – with that number rising from 149 in […]

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Top Kremlin Official Threatens Russia’s So-Called ‘Chief Propagandist’

Sergei Kirienko file photo, adapted from State Department photo at voa.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 2, 2016) Sergey Kirienko, the new first deputy head of Russia’s Presidential Administration, met with political analysts on Tuesday, stating that the Kremlin will not welcome radical political rhetoric in the national news media, according to the Dozhd television station. Kirienko reportedly spent most of the meeting listening to the eight experts in attendance, […]

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Re: Russia Matters website and news digest

File Image of Laptop Computer, Tables and Mobile Device, adapted from image at energy.gov

Subject: Russia Matters website and news digest Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2016 From: Russia Matters <RussiaMatters@hks.harvard.edu> Russia Matters is live! www.russiamatters.org Dear Friends and Colleagues: We are pleased to introduce Russia Matters-a new website that provides top-notch analysis, user-friendly data and curated news digests on U.S. policy toward Russia, U.S.-Russian relations and Russian policies that impact vital U.S. national interests. […]

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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: “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: “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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Most Russians Say They Want to Live in a Democracy But Don’t Support Democratic Values, Survey Finds

Russia Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 3, 2016) A majority of Russians – 57 percent – say they want to live in a democratic state, according to a new survey conducted by Germany’s Friedrich-Nauman Foundation; but an equal or even larger number of them support government actions that undermine any chance of Russia becoming a liberal democracy. […]

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Khodorkovsky’s Group To Support Media Startups

Mikhail Khodorkovsky file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – September 29, 2016) A pro-democracy group founded by exiled Kremlin critic and former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky has launched a project to fund online media startups. Open Russia said on September 29 that the goal of the project was “to create communication channels within the part of the Russian society that considers itself independent from the government’s […]

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The terror against Ukraine’s journalists is fueled by political elites

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

The inaction of law-enforcement institutions and unrestricted hate speech by top officials is enabling further violence against Ukrainian journalists. (opendemocracy.net – Maxim Eristavi – September 6, 2016) Maxim Eristavi is a Ukrainian journalist, writer and civil rights advocate. He is a co-founder of Hromadske International, foreign news desk for the region’s biggest independent broadcaster. Watching a video of journalists running […]

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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 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: 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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Subject: Recommending JRL

Satellite Dishes

Subject: Recommending JRL Date:     Wed, 27 Jul 2016 From:     An American professor expert on Russia I’ve been a JRL fan for many years, and have recommended it to students and friends as the best way to follow commentary on Russia. At times, however, JRL seems to tilt toward non-substantive pro-Russian propaganda articles.  Today’s post (#139) led with articles claiming that […]

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Putin Propaganda Based on Rejection of Possibility of Rational Thought, Shekhtman Says

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 19, 2016) Vladimir Putin’s propaganda is intended to destroy “all the rules of rational thought” just as those who support pseudo-science do, Pavel Shekhtman argues on the Kasparov portal today; but it does so in exactly the opposite way that the supporters of religious fundamentalism attack rationality. Religious fundamentalists reject doubt […]

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In Ukraine, not only heroes deserve justice; A Ukrainian blogger sentenced for his scandalous views on the conflict in the Donbas has just been released. Whatever his shortcomings, Ruslan Kotsaba deserved our solidarity.

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

(OpenDemocracy – opendemocracy.net – Maxim Edwards and Thomas Rowley – July 17, 2016) Maxim Edwards is Commissioning Editor at oDR. Tom Rowley is Lead Editor at oDR. He is currently finishing a PhD on Soviet dissent at the University of Cambridge. Last Thursday, Ruslan Kotsaba addressed journalists in a west Ukrainian courthouse, tears running down his face. “This is a […]

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