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

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

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

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Released Russian Activist Udaltsov Vows To Continue Protests, Won’t Back Navalny

File Photo of Sergei Udaltsov Speaking Outdoors, Holding Microphone and Gesturing

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Aug. 10, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/putin-calls-us-senator-mccain-old-world-but-admires-his-patriotism/28537171.html) Sergei Udaltsov, a prominent Russian opposition activist who was released on August 8 after nearly five years in custody, has vowed to revive his dormant Levy Front (Left Front) movement and hold new protests. But at a news conference in Moscow on […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia Wants Innovation, but It’s Arresting Its Innovators” – New York Times/ Andrew Higgins

Skolkovo File Photo

“… The troubles of Mr. Trubitsyn, however, may help explain why such a breakthrough has proved so elusive: The Russian state, which Mr. Putin has made the main vehicle for his plans for the nation’s resurgence, often stifles growth. A bureaucracy empowered by a steady erosion of democratic checks and balances can often smother new ideas. Grand state-directed projects to […]

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The Stunning Story of Russian Minister Ulyukayev’s Arrest for Bribery, Explained

Alexei Ulyukayev file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 8, 2017) Alexei Ulyukayev, the first serving Russian minister to be arrested since the fall of the Soviet Union, will appear in court on Tuesday, after being accused of soliciting a bribe from the country’s largest oil company. The former Economic Development Minister has been under house arrest since his detention in the dead […]

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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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Interfax: Defense finish reviewing evidence in Browder, Cherkasov dossier

File Photo of William Browder Seated at Table with Microphone as Woman Listens, with Image Watermark Saying Presented by Library of Congress with U.S. House of Representatives Seal, adapted from image at house.gov

MOSCOW. July 22 (Interfax) – The materials concerning Hermitage Capital Management co-founder William Browder and his business partner Ivan Cherkasov were sent for approval to the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office, the defense lawyer Alexander Antipov said on Thursday. “The defense finished reviewing the case files, currently, the dossier has been sent to the Prosecutor General’s Office but I don’t think […]

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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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Peskov confirms Putin promised human rights activist Alexeyeva to consider pardoning ex-senator Izmestyev

Lyudmila Alekseyeva file photo

MOSCOW. July 20 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised human rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva to consider the possibility of pardoning former senator Igor Izmestyev, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “Yes. The president said that it is possible and that it will take time,” Peskov told Interfax, when asked whether Putin had indeed promised it. During the president’s […]

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Jury Deliberating For Second Day In Case Of Accused Nemtsov Killers

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

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – June 28, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-chechnya-nemtsov-murder-trial/28583189.html) The jury in the trial of five men who are charged in connection with the 2015 killing of opposition politician and former Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov is continuing deliberations for a second day in Moscow. The jury on June […]

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

Yury Chaika file photo

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

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NEWSWATCH: “Kremlin Critic Alexei Navalny Vows to Fight On; As legal obstacles to opposition figure’s presidential run multiply, he says in interview ‘Kremlin will have no choice’ than to let his campaign proceed” – Wall Street Journal/ Nathan Hodge

Alexei Navalny file photo

“… Navalny has mobilized thousands of demonstrators across [Russia] to protest corruption under … Putin. Now he says he is pressing ahead with a quixotic effort to run against his country’s powerful leader in elections next year. … despite … serious legal obstacles …. he was found guilty of embezzlement by a court in Kirov … a verdict he said was politically motivated to […]

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Sokolovsky charges of God denial “absurd” – Federation of Jewish communities

Yekaterinburg file photo

MOSCOW. May 11 (Interfax) – The Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (FJCR) backed the court ruling in the case against the “Pokemon catcher” Ruslan Sokolovsky, but called some of the charges against him absurd. “That the judge chose a penalty not involving incarceration is, in my view, a positive fact because prison has not yet made anyone better. Whenever […]

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Russian Opposition Leader Navalny Lands in Barcelona for Treatment

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 8, 2017) Russian opposition leader and presidential candidate Alexei Navalny landed in Barcelona Sunday to receive medical treatment, the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper reported, citing unidentified sources. On May 4, Navalny said he had received a passport for foreign travel. But his lawyer later Tweeted that a probation officer had informed Navalny that he shouldn’t […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Kremlin Critic Navalny Says Russia Stops Him Traveling Abroad” – Reuters

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

“Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said … authorities in Russia were stopping him [from] going abroad to seek urgent medical treatment after an attack that left him mostly blind in one eye.  … authorities … unexpectedly issued … an international passport … [giving] the impression he could fly to a foreign clinic to get treatment …. But he said a senior official from the country’s prison […]

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NEWSLINK: “Dirty Jobs: Being a Governor in Russia is Proving Tough” – BearMarketBrief/ Fabrice Deprez

Russia Regions Map

“It’s a rough time to be a regional governor in Russia. Since last year, arrests and resignations of local leaders have piled up and accelerated in the last few weeks, with five governors gone since February. Described by some as a way for the Kremlin to prepare the presidential elections, whether by pumping ‘new blood’ into Russia’s political system or […]

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Russia Gives Putin Critic Navalny Passport to Travel Abroad

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ilya Arkhipov – May 4, 2017) #Russian opposition leader Alexey #Navalny said he’s been issued with a passport that would allow him to seek treatment abroad for eye damage suffered when an assailant threw a chemical in his face. The Federal Migration Service notified him that he can collect the passport after a five-year struggle to […]

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Punishment for petty crimes excessive, decriminalization needed – Kudrin

Alexei Kudrin file photo

KRASNOYARSK. April 21 (Interfax) – The system penalizing for misdemeanors in Russia is too harsh, with its shortages of workforce the country needs to decriminalize its laws, Alexei Kudrin, Chairman of the Board at the Center for Strategic Research. “We need decriminalization, the punishment for petty, insignificant crimes should be reduced, [imprisonment] up to two to three years for insignificant […]

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The Man Who Definitely Didn’t Kill Boris Nemtsov; As the murder trial comes to an end, Vladimir Putin seals his political pact with Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Mikhail Fishman, Daria Litvinova – April 20, 2017) [Videos here themoscowtimes.com/articles/the-man-who-definitely-didnt-kill-boris-nemtsov-57779] There was something off about the latest meeting between Vladimir Putin and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. In footage released by the Kremlin on Thursday, neither man seemed at ease, with Kadyrov looking around confusedly, and Putin fidgeting slightly in his seat. Compare this scene […]

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Interfax: March 26 rally organizers warned of illegality of staging rallies in city center – Moscow authorities

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

MOSCOW. March 23 (Interfax) – Moscow authorities have considered all the applications filed by organizers for public events to be held in central Moscow on March 26, Vladimir Chernikov, head of the Moscow Department for Regional Security and Combating Corruption, told Interfax on Thursday. “The Department has received five applications from a group of people for public events to be […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting of the Prosecutor General Office’s Board

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

(Kremlin.ru – March 14, 2017) Vladimir Putin attended a meeting of the Prosecutor General Office’s Board, where he assessed the prosecution agencies’ performance in 2016 and outlined their priority tasks for 2017. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues, As usual at these board meetings, we will discuss the prosecution agencies’ performance in 2016 and set the priorities for […]

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NEWSWATCH: “With court ruling, Kremlin moves to block political biggest threat: Navalny. The ruling reinstating a guilty verdict for anticorruption blogger Alexei Navalny effectively rules him out of next year’s presidential race. But it may help him remain a viable Kremlin opponent.” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

Kremlin and River

“The legal odyssey of Russia’s best-known opposition leader, anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny, has been mindbogglingly complicated, full of twists and turns. … with a simple and totally predictable political result. … a regional court’s ruling … upheld … Navalny’s embezzlement conviction and handed him a five-year suspended sentence … [making it] almost impossible for him to run against … Putin […]

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Sentence in ‘Kirovles case’ deprives Navalny of possibility of running in presidential elections under law on presidential elections in Russia – lawyer

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

MOSCOW. Feb 8 (Interfax) – Under the legislation on presidential elections, opposition politician Alexei Navalny cannot participate in the upcoming election campaign due to his conviction in the Kirovles case,” according to which he has been found guilty of embezzlement, his lawyer Olga Mikhailova told Interfax. “According to the law on [presidential] elections, a person convicted for a grave crime […]

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Double Jeopardy: Why Kremlin Opponent Navalny is Back in Court

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ola Cichowlas – February 3, 2017) Alexei Navalny, the main leader of Russia’s so-called “non-systemic” political opposition, may again become a convicted felon. If that happens, he’d lose the chance to compete in next year’s presidential race, when Vladimir Putin will likely seek a fourth term in office. This week, as Navalny endures a retrial […]

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Over half of Russians approve of arrests of government officials suspected of corruption – poll

MOSCOW. Jan 18 (Interfax) – Most Russians know about and approve of the arrests of high-ranking officials suspected of bribery, embezzlement, and abuse of office, the VTsIOM public opinion service reported based on findings of a public opinion poll of 1,600 respondents conducted in 130 populated areas in 46 regions of Russia on December 17-18. As many as 55% of […]

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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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Medvedev says Ulyukayev’s dismissal after losing president’s trust is not ‘guilty verdict’

Alexei Ulyukayev file photo

MOSCOW. Dec 15 (Interfax) – The resignation of former Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev after he lost the president’s trust and confidence does not mean Ulyukayev has been found guilty of the crimes he has been accused of, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said. “The president made the decision to dismiss the former minister from his duties due to loss of […]

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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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NEWSLINK New York Times: “In Meeting, Putin Vows to Protect Artistic Freedom in Russia”

Russian Jail File Photo Showing Outer Wall, Windows, Barbed Wire

“President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, in a meeting with film directors and artists, vowed on Friday to protect artistic freedom in the country but also said a court was right to give one director a 20-year prison term. …”

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Following Supreme Court Presidium’s verdict Navalny regains right to be elected until new trial concludes

Alexei Navalny file photo

MOSCOW. Nov 16 (Interfax) – The Russian Supreme Court Presidium’s decision to reverse the sentence in the Kirovles case against opposition activist Alexei Navalny and businessman Pyotr Ofitserov restored Navalny’s right to stand for election. “Alexei has a right to participate in elections at any level right now,” Navalny’s spokesperson Kira Yarmysh told Interfax on Wednesday. However, if a guilty […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian bribery probe widens amid reports of Kremlin power struggle” – Washington Post/David Filipov

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

“… Russia’s state-run news agency reported … more officials could be targeted in the corruption probe that has already led to the arrest of the … economic development minister. Other news reports … name[d] names, all of them of officials close to … Medvedev, leader of the so-called liberals, who tend to favor a smaller state role in society and […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Fate of Russia’s Liberals” – Stratfor

Alexei Ulyukayev file photo

Russia’s economic and political problems are piling up, and they may be putting members of the country’s more liberal circles at risk. In the most high-profile arrest to be made in post-Soviet Russia – and arguably, since the 1950s – Economic Minister Alexei Ulyukayev was detained … on charges of bribery and extortion. … Russian authorities [said] Ulyukayev received $2 […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian Opposition Leader Navalny’s Case Sent for Retrial” – AP

Alexei Navalny file photo

Russia’s Supreme Court on Wednesday scrapped a criminal conviction and sent the case of opposition leader Alexei Navalny for retrial, opening the door for his potential run for office.  … convicted in 2013 of embezzling timber …. Following unsuccessful appeals in Russia, Navalny, a trained lawyer, turned to the European Court of Human Rights which ruled in February that Russia […]

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Russian Supreme Court Wants Fewer Extremism Prosecutions

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anastasia Kornya – November 10, 2016) The Russian authorities have stepped up their fight against extremism, convicting approximately three times as many people on such charges in recent years. The greatest increase concerns convictions on Article 282 of the Criminal Code – “incitement of hatred or enmity” – with that number rising from 149 in […]

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Confessions of a Kremlin conspiracy theorist; Let’s face it: movements inside Russia’s power structures often signal exactly what we want them to.

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(opendemocracy.net – Mark Galeotti – August 1, 2016) Mark Galeotti is currently Professor of Global Affairs at New York University and a visiting fellow at the ECFR, although from August he will be principal director of the Mayak Intelligence consultancy in Prague and senior researcher at the Czech Institute for International Relations. He blogs on Russian security affairs at In […]

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Governor Belykh’s Arrest Has Russian Elite on Edge

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Mikhail Fishman – June 30, 2016) For the last decade, regional governors in Russia are usually appointed apparatchiks, with faces unrecognizable outside their home territory. There are some exceptions to the rule, like Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of the republic of Chechnya. Another rare exception was Nikita Belykh, the governor of the Kirov region, a […]

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Putin will decide whether to “veto” anti-terrorist laws when he receives them for signing – Peskov

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

MOSCOW. June 29 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin will make a decision on the so-called ‘anti-terrorist package’ of laws after he receives it for signing, Russian presidential press officer Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday. “We know of different views on this bill. We know of specific remarks, including those made by communications [operators], public figures, and public organizations. […]

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Lack of Solidarity Among Russian Opposition an Ominous Echo of 1937, Pavlova Says

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 27, 2016) The reaction of many Russian opposition figures to the arrest of corrupt figures today eerily and ominously echoes the reaction of many ordinary Soviet citizens to the arrest and then execution of many corrupt officials in the late 1930s, according to Irina Pavlova, a US-based Russian historian. And the […]

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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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Could a union do anything to protect Russian journalists?

Physical attacks and management interference have put Russian journalists’ safety – and their ability to work freely – back on the table. A new union will have to survive in an increasingly hostile environment. (opendemocracy.net – Nataliya Rostova – May 16, 2016) Nataliya Rostova is a visiting scholar at the Kennan Institute, senior correspondent for current affairs portal Slon.ru and […]

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Ukrainian blogger gets long sentence for expressing contentious views

Ukraine Map and Flag

(Human Rights in Ukraine – khpg.org – Halya Coynash – May 13, 2016) Ruslan Kotsaba, a controversial Ivano-Frankivsk journalist and blogger, has been sentenced to three and a half years’ imprisonment. The Ivano-Frankivsk City Court found the journalist, who has been in detention for 14 months guilty of obstructing the legitimate activities of the Ukrainian Armed Forces over a video […]

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Jailed for Protesting Against the Kremlin – Life 4 Years After Bolotnaya

Russian Riot Police file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Eva Hartog – May 13, 2016) The Bolotnoye protest followed disputed parliamentary elections that saw the ruling United Russia secure a narrow parliamentary majority and Putin return to the presidency. The lights went out without so much as a flicker in the Moscow apartment shared by Andrei Barabanov, his mother and girlfriend one evening in […]

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Russia’s top investigator says Khodorkovsky acquired Yukos shares illegally

Vladimir Markin file photo

(Interfax – March 25, 2016) Russia’s Investigations Committee is close to proving that the shareholders of dissolved oil company Yukos acquired their shares unlawfully, spokesman Vladimir Markin has said. This would give Russia grounds to not pay the Yukos shareholders a 50bn dollars in damages pursuant to a 2014 Hague ruling. “This is a case that can be characterised by […]

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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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Kyiv sees Savchenko’s conviction as Moscow’s failure to comply with Minsk Agreements – Foreign Ministry statement

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

KYIV. March 22 (Interfax) – The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has demanded that Ukrainian military pilot Nadiya Savchenko’s conviction be reversed and she be freed. “We view this judicial farce as yet another undeniable evidence of the Russian Federation’s failure to comply with the Minsk Agreements,” the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement in Kyiv on Tuesday. “The Ukrainian Foreign […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Mikhail Khodorkovsky Is Putin’s Most Powerful Enemy (in Exile). Russia may not be ready for the ex-billionaire to return, but his arguments are gaining ground.”

Mikhail Khodorkovsky file photo

… the Open Russia Foundation …. basically represents the brains and money behind the Russian opposition [and recently] held an event at its headquarters … in London. … predictions for Russia’s future seemed to grow darker by the minute.  * * * On the back row of the rather thin audience, the foundation’s sponsor, exiled Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovksy – […]

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Hooliganism case opened after attack on journalists and rights activists on Ingush-Chechen border

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

MOSCOW. March 10 (Interfax) – A criminal investigation has been opened after unknown persons attacked a minibus carrying human rights activists and journalists on the administrative border between Ingushetia and Chechnya, in Russia’s North Caucasus, last night, a spokesman for the region’s security services told Interfax. “A criminal case has been launched under Article 167 (deliberate destruction or damage of […]

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A year on, what do we know about Boris Nemtsov’s murder?

Nemtsov March of Mourning

Russia’s powerful Investigative Committee has announced that it has solved the murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov after a probe lasting almost a year. But who killed Nemtsov and why is the investigation seen as inconclusive? RBTH looks back at the most headline-grabbing murder of 2015. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH – February 26, 2016) […]

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Law Guaranteeing Phone Call After Arrest Comes Into Force in Russia

Russian Jail File Photo Showing Outer Wall, Windows, Barbed Wire

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 11, 2016) A law outlining the right of a detainee to make a phone call no later than three hours after being arrested has come into force in Russia, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta state-owned newspaper reported Sunday. “A suspect as soon as possible, but not later than three hours after he [or she] was arrested, […]

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State vs Art: Russia’s 2015 Crackdown on Contemporary Culture

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Eva Hartog – December 31, 2015) “It’s theater. We were just playing.” That’s how Boris Mezdrich, his tone simultaneously apologetic and defiant, described the avant-garde production of Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser that got him fired. “Blasphemy!” – was what the Russian Orthodox activists shouted as they protested outside the State Opera and Ballet Theater in Novosibirsk, […]

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