NEWSWATCH: “Countering Adversary Threats to Democratic Institutions: An Expert Report” – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Stylized Artist's Depiction of Shadowy Figures in Dark Coats and Dark Hats, One Carrying a Briefcase

“American democracy is under attack from Russia. This is a long-term campaign that did not begin or end with the 2016 election. Putin’s objective is to weaken us by sowing chaos and discord, and to undermine the appeal of democracy itself. If he can show that American-style democracy, both in the United States and in other liberal democracies, is incompetent, […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Putin at] Meeting with Mentor forum participants” – KremlinRu

File Photo of Empty Chair and Desk with Computer, adapted from image at osha.gov

(Kremlin.ru – February 14, 2018) The President met with participants of the Mentor national forum held in Moscow on February 13-15. The forum brought together several thousand people involved in mentoring, including active mentors at businesses, representatives of HR departments of major public and private corporations, federal and regional authorities, employees of non-profit organisations and educational institutions, and is designed […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russian network TV can show Oliver Stone’s ‘The Putin Interviews,’ but election officials wish they’d wait until after the March 18 vote” – Meduza

File Photo of Screenshot of Vladimir Putin in Twitter Video of Trailer of Oliver Stone TV Film Regarding Russia

“Update: Pervyi Kanal has canceled the broadcast of the fourth and final installment of Oliver Stone’s “The Putin Interviews.” The state-run TV network has already aired the miniseries’ first two episodes, and a third broadcast on February 14 will go ahead, given that it’s already aired in Russia’s Far East, said a spokesperson for Pervyi Kanal. …”  

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Sobchak’s lawyers, Yabloko party chair complain to CEC about Putin film aired by Channel One

File Photo of Screenshot of Vladimir Putin in Twitter Video of Trailer of Oliver Stone TV Film Regarding Russia

MOSCOW. Feb 13 (Interfax) – The legal team of presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak and Yabloko party chair Elimia Slabunova have complained to the Russian Central Elections Commission (CEC) about Oliver Stone’s film about Vladimir Putin being aired by Channel One. “The State Secretary of the Russian Federal Bar and lawyer of Ksenia Sobchak, Konstantin Dobrynin, has filed a complaint with […]

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Putin’s Cruelty Product of His Extremely Unhappy and Carefully Concealed Childhood, New Biographer Says

Artist's Rendition of Head and Brain, adapted from .gov image at lbl.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 7, 2018) Many think that Vladimir Putin’s penchant for cruelty can be explained by time in the KGB, Kristina Kurchab-Redlikh says; but there have been many with that background such as Yevgeny Primakov or Sergey Stepashin who also served in the organs but were not like that at all. Kurchab-Redlikh, who […]

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NEWSWATCH VIDEO: “The Long Hangover – Putin’s Russia and the Ghosts of the Past” – NYU Jordan Center/Ben Dalton

Large Mother Russia Statue Near Volgograd

“In late 1999, as … Putin began his long rule over Russia, the new president faced a slew of economic and political problems, but also an existential one. While post-Soviet countries like Belarus and Estonia had apparently settled into new national narratives (continuity with the past for Belarus, rupture and independence for Estonia and the other Baltic states), Russia remained […]

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NEWSLINK: “New Role for United Russia. United Russia’s new leader, Andrei Turchak, is asserting the independence of the pro-presidential party as a distinct force in domestic politics. As the ruling regime’s power vertical begins to fragment, United Russia will now seek to take credit for its own contribution to Vladimir Putin’s victory.” – Carnegie Moscow/Andrey Pertsev

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Outdoor Rally with Microphone in Hand and Heavy Coat

“… An intriguing role is being played by Andrei Turchak, head of United Russia, who in just a few months has revamped the ruling party. Turchak is the son of Anatoly Turchak, an old acquaintance of Putin. He ascended to the top of the elite by serving as Russia’s youngest governor, of Pskov region. By becoming head of the General […]

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NEWSLINK: “BOOK REVIEW: THE LONG HANGOVER” – Irrussianality/Paul Robinson

Battle of Stalingrad file photo

“Shaun Walker, the Moscow correspondent on The Guardian, has a new book out, entitled The Long Hangover: Putin’s New Russia and the Ghosts of the Past. It advances the thesis that … and this is where I run into a problem because he never explicitly says what his thesis is. But it’s sort of something like this: in an effort […]

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NEWSLINK: “FEAR FOR ALL; Putin’s Opposition Stabbed, Bludgeoned, Burned, Even Attacked With Poison Gas; The police response to these attacks is predictable. Either assailants are never identified, or they are said to have had a personal, not a political, motive” – The Daily Beast

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

“Why did it take a full week for Russian authorities to reveal the brutal murder, on Jan. 26, of 53-year-old St. Petersburg political activist Konstantin Sinitsyn? To give it a little time before shock waves emerged? In fact, there were few shock waves, even among Russia’s community of democratic oppositionists, because Sinitsyn’s murder was just another in a growing list […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Putin at] Meeting of the Council for Science and Education” – KremlinRu

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

(Kremlin.ru – February 8, 2018) The President held a meeting of the Council for Science and Education in Novosibirsk. The agenda focused on the sector’s main tasks and prospects, as well as the key areas of international research and technical cooperation. Transcript of meeting of the Council for Science and Education President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues, I […]

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NEWSLINK: “Why Putin’s foreign policy adventures will backfire” – Aspen Institute (Italy)/Ivan Nechepurenko

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

“… Russia’s inflated presence on the world arena feeds the internal propaganda machine. … Putin is … now facing a dilemma: his bullish foreign policy coups made him even more popular among the Russians. However, these coups have created an appetite for more foreign adventures. This fixation on foreign policy will become increasingly difficult to afford ….”

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin Supporters’ Election Pitch: Remember Stalingrad; Video made at memorial to WWII victory is part of patriotic wave ahead of Russia’s March election” – Wall Street Journal/James Marson

Large Mother Russia Statue Near Volgograd

“… the video has also been chided for taking things too far, including on state television, underscoring the tension around the Kremlin’s efforts to drum up support despite a stagnant economy and a fall in living standards in recent years. * * *  Putin has made commemoration of the World War II [Stalingrad] victory a centerpiece of his rule, portraying […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Surprising Success of Putinomics; Behind Putin’s Formula for Holding Onto Power” – Foreign Affairs/Chris Miller

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“… Russia survived the twin challenges of the oil price crash and Western sanctions thanks to a three-pronged economic strategy. First, it focused on macroeconomic stability-keeping debt levels and inflation low-above all else. Second, it prevented popular discontent by guaranteeing low unemployment and steady pensions, even at the expense of higher wages or economic growth. Third, it let the private […]

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NEWSLINK: “2018 election is no problem for Putin – but what about 2024? Vladimir Putin dominates Russian politics, but legally he can only serve two terms” – The Guardian/Shaun Walker

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

“… With nothing much at stake this time around, the Kremlin’s most pressing problem for the 2018 vote is ensuring enough people show up on polling day to make the turnout percentage respectable – which the opposition are trying to bring down through calls for a boycott. The problems on the 2024 horizon are far more serious. …”

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Making The Fake Appear Real

File Photo of Pavel Grudinin in a Farm Field, adapted from wikimedia commons image attributed to user Kelatrat at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pavel_Grudinin.jpg

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – February 5, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/daily-vertical-whitmore-fake-real-election-putin/29018912.html) Pro-Kremlin media have been attacking Communist candidate Pavel Grudinin, whose poll numbers have been rising, according to pro-Kremlin pollsters. Kremlin-appointed Electoral Commission chief Ella Pamfilova has reprimanded Kremlin chief of staff Dmitry Peskov for statements that could be interpreted […]

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Russian Society Moving to the Left Rather than to the Right, Kirillova Says

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 1, 2018) Many people assume that the neo-traditionalist course of the Putin Administration is moving Russian society to the right opening the way to a right-wing dictatorship, but in fact, Kseniya Kirillova notes, there are many indications that Russian society is moving to the left on key issues of social justice. That […]

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Putin’s Support Drops Below 70% Ahead of Elections

Putin Descending a Staircase

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 1, 2018) With a month and a half left until Russia stages a presidential vote, President Vladimir Putin’s support in state-run polling has dipped below 70 percent for the first time in almost a year. State-run pollster VTsIOM’s latest survey conducted last week showed that 69.9 percent of respondents would vote for Putin if […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin to Push State-of-Nation Speech Closer to March Vote, Officials Say” – Bloomberg/Stepan Kravchenko, Ilya Arkhipov, Evgenia Pismennaya

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

“The Kremlin has decided to delay … Putin’s annual state-of-the-nation speech to [take place] closer to the March 18 vote [providing] a key platform … to lay out priorities for his next presidential term, according to three officials familiar with the plans. … Putin is expected to discuss proposals for higher spending on popular domestic programs like health and education, while […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Why Did the Trump Administration Pass the Buck on Sanctioning Russia?” [excerpt] – Russia Matters/David Szakonyi

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

David Szakonyi is an assistant professor of political science at George Washington University This week’s highly anticipated news on additional Russia sanctions landed with a thud. For weeks, both Moscow and Washington had been astir about the impending steps the Trump administration would take against Russia based on legislation reluctantly signed by the president nearly six months ago” and overwhelmingly […]

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NEWSLINK: “Putin: From Oligarch to Kleptocrat” – New York Review of Books/Ruth May

Vladimir Putin

“… Putin’s real intention—and not from the day he entered the Kremlin, but from the day he left Dresden—was to reassert the authority of the autocratic state. …”

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NEWSWATCH: “PUTIN’S POSTMODERN WAR WITH THE WEST” – The Wilson Quarterly/Patrick Babiracki

Stylized Artist's Depiction of Shadowy Figures in Dark Coats and Dark Hats, One Carrying a Briefcase

“It may not look like war, but perhaps it should. Russia’s interference in American democracy proves that popular conception of the term needs to be updated – and failure to do could increase U.S. susceptibility.” Click here for: “PUTIN’S POSTMODERN WAR WITH THE WEST” – The Wilson Quarterly/Patrick Babiracki  

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Investors Take U.S. List Of Russian ‘Oligarchs’ In Stride — For Now

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Carl Schreck – January 30, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-investors-brush-off-us-treasury-oligarchs-list/29007996.html) For months Russia’s business and political elite were fretting about the planned release of a U.S. list of potential Russian targets for fresh sanctions — including government officials and “oligarchs” purportedly close to the Kremlin. After that unclassified list […]

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Can Russia Sustain Its Foreign Policy Power Plays in 2018?

File Photo of U.S. Embassy Moscow, with Russian Foreign Ministry Building in Distance

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jonathan Brown, Editor, Moscow Times – January 31, 2018) When Vladimir Putin landed in Syria late last year, he was greeted by President Bashar Assad not as a foreign dignitary, but as the guardian of the embattled nation. “Syria has been preserved as a sovereign and independent state,” Putin told soldiers assembled at the Khmeimim […]

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Why The List Matters

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – January 31, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/daily-vertical-transcript-why-the-list-matters/29009462.html) So by now we’ve all probably heard the initial reaction to the U.S. Treasury Department’s much-anticipated list of the most influential Russian officials and oligarchs who could be subject to future sanctions. It’s nothing more than a “who’s who” […]

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NEWSLINK: “Washington added every Russian billionaire to its ‘list of oligarchs.’ Does that make sense? Who are these ‘oligarchs’?” – Meduza

File Photo of Two Persons Shaking Hands and Exchanging Cash

“1. What Happened? … 2. Who does Washington consider an “oligarch” in Russia? … 3. But who are “oligarchs” really? It is just very rich business people? … 4. Who are Russia’s oligarchs? Where’d they come from? … 5. Is this the only definition of “oligarchy”? … 6. Does Russia have “oligarchs” today? …”

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Interfax: Putin warns against further politicization of global sports

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

NOVO-OGARYOVO. Jan 31 (Interfax) – Russia hopes that international sports organizations will not turn into government departments in certain countries however powerful these might seem sometimes, President Vladimir Putin said. “Of course, we very much feel for our athletes who could not go to the Olympic Games. We will do everything to support them,” Putin said at a meeting with […]

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Russia’s presidential elections: predictable results with an unpredictable aftermath; This March, Russia goes through the motions of yet another (re)election. Here are the contenders, and a few reasons why their contest may just be worth watching.

Kremlin and River

(opendemocracy.net – Ilya Budraitskis – January 29, 2018) Ilya Budraitskis is Moscow-based historian and political writer. He is current member of editorial board of Moscow Art Magazine, Openleft.ru and LeftEast. [“A strong president for a great country”. Campaign office for Vladimir Putin’s (re)election, Kazan, January 2018. Photo (c): Maksim Bogodvid / RIA Novosti. All rights reserved.] This article originally appeared […]

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Few Russians Think ‘Era of Oligarchs’ is Over

Arkady Dvorkovich file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 28, 2018) At Davos, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said that there aren’t any oligarchs left in Russia, a declaration that has attracted a great deal of attention both in Russia and abroad but very little support among Russians who continue to see oligarchs as an evil force in their […]

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NEWSLINK: “Project Inertia: The Outlook for Putin’s Fourth Term” – Carnegie Moscow/Andrei Kolesnikov

Putin Descending a Staircase

“Do not expect modernization after Putin’s 2018 reelection. Instead, the system he built will function on autopilot as the Russian leader continues to lose direct control over events, ideas, and actions. But that doesn’t imply democratization. In essence, the head of state finds himself chained to the galley that he built himself”

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NEWSLINK: “Putin to deploy ‘canine KGB death squads’ to butcher thousands of stray dogs in football World Cup host cities, claim campaigners” – The Mirror (UK)/ Will Stewart

File Photo of Dog at Animal Shelter Jumping Up on Person in Winter Clothing, With Beseeching Look

“WARNING – DISTRESSING IMAGES: The mass slaughter of stray dogs will take place despite assurances to the contrary, say animal rights campaigners”  

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin Won’t Tell Voters How He’ll Pay for Domestic Spending” – Bloomberg/ Evgenia Pismennaya, Andrey Biryukov, Ilya Arkhipov

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“… offering Russians the biggest increase in domestic spending in years … what [Putin] won’t be talking much about is the package of tax hikes, benefit cuts and other changes … to help pay for [it] … possible increases to the pension age and the income tax … cuts in tax breaks for staples like food … [and] co-pays for […]

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Russians So Overwhelmingly Apolitical that Poll Numbers are Meaningless, Kagarlitsky Says

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 20, 2018) Given that 90 percent of Russian society is “apolitical,” Moscow commentator Boris Kagarlitsky says, “it is impossible” to say how much support Vladimir Putin or anyone else has. Indeed, asking that question under Russian conditions now is completely inappropriate. This comment from the director of the Institute of Globalization […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “Vladimir Putin spoke at meeting for Supreme Court 95th anniversary” – KremlinRu

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Kremlin.ru – January 23, 2018) The meeting was held at the Supreme Court building in Moscow and was attended by members of the judiciary, the Government and the Federal Assembly. The history of Russia’s supreme legislative authority for civil, criminal and administrative cases and economic disputes began with the establishment of the Supreme Court of the RSFSR in 1923. In […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia faces 6 more years of stagnation under Putin” – CNN/ Alanna Petroff

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“Russian President Vladimir Putin looks set to win re-election in March, extending his stay in the Kremlin to 2024. For Russia’s economy, that likely means six more years of anemic growth. …”

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Explaining Russia’s Schizophrenic Policy toward the United States

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

(PONARS Policy Memo – PONARS Eurasia – ponarseurasia.org – Kimberly Marten – January 19, 2018) Kimberly Marten is the Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Political Science at Barnard College, Columbia University, and the Director of the Program on U.S.-Russia Relations at Columbia’s Harriman Institute. The weaknesses and inconsistencies of Russia’s recent actions toward the United States need to be explained. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Contrary to Expectations, US-Russian Relations Deteriorate Under President Trump” – Russia Matters/Thomas Graham

Vladirmir Putin and Donald Trump Sitting in Chairs with Flags Behind, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

  “… Trump’s presidency began … with widespread expectations of improvement in U.S.-Russian relations [yet now they are] in worse shape than he found them. … the National Security Strategy … identified Russia (along with China) as a strategic adversary intent on undermining U.S. primacy … [Additionally, consider] Trump’s decision to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine to help deter Russian […]

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New Times: “In Anticipation of a Big Reshuffle”

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

(Institute of Modern Russia – imrussia.org – January 15, 2018 – mrussia.org/en/the-rundown/media-must-reads/2896-big-reshuffle%2C-“kremlin-report%2C”-putin-and-2018-elections) While Putin has not announced any final decisions, journalist Denis Vardanyan discusses the reshuffling expected in the Kremlin and the government after the March 18 elections. The likely candidates comprise three groups: those whose work is marred by mistakes, those who want a reassignment, and those whose fate […]

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73% of Russians Plan To Vote for Putin – Survey

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 18, 2018) The majority of Russians say they will go to the polls to vote for Putin in the March 2018 presidential elections, according to a survey published by the state-run Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) on Wednesday. Another polling agency, the independent Levada Center, announced last week that they would not be […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Government members – KremlinRu

Kremlin and River

(Kremlin.ru – January 16, 2018) Vladimir Putin held the first meeting with Government members this year. Minister of Transport Maxim Sokolov reported to the meeting participants on passenger air and rail transportation volumes during the New Year holidays and over 2017. Head of the Federal Agency for Tourism Oleg Safonov reported on the growth of domestic, inbound and outbound tourist […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Future of Navalny’s Opposition Movement; Why It Will Continue to Challenge the Kremlin” – Foreign Affairs/Anton Barbashin

“In March 2017 … Navalny released a shocking video investigation … reveal[ing] that Medvedev has been able to amass a tremendous fortune while in power … several mansions in Russia, a villa and property in Italy, and other assets worth roughly $1.2 billion. … spark[ing] a great deal of interest among Russians … receiv[ing] almost 26 million views on YouTube […]

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RUSSIALINK: [Putin at] Meeting with participants of the Forum of Small Towns and Historical Settlements – KremlinRu

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

Vladimir Putin met with participants of the Forum of Small Towns and Historical Settlements that opened in Kolomna. The forum is devoted to preserving and developing the cultural, tourism and economic potential of small towns. Before the meeting the President visited an exhibition of projects for a comfortable urban environment. Vladimir Putin looked over the stands of the Ministry of […]

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Andrei Liakhov: Re: “Cohen on Putin”

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

Subject: Cohen on Putin Date: Wed, 17 Jan 2018 From: Andrei Liakhov <gaffriloff@yahoo.co.uk> [Andrei Liakhov has over 20 years of experience with leading international law firms, private companies and government institutions in the United Kingdom, the Russian Federation, Lithuania, Canada, and Ukraine.] Brilliant analysis, I can subscribe to every word. Pity the video is cut short and we do not […]

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Who’s On The List? Russia’s Elite Nervous About New U.S. Sanctions

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Mike Eckel – WASHINGTON – January 15, 2018 – also appeared at https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-sanctions-list-putin-circle-elite-nervous/28976991.html) There’s a chill settling in over Moscow, and it’s not just the arctic temperatures that typically smother the Russian capital in January. As U.S. officials put the finishing touches on new financial and travel sanctions against Russia, […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia Weighs Biggest Spending Spree Since Putin’s Re-Election” – Bloomberg/Andrey Biryukov, Ilya Arkhipov, Evgenia Pismennaya, Anna Andrianova, Olga Tanas

Putin Descending a Staircase

“Russia’s government is discussing a proposal to turn on the fiscal taps in what would be the biggest domestic spending spree since President Vladimir Putin last ran for re-election in 2012. …”

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NEWSWATCH: “Kremlin tries to stir voters’ interest in Putin’s election campaign; Slick, US-style apparatus set up in effort to present Russian poll as a contest” – Financial Times/ Kathrin Hille

Russia Regions Map

“… With 18 years in power … far-reaching control over institutions from parliament to courts and the election watchdog, and no serious challenger, [Putin] can afford to skip wooing voters …. the Kremlin frets that too smooth a campaign is dangerous. … voters’ passivity [includes] resignation that they cannot effect political change anyway … [that] could metastasise into widespread disaffection […]

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VCIOM: 81% of respondents to vote for Putin in election

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

MOSCOW. Jan 15 (Interfax) – Of the 67% of respondents surveyed by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM) who said they firmly intend to vote in the coming presidential election, over 80% said they are inclined to vote for Vladimir Putin, Valery Fyodorov, the head of the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM), said. “We are presenting another rating, […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Putin at] Meeting with heads of Russian print media and news agencies” – KremlinRu

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

(Kremlin.ru – January 11, 2018) Ahead of Russian Press Day marked on January 13, Vladimir Putin met with heads of Russian print media and news agencies in the editorial office of the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper. The discussion focused on current professional issues. The President congratulated media representatives on their professional holiday. In December 2017, during Vladimir Putin’s annual news conference, […]

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By Dividing Society, Putin has Unintentionally Opened Up Russia’s Politics, Pavlovsky Says

Kremlin and River

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 8, 2018) Vladimir Putin during his first two terms in office sought to unify Russians around him; but in his third, he divided them by attacking what he calls “the fifth column,” thus unwittingly creating two communities within Russia, opening up the country’s political space, and making competition for power possible, […]

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