Review: Arkady Ostrovsky’s ‘The Invention of Russia’

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

This new history tells a compelling, if normative, story of how Russia’s journalists and entrepreneurs threw off their former shackles, only to put them back on again. (opendemocracy.net – Maxim Edwards – February 3, 2016) Maxim Edwards is Commissioning Editor at oDR. He writes on nationalism, inter-ethnic and inter-religious relations, with a focus on post-Soviet countries. His articles have appeared […]

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Micromanaged Democracy: Russia’s Ruling Party Schools Candidates On Campaigning

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Robert Coalson – February 3, 2016) Elections for Russia’s State Duma, as well as a large number of local contests, are scheduled for September. And the ruling United Russia party wants to make sure its candidates are prepared for any awkward encounters with voters or journalists. The party has created a largely closed section on its […]

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Russia’s latest anti-crisis plan: How will it work?

Kremlin and River

The Russian government is making fresh attempts to lead the economy out of the crisis, primarily by investing in industry. RBTH analyzes the Kremlin’s latest anti-crisis plan and offers three alternative strategies for overcoming the crisis. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ALEXEI LOSSAN, RBTH – February 4, 2016) At the beginning of 2016 the signs for the Russian […]

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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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Russia’s year of cinema, or a return to silent films

File Photo of Reel of Film

In Russia, 2016 has been designated the Year of Cinema. But any new films are likely to be ‘silent’, lacking any voice of their own. (opendemocracy.net – Eleonora Zbanke – February 3, 2016) Eleonora Zbanke is a filmmaker, videographer, producer, human rights activist and a speaker at the 2015 World Forum for Democracy on “Freedom vs Control”. Russia’s cinema industry […]

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Russia’s Got Talent: Kadyrov’s Electoral Politics

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Maxim Trudolyubov – February 3, 2016) Maxim Trudolyubov is a Senior Fellow at the Kennan Institute and the Editor-at-Large of Vedomosti, an independent Russian daily. Mr. Trudolyubov was the editorial page editor of Vedomosti between 2003 and 2015. He has been a contributing opinion writer for The International New York Times since the fall of […]

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What Do Russians Really Think? The Truth Behind the Polls

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

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

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

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

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

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U.S. Senator Predicts Revelations Of Putin’s Wealth Will Destabilize His Rule

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – February 1, 2016) A senior U.S. lawmaker says revelations about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s wealth will be “destabilizing” to his rule as the Russian population becomes increasingly aware of them. U.S. Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Voice Of America on February 1 that the Russian people “are beginning […]

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Why Germans Supported Hitler to the End and Why Russians May Do the Same with Putin

File Photo of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler Riding in Convertible

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 3, 2016) In a recent book review essay in the New York Review of Books, military historian Max Hastings cites a passage from Nicholas Stargardt’s “The German War” (Basic Books, 2015) to explain why Germans continued to “close ranks around Hitler” even after it became obvious that their country was going […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with the core group of the Leaders Club

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Kremlin.ru – February 3, 2016) Vladimir Putin met with the core group of the Leaders Club, an informal association of small and medium business owners from various economic sectors. The Leaders Club was established in February 2012 and is engaged primarily in having businesspeople provide independent evaluations of conditions for doing business in Russia’s regions and the quality of state […]

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Virtual Stalinism

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – February 2, 2016) Russian officials seem to have developed an execution fetish of late. One example, of course, is the disturbing video Ramzan Kadyrov posted on Instagram showing opposition figures Mikhail Kasyanov and Vladimir Kara-Murza in the crosshairs of a sniper’s rifle. Another is the bizarre series of animated clips Vladimir Putin’s All-Russian […]

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Is liberalism the future for Russia?

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

For years, ‘liberal’ has been a dirty word in Russia, a shorthand for everything undesirable. Yet state propaganda is having an unexpected side-effect: the rehabilitation of liberalism. (opendemocracy.net/Colta.ru – Andrei Arkhangelsky – February 2, 2016) Andrei Arkhangelsky is a Russian journalist, essayist and scholar of cultural studies. He is also cultural editor for Ogonyok and researches contemporary Russian media. According […]

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Peskov on Kasyanov’s plans to await president’s response to threats from Kadyrov: “This is his right”

Mikhail Kasyanov File Photo

MOSCOW. Feb 2 (Interfax) – The Kremlin has said that PARNAS opposition party leader, Mikhail Kasyanov, has a right to expect a response from the Russian president, as the guarantor of the constitution, to Chechen head Ramzan Kadyrov’s Instagram publication with threats toward the non-systemic opposition and Kasyanov personally. “This is his right,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on […]

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Kremlin: Privatization of Russian companies open for foreign investors

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

(Interfax – February 2, 2016) Privatization of Russian companies is open for foreign investors, and Russia is interested in attracting new foreign partners, the Kremlin has said. “Russia has always been interested in foreign investors; we value cooperation with those who continue to operate on the Russian market and we are interested in an inflow of fresh investments,” Kremlin press […]

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Putin Says No Privatization at Knockdown Prices

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 2, 2016) President Vladimir Putin on Monday threw cold water on proposals to quickly sell stakes in state companies to fill holes in Russia’s budget. “There should be no sale of shares cheaply, at giveaway prices. This won’t bring particular benefit to the budget,” Putin said at a meeting with officials and heads of […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting on privatisation

Empty Boardroom

(Kremlin.ru – February 1, 2016) Vladimir Putin held a meeting to discuss privatisation issues. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues. We have met today to discuss the Government’s privatisation plans for 2016. I have just looked over a few issues with [Prime Minister] Mr Medvedev. The privatisation process plays an important part in changing the Russian economy’s structure […]

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Economic Minister says moderate economic growth possible in Russia in 2016

Alexei Ulyukayev file photo

(Interfax – February 2, 2016) Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev does not rule out the possibility of the Russian economy shifting to moderate growth in 2016. “A shift is already possible this year, perhaps, to moderate, recovery growth in the economy for the time being. We should be prepared for this,” Ulyukayev said at a ministry meeting on Feb. 2. […]

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Russians put economy, inflation on top of most pressing national problems

File Photo of Older Russian Woman Shopping in Grocery Store

(Interfax – February 2, 2016) The economy, inflation, and low living standards have been viewed by the public as the top three most pressing problems in Russia, for the past six months, the Russian Public Opinion Study Center (VTsIOM) has said. The economy was the number one problem in the January rating. Concerns about economic affairs started growing in November […]

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Half of Russians don’t trust conclusions made by British in Litvinenko case

Radioactivity Symbol

(Interfax – January 31, 2016) Over half of Russians (53%) believe the London court had no real grounds to accuse Russian officials of involvement in the death of former Federal Security Service official Alexander Litvinenko, Levada Center has reported. The poll, which surveys 1,600 respondents, was conducted in 137 populated areas of 48 regions of Russia on Jan. 22-25. The […]

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Russia’s Yabloko Party Turns Down Offer to Merge With PARNAS

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 1, 2016) Russian liberal opposition party Yabloko has turned down a proposal from the PARNAS opposition party that they merge to compile a single list of State Duma election candidates, the Kommersant newspaper reported Monday. “It was suggested that we include our candidates on the PARNAS list. They actually suggested we liquidate our party, […]

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Has the crisis driven back corruption in Russia?

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

The British television channel BBC One has reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s personal fortune totals $40 billion. At the same time, Putin himself has ordered officials to act “tough” in returning everything stolen and taken out of Russia. Could the economic crisis lead to a reduction in corruption in the country? (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA […]

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Russians do not want authorities to have access to non-public personal data

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Interfax – January 31, 2016) Most respondents surveyed by the Public Opinion Foundation (58%) believe the state should not have access to non-public personal data and people’s correspondence on social networking sites and via email, while 24% believe it violates human rights and 22% believe it constitutes privacy invasion and is not ethical. The poll, which surveys 1,000 respondents who […]

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Ever more Russians are at risk of repression as Putin’s Russia heads toward totalitarianism

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – January 27, 2016) There is an old observation that in a democracy, anything that isn’t prohibited is permitted; in an authoritarian system, anything that isn’t permitted is prohibited; and in a totalitarian one, anything that is permitted is compulsory and any failure to go along can result in arrest or worse. Judging from […]

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Four Russias: the new political reality

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

Uneven modernisation has left its mark on Russia, and the authorities are only too happy to exploit it. What does the future hold for Russia’s regional divide? (opendemocracy.net/American Enterprise Institute – Natalia Zubarevich – February 1, 2016) Natalia Zubarevich is a professor in the Department of Geography at Moscow State University and the director of the regional program at the […]

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Fukuyama: ‘Putinism,’ Radical Islam No Alternative To Liberal Democracy

Putin Descending a Staircase

(RFE/RL – January 29, 2016) Russian President Vladimir Putin and the extremist Islamic State group are sworn enemies that might seem to have little in common. But both are engaged in efforts at state building that U.S. political scientist Francis Fukuyama says share two qualities: each seeks to create a political alternative to a modern liberal democracy, and each is […]

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Interfax: Russian Investigative Committee completes inquiry against five Nemtsov murder suspects – Markin

Boris Nemtsov file photo

MOSCOW. Jan 29 (Interfax) – The Russian Investigative Committee has informed the suspects and their lawyers that it has completed its criminal inquiry opened into the murder of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, the committee’s spokesman Vladimir Markin told Interfax on Friday. “Today, the suspects in this criminal case have been informed that the investigation has been completed, and in […]

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Russia’s Great Shift Downward; Putin has shown little interest in changing the economic model.

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Carol Matlack – January 28, 2016) For Russia’s battered economy, 2016 already looks miserable. The ruble has slumped to record lows as oil prices have fallen 11 percent since Jan. 1, to around $30 a barrel. The government, which gets nearly half its revenue from oil and gas, is scrambling to plug a 1.5 trillion-ruble ($19.2 […]

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Interfax: Putin has not yet decided whether he will run for president in 2018 – Peskov

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

MOSCOW. Jan 29 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has not decided yet whether he will run for president in 2018, his press officer Dmitry Peskov said. The question as to whether Putin will nominate his candidacy in the upcoming elections arose in connection with the statements about the Russian president made by a White House official, who accused the […]

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Chechen Leader Ramzan Kadyrov Losing Popularity Among Russians – Poll

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 27, 2016) Ramzan Kadyrov is losing support among ordinary Russians, a new poll published Thursday showed, amid increasing concern that his aggressive response toward those who question his authority might spill outside Chechnya’s borders. Asked by the independent Levada Center pollster what they thought of Kadyrov, 17 percent of respondents said they felt “respect” […]

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Russia Improves Position in International Corruption Rating

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 27, 2016) Russia was ranked 119th – together with Azerbaijan, Guyana and Sierra Leone – in Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index, up 17 points from its 2014 position. The rating was published on Transparency International’s website. In the 2014 index, Russia was ranked 136th, just behind Nigeria. Russia was 127th in 2013 and […]

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Fewer Russians Think Country Is on the Right Track – Poll

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 27, 2016) The number of Russians who think their country is on the right track has shrunk to 45 percent of the population – the lowest in more than a year – and President Vladimir Putin’s approval ratings have dipped for the first time in many months, a poll released Wednesday by the independent […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Government members

Flu Virus Microscopic Image (adpated from image at CDC.gov)

(Kremlin.ru -January 27, 2016) Vladimir Putin held a meeting with Government members on support measures for various sectors and other current issues. The meeting began with a report, at the President’s request, from Healthcare Minister Veronika Skvortsova on the epidemiological situation in Russia. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues. Today, we will discuss support measures for several economic […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting of the Russian Popular Front’s (ONF) interregional forum

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Speaking At All-Russia Popular Front Gathering

(Kremlin.ru – January 25, 2016) (transcript continued) Vladimir Putin took part in a plenary session of the Russian Popular Front public movement’s interregional forum. Vladimir Putin: With regard to inflation: we must watch carefully to ensure people’s living standards stay at a high enough level, because in modern conditions, in today’s economic conditions, this is probably the most important thing […]

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Putin’s Departure Alone Won’t Necessarily Solve Ukraine’s Problems, Popovich Says

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 28, 2016) Like many in the West, Ukrainians view Vladimir Putin as the main source of their problems; but if he dies or otherwise leaves the scene, a Kyiv commentator says, he could be followed by leaders who would be even worse, a reminder that the problem is not Putin alone […]

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Article on Russian-Chechen Tensions Draws Chechen Ire

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

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

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Working meeting with Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev

Alexei Ulyukayev file photo

(Kremlin.ru – January 26, 2016) Vladimir Putin had a working meeting with Minister of Economic Development Alexei Ulyukayev to discuss current economic situation. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Ulyukayev, we are summing up last year’s results. Though it may yet be early to speak of final results, the numbers at the disposal of your Ministry are very close to […]

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Russians suggest state should save money on officials, not on social policy

Kremlin and River

(Interfax – January 27, 2016) In the situation of the crisis, Russians support the idea of saving money on officials, but believe it is unacceptable to cut the costs of healthcare, social policy, science and education, sociologists have reported, citing a poll conducted by VTsIOM. The poll, which surveyed 1,600 people, in 130 populated areas in 46 regions, was conducted […]

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Interfax: Putin says he likes Communist ideas echoing Bible’s

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

(Interfax – January 26, 2016) Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that he still likes the ideas of Communism and that he has not ditched his party member ID card. “You know, just like millions of Soviet citizens – 20-odd million people – I was a member of the USSR Communist Party, and not just a Communist Party member, but […]

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Putin, Trapped Between War and Revolution, Will Choose War, Ikhlov Says

Vladimir Putin

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 2, 2016) There are two possibilities in Russia today: either Vladimir Putin is in control of events or he is their prisoner, trapped between war and revolution. As bad as the first would be, the way the world has gone to war in the past suggests the second may be even […]

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NEWSLINK: “How a liberal bastion is persevering in an increasingly illiberal Moscow. The Andrei Sakharov Center, one of the last safe spaces for Russia’s liberal community, has been fined and fined again for its purported ‘political activity.’ But celebrity support and crowdsourcing have kept it alive.” – Christian Science Monitor

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