‘Berezovsky Was a Scapegoat and a Criminal’

Boris Berezovsky file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jonathan Earle – March 26, 2013) “Is Boris Berezovsky the godfather of Russia’s godfathers? It sure looks that way,” Russian-American journalist Paul Klebnikov wrote in an article published in late 1996, the year a small group of Russian oligarchs, including Berezovsky, engineered President Boris Yeltsin’s re-election. Berezovsky, then a billionaire businessman, objected to the portrayal, […]

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Residence Issue Crucial to Berezovsky Estate Decision – Expert

Boris Berezovsky file photo

MOSCOW, March 26 (RIA Novosti) – Resolving the fate of the Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky’s estate will depend on whether the United Kingdom or Russia is ruled to have been his official place of residence, an expert told the Rapsi news agency on Monday. Since 2000, the Russian businessman had resided in the United Kingdom, where he died on Saturday […]

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A Bad Example

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

(Institute of Modern Russia – www.imrussia.org – Alexander Podrabinek – March 21, 2013) Despite their mutual aversion, the Russian government and the Russian opposition have one common trait­a tendency to oversimplify the image of their enemy for propagandistic purposes. Author and analyst Alexander Podrabinek argues that the opposition is making a grave mistake when it focuses all its efforts just […]

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Pushkov says liberal media fighting with State Duma, Kremlin over power

Russian Duma Building

MOSCOW. March 25 (Interfax) – Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, believes the liberal media have assumed the role of the right-wing opposition. “The right-wing opposition is now extremely weak. The liberal media have assumed its role. Their attacks on the State Duma and the Kremlin are not just episodes, but a tough fight for […]

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Russia moving away from totalitarianism but destination dim – minister

Kremlin and St. Basil's

MOSCOW. March 25 (Interfax) – Russia is moving away from its totalitarian past but it is unclear what kind of political system it is heading for, the justice minister has argued. “It needs to be realized that we are getting through an inevitable period of transition from a totalitarian society to another form of society. At the moment, it’s hard […]

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Russian lawmakers are richer than ministers – poll

Duma Session file photo

MOSCOW. March 26 (Interfax) – Recent polls indicate that in the opinion of Russian citizens, lawmakers are the wealthiest of civil servants, and they proposed setting an income limit for those seeking civil service. Fifty-five percent of respondents said deputies of the State Duma and the Federation Council are the richest among civil servants, and 52% said government executives are, […]

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NEWSLINK: Exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky died in Britain

Boris Berezovsky file photo

[Exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky died in Britain – ITAR-TASS – March 25, 2013 – http://www.itar-tass.com/en/c142/686021.html] ITAR-TASS covers the death of exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky in Britain: Boris Berezovsky, an exiled oligarch and one of the main figures on the Russian political scene of Boris Yeltsin’s epoch, was found dead at his mansion in the town Ascot in the English […]

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Berezovsky, Putin and an Absence of Respect

Boris Berezovsky file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Bratersky and Natalya Krainova – March 25, 2013) Boris Berezovsky would probably heap all of his ill fortunes at the feet of Vladimir Putin, the man whom he helped make Russia’s president but then spent the rest of his life trying to topple. Still, the relationship between Putin and Berezovsky, who was found dead […]

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Russians’ greatest worry is corruption; only 4 percent worried about rights – poll

Cropped File Photo of Two Men in Business Suits Shaking Hands and Passing Cash

(Interfax – March 21, 2013) Over the past three years, the Russians have become less concerned about inflation, unemployment and economic crisis in the country and significantly more concerned about growing corruption, social inequality and uncontrolled immigration, Russian Interfax news agency reported on 21 March, citing an opinion poll carried out by the Levada Centre in February. According to the […]

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Former ‘Provocateur’ Blames Police for Bolotnaya Clashes

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Yekaterina Kravtsova – March 22, 2013) A man professing to be a former government operative has said that police officials, including the former interior minister, were involved in organizing clashes at an opposition rally last year, allegations that members of the Kremlin human rights council say could be trustworthy. The online television channel Politvestnik posted […]

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Trial of Dead Lawyer Magnitsky Begins in Moscow

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

MOSCOW, March 22 (RIA Novosti) – The unprecedented posthumous trial of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky for tax evasion began on Friday as investigators denied he was arrested for uncovering major corruption by state officials. This is believed to be the first time a dead person has been prosecuted in either Russian or Soviet history. Magnistky, who worked for the British-based […]

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Wheel of Fortune: The Battle for Oil and Power in Russia

Oil Well file photo

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Mackensie Knorr – February 19, 2013) Meeting Report As Russia’s Soviet-era oil legacy gradually runs down, the Russian oil industry will face new challenges and higher costs. “This will result in a lower flow of revenue to the Russian government at a time when the Russian state budget has become more dependent on oil than […]

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Political Satire Returns to Russian TV

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – www.rbth.ru – Dmitry Romendik, special to RBTH – March 21, 2013) In recent years, all Russian political satires have gradually shifted to the Internet, though experts say Russian TV audiences want to see more. “Yes, Mr. President,” a new political sitcom on one of Russia’s main television channels, generated immediate interest in the mass media. […]

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Contraction of Russia’s Smaller Cities Creating Serious Social, Economic and Political Problems

Map of Russia

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, March 21, 2013 – http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/03/window-on-eurasia-contraction-of.html) The death of Russian villages is already an old if very sad story, but that country’s economic decline is now leading to the contraction of the population of many small and mid-sized cities, a development that has received little attention but that entails enormous social, economic and […]

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Medvedev Says Russia’s Democracy Needs 100 Years to Develop

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 21, 2013) Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the success of democracy in Russia can be evaluated only 100 years from now, according to a transcript of an interview with Western media published Thursday. In an interview with European journalists on Wednesday evening that focused mostly on the financial crisis in Cyprus, the prime minister […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Dmitry Medvedev’s interview with European media

Dmitry Medvedev file photo

(Government.ru – March 21, 2013) Transcript: Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon everyone. I’m at your disposal. Let’s get to work. Question (as translated): The first question is about Cyprus. You and President Putin have criticised the EU decisions. Don’t you think that the EU may be displeased with this and that the recent events may undermine trust between Russia and the […]

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Human rights ombudsman Lukin to continue seeking reversal of Pussy Riot sentence

Vladimir Lukin file photo

(Interfax – March 21, 2013) Russian human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin said he will continue insisting that the court reverse the conviction of members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot. “No doubt, the case will go higher and will reach the Supreme Court. We have worded our position and it is unchanged,” Lukin told Interfax on Thursday. It was reported […]

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Bright Days for Putin’s Dark Knight

Igor Sechin file photo

(Institute of Modern Russia – imrussia.org – Donald Jensen – March 19, 2013) Despite rumors of his waning influence, Rosneft chief Igor Sechin remains one of the most powerful members of Russia’s ruling establishment. Donald N. Jensen, Resident Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, discusses Sechin’s latest “string of triumphs.” […]

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Hundreds of NGOs Checked for Foreign Agents, Extremism

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jonathan Earle – March 20, 2013) Acting on instructions from the Prosecutor General’s Office, government inspectors in at least nine Russian regions have conducted hundreds of unannounced checks on non-governmental organizations, including well-known human rights, environment and religious groups. The checks are designed to catch organizations that receive foreign funding and are involved in “political […]

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Does Putin Need His Parliament?

Duma Session file photo

(opendemocracy.net – Dmitri Travin – March 19, 2013) Dmitri Travin is Research Director at the European University in St. Petersburg’s Centre of Modernization Studies Russia’s ruling party, ‘United Russia’, is significantly weaker than previously. Does Putin still need ‘his’ party or is it now more of a millstone round his neck? The economy is stagnant and the electoral system is […]

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Russia’s youth demands change, not revolution

File Photo of U.S. Diplomat Teaching Class to Russian Students

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Svetlana Smetanina, special to RBTH – March 19, 2013) Sociologists paint a mixed picture of the current generation of young Russians. Sociological studies have shown that the current generation of young Russians is critical of the authorities and skeptical of the opposition. In addition, young people are becoming increasingly interested in charity work […]

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Medvedev’s $30bn giveaway

Map of Barents Sea and Polar Environs

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – March 19, 2013) The big dollop of egg on Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s face since it emerged a strip of water in the Barents Sea ceded by the then-president to Norway contains more than $30bn worth of oil and gas spells trouble for the already weakened premier. Russia and Norway had been negotiating […]

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Vladimir The Weak

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

(RFE/RL – rferl.org  Brian Whitmore – March 18, 2013) Vladimir Putin clearly likes to keep an eye on his enemies. Perhaps he should be taking a closer look at his friends. Consider, for example, Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov. The KGB veteran and was widely considered the odds-on favorite to be Putin’s successor back in 2007 until he was […]

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Is Russia Too Big to Be Democratic?

Map of Russia

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, March 19, 2013 – http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/03/window-on-eurasia-is-russia-too-big-to.html) Russia’s enormous size is the first thing that strikes observers, a leading Moscow geographer says, but he points out that the implications of its size have varied over time and argues that while size matters, there is no reason to believe that its size necessarily precludes freedom […]

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Few Russians Want to Identify as Putin Wants Them To, Survey Suggests

File Photo of Crowd of Russians with One Waving Russian Flag

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, March 17, 2013 – http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/03/window-on-eurasia-few-russians-want-to.html) More than 90 percent of ethnic Russians taking part in an online survey do not want to identify as “Rossiyane,” the non-ethnic civic identity President Vladimir Putin has been promoting as the primary self-designator for citizens of the Russian Federation, preferring instead to identify as ethnic Russians […]

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Deputies Seek Probe Into Gudkov For ‘Supporting U.S.’

File Photo of Gennady Gudkov

MOSCOW, March 15 (RIA Novosti) ­ Deputies from the Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, accused their opposition-supporting colleague Dmitry Gudkov on Friday of supporting the United States against Russia, and have appealed to the its ethics commission to investigate his conduct. The deputies claim Gudkov, one of few dissenting voices left in the State Duma, gave a speech at […]

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Kremlin Slams Embarrassing Report that Claims United Russia Lost Duma Elections

Russian Duma Building

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris – March 14, 2013) The Kremlin said on March 13 that the author of a report that claims the ruling United Russia party actually lost the 2011 elections to the Communist Part of the Russian Federation thanks to fraud needs psychiatric help is surprising and extremely embarrassing. The report is embarrassing as […]

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No Reason For Early Dissolution of State Duma – MP

Duma Session file photo

MOSCOW. March 15 (Interfax) – The chairman of the State Duma Constitutional Legislation and State Development Committee, Vladimir Pligin, has said he sees no reason to dissolve the current State Duma before its term in office expires. “There are no grounds to dissolve the current State Duma, which was elected in accordance with laws and the constitution. That is why […]

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Kremlin Rebuffs Report Questioning Duma Vote

Duma Session file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Winning – March 14, 2013) Senior government officials on Wednesday rejected as pure fantasy a leaked report that cast doubt on the ruling United Russia party’s victory in the 2011 State Duma elections, saying its author should seek psychiatric help. The report, written by Stepan Sulakshin, director of the Governance and Problem Analysis Center, […]

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Without an Inspiring Project, Russia Will Disintegrate, Moscow Scholar Says

Map of Russia

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, March 14, 2013 – http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/03/window-on-eurasia-without-inspiring.html) Unless Russia’s “ruling class” comes up with a sufficiently grandiose project capable to inspire the population and give it a new “passionate impulse,” there is little chance that the country will remain “a unified state,” according to a scholar at the Presidential Academy of Economics and State […]

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Accusations of Plagiarism Become a Political Weapon

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Natalya Krainova – March 13, 2013) Members of the political opposition often accuse state officials of grandiose misdeeds, such as falsifying election results, stealing millions from state coffers, or even ordering the killings of their adversaries. Lately, they have begun accusing pro-Kremlin officials of a far less sinister offense, one more often leveled at schoolchildren […]

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Russia’s Regions Go Back to the Streets to Protest

Map of Russia

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Olga Doronina, special to RBTH – March 12, 2013) While Moscow’s street politicians take a breather, experts observe a rise of social activity in the Russian regions. In contrast to the capital, the demands of the Russian hinterland are social rather than political. In its monthly analytical ranking of social and political stability […]

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Local Heroes in Russia

Moscow Traffic file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Julia Reed in Moscow – March 13, 2013) The political demonstrations that started in December 2011 caught the headlines, but a Russian revolution to oust President Vladimir Putin failed to appear and the broad protest movement is petering out. However, those protests have given birth to the beginnings of a real civil society and […]

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Elections Commission Chief Slams Report Claiming 2011 Duma Elections were Rigged

Russian Duma Building

(Interfax – March 13, 2013) Russian Central Elections Commission (CEC) Chairman Vladimir Churov has criticized a report issued by a think-tank claiming that the 2011 elections to the State Duma were rigged and that the Communist Party actually garnered more votes in them than the United Russia party. A number of media outlets on Wednesday published conclusions from a report […]

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At Putin’s Order, FSB Now Using Social Networks to Target Opposition

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, March 12, 2013 – http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/03/window-on-eurasia-at-putins-order-fsb.html) At the direction of President Vladimir Putin, the FSB is not only monitoring social networks but using one of their features to create problems for those opponents of the regime who use them by posting statements on their sites and then invoking the appearance of those materials […]

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Scandal Hits Duma Anti-Graft Chief

Russian Duma Building

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jonathan Earle – March 12, 2013) Irina Yarovaya, head of the State Duma’s powerful Anti-Corruption and Security Committee, on Monday became the latest United Russia deputy to face embarrassing allegations of ethics violations with the publication of a report accusing her of de facto owning a multimillion-dollar apartment. Despite declared earnings of 2.9 million rubles […]

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The Kremlin’s New Deal

Vladimir Putin file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – March 11, 2013) Tsar Peter I once proposed to his prosecutor-general that corrupt officials be either exiled to Siberia or executed. “But then who will be left?” the prosecutor responded, according to the oft-repeated historical anecdote. “We’re all thieves.” President Vladimir Putin repeated this tale during his press conference in December to illustrate […]

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“Moscow Trials” Puts Art on Trial, Trials in Art

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – March 11, 2013) Journalist and theater director Mikhail Kaluzhsky called it a “theatrical slam.” Olga Shakina, a journalist from the Dozhd television channel, said it was a moment when “one theatrical event replaced another.” What they were discussing on Saturday on Echo Moskvy radio was a now-notorious performance of “Moscow Trials,” a […]

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Hatreds of Deeply Divided Russian Population ‘Saving’ Putin, Commentator Says

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, March 11, 2013 – http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/03/window-on-eurasia-hatreds-of-deeply.html) The hatreds Russians feel toward others past and present domestic and foreign are an important reason why Vladimir Putin has been able to maintain himself in power even at a time when polls show that an increasing number of the citizens of his country do not actively […]

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Moscow-Centrism Russian Opposition’s ‘Main Mistake,’ Activist Says

Map of Russia

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, March 11, 2013 – http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/03/window-on-eurasia-moscow-centrism.html) The “main mistake” of the Russian opposition in the past has been its focus that on Moscow rather than on the regions, but clashes between demonstrators and the authorities in Russia’s regions are prompting them to redirect their attention, a shift that will generate “a wave of […]

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NEWSLINK: Sergei Magnitsky: The enemy within: A saga that has been a parable of the self-mutilating way Russia is governed

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

[Sergei Magnitsky:  The enemy within: A saga that has been a parable of the self-mutilating way Russia is governed – The Economist – Editorial – March 9, 2013 – http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21573119-saga-has-been-parable-self-mutilating-way-russia-governed-enemy-within] The Economist issues an editorial on the Magnitsky saga and its aftermath, and what it shows about brutal, deadly elitism in Russia: Martyred human rights activists; fatally brave journalists: Russia, […]

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Russia names its most influential women

Valentina Matviyenko file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – www.rbth.ru – Inna Soboleva, Combined report, RBTH – March 8, 2013) Before International Women’s Day, Russia’s leading media revealed a list of the country’s 100 most influential women. The speaker of the Federation Council (upper house of Russia’s parliament), Valentina Matviyenko, topped the list of the 100 Most Influential Women in Russia for the second […]

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Putin says fate of Pussy Riot women out of his hands

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

(Interfax – March 7, 2013) Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied he can influence the fate of members of the female punk band Pussy Riot who are currently serving prison terms. He was talking to journalists on a visit to Vologda on 7 March, as reported by Interfax news agency that day. “That depends not on me, but on the […]

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Pro-Kremlin youth movement Nashi to be revamped

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – www.rbth.ru – Alexei Bausin, RBTH – March 7, 2013) Russia’s notorious pro-government youth movement Nashi is set for a complete overhaul. It is reported to be replaced by a new youth organization with a new name and different objectives Russia’s Nashi (Ours in Russian) youth movement, which made a name for itself by organizing outrageous […]

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More Russians Support Idea Of Female President Than Oppose It, Poll Shows

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

(RIA Novosti – March 6, 2013) Roughly two in five Russians would like to have a female president, a Levada Centre poll has shown, the RIA Novosti news agency reported on 6 March. The poll, available at http://www.levada.ru/06-03-2013/rossiyane-o-roli-zhenshchin-v-politike, surveyed people’s views on the role of women in Russian politics by gauging responses to three questions. The number of respondents who […]

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Children of Russian Officials and Businessmen Hold Top Posts

File Photo of Man Placing Stack of Large Bills into Inside Pocket of Suitcoat

(RIA Novosti – February 26, 2013) Aleksandr Lebedev, the co-owner of Aeroflot has nominated three people for the company’ board of directors, including his own son Yegor. According to open sources, Yegor was born in November 2011. Petr Fradkov (born in 1978), the eldest son of Mikhail Fradkov the director of the Russian Federation Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), heads the […]

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EU liberals support revival of Helsinki Process in Russia

Kremlin and St. Basil's

TALLINN. March 7 (Interfax) – Members of EU liberal and democratic parties and movements said they were concerned that Moscow was straying from its international obligations in the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and offered to revive the Helsinki Process. “Russia’s abrupt deviation from the democratic standards enshrined in the 1993 constitution, […]

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Putin Allies Climb Up Forbes List

File Photo of Man Placing Stack of Large Bills into Inside Pocket of Suitcoat

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Howard Amos – March 4, 2013) The personal fortunes of businessmen rumored to enjoy close relationships with President Vladimir Putin jumped sharply in a new Forbes ranking Monday as Facebook investor Alisher Usmanov retained the title of Russia’s richest man. The wealth of Gennady Timchenko, owner of oil trader Gunvor and a large stakeholder in […]

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If Pussy Riot not punished, thousands could have followed them – Russian Chief Rabbi

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

Moscow, March 5, Interfax – Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar supports the punishment of the members of the Pussy Riot punk band for their performance in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. “If we talk about the sentence itself, I think it isn’t that bad, because they did hurt believers’ feelings. It’s obvious they were to be punished. […]

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Fifty Shades of Gray: If Your Game Doesn’t Have a Safeword, Someone Could Get Hurt

File Photo of Vladislav Surkov with Mike McFaul

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Anna Arutunyan – March 4, 2013) Anna Arutunyan is the politics editor of The Moscow News In Russia, there were a thousand shades of gray before Vladislav Surkov, the so-called “gray cardinal” behind Vladimir Putin’s first 12 years in power, was replaced in late 2011. Now, one year into Putin’s third term as president, there […]

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