Regional Elites Now Excluded from Politics Seek a Bigger Role, Kudrin Center Study Finds

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, March 16, 2017) Russia’s regional elites say that they do not have any influence on the political process but that they would like to, especially concerning policies that affect their particular regions, according to a new study prepared by Aleksey Kudrin’s Center for Strategic Development. The study itself, “Russian Elites in 2016: […]

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Navalny No Supporter of Federalism

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, March 13, 2017) Opposition presidential candidate Aleksey Navalny may offer a variety of positive ideas for the future of Russia compared to those of Vladimir Putin. But in one critical area, he does not represent a break from the current Kremlin leader: he is just as opposed to real federalism as Putin […]

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NEWSWATCH: “This Is the Russia You’re So Afraid Of?” – New York Times/Maria Antonova

Russia Regions Map

“… neglect began after the Communist system collapsed and has continued …. Russia is projecting its power from Ukraine to Syria to Western Europe…. [there are] allegations that the Kremlin meddled in the American presidential election …. support for … Putin is high and disdain for America … serves as … an artificial social cohesive …. Most people’s lives focus on economic survival … but … state television […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Four Warning Signs Of Instability In Russia” – Forbes.com/George Friedman

Russia Regions Map

“Russia has four areas of instability: the distribution and prevalence of wage arrears, pressure on its banking system, low-level social and economic unrest, and government purges. … Russia’s economy is highly regionalized. More than a fifth of Russia’s wealth comes from Moscow and its surrounding areas. The central government keeps the Russian Federation together by redistributing wealth to the interior. […]

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Putin Moving to Depoliticize Entire Russian System, Stanovaya Says

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 21, 2017) Vladimir Putin’s installation of technocrats as governors in place of politicians is likely to have an impact on the country’s systemic parties, leading to their de-politicization as well by means of the replacement of the aging politicians who head them now by younger pragmatic functionaries, according to Tatyana Stanovaya. […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Meeting with Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Kremlin.ru – February 21, 2017) Sergei Sobyanin updated the President on Moscow’s socioeconomic development in 2016, the implementation of several large transport projects, including the launch of the Moscow Central Circle (MCC) railway line, and renovation of the housing stock. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Sobyanin, let us talk about Moscow’s performance in 2016 and plans for 2017. Moscow […]

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NEWSWATCH: “#Russia’s City of Rebels: St. Petersburg is a place of protest against power — and the only major Russian city in which the opposition still has a voice. Why?” – Der Spiegel/Christian Neef

St. Petersburg Landmark

“… Voter turnout alone shows that #StPetersburg is the place where people rebel against the despotism of #Moscow’s policies. … when there was a vote on the new Russian parliament, less than a third of St. Petersburg residents cast ballots. … only 13 percent of eligible voters … voted for #Putin’s government party. In Chechnya, 91 percent voted for the […]

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Moscow Unlikely to Achieve Life Expectancy Gains It had Projected, Health Ministry Admits

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 26, 2016) The Russian health ministry has changed its target figures on reducing mortality rates and extending life expectancy by 2020, a reflection experts say of the fact that the Russian government no longer expects to be able to improve the health of the population as much as it did. Ministry […]

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Putin Country; As authoritarian control and renewed superpower tension dominate headlines, telling stories of Russia’s everyday heroes can reveal lost alternatives.

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

(opendemocracy.net – Susan Richards – January 19, 2017) Susan Richards is a non-executive director and founder of openDemocracy. She has produced a number of feature films and written a prize-winning book, Epics of Everyday Life, about the lives of ordinary Russians in the transition from communism. Lost & Found in Russia, Encounters in the Deep Heartland, which covers the period […]

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Another Fatal Flaw in Russia’s Company Towns: Business More Powerful than the State

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 14, 2016) Russia’s 300-plus urban centers known as “monogorods” or “company towns” where the vast majority of the population have been the subject of episodic discussions typically triggered when the chief firm closes down, the population is impoverished, and protests arise. Then, these places where more than ten percent of the […]

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‘Where Is This Country Going?’ Debt Crisis Tugs At Russian Federation’s Seams

Russia Regions Map

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Robert Coalson – January 2, 2017) A surprisingly harsh war of words has broken out between the Russian central government and one of the country’s most prosperous regions, in a sign of tension as cash-strapped Moscow struggles to fill its budget deficit. The government of the Republic of Tatarstan sought to soften the blow by pulling […]

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Putin’s War At Home

Russia Regions Map

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – December 28, 2016) As Vladimir Putin basks in his victories abroad, problems are piling up at home. Rustam Minnikhanov, the leader of oil-rich Tatarstan, has denounced a recent Kremlin decision to take more of his republic’s tax revenues, calling it “stupidity” and comparing it to Josef Stalin’s liquidation of the kulaks. Minnikhanov’s broadside […]

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Putin briefed on election-rigging by regional officials

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

(Interfax – December 19, 2016) Russia’s election authority has briefed Vladimir Putin on violations during the last parliamentary poll, some of them “extremely serious”, privately-owned news agency Interfax reported. Breaches of the rules were identified in 23 parts of the country, Ella Pamfilova, head of the Central Electoral Commission, told Putin. “And in some places these were extremely, extremely serious,” […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Chairman of the Council for Civil Society and Human Rights Mikhail Fedotov

Russia Regions Map

(Kremlin.ru – November 3, 2016) Vladimir Putin met with Chairman of the Council for Civil Society and Human Rights Mikhail Fedotov. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. We meet regularly – not as often as we should, but still. I am eager to hear about everything that has been going on recently under your watch. Let us talk about […]

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RUSSIALINK Russia Today/RT: “New wartime state management system gives full power to Russian military – report”

File Photo of Russian Tanks in Military Parade

“A recent military exercise in southern Russia saw the first real-time test of the state management system that allows the Defense Ministry to assume direct control over municipal and regional authorities, police, state security and emergency services.”

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Russians’ Incomplete Transition from Rural to Urban Life behind Many of Russia’s Problems, Vishnevsky Says

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 6, 2016) During the 20th century, large numbers of #Russians moved from villages to the cities, but as of now, many of them have not completed the psychological transition from rural to urban life; and that has given rise to marginal groups who represent a threat to the country, according to […]

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Ya Heart Vladimir: A Visit to the Regions

Russia Map

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – September 22, 2016 – Mary Elizabeth Malinkin) Giant, Cyrillic block letters spelling “Ya Heart Vladimir” (“I Love Vladimir”) now illuminate Cathedral Square in downtown Vladimir, Russia. The cheery, familiar slogan brought a smile to my face – da, ya lyublyu Vladimir. In early August I traveled back to the ancient city (just how ancient remains […]

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Russia: the tinderbox in the struggle for a safe climate

Arctic Satellite Image and Map

Russia is at the forefront of the global climate change struggle. We ignore it at our peril. (opendemocracy.net – Daniel Voskoboynik – September 20, 2016) Daniel Voskoboynik is a journalist and campaigner covering human rights, ecology and migration. The Russian region of Yamal rarely makes global headlines. Despite being larger than France, its remote location bordering the Arctic Circle holds […]

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Kremlinology: an intervention; Protests and strikes across Russia show that the country’s “silent majority” is becoming louder. But are pundits even listening?

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

(opendemocracy.net – Sean Guillory – September 13, 2016) Sean Guillory lives in Pittsburgh. He hosts the SRB podcast, a weekly podcast on Eurasian politics, history and culture, and blogs for seansrussiablog.org. You can follow him on Twitter @seansrussiablog. Writings on contemporary Russia are mostly variations on the same subject: Vladimir Putin; his rise to and iron grip on power. Western […]

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Russian Opposition Just as Moscow-Centric as Russian Regime, Shtepa Says

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, September 13, 2016) Russian opposition figures who took part in recent discussions in Tallinn and Vilnius said many “just words” about how totally predictable the upcoming elections in Russia will be, Vadim Shtepa says. But they were also totally predictable in focusing “almost exclusively” on Moscow and how Muscovites will react. Participants […]

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Russia’s Economic Crisis Finally Hitting Moscow and St. Petersburg, Survey Shows

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, September 8, 2016) Because incomes in Moscow and St. Petersburg were higher to begin with, residents of the two Russian capitals until recently had been able to absorb the impact of the economic crisis better than the other and poorer regions, one reason why there have been fewer economic protests in the […]

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NEWSLINK The Nation/Sarah Lindemann-Komarova: “How A Siberian Mom Took on Politics as Usual in Russia and Won.”

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

In Siberia, Natalia Pinus is taking on established political forces and challenging the idea that Russian democracy is no more than a puppet show

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Angry Farmers Stage Tractor March on Moscow

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Howard Amos – August 22, 2016) Several hundred farmers from southern Russia complained of intense police harassment Monday as they entered the second day of a drive towards Moscow they are staging to raise awareness about the problem of local corruption. In the space of 24 hours, their convoy of tractors and cars was stopped […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] State Council Presidium meeting on developing internal waterways

Siberian River, Forest, Mountain

(Kremlin.ru – August 15, 2016) In Volgograd Vladimir Putin chaired a State Council Presidium meeting on developing internal waterways. Before the meeting, the President visited the exhibition Water Transport – Today’s Goals and Tomorrow’s Prospects, which displayed, among other things, models of river ships of various types, both currently in the design phase and already in production, and models of […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin, Shuvalov, Livanov, Galushka at] Meeting with Government members

Siberian River, Forest, Mountain

(Kremlin.ru – August 10, 2016) Vladimir Putin met with Government members to discuss measures to develop Russia’s Far East and a number of routine matters, in particular, the results of this year’s national final school exam and support measures for single-employer towns. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon colleagues, We agreed to discuss matters regarding the development of the […]

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Eight Things That Will Make You Jealous of Russians and Their Dachas

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 8, 2016) [Text with photos here themoscowtimes.com/articles/8-things-that-will-make-you-jealous-of-russians-and-their-dachas-38139] In summer, the dacha becomes the focal point of Russian existence. Children and grandparents live there while school is out, and those who still have to work head out for their own bit of greenery once Friday afternoon rolls around. It doesn’t have to be a luxury […]

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NEWSWATCH: “In the ‘lungs of Moscow’ forest, Russia’s civil activists make their mark; Runaway housing developments have been going up around Moscow, threatening the ‘lungs’ of the city – the ring forest around the capital. But locals have been fighting back against the project – with success.” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

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

A diverse band of urban activists, communicating largely through social media, are combating plans to build an enormous high-rise housing development amid the forested ring around the capital  …. The protesters who make up the Mortongrad Nyet! coalition have no shared ideology, and certainly aren’t interested in criticizing the Kremlin. Yet they are redefining the limits of Russian civil society […]

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Governor Belykh’s Arrest Has Russian Elite on Edge

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Mikhail Fishman – June 30, 2016) For the last decade, regional governors in Russia are usually appointed apparatchiks, with faces unrecognizable outside their home territory. There are some exceptions to the rule, like Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of the republic of Chechnya. Another rare exception was Nikita Belykh, the governor of the Kirov region, a […]

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Russia Might Not Be a Failed State But It is a Failed Country, Shtepa Says

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Staunton, June 14, 2016) The fact that Russians devote so little attention to their independence day even as they devote so much to Victory Day, Vadim Shtepa says, highlights a fundamental reality: Russia may not be a failed state according to the classic definitions, but it is a failed country, one that has not been able to […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Chechnya: Russia’s Islamic State? Troubled republic in secular Russia has been thoroughly ‘Islamized’ by staunch Putin ally” – Wall Street Journal/YAROSLAV TROFIMOV

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

In theory, Chechnya – though overwhelmingly Muslim – is an integral part of the secular Russian Federation, governed by the same laws as Moscow. In practice, however, this North Caucasus republic of 1.4 million people, ravaged by two wars of secession, lives under very different rules. Under strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, a former rebel who has become a fervent ally of […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian Village Resists Privatization Effort Championed by Putin. Locals, activists and lawmakers rally to prevent sale of century-old state-owned dairy plant.” – Wall Street Journal

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

The Russian government’s privatization drive soured in a village called Milk. The dairy plant here that for more than a century has churned out Russia’s most-recognizable brand of butter was scheduled to be auctioned in mid-February, the latest target to raise cash for the budget. But after locals, activists and lawmakers held rallies and petitioned President Vladimir Putin and other […]

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Cossacks Chief Denies Attack on Navalny Group at Anapa Airport

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 18, 2016) A group of Cossacks did not attack Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny but tried to break up the fight, the chief of Anapa’s Cossack community told the RBC newspaper Tuesday. “Those who attacked Navalny and his companions are not Cossacks. Police are now looking for them,” Ivan Petrov said. Navalny, his colleagues […]

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Media Coverage of Governors More about Their Management of the Media than about Anything Else, New Study Says

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 12, 2016) Those who follow the media in Russia’s regions know that some governors are routinely attacked by media in their federal subjects while others are never criticized, and they often conclude that this is an important indicator of how well the governors are doing in running their oblasts, krays or […]

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A sheltered existence: Life in Russia’s closed cities

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

Dating back to the Soviet era, closed cities, where important strategic facilities were hidden and secured, continue to exist in today’s Russia. These cities cannot be entered without a special pass, but tourists occasionally manage to make it inside. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – OLEG YEGOROV, SPECIAL TO RBTH – May 2, 2016) In the late 1940s, a […]

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Moscow’s Chief Architect Envisions the City’s Future

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Lena Vanina – April 29, 2016) [Photos here themoscowtimes.com/business/article/moscows-chief-architect-envisions-the-citys-future/567455.html] For many years, Triumfalnaya Ploshchad was a nondescript square across from Moscow’s beating heart. It was an occasional meeting point for anti-regime protesters, a space to get across to reach somewhere else. Today, however, it is an example of modern design, a beautifully lit Scandinavian oasis […]

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Outrage and outsourcing in Russian healthcare

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

The doctor is out. Hunger strikes, mistreatment of patients and general desperation are beginning to seem like a feature – as opposed to a bug – of Russia’s healthcare system. (opendemocracy.net – Artur Asafyev – April 28, 2016) Artur Asafyev is a freelance correspondent for Radio Svoboda and Novaya Gazeta in Ufa, Bashkortostan. He has worked as a journalist since […]

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Russia’s regions: federalism and its discontents

Russia Regions Map

Creating the appearance of stability is the Russian political elite’s primary goal. Yet colonial-like rule over the country’s regions, combined with a lack of civic activity, harms the Kremlin’s legitimacy on the ground. (opendemocracy.net – Badma Byurchiev – April 21, 2016) Badma Byurchiev was born in Kalmykia in 1973, and has worked as a journalist since 2003. He currently works […]

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

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

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

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Why did Kadyrov publish ‘revelatory’ report about himself?

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

The head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov has chosen to make public himself a report that accuses him of creating a quasi-Islamic state within Russia and not obeying Russian laws. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH – February 26, 2016) The head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has chosen to publish a report called “A National Security Threat” […]

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‘Putin’s Children’ – Life, Crime, Terror on the Edge of Russia

Russia Map

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Oliver Carroll – February 26, 2016) The driver’s voice teeters between depression and aggression. “What kinduva life do yoo call this?!” he shouts. “Weerrall peepul … peeeeepul, for sheeettin sake! … Fook, Ruussia, yoo make me want to cry!” We veer from side to side of the snow-covered track. Outside, the mercury pushes twenty under, […]

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Putin Using Specter of Russia’s Disintegration to Avoid Reform, Rogov Says

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 4, 2016) Vladimir Putin is talking about the disintegration of the Soviet Union in order to promote among Russians that their country is at risk of the same fate, an idea that as it gains currency will drive off the political agenda all other issues, including the failures of the current […]

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State vs Art: Russia’s 2015 Crackdown on Contemporary Culture

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Eva Hartog – December 31, 2015) “It’s theater. We were just playing.” That’s how Boris Mezdrich, his tone simultaneously apologetic and defiant, described the avant-garde production of Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser that got him fired. “Blasphemy!” – was what the Russian Orthodox activists shouted as they protested outside the State Opera and Ballet Theater in Novosibirsk, […]

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In Forgotten Karelian Village, Frustration With Moscow Runs High

Russia Regions Map

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Sergei Khazov-Cassia – December 19, 2015) VEGARUS, Russia — The stream bounces gaily on its bed of pebbles as it passes through this tiny village in Russia’s republic of Karelia, some 70 kilometers from the Finnish border. Up until 1939, the pristine, wooded area was part of Finland. Today, despite its proximity to one of Europe’s […]

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‘Traditional Family’ Said Making a Comeback in Russia– But It’s Mostly Rural and Muslim

Couple in Hospital with Newborn

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 18, 2015) The “traditional” family that Vladimir Putin and Russian nationalist want in which couples marry early and have three or four children is in fact becoming more numerous in the Russian Federation, but that comeback may not please everyone because most such families are either in villages or in traditionally […]

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Recommendations for additions to the Russia expert media outlet mix

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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Yekaterinburg: Russia’s Next Capital of Culture

Yekaterinburg file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Galina Stolyarova – October 20, 2015) If you ask the average person what comes to mind when they think of Yekaterinburg, they’ll probably say that it’s a highly polluted industrial city and the site where the Romanov family was executed. But the truth is quite different. This town in the Urals has established itself as […]

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NEWSWATCH Reuters: When Kremlin candidate loses election, even voters are surprised.

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

Reuters covers a recent Russian regional election in which the ruling United Russia party suffered defeat. When Communist Sergei Levchenko beat the incumbent from President Vladimir Putin’s party to become governor of Irkutsk region in Siberia on Sunday, even the voters who backed him were surprised: the Kremlin doesn’t lose elections. The result is said to raise questions about the […]

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Putin Pushing New Social Contract Based on Fighting Corruption Rather than Economic Growth, Petrov Says

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, September 24, 2015) The recent arrests of governors is part of a broader effort by Vladimir Putin to create a new social contract with the population, Nikolay Petrov says. In the old one, he offered stability and economic growth; now that he cannot offer those things, he is pushing himself forward as […]

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Poll: Most Russians do not want to live in Moscow

Russia Regions Map

According to a poll conducted by the All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM), only 13 percent of Russians would like their children to live in Moscow. The most popular option among those polled (23 percent) would be to live in a small town. According to another poll, the Siberian city of Tyumen rates highly among Russian urban areas. (Russia Beyond […]

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