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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What Do Russians Really Think? The Truth Behind the Polls

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Eva Hartog – February 4, 2016) [Charts here http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/what-do-russians-really-think-the-truth-behind-the-polls/558537.html] The champagne corks were already popping for New Year’s Eve celebrations when several thousand Crimeans received an unexpected phone call. The voice on the end of the phone was a pollster from the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM). The pollster had just two questions:”Do you […]

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VIDEO & ARTICLE: ‘I Love Russia. I Am A Patriot:’ Pussy Riot Strikes At Prosecutor

File Photo of Pussy Riot Members in Courtroom Enclosure, With Man Showing Papers to One While Female Guard Looks On

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Anna Shamanska, Michael Scollon – February 3, 2016) They have made a scene at the altar, crashed the Sochi Olympics, and taken numerous lumps for taking on Putin’s Russia. Pussy Riot, the Russian punk rock collective of fierce Kremlin critics, is now going after the man that lords over Moscow’s version of justice — Prosecutor-General Yury […]

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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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Article on Russian-Chechen Tensions Draws Chechen Ire

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

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

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How Russians react to BBC’s War and Peace

Leo Tolstoy file photo

RBTH’s pick of the best comments made by Tolstoy’s compatriots. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NATALIA MASHINISTOVA, SPECIAL TO RBTH – January 26, 2016) Although BBC’s new War and Peace adaptation hasn’t aired on Russian television yet, the most curious Russians have found a way to check it out on the internet. Any foreign attempt to adapt what […]

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Kadyrov Set to Play Hardball With Russian Opposition

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

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

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Russian media bosses unimpressed with Chechen leaders’ anti-opposition rhetoric

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

(Interfax – Moscow, January 18, 2016) Editor-in-Chief of Ekho Moskvy radio station Aleksey Venediktov has said that Chechen parliament speaker Magomed Daudov’s statements against opposition journalists were an inappropriate reaction to uncomfortable questions in the media about the investigation into the murder of politician Boris Nemtsov. “I consider his words to be a reaction to our questions about the investigation […]

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Netflix’s Desire for World Domination Reaches Russia

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Eva Hartog – January 15, 2016) China, the world’s most populous country, might have slipped through its fingers, but with Russia Netflix in January pocketed the largest country by landmass and the promise of tapping into a booming online market. Netflix’s move into Russia, along with 129 other countries, was heralded by its CEO as […]

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NEWSLINK Russia Direct: “Review of the week: Putin’s Bild interview and US-Russia relations. The most important Russian foreign policy events of the past week centered on Ukraine, including a discussion of the Minsk agreements and the potential for increased Russia-U.S. coordination in bringing the confrontation to an end.”

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DJ: Recent comment on Johnson’s Russia List by a former State Department official

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

DJ: Recent comment on Johnson’s Russia List by a former State Department official: “I have just returned from travel and started in on JRL #7, only to find the first ten percent or so of the issue taken up by a banal, boring, partisan regurgitation of Putin’s Bild interview. Why do you continue to inflict on your readers such tripe […]

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Bad News Trumps Glad Tidings During Russia’s Long Vacation

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW – January 10, 2016) A lot can happen in 10 days, and during Russia’s long winter holiday, it usually does. From bizarre, bloody attacks to lethal combinations of bad weather and alleged government negligence, the long Russian New Year and Orthodox Christmas break has brought plenty of grim news — along with […]

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10 facts about the Russian Internet

File Photo of Little Girl at Computer Next to Globe

Desktops are beginning to become a thing of the past: In the past year the number of Russian users going on-line from mobile devices has increased by 90 percent. RBTH has sifted some more curious facts about the Internet. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH – January 11, 2016) 1. 11.8 million Russian users (14%) go […]

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Putin’s Crude and Desperate Propaganda

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

From: John Evans <EvansinAmerica@aol.com> Date: January 5, 2016 To: letters@washpost.com Subject: Putin’s Crude and Desperate Propaganda To the Editor: With all due respect to Paula Dobriansky and David Rivkin, and with prior apologies for engaging in “Whataboutism,” I question the authors’ one-sided excoriation of Russian media and officials (Op-Ed, Jan. 5) for some racist and decidedly off-color remarks and representations, […]

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Russia’s politics of paranoia

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

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

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This Russian Bear Is Hitting the Mall

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After sweeping YouTube and Netflix, Masha and the Bear looks to licensing. (Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – By Ilya Khrennikov – December 17, 2015) The bear has long been a ferocious projection of Russia’s power at home and abroad. Lately, a Russian bear that’s more like a kindly uncle has been winning hearts from Baltimore to Berlin: the affable and patient […]

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The End Of Russia’s Mass Hallucination

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(RFE/RL – Brian Whitmore – December 23, 2015) Fresh barbed-wire fencing around the nation’s main TV tower isn’t exactly a sign of a confident regime. In addition to reinforcing its perimeter, Moscow’s state-run Ostankino television center also upgraded its security detail, replacing regular police officers with elite Interior Ministry forces. “These are normal security measures that are connected to the […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] First Russian Internet Economy Forum

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Kremlin.ru – December 22, 2015) Vladimir Putin attended the First Russian Internet Economy Forum. The First Russian Internet Economy Forum is taking place in Moscow on December 21-22. The plenary session, attended by representatives of the national IT industry and relevant ministries and agencies, is dedicated to initiatives for the long-term development programme of the Russian Internet segment and branches […]

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The Russian government ’embraces’ transparency

Kremlin and River

Russia is finally embracing transparency-so long as it poses no threat to political stability. (opendemocracy.net – Andrei Jvirblis – December 18, 2015) Andrei Jvirblis is a Moscow-based journalist and head of Transparency International Russia’s Public Activism group. As the response of Russia’s Prosecutor General to accusations of graft this week shows, nothing gets Russian public officials angrier than journalists rooting […]

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From tabloids to state-run dailies: A tour of the Russian press

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(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – George Butchard – December 14, 2015) In early December a group of young journalists from over a dozen countries attended the New Generation program in Moscow, where they had the opportunity to tour some of Russia’s key media publications and ask questions about the way the state media apparatus works. First on the […]

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Youtube Unveils Russia’s Most Popular Music Videos of 2015

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Katrin Scheib – December 11, 2015) [Links to the videos here themoscowtimes.com/news/article/youtube-unveils-russias-most-popular-music-videos-of-2015/552545.html] The stats are in: Youtube has released a list of the music videos that were most popular in Russia in 2015. Some of them were meant to be funny, others just are, and they are all worth watching. So dig out your headphones, […]

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The Year Of The Troll

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – December 10, 2015) For much of the year, Russian bombers, warships, and submarines played chicken with NATO with provocative incursions into member states’ sea and airspace. And as the year drew to a close, Moscow finally got burned when Turkey’s air force shot down a Su-24 warplane. The incident, which has led to […]

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How much do we know about contemporary Russian writers?

Bookcase file photo, adapted from image at nlm.nih.gov

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – PHOEBE TAPLIN, SPECIAL TO RBTH – December 9, 2015) As December 2015 sees another week of Russian literary events in New York City, RBTH asks Anglophone readers and publishers about their favorites and bestsellers among 21st-century Russian fiction. When English-speaking readers talk about Russian novels, they generally mean Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, Bulgakov and […]

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How to Ignore a Corruption Scandal, Kremlin Style

Yury Chaika file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Hobson- December 10, 2015) Alexei Navalny has spent years publishing revelations of the ill-gotten luxuries of Russia’s elite and seeing them ignored by authorities. But when the blogger and opposition politician’s anti-corruption fund unveiled an investigation linking colleagues of Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika to the bloodiest bandits of recent years, Navalny thought they […]

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NEWSWATCH AP: “Russians Read Tolstoy’s War and Peace in 60-Hour TV Marathon”

Leo Tolstoy file photo

AP covers a televised reading of War and Peace. More than 1,300 Russians are reading Leo Tolstoy’s notoriously lengthy novel “War and Peace” aloud in a 60-hour marathon on national television. The public readings, pre-recorded at locations all over Russia, from the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg to remote Arctic islands, have been coordinated by Tolstoy’s great-great-granddaughter and feature Russians […]

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Peskov: No restrictions for [quick data] messengers planned

Dmitry Peskov file photo adapted from image at kremlin.ru/wikimedia commons

(Interfax – December 9, 2015) The Kremlin said that no restrictions for the quick data transmission systems, the so-called messengers, are planned to introduce. “I am aware that the issue is really being worked on, but not in the aspect of restrictions. As far as I am concerned, there are no restrictions there, but the issue is being worked on, […]

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Inoculated Against Russian Propaganda

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – December 4, 2015) Immediately following the harrowing terrorist attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, Russian pro-Kremlin media adjusted their rhetoric, abandoning their previous anti-Western and anti-U.S. vitriol even before the Kremlin spoke of a broad military alliance. “A listener called Komsomolskaya Pravda radio station … and said that Americans are not our […]

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Climate Change And The View From Moscow

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – Explainer – MOSCOW, November 29, 2015) Russia’s size and broad range of environments, from the arid southern steppe to the frigid Arctic, expose the world’s largest country to many aspects of climate change. President Vladimir Putin is one of dozens of leaders expected to attend a UN conference on climate change that starts […]

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Truthiness in Russia; What we’re missing from the propaganda debate: how state propaganda feeds off and enhances public sentiment

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

(opendemocracy.net – Nelli Babayan – November 23, 2015) Nelli Babayan is Fellow at the Transatlantic Academy, German Marshall Fund US and Associate Fellow at the Center for Transnational, Foreign and Security Policy at Freie Universität Berlin. Her latest book is Democratic Transformation and Obstruction: EU, US, and Russia in the South Caucasus. Find her on Twitter @nellibabayan As opinion polls […]

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Plots against Russia (Book and Blog)

Stylized Artis Depiction of Shadowy Figures in Dark Coats and Dark Hats, One Carrying a Briefcase

Date: Thu, 12 Nov 2015 From: Eliot Borenstein <eb7@nyu.edu> Subject: Plots against Russia (Book and Blog) A brief announcement: I’m posting the first draft of my new book project, Plots against Russia: Conspiracy and Fantasy after Socialism, as a blog. This is while I write it, in real time. I explain the idea behind the project here: http://jordanrussiacenter.org/news/new-book-new-blog-plots-russia/#.VkPdLbcq2rV The blog/book’s […]

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Recommendations for additions to the Russia expert media outlet mix

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Subject: Reaction to a piece in #217/Top Russian Media Date: Wed, 11 Nov 2015 From: Sarah Lindemann-Komarova <echosiberia@gmail.com> Recommendations for additions to the Russia expert media outlet mix: Response to JRL #217, Russia Direct’s “Top 10 Russian media any Kremlin watcher needs to know” Uliana Malashenko’s “special round-up of the most influential and interesting media outlets that provide insights into […]

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Kremlin’s Campaign against Russophobia Threatens both Russia and the West, Polish Experts Say

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(Paul Goble – Staunton, November 11, 2015) The Kremlin’s revival of a campaign against what it calls “Russophobia” constitutes a threat not only to Western countries but to Russia’s future as well, according to two Polish experts. As such, they argue, it can properly be described as “a weapon of mass destruction.” In a new study, “Russophobia in the Kremlin’s […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Russian Propaganda: Ways and Means – Leon Aron Senate Testimony

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

Statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation On “Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine and the Propaganda that Threatens Europe” Russian Propaganda: Ways and Means Leon Aron, Ph.D. Resident Scholar and Director of Russian Studies American Enterprise Institute November 3, 2015 The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) […]

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New Editor-in-Chief Appointed to The Moscow Times

Moscow Times Sample Covers and Mobile Device Display

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 6, 2015) Liberal Russian journalist Mikhail Fishman was appointed editor-in-chief of English-language paper The Moscow Times on Thursday, the newspaper’s owner Demyan Kudryavtsev said. “He is a decent, well-known and well-connected person,” Kudryavtsev, who bought the paper earlier this year, said in e-mailed comments to The Moscow Times. The appointment of Fishman comes less […]

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Vladimir Putin again tops list of world’s most powerful people

Putin at Desk

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YANA LUBNINA, SPECIAL TO RBTH- November 5, 2015) Vladimir Putin has been named the most powerful man in the world once again. The president of Russia took first place in Forbes’ annual ranking for the third year in a row. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Barack Obama took second and third […]

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Russian Propaganda: ‘The Weaponization of Information’

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(Voice of America – Molly McKitterick – November 3, 2015) When a Russian news outlet edited the U.S. ambassador into a picture of an opposition rally, the U.S. Embassy countered by editing the ambassador into a series of improbable photos – for instance, on the moon and at an ice hockey rink. The idea was to show that the original […]

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Détente NOW!

Europe Map

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

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NEWSWATCH Reuters: “Russian media take climate cue from skeptical Putin”

St. Basil's Domes

Reuters covers Russian media coverage of climate issues. … the Russian public heard little mention of climate change, because media coverage across state-controlled television stations and print media all but ignored it. On national TV, the villains were locals who routinely but carelessly burn off tall grasses every year, and the sometimes incompetent crews struggling to put the fires out. […]

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Smooth censorship in Russia

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

Everybody understands everything, everybody knows everything, and no one says anything aloud. (Opendemocracy.net – Gregory Tumanov – October 27, 2015) Grigory Tumanov is a Moscow based journalist and blogger. He is a staff correspondent for Kommersant daily, one of Russia’s most respected publications. Follow him on Twitter @scumsquad The history of censorship in Russian media runs for pages and pages. […]

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