Pussy Riot members en route to Moscow from Yakutsk where they were supposed to face trial after detention

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

YAKUTSK. Aug 8 (Interfax) – The Yakutsk City Court has once again proven unable to decide on an administrative penalty for two members of the Pussy Riot punk group, Maria Alyokhina and Olga Borisova, who were detained on Monday for staging an unpermitted action in support of Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov. “The judge decided to return the administrative material […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Across Russia, Protesters and Kremlin Backers Seek the Upper Hand; In towns like Izhevsk, a reinvigorated opposition is running into efforts to nip the movement in the bud” – Wall Street Journal/ James Marson

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

“… Protest leaders face fines and jail time for minor infractions, relatives of activists receive warnings from bosses, and students are told not to attend rallies, according to opposition supporters. … The movement has energized Russia’s youth, who make up the bulk of protesters. … But protests are still relatively small. Opposition leaders say people are preoccupied with their own problems, […]

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Russia Leading ‘Assault’ on Freedom of Expression – HRW

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 18, 2017) Russian authorities have clamped down on Internet freedoms and introduced “invasive” surveillance” online, under the pretext of fighting extremism, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report published today. The report criticizes Russia for unjustly imprisoning dozens based on their activity online and for introducing new laws that give the government tools […]

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Punishing Putin Mostly Means Punishing His Foes; Washington wants more sanctions. But they would further strangle a pro-democracy movement on life support.

Kremlin and River

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – June 12, 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. After being surprised by broad-based protests in late March, the Russian authorities were ready to prevent a repeat on Monday. Police detained hundreds across the country […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Dissent Shakes the Foundation of the Kremlin’s Power” – Stratfor

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

… Most of the dissidence in Russia today does not come in response to a specific incident – such as the electoral fraud that incited mass demonstrations in 2011-12 – but to the country’s political system more generally. With a few exceptions, rather than targeting the president himself, the current protests are aimed at corruption or economic stagnation. … To […]

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Russian Police Probe Radical Pro-Kremlin Group Over Navalny Attack

Kremlin and River

(RFE/RL– rferl.org – May 5, 2017) The leader of a radical pro-Kremlin group says police plan to question him and his colleagues over an attack on Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny that has impaired his eyesight. Igor Beketov, leader of a group calling itself the South East Radical Block (SERB), told RFE/RL on May 5 that Moscow police contacted him […]

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Interfax: “Russian police act with far more restraint than some of their European counterparts – Putin”

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

SOCHI. May 2 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed accusations that police in Russia tend to use excessive force in curbing protests, saying that they have acted and will continue to act in line with the law. When asked by some Western reporters to comment on the way Russian authorities deal with opposition groups and protests at a news […]

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David Filipov: “There were some pretty rough arrests, & 1 officer was hospitalized but for most of the day police in #Moscow were generally patient w crowds”

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

(David Filipov @davidfilipov (Washington Post) – Twitter – March 26, 2017) Washington Post correspondent David Filipov writes on twitter: “There were some pretty rough arrests, & 1 officer was hospitalized but for most of the day police in #Moscow were generally patient w crowds” [embedded tweet should also load below:] There were some pretty rough arrests, & 1 officer was […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting of Federal Security Service Board

(Kremlin.ru – February 16, 2017) Vladimir Putin took part in an annual expanded meeting of the Federal Security Service (FSB) Board to discuss the FSB’s results for 2016 and the priority tasks for ensuring Russia’s national security. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. These annual FSB Board meetings give us a chance to meet and not only thoroughly analyse […]

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Prosecutors should continue paying more attention to protecting fair business from pressure, unjustified checks – Putin

File Photo of Cash Register with Drawer Open and Hands of Cashier

MOSCOW. Jan 11 (Interfax) – Fair business must be reliably protected by the state, including from unjustified checks, prosecutors must continue work in this direction, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “Fair, honest, transparent business must be reliably protected by the state, including from unjustified checks and other pressure,” he said at a meeting on the occasion of the 295th anniversary […]

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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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Navalny blames authorities for using criminal proceeding to bar him from elections

Alexei Navalny file photo

KIROV. Dec 5 (Interfax) – Opposition activist Alexei Navalny believes that the authorities are trying to use criminal proceedings as a way to bar him from nomination in elections. “They want to deprive me of the electoral right. If this process begins, I will again be deprived of the electoral right for three years,” Navalny said at the Kirov Leninsky […]

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

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

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

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Interfax: Kremlin criticises media’s take of “Yarovaya laws”

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

(Interfax – September 26, 2016) The Kremlin has criticised media coverage of the so-called “Yarovaya package” of anti-terrorist laws, accusing journalists of being too emotional in their reporting and exaggerating the laws’ provisions, privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax reported on 26 September. “All of these themes are being reflected in the media within a very lively discussion. Much of it […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian politics. The hollow election. The lowest-ever turnout for Duma elections suggests Vladimir Putin is losing touch with his political base.

Russia Regions Map

The Economist reports on low participation in Russia’s 2016 Duma elections. … The Kremlin made every effort to ensure the elections were as sterile and low-profile as possible. It banned and harassed genuine opposition parties and their leaders. … it persuaded many that nothing depended on voters. The official turnout was 48% – the lowest ever in the history of […]

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Russian Security Services Forced to Reveal Home Searches

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – September 7, 2016) Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) must now inform home owners and residents if their property is searched by government agents. The FSB must notify residents 24 hours after the search has taken place, according to a new decree signed on Aug. 12. Contact can be made by post, email or fax, telephone, […]

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Russian Opposition Governor Arrested for Corruption Claims Innocence

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – June 27, 2016) A Russian governor arrested for corruption has claimed his innocence in a Moscow court. Nikita Belykh, governor of the Kirov region in central Russia, was arrested Friday after allegedly taking a 400,000 euro ($440,000) bribe. Appearing in court on Saturday, June 25, Belykh maintained that he was not guilty, telling the court, […]

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The Monster Under The Kremlin

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – May 19, 2016) At first glance, the massive shoot-out at Moscow’s Khovanskoye Cemetery this past weekend seemed pretty retro. What, after all, reminds us more of the 1990s than rival Russian gangs staging a deadly brawl in a turf war over control of the lucrative burial business? What is more reminiscent of the […]

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Russians, Their Guns And the State

Makarov Handgun file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – April 29, 2016) U.S. gun enthusiasts live in constant fear of the federal government confiscating their weapons. For Russian gun owners, such a fear may be about to become a reality. On April 14, President Vladimir Putin, announced the formation of a new National Guard, and declared one of its key fuctions […]

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RBTH: Putin announces creation of National Guard for Russia

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

A series of important changes has taken place within Russian security organs, with the most significant being the establishment of a National Guard, to be formed from Interior Ministry troops. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – IGOR ROZIN, RBTH – April 6, 2016) A reorganization of government bodies has seen Russian President Vladimir Putin place the Federal Drug Control […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Russian National Guard established

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Kremlin.ru – April 5, 2016) Vladimir Putin made the announcement at a meeting with Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Interior Ministry Troops Commander Viktor Zolotov, Federal Drug Control Service Director Viktor Ivanov and Federal Migration Service First Deputy Director Yekaterina Yegorova. Vladimir Putin announces the creation of the National Guard on the basis of the Interior Ministry Troops. On the right: […]

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Expanded meeting of Prosecutor General Office’s Board

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

(Kremlin.ru – March 23, 2016) Vladimir Putin took part in an expanded meeting of the Prosecutor General Office’s Board, reviewing the results for 2015 and priority work areas in 2016. Fighting corruption and terrorism and protecting public and state interests in various areas were the main subjects of discussion. A total of 317 prosecutors and judges from all around Russia […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting of the Working Group to Monitor and Analyse Law Enforcement Practice in Entrepreneurial Activity

Russian Riot Police file photo

(Kremlin.ru – March 23, 2016) Vladimir Putin chaired the first meeting of the Working Group to Monitor and Analyse Law Enforcement Practice in Entrepreneurial Activity, which discussed a number of business community proposals on legal guarantees for businesspeople. The working group was formed in February 2016 to organise cooperation between business associations and the federal executive authorities. The group’s participants […]

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Like, Share, Convict: Russian Authorities Target Social Media Users

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – March 10, 2016) [Chart here http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/like-share-convict-russian-authorities-target-social-media-users/562015.html] It was a throwaway comment, forgotten almost the minute it was written. Then again, Viktor Krasnov could hardly have predicted the trouble those three words -“God doesn’t exist” – would cause. He couldn’t have imagined that two VKontakte users would file a formal complaint to the […]

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Interfax: Number of inspections of NGOs declining – Justice Minister

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

MOSCOW. March 2 (Interfax) – Russian Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov said the number of inspections of non-government organizations (NGOs) scheduled for this year is declining. “When organizing inspections of NGOs, the Justice Ministry uses information received from other public administration agencies, and it has to be said that the total number of inspections conducted in 2015 went down 12% from […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting of the Federal Security Service board

FSB Building file photo

(Kremlin.ru – February 26, 2016) Vladimir Putin took part in a meeting of the Federal Security Service (FSB) board to review the results of the Service’s work in 2015 and set its priority tasks for 2016. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, We are here today to review the results of the Federal Security Service’s work in 2015 and […]

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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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Defender of Putin, Detained in Russia: American Activist Deemed U.S. ‘Agent’

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org –Carl Schreck – February 17, 2016) For a person who has dedicated her life to improving ties between Moscow and the West — and who has passionately denounced what she calls the “demonization” of President Vladimir Putin by Western media and officials — Sharon Tennison has gotten a strange reception in Russia. Tennison, an American activist whose […]

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Interfax: Casualties of law enforcement agencies reduce threefold in North Caucasus in 2015 – Interior Ministry

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

(Interfax – STAVROPOL, Feb 11, 2016) A decline in the number of clashes, bombings and shelling incidents continued in the North Caucasus in 2015, head of the Russian Interior Ministry department in the North Caucasus Federal District Sergei Chenchik said at a coordination conference of district police chiefs in Pyatigorsk. “The number of shelling incidents, bombings and clashes was significantly […]

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Moscow’s Overnight Demolition Blitz Sparks Legal Debate

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova, Vasily Kolotilov – February 11, 2016) You could hear a young woman yelling, but her voice was diluted in the sound of bulldozers, smashed glass and metal. “What are you doing?! There are people still in there! Stop it!” she said. Several police officers stood outside, watching the bulldozer do its work without […]

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NEWSLINK TASS: “Russia’s ex-PM asks FSB to launch criminal proceedings against Chechen leader”

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo » Read more

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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Russian Minister: Security Concerns Justify Restricting Civil Rights

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – November 28, 2015) Russia’s interior minister said restricting civil rights is justifiable if security considerations demand it, according to a television interview that was broadcast Thursday night and prompted criticism from human rights advocates. Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev told NTV television that police and security agencies must “tighten the screws” in case […]

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Russia’s Sole Sexual Assault Center Struggles to Make Ends Meet

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Vasily Kolotilov – October 21, 2015) Russia has only one organization that exists specifically to help victims of sexual assault, and today, its fate hangs in the balance. The Sisters sexual assault recovery center in Moscow is eking out an existence, depending on modest donations and barely able to cover the rent and phone bill […]

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Russia’s New Personal Data Law Will Be Hard to Implement, Experts Say

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – September 3, 2015) In a streak of measures designed to impose stricter control over the Internet in Russia, the law that requires all Internet services store the personal data of Russian users on Russian territory – in effect from Tuesday – will be the most difficult to implement due to its vagueness […]

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RBTH: Proposed extensions to Russian police powers spark controversy

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Being Grabbed by Police at Protest

A new bill proposing to extend policemen’s rights, including those concerning the use of weapons, has provoked major disagreements among Russian public figures and rights activists. While its authors believe that extending police authority is necessary for defending the rights of fellow policemen, critics worry that if the law is adopted it will legitimize police brutality and may be used […]

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Average Bribe in Russia Doubles in Rubles, Remains Steady in Dollars

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 31, 2015) The amount of the average bribe in Russia has nearly doubled this year, reaching 208,000 rubles ($3,485 at today’s rate), as the country’s currency has shed value amid Western sanctions and an economic downturn, according to Interior Ministry estimates cited by pro-government Izvestia daily on Friday. This compares to about 109,000 rubles […]

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Will the patriotic stop list kill Russia’s NGOs? Since 2012, Russian NGOs receiving funding from abroad have had to register as ‘foreign agents’. A new patriotic ‘stop list’ might shut this funding off forever.

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

(opendemocracy.net – Vyacheslav Kozlov – July 22, 2015) Vyacheslav Kozlov is a journalist for daily newspaper Kommersant. He writes on international relations, nationalism, extremism, narco-politics, the Russian opposition and the problems facing Russia’s NGOs. He has at various times worked for Vremya Novostei, Moskovskiye Novosti and the online publication Gazeta.ru. His work has also appeared in Novaya Gazeta and Lenta.ru. […]

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Witness to Nemtsov murder to be summoned for police lineup – newspaper

Boris Nemtsov file photo

MOSCOW. Apr 1 (Interfax) – Detectives investigating the murder of politician Boris Nemtsov intend to summon a main witness to his murder, Nemtsov’s Ukrainian girlfriend Hanna Durytska, for a police lineup, the newspaper Izvestia wrote on Wednesday. “Durytska made the acquaintance of Nemtsov three years ago and they stayed together almost all the time in the recent period, so she […]

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Witness can’t recognize suspected Nemtsov assassin – newspaper

Nemtsov March of Mourning

MOSCOW. March 27 (Interfax) – The confession of Zaur Dadayev, the suspected perpetrator of the killing of opposition activist Boris Nemtsov, is not confirmed by a direct witness to the crime, Kommersant reported on Friday. Kommersant reported, citing a source close to the investigator, that Ukrainian model Hanna Durytska, who was accompanying Nemtsov at the time he was killed, was […]

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Nemtsov murder suspect was not tortured – lawyer

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(Interfax – March 12, 2015) A lawyer for one of the men charged with the murder of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov has dismissed suggestions that his client was tortured in order to force him to confess to the crime, the privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax reported on 12 March. Ivan Gerasimov said that his client, Zaur Dadayev, had told […]

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Kremlin Foe Navalny Fined $10 For Cutting Ankle Bracelet

Alexei Navalny file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – January 14, 2015) Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny has been convicted of large-scale theft twice and spent many nights in jail after street protests. The latest punishment meted out to one of the Kremlin’s fiercest foes is perhaps the least severe: a $10 fine. On his website on January 14, Navalny posted a note from Russia’s […]

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A new drama in Moscow: Teatr.doc – a pioneer of ‘New Drama’ in Russia – has recently been evicted from its basement home in Moscow. But is it all an act?

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(opendemocracy.net – Alexey Krizhevsky – January 14, 2015) Alexey Krizhevsky is culture editor at gazeta.ru and member of Teatr.doc Teatr.doc is on the move. Having performed its last plays and a holiday evening, the theatre packed its bags and left the tiny basement in the centre of Moscow – its home for many years. The director of the independent theatre, […]

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Theater and the Heart of a City: Moscow’s Teatr.doc’s Confrontation with Authority

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Blair A. Ruble – January 2015) Blair A. Ruble is vice president for programs; director, urban sustainability laboratory; and senior advisor, Kennan Institute, at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. On the evening of December 30, 2014 — just as two dozen or so patrons were settling into their seats at a purposefully ramshackle basement […]

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Khodorkovsky Speech Aired in St. Pete Hotel Despite Chaos

Mikhail Khodorkovsky file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – December 8, 2014) It seems St. Petersburg authorities on Sunday did not want a Holiday Inn conference room to show a speech by one of President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent and vocal critics: Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The conference area was searched for drugs, police attempted to evacuate the building because of a bomb […]

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