The Russian Paradox: Why the Economic Crisis hasn’t Sparked Political Protest

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 22, 2016) Most countries suffering from an economic situation as dire as that of the Russian Federation would see public support turn massively away from the incumbent administration and major political as well as economic protests as well. But in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, neither has happened. While there has been a […]

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Kremlinology: an intervention; Protests and strikes across Russia show that the country’s “silent majority” is becoming louder. But are pundits even listening?

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

(opendemocracy.net – Sean Guillory – September 13, 2016) Sean Guillory lives in Pittsburgh. He hosts the SRB podcast, a weekly podcast on Eurasian politics, history and culture, and blogs for seansrussiablog.org. You can follow him on Twitter @seansrussiablog. Writings on contemporary Russia are mostly variations on the same subject: Vladimir Putin; his rise to and iron grip on power. Western […]

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Angry Farmers Stage Tractor March on Moscow

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Howard Amos – August 22, 2016) Several hundred farmers from southern Russia complained of intense police harassment Monday as they entered the second day of a drive towards Moscow they are staging to raise awareness about the problem of local corruption. In the space of 24 hours, their convoy of tractors and cars was stopped […]

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NEWSWATCH: “In the ‘lungs of Moscow’ forest, Russia’s civil activists make their mark; Runaway housing developments have been going up around Moscow, threatening the ‘lungs’ of the city – the ring forest around the capital. But locals have been fighting back against the project – with success.” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

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

A diverse band of urban activists, communicating largely through social media, are combating plans to build an enormous high-rise housing development amid the forested ring around the capital  …. The protesters who make up the Mortongrad Nyet! coalition have no shared ideology, and certainly aren’t interested in criticizing the Kremlin. Yet they are redefining the limits of Russian civil society […]

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Russian Artist Pavlensky Stripped of Award Over Support for Police Killers

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ed Crowther – July 8, 2016) The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) has stripped radical political performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky of the Vaslav Havel prize, awarded to him in May, the Dozhd news website reported Friday. The decision was a result of Pavlensky’s support for the Primorye Partisans, a group recognized as a criminal organization by […]

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Russia’s young people aren’t angry, they’re furious

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

Five years after Russia’s protest movement turned sour, young people are still frustrated with the status quo. (opendemocracy.net – Mikhail Ugarov – June 8, 2016) Mikhail Ugarov is a Moscow-based writer, art director and director born in 1956 in Arkhangelsk, Russia. He graduated from the department of dramatic arts at Moscow’s Gorky Literature Institute and went on to direct numerous […]

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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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Lower-Level State Employees Nucleus of Coming Social Revolt in Russia, Kagarlitsky Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 4, 2016) The reasons Russians are protesting haven’t changed but the composition of those taking part in protests has, Boris Kagarlitsky says; and the groups that are likely to form the nucleus of a new social explosion are not the young and the pensioners as in the past but men in […]

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Outrage and outsourcing in Russian healthcare

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

The doctor is out. Hunger strikes, mistreatment of patients and general desperation are beginning to seem like a feature – as opposed to a bug – of Russia’s healthcare system. (opendemocracy.net – Artur Asafyev – April 28, 2016) Artur Asafyev is a freelance correspondent for Radio Svoboda and Novaya Gazeta in Ufa, Bashkortostan. He has worked as a journalist since […]

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The pitchforks are coming; Farm workers in the depths of southern Russia are hardly a protest constituency, but corruption and corporate raids have pushed them to the brink. They may even take their grievances to Moscow – by tractor.

Russia Regions Map

(opendemocracy.net – Svetlana Bolotnikova – April 7, 2016) Svetlana Bolotnikova is a Russian journalist and correspondent for KavPolit, an online publication specialising in political developments in the Caucasus. Aleksei Volchenko, 37, is a farmer in Kalininsky district, in the Kuban area of southern Russia. There are no large cities or towns here, just stanitsy, Cossack villages. Residents either work their […]

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NEWSWATCH Kyiv Post: “Protester who tore up Poroshenko’s photo gets 4.5 years in jail”

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

A court in Vinnytsia, a city 270 kilometers southwest from Kyiv, sentenced local activist Yuriy Pavlenko to 4.5 years in prison for hooliganism with a use of a weapon. Pavlenko denies the charges, saying that he is being punished for publicly tearing up the portrait of Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko during a protest action. … activists protested to stop the […]

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Interfax: Poll: Most Russians not ready to join protests

File Photo of Moscow Protest with Riot Police

(Interfax – March 14, 2016) Seventy percent of Russians have called unlikely mass protests against falling living standards and in defense of their rights, yet the percentage has reduced by seven points since October 2015 (77 percent), the Levada Center told Interfax. The share of Russians who deem economic protests to be possible has grown by a third, from 18 […]

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NEWSWATCH Washington Post: “As energy prices drop, ordinary Russians are protesting”

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

… Once prosperous enough to afford expensive Moscow apartments, they are now staggering under an economic burden fueled by geopolitical conflict and the plummeting price of oil. * * * Russia’s foreign-policy adventures … in Ukraine … in Syria — have tied up state resources …. The drop in energy prices has drained government coffers and sent the ruble skidding […]

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Even motor processions are now a demonstration in Russia

Moscow Roads

A law signed into force by Russian President Vladimir Putin equates car processions to demonstrations and the establishment of tent cities in public places – to protesting. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – March 10, 2016) Motor processions and tent camps in public places in Russia have been added to the list of events defined by law in Russia […]

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Moscow Authorities Approve March in Honor of Slain Kremlin Critic Nemtsov

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 18, 2016) Moscow City Hall has approved a rally to mark the one-year anniversary of the death of Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov, opposition party member Konstantin Merzlikin told The Moscow Times on Wednesday. The authorities have given permission for 50,000 people to attend the memorial event, which is due to take place on Feb. […]

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For Protesting Russian Truckers, A Christmas Far From Home

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

(RFE/RL – Tom Balmforth – January 6, 2016) KHIMKI, Russia — After dark in the frigid parking lot of an Ikea outlet north of Moscow, in the trailer of a grubby white truck heated by a generator, a dozen men are sitting in winter coats and hats watching a Soviet blockbuster on a projector. The cramped space has been a […]

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The End Of Russia’s Mass Hallucination

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(RFE/RL – Brian Whitmore – December 23, 2015) Fresh barbed-wire fencing around the nation’s main TV tower isn’t exactly a sign of a confident regime. In addition to reinforcing its perimeter, Moscow’s state-run Ostankino television center also upgraded its security detail, replacing regular police officers with elite Interior Ministry forces. “These are normal security measures that are connected to the […]

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Majority of Muscovites Support Truck Driver Protests – Poll

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 11, 2015) More than 70 percent of Moscow residents aware of the ongoing protest by truck drivers support their action, a poll released Wednesday by the independent Levada Center indicated. While the majority of Muscovites are familiar with the protest, 21 percent of the capital’s residents said they had heard nothing about it, while […]

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Putin Majority Breaking Down But Elite Splits and Mass Protests Won’t Come Immediately, Solovey Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, December 8, 2015) The truck drivers’ strike and the seriousness with which the Kremlin has reacted to it show that “the Putin majority, the Putin consensus and Putin stability are all beginning to break down, Valery Solovey says; but that does not mean that more mass protests are likely to occur in […]

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Truckers’ Strike Won’t Lead to Political Change in Russia, Gontmakher Says

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, December 7, 2015) Pro-Kremlin writers have argued that the deteriorating economic situation will lead Russians to willingly tighten their belts, and opposition ones have suggested that economic problems will lead to political protests and even regime change. But both are wrong, Yevgeny Gontmakher says. In a commentary today, the Moscow economic analyst […]

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Why are Russian truckers protesting? 10 questions and answers

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

For over a month now, long-haul drivers in Russia have been engaged in a mass protest, staging rallies across the country, which have now reached Moscow. Truckers, especially those who are self-employed or work for small businesses, believe that the recently introduced additional toll for using federal highways will put their business on the brink of bankruptcy. (Russia Beyond the […]

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Truck Protests Signal New Kind of Social Activism

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Vasily Kolotilov – December 4, 2015) “I think I will set my car on fire soon. The tax will take us all down. I get 112 rubles a month in social payments for my kid – how am I supposed to raise him on that?” says Rasul, a truck driver from Russia’s North Caucasus republic […]

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Interfax: Poll: Russians continue to lose interest in protests

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Interfax – November 9, 2015) Seventy-seven percent of Russians call unlikely mass protests against declining living standards and in support of their rights. This is the largest index since the end of last year (68 percent in December 2014), Levada Center told Interfax. The percentage of Russians who deem demonstrations focused on economic demands possible has reduced from 24 percent […]

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More Russians Attending Pro-Putin Rallies

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Hobson – November 6, 2015) The number of Russians attending pro-government rallies has increased tenfold since Vladimir Putin returned to the presidency in 2012, a study found, while enthusiasm for opposition meetings has grown only slightly. A survey by the social research center at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration […]

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Ukraine Failing to Probe Pro-Russia Protester Deaths, Panel Says

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Daryna Krasnolutska, Kateryna Choursina – November 4, 2015) Ukrainian authorities are failing to adequately investigate 48 deaths, including of 42 pro-Russian protesters, in the Black Sea port of Odessa in May 2014, according to an international panel set up by the Council of Europe. The demonstrators clashed with football fans and participants in a pro-government rally […]

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RIA Novosti: “Protests on the rise in Russia – study”

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

(RIA Novosti – Moscow, November 2, 2015) Protest activity in Russia in the first six months of this year increased by 15 per cent compared with the same period last year, according to a study by the Civil Initiatives Committee [founded by former Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin]. The assessment of protest activity was based on reports in the media and […]

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RBTH: Russia’s opposition denies waning influence as protests shrink

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

In the wake of the low turnout to a Sept. 20 protest in Moscow, sources polled by RBTH say that the protest did not appear convincing and conclude that for the time being the opposition does not have very bright prospects. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Yekaterina Sinelschikova, RBTH – September 22, 2015) Despite claims by leading liberal […]

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

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

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

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Falsification, cover-up and political exploitation of killings of the Maidan protesters from the Volyn Region during the Maidan Massacre

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(Ivan Katchanovski – Facebook – August 23, 2015) Ivan Katchanovski teaches at the School of Political Studies and the department of Communication at the University of Ottawa. He is the author of “Cleft Countries: Regional Political Divisions and Cultures in Post-Soviet Ukraine and Moldova” and the co-author of “Historical Dictionary of Ukraine, Second Edition. [Wait for embedded feed of original […]

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Protesters Against Church Construction Gain Rare Victory

Patriarch Kirill file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – August 4, 2015) Long-lasting protests by residents against building a Russian Orthodox church in a park in northeastern Moscow appear to have resulted in a rare victory for public protests after religious officials said late last week they were ready to consider a different location for it. “The Moscow Eparchy is ready […]

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Electric Yerevan and the end of apathy; Electric Yerevan may not have been an Armenian Maidan but activists hope and analysts believe it marks the end of the country’s era of apathy

Armenia Map

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Monica Ellena in Yerevan – July 27, 2015) The intricate mandala that Lidia painted no longer adorns the boiling tarmac in Marshal Baghramyan Avenue. The whirling white-chalked pattern got washed away as the Armenian police dismantled a nearby makeshift barricade of rubbish bins and pushed away a few hard-core demonstrators, who were camping a […]

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PARNAS supporters holding rally in Novosibirsk over election committee meeting on registering party lists

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

NOVOSIBIRSK. July 27 (Interfax) – The rally permitted by the Novosibirsk mayor’s office of the supporters of the People’s Freedom Party For Russia Without Lawlessness and Corruption (PARNAS) is taking place in front of the Novosibirsk region’s government building on Monday, an Interfax correspondent reported. Five people are declared to participate in the rally, event organizer Vadim Sukhonenko said. “One […]

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Flurry Of Moscow Activism Hints That Mood For Protest Is Very Much Alive

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – MOSCOW, July 26, 2015) Three years into President Vladimir Putin’s third term and a renewed effort to banish conspicuous political dissent in Russia, local protests are bubbling up all over the capital. From weekslong sit-ins to save neighborhood parks to pushback against development plans with ties to the political elite, Muscovites are taking their frustrations to […]

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Authorities Again Threatened by Bolotnaya Square

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – May 12, 2015) Yelena Gremina’s production of “The Bolotnaya Square Case” at Teatr.doc may be the most benign dangerous 65 minutes I have ever witnessed. A contradiction in terms, you say? Not in the land, which, as the great poet Fyodor Tyutchev put it, cannot be understood by mind alone. The fact […]

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Foreign currency protests in Russia – a chance for the opposition?

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

While political demonstrations are on the slide, economic protests are on the rise in Russia. Can the two be united? (opendemocracy.net – Dmitry Florin – April 30, 2015) Dmitry Florin is an independent journalist based in Moscow, Russia. The Russian opposition is a broad church. Just as radical leftists hold their own marches, so do the liberals and the nationalists. […]

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Putin didn’t see partners for dialogue among opposition campaigners in December 2011 – Kudrin

Alexei Kudrin file photo

VLADIVOSTOK. April 26 (Interfax) – Vladimir Putin did not see partners for dialogue among opposition activists who organized rallies “For Fair Elections” in December 2011, said ex-finance minister and leader of the Civil Initiatives Committee Alexei Kudrin. “I talked with him, at length. And I said that I would probably go to the rally on Sakharov Avenue. I won’t speak […]

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NEWSLINK New York Times: Unpaid Russian Workers Unite in Protest Against Putin

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

After months of frustration with an economy sagging under the weight of international sanctions and falling energy prices, workers across Russia are starting to protest unpaid wages and go on strike, in the first nationwide backlash against President Vladimir V. Putin’s economic policies. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/22/world/europe/russian-workers-take-aim-at-putin-as-economy-exacts-its-toll.html?_r=0

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Domestic political stability in Russia depends on Ukraine – report

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Yekaterina Sinelschikova, RBTH – April 6, 2015) A newly published report titled “Between Crimea and the Crisis” puts forward two scenarios of Russia’s future, both of which predict serious domestic upheavals. Everything hinges on the outcome of the Ukrainian conflict. How likely are these scenarios? RBTH investigates. Russia will be swept by moods […]

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NEWSWATCH BBC: Vladimir Putin’s formative German years

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

[“Vladimir Putin’s formative German years” – BBC News – Chris Bowlby – Dresden, March 27, 2015] The BBC covers some of Vladimir Putin’s experiences earlier in life, including his first foreign posting as a KGB officer, in East Germany during the collapse of Soviet Communism in eastern Europe. They also explore speculation about the lasting impact of those experiences upon Putin’s perspective towards […]

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Health Care Workers to Hunger-Strike in Protest of Labor Conditions

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – March 24, 2015) Health care workers in central Russia threatened to stage a hunger strike starting Monday to protest what they described as “repercussions” against co-workers who demanded better working conditions and higher salaries at previous protests, media reports said. The hunger strike, planned in Ufa, the capital of Russia’s republic of Bashkortostan, […]

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Putin Sounds the Alarm Over Budding ‘Color Revolutions’ in Russia

Tower and Building Inside Kremlin

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – March 5, 2015) President Vladimir Putin urged Interior Ministry officials on Wednesday to focus on smothering budding color revolutions, thus bolstering the current political climate by reinforcing a widespread fear of domestic enemies, analysts told The Moscow Times. “We see attempts to use so-called ‘color revolution technology,’ ranging from organizing unlawful public […]

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Russians Less Likely to Protest as Their Situation Deteriorates, Urnov Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, March 4, 2015) It is an axiom in most countries that people will protest when their living conditions decline and that assumption underlies current Western policy toward Moscow, but Mark Urnov, one of Russia’s leading political analysts, argues that the situation in Russia is different and that Russians are less rather than […]

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A third of Russians back opposition demands, only 22% believe rallies can be effective – poll

File Photo of Moscow Protest with Riot Police

(Interfax – February 26, 2015) Russians are skeptical about demonstrations and many have not heard about the opposition rally scheduled for March 1 but a considerable part of them back the demands to be made during the March 1 action irrespective of the event per se and its organizers, General Director of the Institute for Priority Regional Projects Nikolai Mironov […]

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More Russians See Potential for Political Protests in Their Country, Poll Shows

Moscow Protest file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jennifer Monaghan – January 23, 2015) The number of Russians who see potential for political protests to break out in their country has more than doubled in the past five months, a new survey showed Friday, though the majority would choose not to participate in them themselves. The survey, published Friday by state-run pollster VTsIOM, […]

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Putin Now has His Storm Troopers and Pogroms Will Surely Follow, Ganapolsky Says

Vladimir Putin

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 23, 2014) Putin’s Russia has crossed a Rubicon: it now has sanctioned the Anti-Maidan Movement, a domestic version of Hitler’s storm troopers, and thus created a monster that almost certainly will engage in pogroms against one group or another in the future, according to Moscow commentator Matvey Ganapolsky. Despite Putin’s ratings […]

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Russia Civil Society will Grow like ‘Blade of Grass through Concrete,’ Gontmakher Says

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 13, 2015) Yevgeny Gontmakher, a prominent Moscow economist and commentator, has invoked one of the most powerful images available about the ways in which the human spirit can overcome ever the harshest and most repressive regimes: “like a blade of grass breaking through concrete.” As anyone who has been on a […]

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Any Russian Protests Ahead Likely to Be About Economic Issues Rather than Political Ones, Experts Say

Moscow Protest file photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 5, 2014) Three Russian experts with whom Russkaya planeta spoke say that while declines in the standard of living of many Russians in the coming year as a result of the economic crisis may lead to some protests about economic issues, any such demonstrations are unlikely to focus on high politics.the […]

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From our own correspondent in Moscow: There have been protests in the capital. Could Moscow really go the way of Kyiv – bring down the president and install a less authoritarian government?

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(opendemocracy.net – Anna Arutunyan – December 31, 2014) Anna Arutunyan is an independent journalist and author of ‘The Putin Mystique.’ She lives in Moscow. I joined the crowds of people protesting against the sentence handed down to opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his brother Oleg on 30 December. Surrounded by Muscovites preparing for the long New Year’s holiday, we were […]

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