Like Stalin, Putin hasn’t Changed the Rules of the Game; He’s Destroyed Them, Portnikov Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 28, 2015) The Anschluss of Crimea and the murder of Boris Nemtsov were not continuations of the rules of the game that had existed before, with the first following the 2008 Russian actions in Georgia and the second that of murders like Galina Starovoitova and Anna Politkovskaya, Vitaly Portnikov says. Instead, […]

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Running for Office in Siberia: Part IV: History, Perspective and the Components of a Modern Campaign

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

Subject: Running for Office in Siberia: Part IV: History, Perspective and the Components of a Modern Campaign Date: Fri, 28 Aug 2015 From: Sarah Lindemann-Komarova <echosiberia@gmail.com> Running for Office in Siberia A series on the District #35 Election for Novosibirsk City Council By Sarah Lindemann-Komarova [Founder, Siberian Civic Initiatives Support Center 1995 – 2014. Helped to establish this as the […]

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Khodorkovsky Calls for Civil Disobedience against Unjust Laws and Putin’s Unjust System

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 27, 2015) Mikhail Khodorkovsky says that Russian citizens are fully entitled not to observe unjust laws imposed not to promote justice but to protect the power of Vladimir Putin, a potentially dramatic development in the relationship between the Russian opposition, the Russian people, and the Kremlin. In a blog post on […]

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A Winter Of Discontent For Russia

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

(Oilprice.com – Colin Chilcoat – August 25, 2015) Winters are the stuff of legend in Russia and – despite a fair bit of warming – winter 2015/16 is shaping up to be one of the harshest, and most formative, in recent memory. After a brief period of respite – and muted acceptance of the “new normal” – to start the […]

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Russians More Optimistic about Ethnic Problems at Home But Have Little Reason to Be, Experts Say

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 26, 2015) The shares of Russians who say that ethnic conflicts in their country are “likely” or “more likely than not” have declined from 17 and 45 percent respectively in October 2013 to five and 20 percent now, according to the findings of a new Levada Center poll. But Mikhail Remizov […]

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Dom Knigi: Quotes from a bookshop, what people read, what people believe, and the Guardian

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

Subject: Dom Knigi: Quotes from a bookshop, what people read, what people believe, and the Guardian Date: Tue, 25 Aug 2015 20:24:33 +0100 From: Antony Penaud <antonypenaud@yahoo.fr> Quotes from a bookshop, what people read, what people believe, and the Guardian Antony Penaud received his DPhil (University of Oxford) in 2000. He is French and lives in London. A friendly pdf […]

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Interfax: Putin’s job approval rating exceeds 80% – poll

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

MOSCOW. Aug 26 (Interfax) – The job approval rating of Russian President Vladimir Putin stands at 83% in August, Levada Center sociologists told Interfax on Wednesday following this month’s survey. Seventeen percent of respondents of the center’s latest poll were dissatisfied with Putin’s work as Russian president. In June the approval rate was 89%, in April-May – 86% and in […]

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Putin’s ‘New People’ are the Black Hundreds of Today, Golts Says

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

(Paul Goble – Windows on Eurasia – Staunton, August 22, 2015) Vladimir Putin’s “new people,” the lumpen who are prepared to take the law into their own hands in the name of advancing the goals of the Kremlin leader that they think are being undermined by the bureaucracy and oligarchs, are the exact equivalent of the Black Hundreds that carried […]

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RBTH: Why Russians support Internet censorship

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

According to a joint report by American researchers and Russian sociologists, 49 percent of Russians are not opposed to Internet censorship. They do not perceive attempts to control the Internet as an infringement on the freedom of speech, experts explain. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Yekaterina Sinelschikova, RBTH – August 22, 2015) Nearly half of Russians (49 percent) […]

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How Next Round of Russia’s Disintegration May Begin

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 24, 2015) In his poem, “The Fall of Rome,” W.H. Auden wrote that it could be signaled not by some dramatic event but rather by “a bored official” scribbling a note and leaving his office to go home, a reminder that enormous tectonic shifts often begin with small things that most […]

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Unlike Stalin’s Show-Trial Victims, Russia’s Political Defendants Don’t Back Down

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

(RFE/RL – Robert Coalson – August 20, 2015) There are, of course, many differences between the infamous show trials of Josef Stalin’s Great Terror and the politically convenient prosecutions of the political adversaries of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Stalin liked to try his victims in huge mass productions on blatantly political charges and then march them off for summary execution […]

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Russia’s ‘Foreign Agents’ Risk Losing Right to Run Media

satellite-dish-big-disa-mil

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – August 21, 2015) As the crackdown on Russian NGOs continues, the Communications Ministry has suggested forbidding those labeled as “foreign agents” from launching and registering media outlets. The proposal, part of a bill that the ministry published on a government website for draft laws, stipulates that non-governmental organizations registered as “foreign agents” […]

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Running for Office in Siberia

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

Subject: Running for Office in Siberia Part III Date: Fri, 21 Aug 2015 From: Sarah Lindemann-Komarova <echosiberia@gmail.com> Running for Office in Siberia A series on the District #35 Election for Novosibirsk City Council: Part III: Becoming an Official Independent Candidate By Sarah Lindemann-Komarova [Founder, Siberian Civic Initiatives Support Center 1995 – 2014. Helped to establish this as the hub for […]

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Interfax: Embargoed food destruction backed by 42% of Russians, 38% against

Kremlin and River

MOSCOW. Aug 21 (Interfax) – Most Russians (83%) are aware of the destruction of embargoed food smuggled into Russia from the European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada and Norway, the Public Opinion Foundation has said. Russians have mixed feelings about the decision made by the authorities: 42% say the embargoed food needs to be destroyed, and 38% claim the […]

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Nudists in Despair as Moscow Authorities Move to Close Naturist Beach

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – August 21, 2015) Moscow nudists may soon lose their best-known and most popular beach in the Serebryany Bor natural park, as city authorities plan to expel the naturists from their traditional hangout in western Moscow and turn it into a regular beach. “These people [nudists] are depraved. We can’t encourage vice. They’re […]

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Kaliningrad election commission confirms Yakunin’s rank as ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

KALININGRAD. Aug 20 (Interfax) – It has been confirmed that Russian Railways (MOEX: RZHD) chief Vladimir Yakunin has the diplomatic rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Kaliningrad regional election commission chief Inessa Vinyavskaya wrote on her Facebook page. “In reply to the commission’s query as part of the verification of the information on V. I. Yakunin, the Russian Presidential Administration […]

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New Policy on Commemorating Victims of Repression At Odds With Actions

Joseph Stalin file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – August 20, 2015) The government announced a new policy this week condemning attempts to justify mass Soviet repression, a move that appears to directly contradict official rhetoric and state actions during the last few years. The move shows a lack of unity in the Kremlin on the ideological front, or even the […]

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Half of Russians Believe Putin is Poorly Informed of Situation in the Country, Poll Shows

Putin at Desk

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 20, 2015) Over half of Russians think President Vladimir Putin does not receive a complete picture of what is going on in Russia or is being deliberately misled by his entourage, according to a poll released Wednesday by an independent Russian polling center. Fifty-six percent of respondents in the poll conducted by the Levada […]

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NEWSLINK Washington Post: Russia’s summer of intrigue: Political trials take center stage.

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

UKRAINE – Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#163 :: Wednesday Afternoon 19 August 2015

St. Basil's Domes

Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#163 Wednesday Afternoon – 19 August 2015 A project sponsored through the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs The contents do not necessarily represent the views of IERES or the George Washington University. JRL homepage: russialist.org JRL on Facebook: facebook.com/russialist JRL on Twitter: twitter.com/JohnsonRussiaLi Support JRL: russialist.org/funding.php Support for JRL is provided in […]

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Putin Aide Who Called Shock Rate Cut Sees Pause as Oil Nears $40

Oil Wells File Photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas, Evgenia Pismennaya – August 18, 2015) Andrey Belousov went largely unheeded the last time he forecast a shift in monetary policy. Now President Vladimir Putin’s top economic aide is lending weight to a growing consensus that Russia’s easing cycle is wearing out. The central bank may pause its interest-rate cuts after five decreases this […]

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Russian Press Digest (19 August 2015)

satellite-dish-big-disa-mil

(opendemocracy.net – EDITORS OF OPENDEMOCRACY RUSSIA) This Wednesday, the Russian press focuses on the departure of Vladimir Yakunin, head of Russian Railways and a close ally of Vladimir Putin. According to business daily Kommersant, Yakunin called his decision to leave ‘a personal one’ during a conversation with Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, Kaliningrad’s election commission is processing Yakunin’s candidacy to become the […]

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Putin Said Ready to Revamp Inner Circle as Ally Yakunin Goes

Kremlin and River

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Irina Reznik, Ilya Arkhipov, Olga Tanas – August 18, 2015) Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ready to start replacing long-serving allies in his inner circle after the sudden departure of OAO Russian Railways chief Vladimir Yakunin as head of the country’s largest employer. Putin intends to bring in trusted younger people to shake up his team ahead […]

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Putin May Be Tiring of His Cronies

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – August 18, 2015) Vladimir Yakunin seemed eternal: Nothing he could do appeared to undermine his standing in the system President Vladimir Putin has built to run Russia. Yet now he is leaving the top job at the national railroad monopoly, after 10 years of mismanaging it. Putin may be realizing that tough economic […]

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RIA Novosti: Putin says no need to worry about Russian economy

Putin at Desk

(RIA Novosti – August 18, 2015) Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on Russians not to worry about the country’s economy, because the government is monitoring the situation around the clock, RIA Novosti reported on 18 August. “Everyone is on the job; the government is managing the economy, on a daily and hourly basis. We don’t let anything out of […]

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Russian Press Digest (17 August 2015)

satellite-dish-big-disa-mil

(opendemocracy.net – EDITORS OF OPENDEMOCRACY RUSSIA) This Monday, the Russian press reports on the import ban on foreign medicines, Rosneft’s taxes, and an attack by Orthodox activists on a Moscow sculpture exhibition. Kommersant opens with an article on new plans to ban imports of a range of medical products. Several large NGOs, including Vera and Podari zhizn, involved in medical […]

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Head of Russia’s Mighty Rail Monopoly Looks Set to Step Down

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – August 18, 2015) Vladimir Yakunin, one of Russia’s most powerful executives and a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, was nominated as a senator for the upper chamber of the Russian parliament Monday, a position that would oblige him to step down as head of the state rail monopoly Russian Railways (RZD). […]

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Five Years Ago, Russians Said They Were For Democracy, Something They Wouldn’t Say Now

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 17, 2015) Many people assume that the high levels of support that Russians express for the Putin regime now shows them to be by nature authoritarian. Others, citing poll data only a few years old, say that Russians are naturally democratic but are too oppressed by the security services or bamboozled […]

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NEWSWATCH Wall Street Journal/Edward Lucas: “Russian Roulette. The regime has replaced institutions with one-man rule and treats criticism as treason. But it could get even worse.”

Putin Descending a Staircase

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Edward Lucas reviews two books, Putinism by Walter Laqueur and Putin’s Russia edited by Leon Aron. Lucas assesses Putinism, unfolding under the extensive reign of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a negative light: Making sense of Putinism is rather like trying to analyze a Russian salad. Unappetizing cubes of meat and vegetables lurk in […]

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NEWSLINK Kiev Post/Alexei Bayer: “Even if the Russian economy crumbles – as it is likely to do in the near-to-medium term, just as the Russian economy collapsed under Bolshevism – it will not result in any kind of a new beginning. There may be changes, but probably not for the better.”

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

Even if the Russian economy crumbles – as it is likely to do in the near-to-medium term, just as the Russian economy collapsed under Bolshevism – it will not result in any kind of a new beginning. There may be changes, but probably not for the better.

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NEWSLINK Globe and Mail (Canada): “Russia’s Brief, Shining Moment”

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

Mark MacKinnon visits the unassuming city in the shadow of the Urals where, not long ago and for not very long, free expression was allowed to flourish. In fact, it was encouraged and even financed by the state. Then something happened.

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Georgy Satarov: ‘The Opposition Needs to Put the Authorities in Zugzwang’

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

(Institute of Modern Russia – imrussia.org – August 12, 2015) As part of the Institute of Modern Russia’s ongoing interview series with Russian and Western experts, imrussia.org editor-in-chief Olga Khvostunova sat down with INDEM Foundation president Georgy Satarov to talk about social discontent, the consequences of the law on ”undesirable organizations,” the principle of simplification in Putin’s politics, and the […]

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Panic In The Kremlin

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – August 13, 2015) You know things are getting really bad when Sergei Lavrov blows his cool. The Russian foreign minister is usually smooth as silk in public, shamelessly and effortlessly twisting, spinning, distorting, and lying on behalf of Vladimir Putin’s regime. But this week, Lavrov was caught on camera — and on mic […]

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Kremlin Forms NGO Expert Group

Kremlin and River

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 11, 2015) The Kremlin has announced the creation of an expert group to consider changes to a controversial law that labels NGOs receiving funding from abroad as “foreign agents,” the RBC news agency reported Monday, citing deputy presidential chief of staff Vyacheslav Volodin. The group will work within the presidential administration and will consist […]

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BOOK REVIEW: “We are in power; that is democracy”

Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Chris Weafer in Moscow – August 11, 2015) “Boris Yeltsin was able to have a constitution adopted in a referendum that guaranteed him broad powers and an almost complete lack of checks and balances – the first major step toward the poisoning of Russia’s political institutions and guaranteeing the transition to Vladimir Putin”. That […]

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‘Virtual Civil War’ Going on in Russia Today Moscow Sociologist Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 12, 2015) Only 25 to 30 percent of Russians actively profess[] Putin’s national-patriotic ideology, but far fewer, ten to 15 percent are “convinced liberals, Leonty Byzov says. This division, far deeper than in the past, means that “a virtual civil war” is going on in Russia, one that could in a […]

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Fractures Form Inside Russia’s Central Bank as Recession Deepens

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Evgenia Pismennaya, Ilya Arkhipov – August 12, 2015) In his first stint as a top Russian central bank official in the early 1990s, Dmitry Tulin saw how flooding cheap credit to dying industrial giants delivered hyperinflation instead of growth. Now back as the bank’s monetary chief, Tulin, 59, has argued internally for easier credit and more […]

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Poll: Banned food better be given to needy, orphans

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

(Interfax – August 13, 2015) Forty percent of Russians have backed the authorities’ decision to destroy embargoed food, while the number of opponents is a bit higher (48 percent), the Levada Center has told Interfax on Aug. 13. In the opinion of the respondents, the food would better be given to orphanages, homeless shelters or hospitals (43 percent) or be […]

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Why Putin Is Losing

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – August 10, 2015) Are little green men about to appear on the North Pole? Russia’s claim last week, using an extremely creative interpretation of international law, to exclusive economic rights to nearly half a million square miles of the Arctic Sea, was certainly a head scratcher. Sure the territory is valuable due to […]

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Crimean Anschluss Divides Russian Left Just as Much as It Does Russian Right

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 8, 2015) That Vladimir Putin’s Anschluss of Crimea has divided Russian nationalists has been obvious since the opening days of Russian aggression against Ukraine, with some Russian nationalists supporting Moscow’s and others going so far as to travel to Ukraine to fight against the imperialism they see as a threat. But […]

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