Crimea Is Now Putin’s Problem Child; Russian security services are cracking down on alleged corruption in the newly annexed peninsula

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Carol Matlack – July 24, 2015) President Vladimir Putin likened Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea to a family welcoming home a long-lost relative. Now the family is showing signs of strain. Russia’s federal security service, the FSB, has opened criminal investigations of three high-ranking Crimean government officials, accusing them of graft and other misdeeds. Four regional […]

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Attack on Chubais Ally Marks Death of Russian Meritocracy – Experts

FSB Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – July 4, 2015) The criminal case opened this week against Leonid Melamed, the founder of Russia’s flagship innovations project, is directed against its divisive current head Anatoly Chubais, and reflects Russia’s drift away from a merit-based ruling elite, pundits told The Moscow Times on Friday. Rusnano’s reformist head Chubais has long been […]

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NEWSWATCH Reuters: Russian Court Quashes Latest Bid to Jail Kremlin Critic Navalny.

Alexei Navalny file photo

Reuters covers the latest attempt to jail Russian lawyer, whistleblower and opposition figure Alexei Navalny. A Moscow court on Wednesday rejected a bid by law enforcement officials to have Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny jailed for violating the terms of his suspended five-year sentence on embezzlement charges. Navalny, who led mass street protests against President Vladimir Putin in 2011-2012, denies any […]

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Soviet-Era ‘Objective Truth’ Bill Would Imperil Presumption of Innocence

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-FarberMarch 27, 2015) A freshly introduced draft law proposing to redefine the roles of Russian judges has courted controversy among legal circles who fear that if adopted, the measure would endanger the presumption of innocence by blurring the lines between judges and prosecutors. State Duma Deputy Alexander Remezkov of the ruling United Russia submitted an […]

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Russia: All five men in custody charged with Nemtsov’s murder

Nemtsov March of Mourning

(Interfax – March 16, 2015) All five men held in custody in connection with the murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov have now been formally charged, privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax news agency has reported. Three men – Shadid Gubashev, Khamzat Bakhayev and Tamerlan Eskerkhanov – were charged on 16 March, the agency reported the same day. Two others, Zaur […]

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Russia’s Vaguest Laws and Their Unexpected Consequences

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – March 4, 2015) Critics complain that the vague language and broad terminology used to draft some of Russia’s more controversial laws make them fodder for prosecutorial abuse. Prosecutors could take advantage of the loose definitions featured in the laws banning extremism, gay propaganda, blasphemy and offending the sentiments of religious believers to […]

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‘Top 15 Russian Fears for ’15’ — a ‘Versiya’ Checklist

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 14, 2015) Russians face so many problems and have so many fears that it is often a daunting task to ensure that one is keeping track of all of them. As a guide for the perplexed, Kseniya Veretennikova provides a checklist of the “top 15 fears” Russians have about the year […]

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Kremlin Foe Navalny Fined $10 For Cutting Ankle Bracelet

Alexei Navalny file photo

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

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Russian court explains decision not to jail Kremlin critic Navalnyy

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Interfax – January 12, 2015) A Russian court has explained its decision to give a suspended sentence to anti-corruption campaigner and Kremlin critic Aleksey Navalnyy while jailing his brother, Oleg, Interfax news agency reported on 12 January. Interfax quoted Moscow’s Zamoskvoretskiy court saying that “in handing down punishment, the court took into account the actual facts in the case, information […]

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Opposition Posterboy Navalny Defies House Arrest … Again

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Allison Quinn – January 12, 2015) Opposition firebrand Alexei Navalny has continued to defy what he has described as his “illegal” house arrest by going to work on Saturday, as the European Court of Human Rights prepares to consider his complaint over a recent conviction. Navalny has vehemently railed against the guilty verdict handed down […]

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Interfax/RIA Novosti: Russian human-rights figures divided over Navalnyy sentence

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Interfax/RIA Novosti – December 30, 2014) Human-rights activists have greeted the conviction and sentencing of Aleksey Navalnyy and his brother for financial crimes with a mixture of anger and acceptance, with some denouncing it as politically-motivated hostage taking but others regarding it as justified. Aleksey and Oleg Navalnyy were found guilty of fraud and money laundering by Moscow’s Zamoskvoretskiy court […]

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Interfax: Chief of staff says businessman’s arrest damaging Russia’s investment climate

File Photo of Sergei Ivanov, adapted from defense.gov image

(Interfax – October 15, 2014) Kremlin chief of staff Sergey Ivanov has said that the house arrest of billionaire businessman Vladimir Yevtushenkov is damaging Russia’s investment climate. In an interview with popular pro-Kremlin tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda, which was quoted by Interfax news agency, Ivanov said that “I agree, this [the arrest of Yevtushenkov] is having a bad influence of the […]

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Russia Releases Opposition Activist Charged With Violence Against Police

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – October 9, 2014) Russia has released from custody opposition activist Sergei Mokhnatkin, who gained prominence among fellow activists for what he said was an attempt to protect a woman from police brutality at a protest rally, and who has been charged with violence against police. Mokhnatkin’s attempt to protect the woman had […]

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Putin Clans Gridlocked Over Arrest as Sanctions Bite

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Irina Reznik, Evgenia Pismennaya and Ilya Arkhipov – October 5, 2014) Russia’s wheels of power are grinding to a halt. That’s the assessment of five officials close to President Vladimir Putin, who say that a struggle at the heart of his inner circle is slowing decision making as sanctions squeeze the economy. With Putin focused on […]

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Khodorkovsky Says ‘No Politics’ Deal Made With Putin

Mikhail Khodorkovsky file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – May 2, 2014) Former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has said his surprise release from prison last December was facilitated by an agreement made with President Vladimir Putin to stay away from politics, but added that the deal expires in August. When asked about his abstention from political life since his surprise presidential […]

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Navalny Proposes Sanctions List to the West

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Christopher Brennan – March 20, 2014) Opposition leader Alexei Navalny, currently under house arrest in connection with a criminal case against him, has written an op-ed for the New York Times in which he calls for sanctions on officials and businessmen connected to President Vladimir Putin. Saying that previous U.S. and EU sanctions in response […]

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Opposition planned Moscow micro-Maidan in May 2012 – activist

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

MOSCOW. March 12 (Interfax) – The convicted Left Front activist, Konstantin Lebedev, who is serving a prison term for organizing the mass disturbances in Moscow in May 6, 2012, told Moscow City Court that he and the other co-accused, Sergei Udaltsov and Leonid Razvozzhayev – were planning to stage a “micro-Maidan.” “We were prepared for mass disturbances because the micro-Maidan […]

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Kremlin to tighten screws in wake of Kiev unrest

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Anna Arutunyan – February 24, 2014) A Moscow court sentenced seven people on Monday to prison terms ranging from one to four years for their roles in protest riots on the city’s Bolotnaya Ploshchad in May 2012, in a ruling seen as an indicator of whether government pressure would increase on the opposition in the […]

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Fearing Persecution, Bolotnoye Suspects Flee Abroad

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Oleg Sukhov – February 19, 2014) When a judge delivers a verdict Friday in the high-profile Bolotnoye case, the defendants’ cage will contain eight people. It might have held dozens more if some of the potential suspects had not fled abroad, fearing unfair prosecution in what many observers call a politically motivated trial aimed at […]

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Russia’s top prosecutor slams illegal detention

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

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Anna Arutunyan – February 12, 2014) More than 14,000 Russians have been illegally prosecuted in the last three years, according to Prosecutor General Yury Chaika. “People are sitting in jail illegally for years,” RIA Novosti quoted Chaika as saying during a planned address before the State Duma, the lower house of parliament. According to Chaika, […]

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RIA Novosti: Investigators and Russian Opposition Leader Navalny Clash Over Travel Ban

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Being Grabbed by Police at Protest

MOSCOW, January 13 (RIA Novosti) ­ Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny rejected an allegation from investigators Monday that he had breached a court order not to leave Moscow. The Investigative Committee threatened Monday to seek tighter restrictions on Navalny, who is facing embezzlement charges, if he again violated an alleged undertaking not to leave Moscow. It claimed that he had […]

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Russian Village Reformer Released on Parole

Map of Russia

MOSCOW, January 10 (RIA Novosti) ­ A Moscow artist was released on parole Friday after spending more than two years in jail for a bribery conviction that followed his move to a Russian village in a bid to bring culture to the provinces. Ilya Farber, whose case has become a cause celebre for many opposition activists, said on leaving his […]

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Media Watchdog Calls For Release of Opposition Journalists

Kremlin and St. Basil's file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 3, 2014) Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders has urged Russia to free opposition journalists locked up in the country’s jails, expressing concern that lesser-known cases would be forgotten after the recent release of high-profile prisoners. “The release of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Pussy Riot and Greenpeace activists must not divert attention from the many other threats […]

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Russian Village Reformer Granted Parole

Map of Russia

MOSCOW, December 31 (RIA Novosti) ­ A former painter from Moscow, whose quest to bring culture to provincial villagers resulted in a jail term for bribery, was granted parole on Tuesday. The Tver Region Court upheld a parole request filed by 36-year-old Ilya Farber, who had already spent two years and nine months behind bars. Farber left Moscow for the […]

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There Were No Bolotnaya Riots, International Experts Say

Russian Riot Police file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Natalya Krainova – December 19, 2013) An international public commission declared Wednesday that there were no “riots” at the May 2012 opposition protest on Bolotnaya Ploshchad in Moscow, which was dispersed after violence broke out with police, resulting in more than 400 detentions. The commission’s findings were announced as hope lingers that at least some […]

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RIA Novosti: Moscow Court Halts Prosecution of Four Accused Rioters

Kremlin and St. Basil's

MOSCOW, December 19 (RIA Novosti) ­ A Moscow court said Thursday that it was halting prosecution of four protesters accused of attacking police last year at an opposition rally that deteriorated into mass riots. The Nikulinsky Court decided to halt the proceedings as part of a sweeping amnesty that is being granted to thousands of prisoners and defendants in honor […]

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Interfax: Evidence collection for third Yukos case started directly after 2nd conviction – source

Mikhail Khodorkovsky file photo

MOSCOW. Dec 18 (Interfax) – Investigative procedures in the so-called “third Yukos case” started two weeks after the second sentence was handed down on former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky. “Two weeks after Khodorkovsky and former top manager Platon Lebedev were sentenced, i.e. in the beginning of 2011, the police started to collect evidence for the third case,” a source familiar […]

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Is Putin to Blame for Pre-Sochi Crackdown – or Not?

File Photo of Sochi Olympics Banner Near Highway in Warm Weather with Vehicle and Cyclicsts Nearby

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, December 16, 2013) Whenever something bad happens in Russia, the last refuge of  pro-regime commentators is to suggest that the ruler isn’t in charge and that underlings are to blame: the man in the Kremlin can thus continue to be given credit for anything good that happens but not be held responsible […]

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RIA Novosti: Russia Mulls New Case Against Khodorkovsky – Paper

Mikhail Khodorkovsky file photo

MOSCOW, December 9 (RIA Novosti) ­ Russian law enforcement officials are considering bringing new charges against jailed former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and other figures over alleged money laundering, Vedomosti daily reported on Monday. Deputy Prosecutor General Alexander Zvyagintsev told Russian media last week that “several cases against former Yukos CEO Khodorkovsky and other people are being probed,” fuelling speculation […]

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RIA Novosti: Ex-Defense Minister To Be Formally Charged Friday ­ Source

Anatoliy Serdyukov file photo

MOSCOW, December 5 (RIA Novosti) ­ Investigators plan to formally charge a former Russian defense minister with negligence on Friday, according to a police source familiar with the situation. Investigators said last week they were opening a criminal case on negligence charges against Anatoly Serdyukov over claims he caused 56 million rubles ($1.7 million) of damage to the state by […]

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Navalny Testifies at Bolotnoye Riot Trial

Russian Riot Police file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 3, 2013) Contrary to investigators’ claims, organizers did not intentionally orchestrate riots at the demonstration on Bolotnaya Ploshchad on May 6 last year, opposition leader Alexei Navalny told a Moscow city court on Monday. “Officials intentionally instigated the crush so as to claim there were riots,” Navalny, who was present at the protest as […]

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Former Prosecutor Details Violations in Magnitsky Case

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Natalya Krainova – November 28, 2013) A former senior federal prosecutor has accused her one-time colleagues of illegally intervening in the probe into the 2009 death of Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, as well as committing legal violations in connection with other high-profile cases. Galina Tarasova, who says she was fired from the Prosecutor General’s […]

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Putin Adviser Sees Political Will to End Greenpeace Dispute

Polar Map Showing Permafrost Areas, Adapted From NOAA.gov Graphic

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Henry Meyer – November 19, 2013) Russia is showing “political will” to end a two-month-long dispute over the prosecution of Greenpeace activists after they began to be set free on bail, President Vladimir Putin’s human rights adviser said. “It’s a good sign,” Mikhail Fedotov said in a phone interview today from Moscow. “I hope the same […]

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Interfax: Russian politicians welcome Navalnyy news but Zhirinovskiy wants him banged up

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Being Grabbed by Police at Protest

(Interfax – October 16, 2013) Russian party leaders have for the most part welcomed the commutation of opposition leader and anti-corruption campaigner Aleksey Navalnyy’s sentence to a suspended one, on appeal, on 16 October. In reaction sampled by the Russian news agency Interfax, Vladimir Zhirinovskiy, of the nationalist Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), stood out, with his call for a […]

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Interfax: Navalny says appellate court will not acquit him of Kirovles embezzlement charges

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW, October 15, 2013) Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny has said he does not expect the Kirov Regional Court to acquit him as it hears an appeal contesting Navalny’s embezzlement conviction on October 16. “I will be given a real or a suspended prison sentence, but I will not be acquitted,” he told the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper. However, […]

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Rights activists propose applying constitution anniversary amnesty to Bolotnaya case suspects, Arctic Sunrise crew

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

(Interfax – MOSCOW, October 11, 2013) The amnesty campaign meant to mark the 20th anniversary of Russia’s constitution should apply to the suspects in the Bolotnaya Square clashes case, the Greenpeace activists detained onboard the vessel Arctic Sunrise and former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the For Human Rights organization said in an address published on its website on Thursday. “A […]

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Navalny

Alexei Navalny file photo

From: “Michael Herzen” <mikeh@4herzen.net> Subject: Navalny Date: Wed, 25 Sep 2013 Re: JRL #145 of August 9, items 24 and 25: “ALEKSEI NAVALNY ­ AN EXAMINATION OF HIS TRIAL AND CONVICTION”, By Alexander Mercouris Surprised and dismayed that no one has commented on this “examination”, I will have to do so myself, though I am no legal scholar. Why this […]

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United Russia Lawmaker Backs Amnesty for Bolotnoye Suspects

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Oleg Sukhov – September 25, 2013) A key United Russia lawmaker said Tuesday that he supported granting amnesty to suspects in the high-profile Bolotnoye case, echoing recent comments by President Vladimir Putin. Speculation about a possible amnesty for suspects in the case has grown since Putin said at the Valdai Club meeting last week that […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club (partial transcript continued)

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Valdai Club 2013 Meeting, Adapted from Screenshot of Valdai Club Video at youtube.com

(Kremlin.ru – Novgorod Region, September 19, 2013) SVETLANA MIRONYUK: Thank you. Mr President, Mr Rühe wants to respond. Mr Rühe, please go ahead. VOLKER RÜHE: President Putin, I go along with you, what you said on Iraq. And we were as critical; the French were, also. It was not a NATO ­ it was an American decision. But Libya was […]

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RIA Novosti: Russian Prosecutors Probe Opposition Figure for ‘Extremism’

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(RIA Novosti – YAROSLAVL, September 17, 2013) ­ Russian opposition leader and former deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov is under investigation for publicly inciting “extremist activity,” local prosecutors told RIA Novosti Tuesday. Prosecutors in Yaroslavl did not indicate which statements concerned them, but Boris Nemtsov, who is co-leader of the Parnas opposition party and a local lawmaker, links this to […]

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Russians More Skeptical Over Prosecution of Opposition – Poll

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Being Grabbed by Police at Protest

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, September 13, 2013) ­ Public awareness in Russia of two criminal investigations and trials of leading opposition figures is on the rise, and the public is increasingly seeing these issues as politically motivated, a new poll has found. The survey published by the independent pollster Levada Center yesterday asked respondents about their knowledge of anti-corruption activist […]

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Messiah or false prophet? [re: Navalny]

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Being Grabbed by Police at Protest

(opendemocracy.net – Daniil Kotsyubinsky – August 13, 2013) Daniil Kotsyubinsky is a Russian historian and journalist based in St. Petersburg For the past month, Moscow has been following the fortunes of opposition leader Aleksey Navalny ­ trial, imprisonment, implausible release and continuing Mayoral ambitions. But can all really be as it seems? Daniil Kotsyubinsky presents an alternative view. Moscow’s hot […]

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The Audacity Of Navalny

Alexei Navalny file photo

(RFE/RL – Brian Whitmore – August 8, 2013) There’s just no escaping Aleksei Navalny. Whether one thinks he’s Russia’s greatest hope, or the most dangerous man in Russia, he is absolutely dominating the conversation right now. The ruling United Russia party is complaining about his online fundraising, as is Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Television personality Ksenia Sobchak is worried about his aggressive […]

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Aleksei Navalny takes on ‘the fools and the roads’

Alexei Navalny file photo

(opendemocracy.net – Mikhail Loginov – August 5, 2013) Mikhail Loginov is a journalist and novelist based in St Petersburg. He is the author of the recently published bestselling political thriller “Battle for Kremlin”. As the saying goes: ‘Russia has two misfortunes: the fools and the roads.’ Aleksei Navalny is just about still standing for election as Mayor of Moscow, but, […]

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Putin Questions Jail Term for Opposition Leader Navalny

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Being Grabbed by Police at Protest

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, August 2, 2013) Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that a recent real jail term for his vehement opponent Alexei Navalny was “strange,” given that another defendant in the case got away with a suspended sentence. Whistleblowing blogger Navalny was given five years in jail last month on embezzlement charges that he dismissed as fabricated by […]

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Urlashov Faces More Charges

Yevgeny Urlashov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Yekaterina Kravtsova – August 1, 2013) Investigators said Wednesday that they were preparing a new criminal case against former Yaroslavl Mayor Yevgeny Urlashov, who was arrested on attempted bribery charges in early July in what his supporters say was a frame-up to ruin his party’s chances of winning regional elections. Urlashov became a nationally known […]

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Local Politics in Moscow Goes Global

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 10, Issue 139 – Pavel K. Baev – Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – July 29, 2013) Last week, Aleksei Navalny re-entered the Moscow mayoral election campaign after his implausible release from jail the day after being condemned to five years behind bars on a blatantly fabricated charge. His team has jump-started the work in earnest, mobilizing […]

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Putin Uses His Favorite Ax to Grind Navalny

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Being Grabbed by Police at Protest

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Michael Bohm, Opinion Page Editor – July 26, 2013) All autocracies have two things in common: They exaggerate the threats they face from leading opposition figures and take extreme, repressive measures to limit or remove those threats. Russia is certainly no exception, and the trial and conviction of opposition leader Alexei Navalny is a case […]

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Navalnyy’s support in upcoming Moscow mayor election stands at 9 per cent – poll

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Being Grabbed by Police at Protest

(Interfax – July 23, 2013) According to an opinion poll carried out in Moscow on 20-21 July, only 9 per cent of those polled would vote for opposition leader Aleksey Navalnyy in the Moscow mayor election to be held on 8 September, privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax reported on 23 July.(1) The figure has gone up 1 per cent since […]

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Navalny’s catch-22

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Moscow News – Anna Arutunyan, Editor and Correspondent at themoscownews.com – July 22, 2013) For all the Byzantine intrigue behind the decision to let opposition blogger Alexei Navalny go free pending appeals, I was sincerely glad for him, his family and his supporters. Last Thursday’s ruling, which slapped Navalny with a five-year term in a penal colony, brutally wiped out […]

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