Lobbyists Now More Powerful than People in Putin’s Russia, ‘Nezavisimaya Gazeta’ Warns

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, September 21, 2018) Russia now faces a problem many other countries have long been familiar with, the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta say. Well-organized lobbyists are often far more effective than “larger but amorphous social groups” in securing a larger share of government resources for those they represent. The power of lobbyists, however, […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Maria Butina: Private Messages Reveal Accused Russian Spy’s True Ties to D.C. Wise Man” – Daily Beast/Betsy Woodruff

File Photo of Washington, D.C., Monuments and Environs at Twilight with Moon, Looking Across Potomac, adapted from image at nasa.gov by Steven C. Welsh :: www.stevencwelsh.com :: www.stevencwelsh.info

“…. The executive director of the organization, the Center for the National Interest, insisted that its interaction with Butina was ‘very limited.’ But previously unreported emails and direct messages between Butina and officials at the Center show her relationship with the think tank’s president – former Richard Nixon adviser Dimitri Simes – was closer than previously understood ….” Click here […]

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Who is ordering attacks on activists in Ukraine? In Ukraine, activists are being attacked, and law enforcement is standing idle. The pressure on civil society has become systematic. RU

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

(opendemocracy.net – Tetiana Kozak – August 23, 2018) Tetiana Kozak reports on conflicts connected to the transformation of the former Soviet Union, new conflicts related to the refugee crisis and the rise of nationalism in Europe. [Text with links and photos opendemocracy.net/od-russia/tetiana-kozak/who-is-ordering-attacks-on-activists-in-ukraine] The attack on activist Kateryna Gandzyuk in the southern city of Kherson has become the last straw for […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia to memorialize 20 Holocaust execution sites” – Interfax

Russia Map

MOSCOW. Aug 6 (Interfax) – Twenty sites in Russia where Jews were executed and buried during the war will be memorialized as part of the next stage of the Return Dignity program this year. Monuments to Holocaust victims will be built in cities and villages in the Bryansk, Volgograd, Oryol, Ryazan, Smolensk, and Tula regions, the Stavropol Territory and the […]

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George Beebe: Subject: Correction re article in The National Interest (JRL #132 item 9)

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

Subject: Correction re article in The National Interest (JRL #132 item 9) Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2018 From: George Beebe <gsbeebe@me.com> The folks at The National Interest bungled the authorship of the “Trump-Putin/Cold War” article attributed to me. It was, in fact, written by Daniel McCarthy. I have a separate article on the subject that should be online soon. [Re. […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Amid growing tensions with Russia, a push for meaningful dialogue” – Christian Science Monitor/Linda Feldmann

Stylized Russian and U.S. Flags, 200, 1807-2007

“… U.S.-Russian relations have only sunk into deeper distress … more sanctions, more diplomatic expulsions, more military clashes in Syria, and a growing sense that the entire U.S.-Russian arms-control regime is at risk.  * *  * For … Russian and American delegates here – [such as] retired diplomats, politicians, academics, clergy, doctors, and media, including this reporter – the prospect […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russian govt proposes barring foreign-agent NGOs from anti-corruption examinations – bill” – Interfax

Russian State Duma Building file photo

MOSCOW. May 29 (Interfax) – The Russian government has proposed a number of measures to bar foreign-agent NGOs and certain categories of Russian citizens from participating in anti-corruption examinations; a relevant bill was submitted to the State Duma on Tuesday. The bill, which has been published in the State Duma’s database, “would prohibit citizens with outstanding or unexpunged convictions or […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia Blacklists Progressively Fewer ‘Foreign Agent’ NGOs, Justice Ministry Says” – Moscow Times

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 10, 2018) Russia has blacklisted NGOs at a progressively slower rate since an infamous foreign agent law was signed in 2012, the Justice Ministry has said in an annual report. President Vladimir Putin observed last year that the sharp decline in “foreign agents” resulted from organizations turning down foreign funding. The law has been […]

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Defending Digital Democracy

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

Subject: Democracy’s Front-Line Defenders Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2018 From: Eric Rosenbach <erosenbach@belfercenter.hks.harvard.edu> Defending Digital Democracy America’s enemies aren’t resting. Neither are we. I hope you’ll be in touch with me with thoughts about how we can strengthen our efforts to defend democracy. Warm regards, Eric Rosenbach Co-Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University Director, Defending Digital […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Putin at] ASI Supervisory Board meeting” – KremlinRu

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

(Kremlin.ru – March 7, 2018) In Samara, Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the supervisory board of the autonomous non-profit organisation Agency for Strategic Initiatives to Promote New Projects (ASI). The meeting participants summed up the Agency’s performance in the past six years and outlined prospects for 2018. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues, First of all, I […]

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Interfax: External funding of foreign NGOs in Russia grows to 7.1 bln rubles within less than year, while their number reduces by 10% – report

Federation Council file photo

MOSCOW. March 5 (Interfax) – The external funding of foreign NGOs operating in Russia has grown to more than 7 billion rubles in less than a year, the Federation Council’s commission for counteracting foreign interference in Russian affairs said in a special report presented on Monday. “In 2015, Russian socio-political NGOs received 80 billion rubles from the United States alone […]

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NEWSLINK: “Ukrainian Association of the Kennan Institute Alumni: ‘We are deeply concerned by the Kennan Institute’s growing pro-Kremlin policies'” – Kyiv Post/Ukrainian Association of the Kennan Institute Alumni

File of Reagan Building, adapted from image at archives.gov

“The following is an open letter of the Ukrainian Association of the Kennan Institute Alumni published on Feb. 27.”

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NEWSWATCH: “How to Monitor Russia’s Next Election” – Moscow Times/Grigory Melkonyants (Golos)

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

  “… The country, the composition of the Central Elections Commission (CEC) and electoral laws have all changed. … changing the rules ahead of every federal election has become something of a tradition in Russia. Golos has calculated that the authorities introduced 15 amendments to presidential election legislation between 2012 and 2017. In total, 59 out of the law’s 87 […]

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NEWSLINK: “Toxic cash: the risks of Russia’s ‘sovereign civil society’ programme; By banning NGOs from receiving foreign funding, the Russian government has forced them to seek financial support at home. But state grants undermine civil society’s independence” – OpenDemocracy/ Andrey Kalikh

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RUSSIALINK: “[Putin] Presenting national awards for outstanding achievements in human rights and charity work [including Lyudmila Alekseyeva]” – KremlinRu

Lyudmila Alekseyeva file photo

(Kremlin.ru – December 18, 2017) Vladimir Putin presented the 2017 National Award for Outstanding Achievements in Human Rights Activity to Lyudmila Alekseyeva, chairperson of the Moscow Helsinki Group. The National Award for Outstanding Achievements in Charity Work was presented to Vladimir Vavilov, chairman of the Board of the Anzhela Vavilova Regional Public Charity Foundation for Children with Leukaemia, Republic of […]

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Indigenously Funded Russian Civil Society

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

(PONARS Eurasia – ponarseurasia.org – Debra Javeline, Sarah Lindemann-Komarova – November 30, 2017) Debra Javeline is Associate Professor at the University of Notre Dame. Sarah Lindemann-Komarova is Instructor at Novosibirsk State University. [PDF version ponarseurasia.org/sites/default/files/policy-memos-pdf/Pepm496_Javeline_Lindemann-Komarova_Nov2017.pdf] (PONARS Policy Memo) Most reports on Russian civil society focus on government efforts to restrict Western funding to Russian nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) with legislation on […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: [Vladimir Putin and Igor Borisov at] Meeting of Council for Civil Society and Human Rights (transcript concluded)” – KremlinRu

Kremlin and River

(Kremlin.ru – October 30, 2017) [Full transcript here en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/55947] Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the Council for Civil Society and Human Rights at the Kremlin …. Igor Borisov: Mr President, thank you for giving me the floor. I have just a few words about the elections. I understand we have a very compressed schedule; Mr Fedotov is ready to […]

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Putin notes big drop in number of “foreign agent” NGOs

Kremlin and River

(Interfax – October 30, 2017) The number of Russian non-governmental organisations (NGOs) registered as foreign agents has nearly halved over the past year, President Vladimir Putin has said. “Currently the number of such organisations in the register of foreign agents has almost halved. Their number dropped from 165 to 89. This is only 0.39 per cent of the total number […]

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Putin Calls Ekho Moskvy Journalist’s Attacker a ‘Sick Person’

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 30, 2017) The man who stabbed a radio editor in Moscow last week was a “sick person” without political motives, President Vladimir Putin said Monday. Tatyana Felgenhauer, a deputy editor at the liberal-learning Ekho Moskvy radio station, was stabbed last week by a Russian-Israeli man believed to have mental health issues. Two state television […]

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NEWSWATCH: “[Re: European Values]” – Mark Galeotti on Russia (facebook page)

Europe Map

(Mark Galeotti on Russia – facebook page – facebook.com/markgaleottionrussia/ – Oct. 21, 2017) [embedded live feed of facebook post should load below, or click here to go to post on facebook, with accompanying comments]  

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NEWSWATCH: “[Re: European Values]” – Fred Weir (facebook profile)

Europe Map

(Fred Weir – facebook profile – https://www.facebook.com/fred.weir – Oct. 21, 2017) [embedded live feed of abbreviated facebook post should load below; or click here for direct link to full post on facebook, with accompanying comments]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Vladimir Putin and Fyodor Lukyanov at] Meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club” – KremlinRu

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Valdai Club 2013 Meeting, Adapted from Screenshot of Valdai Club Video at youtube.com

(Kremlin.ru – Sochi, October 19, 2017) [Video with English translation: http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/55882] Vladimir Putin took part in the final plenary session of the 14th annual meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club titled The World of the Future: Moving Through Conflict to Cooperation. The general topic of the Valdai Club this year is Creative Destruction: Will a New World Order Emerge […]

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Top Russian official ‘unaware’ of plans for new ‘foreign agent’ law

Kremlin and River

(Interfax – October 18, 2017) The first deputy head of Russia’s presidential administration, Sergei Kiriyenko, has said he is unaware of any forthcoming Russian legislation which would designate individuals with the status of “foreign agents”. “I don’t know anything about this,” Kiriyenko said on 18 October when asked about the matter. Media reports on 9 October, citing a source, said: […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia’s surveillance state is giving us a false sense of security The Russian state’s mass expansion of surveillance online and offline is not making citizens any safer.” – OpenDemocracyNet – Damir Gainutdinov

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

“… Human rights defenders moving around the country regularly encounter increased attention from law enforcement agencies — they are detained, searched and questioned about why they’re travelling ….”

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NEWSWATCH: “You’ve Lost Control Again; Black Lists and Total Monitoring: Agora’s New Report on the Surveillance of Russians; A person’s life is utterly transparent to the secret services” – The Russian Reader/ Republic.ru/ Damir Gainutdinov

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

“The Agora International Human Rights Group has released a report entitled ‘Russia under Surveillance 2017: How the Authorities Are Setting Up a Total System for Monitoring Citizens.’ …. The Russian state has been harvesting an unprecedented amount of information about its citizens …. It maintains a system of black lists … and has been engaged in a relentless assault on internet […]

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Five years of Russia’s Foreign Agent Law; Russia’s Foreign Agent Law has made the existence of many NGOs practically impossible. But solidarity is rising among organisations that are working against these restrictions.

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

(opendemocracy.net – Daria Skibo – August 14, 2017) Daria Skibo is a sociologist and researcher at the Centre for Independent Sociological Research, St Petersburg. Russian civil society received July’s news happily: the case against Valentina Cherevatenko, the first person to face criminal charges under Russia’s Foreign Agent law, was dropped. In June 2017, Cherevatenko, head of the Women of the […]

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New U.S. Website Aims To Track Russian ‘Disinformation’ On Twitter

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

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Aug. 3, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/us-pro-democracy-group-german-marshall-fund-launches-website-tracking-russian-disinformation-twitter/28656024.html) WASHINGTON — A pro-democracy group has launched a new website to monitor and highlight what it says is Russian-backed disinformation on Twitter. The site, called Hamilton 68, which was launched on August 2, is a project of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting of the Agency of Strategic Initiatives Supervisory Board

Russia Regions Map

(Kremlin.ru – July 26, 2017) Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting in Petrozavodsk of the Supervisory Board of the autonomous non-commercial organisation Agency for Strategic Initiatives to Promote New Projects. The participants discussed the results of ASI’s work over the first half of 2017 and promising projects planned for implementation in 2017-2018. They include a package of measures to develop the […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with representatives of socially oriented and charitable organisations and volunteer movements

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

(Kremlin.ru – July 26, 2017) Before the meeting, the President visited the Petrozavodsk State University IT park, where he was taken around a display area with projects that are being implemented with support from the Agency for Strategic Initiatives. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, friends, good afternoon. I have always liked meeting with people who spend years doing what […]

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NEWSLINK: “Putin visits veteran dissident Alekseyeva on her 90th birthday. (with video)” – RussiaFeed

Lyudmila Alekseyeva file photo

“… On Thursday, July 20, 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin has paid a visit to Lyudmila Alekseyeva to congratulate the veteran activist on her 90th birthday and thank her for her long-term service to the nation. …”

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NEWS RELEASE/TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Lyudmila Alexeyeva

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

(Kremlin.ru – July 20, 2017) [Photos here http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/55105] Vladimir Putin congratulated human rights champion and public activist and Chairwoman of the Moscow Helsinki Group Lyudmila Alexeyeva on her 90th birthday. Before leaving for a trip to Yoshkar-Ola, the President visited Ms Alexeyeva at her home and presented her with a bouquet of flowers and an engraving depicting a view of […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko. [excerpt re: NGOs]

Valentina Matviyenko file photo

(Kremlin.ru – June 26, 2017) Vladimir Putin held a working meeting with Speaker of the Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko. Valentina Matviyenko: Mr President, we also organised public hearings on a subject that was long ripe for discussion. We simply gave this discussion a formal framework through these hearings on the inadmissibility of interference in Russia’s internal affairs. We know how […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Civic Chamber members

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(Kremlin.ru – June 20, 2017) Vladimir Putin met in the Kremlin with members of the 6th Civic Chamber. The Civic Chamber’s new membership was established in a three-stage process. Forty members were approved by the Presidential Executive Order of March 20, 84 were delegated by regional civic chambers, and 43 were selected in a vote from among 403 candidates put […]

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Russian prosecutor general suggests giving Justice Ministry right to conduct extraordinary inspections of NGOs that breach legislation

Yury Chaika file photo

MOSCOW. June 7 (Interfax) – Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika has suggested giving the Justice Ministry the right to conduct extraordinary inspections of NGOs. “We suggest giving the Justice Ministry the right to conduct extraordinary inspections of NGOs if there is information that they are in breach of any bans and restrictions envisaged by the law,” Chaika told a parliamentary […]

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NEWSLINK: “New book announcement from Brookings: The New Autocracy. Information, Politics, and Policy in Putin’s Russia. Edited by Daniel Treisman. Corruption, fake news, and the ‘informational autocracy’ sustaining Putin in power.” – Brookings Institution

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

“After fading into the background for many years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia suddenly has emerged as a new threat — at least in the minds of many Westerners. … Under … Putin … Russia is neither a somewhat reduced version of the Soviet Union nor a classic police state. Corruption is prevalent at all levels of government and […]

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Russia May Shrink Its ‘Foreign Agents’ Registry by Half

Kremlin and River

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 24, 2017) Russia may drastically shrink its registry of “foreign agents” – non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that receive foreign funding and political activities, Russia’s Kommersant newspaper reports. The government will likely remove half of the organizations from the registry following an analysis of the law’s application by a presidential administration working group. More than 50 […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH/TASS: “Putin orders to submit NGO ‘foreign agents’ report until late March”

Kremlin and River

“Russian President Vladimir Putin has instructed the presidential staff, Justice Ministry and the presidential envoy for environmental protection to analyze regulatory enforcement of the non-governmental organizations operating as foreign agents and financed by state. The list of Putin’s instructions made following the meeting of the Presidential Council for Civil Society Development and Human Rights held on December 8, 2016 was […]

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Kremlin Official Admits Problems With Foreign Agent Law

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 7, 2016) First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Sergei Kiriyenko told members of Russia’s Human Rights Council that while the controversial Foreign Agents law on NGOs cannot be repealed, it could be improved. Kiriyenko admitted the law was problematic during a conversation with members of the council held on Dec. 6, which lasted […]

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Putin presents state awards for achievements in human rights, charity

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

MOSCOW. Dec 8 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin handed over state awards for outstanding achievements in the field of charity and human rights activities for the first time in the Kremlin on Thursday. In September 2015, the president signed a decree establishing the award in the field of charitable and human rights activities in Russia from January 1, 2016. […]

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

Kremlin and River

(Kremlin.ru – December 8, 2016) Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the Council for Civil Society and Human Rights at the Kremlin. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues. It is a pleasure to greet you all here at this meeting, which, by tradition, takes place on the eve of Human Rights Day. As you know, two new national […]

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Human rights council to continue attempts to improve law on foreign-agent NGOs – Fedotov

Mikhail Fedotov file photo

MOSCOW. Dec 8 (Interfax) – The Russian presidential Council for human rights will be seeking changes to the law on foreign-agent nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) until it becomes workable, the Council’s chairman Mikhail Fedotov said. “We did not promise that we’d quit our attempts to improve it. We will continue these attempts until it becomes a normal, a quite workable law,” […]

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

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

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

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club (complete text)

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Valdai Club 2013 Meeting, Adapted from Screenshot of Valdai Club Video at youtube.com

(Kremlin.ru – October 27, 2016) Vladimir Putin took part in the final session of the Valdai International Discussion Club’s 13th annual meeting, which this year took the theme The Future in Progress: Shaping the World of Tomorrow. Over the three-day event, 130 experts and political analysts from 35 countries examined current issues concerning development of international relations, internal political organisation, […]

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New Cold War Chills Annual Kremlin Gathering of Foreign Experts

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Valdai Club 2013 Meeting, Adapted from Screenshot of Valdai Club Video at youtube.com

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Marc Champion – October 26, 2016) The new Cold War is starting to look a lot like the old one, and Russian and U.S. foreign-policy experts at an annual gathering with Kremlin officials this week appear out of ideas on how to even start defusing it. The risk that the world’s two nuclear superpowers might “sleepwalk” […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Russia seeks to shape global political debates with new award”

Valdai Club Gathering at Long Tables in Large Hall

“Russia seeks to gain more voice in shaping global political debates amidst increasingly partisan rhetoric on international politics with a newly announced award by the Valdai Discussion Club.”

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Russians May Care Far Less about Foreign Agent Designations than Kremlin Thinks

Kremlin and River

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 8, 2016) Vladimir Putin clearly expects that Russians will be put off by and avoid any organization his regime designates as “a foreign agent” because it receives money from abroad. But the experience of the Levada Center, one of the institutions he has classed in this way, suggests that the epithet […]

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Russian Memorial NGO receives “undesirable” funds – ministry

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

(Interfax – October 5, 2016) Russian human rights NGO Memorial has received funds from foreign organisations officially designated as “undesirable”, the Russian Justice Ministry press service has said, as quoted by privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax on 5 October. On the previous day, the ministry included Memorial on the list of “foreign agents” under controversial 2012 amendments to the law […]

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Russian Justice Ministry to consider Anti-Maidan leader’s request on checking several NGOs for foreign financing

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

MOSCOW. Aug 20 (Interfax) – The Russian Justice Ministry will consider an appeal by Federation Council member Dmitry Sablin, the founder of the Anti-Maidan movement, on checking a number of non-governmental organizations (NGO) for receiving financing from abroad. “The Russian Justice Ministry has received an appeal from Russian Federation Council member Dmitry Sablin. The appeal will be considered within the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Restoring Old Churches Inspires a New Philanthropy in Russia” – New York Times

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

In a country where the state has traditionally maintained extensive control, private charity is still in relative infancy. Foundations and groups that receive funds from abroad usually must register as foreign actors. Restoring churches is one area where Russians have seized the volunteer spirit, however. Both churches in Tarusa have been restored with a mixture of state, church and private […]

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