Interfax: Kremlin criticises media’s take of “Yarovaya laws”

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

(Interfax – September 26, 2016) The Kremlin has criticised media coverage of the so-called “Yarovaya package” of anti-terrorist laws, accusing journalists of being too emotional in their reporting and exaggerating the laws’ provisions, privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax reported on 26 September. “All of these themes are being reflected in the media within a very lively discussion. Much of it […]

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In Putin’s ‘Corporate Fascist State,’ Ideological Labels like ‘Liberal’ are Irrelevant, Inozemtsev Says

Vladimir Putin

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 22) It is a profound mistake to discuss Kremlin politics in terms of liberal, conservative or any of the other ideological labels, Vladislav Inozemtsev says, because in “the corporate state of a fascist type” that Putin has established, individuals even just below the supreme leader are “cogs” in a machine who […]

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NEWSWATCH: “More of Kremlin’s Opponents Are Ending Up Dead. A Pattern That Suggests State Involvement” – New York Times

Kremlin and River

In a series of public meetings on Capitol Hill … [Vladimir] Kara-Murza, a leader in the Russian opposition, urged American lawmakers to expand economic sanctions against the Russian government under a law known as the Magnitsky Act. That would hasten political change in Russia, he argued. … in Moscow a month later, in May 2015, the changes Mr. Kara-Murza detected […]

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Russia’s Solitary Man; [Putin is firing powerful allies and is setting himself up as tsar]

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – August 15, 2016) Vladimir Putin is throwing his old pals under the bus. He’s replacing them with loyal and docile servants. And he’s building a security apparatus that answers to him alone. A year ago, Putin fired longtime associate Vladimir Yakunin as head of Russian Railways. A few months back, he effectively dismissed […]

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Putin’s Latest Personnel Changes Make a Stable Long-Term Dictatorship More Likely, Pastukhov Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 15, 2016) The retirement of Sergey Ivanov as head of the Presidential administration, whatever the proximate causes, “symbolizes a change in eras of the Putin administration,” from one of a kind of collective leadership to a one-man dictatorship that is likely to last a long time, according to Vladimir Pastukhov. Ivanov’s […]

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Detention of PARNAS party members in Russia’s Tatarstan “absolutely stupid” on part of local law enforcement agencies – Russian Central Elections Commission head

File Photo of Mosque in Kazan and other Landmarks

MOSCOW. Aug 16 (Interfax) – The detention of PARNAS party members in Tatarstan is a sign of the local law enforcement agencies’ lawlessness, Russian Central Elections Commission (CEC) Chairperson Ella Pamfilova said. “This is outrageous. The mildest words here are: it’s absolutely stupid. This is direct connivance with the law enforcement agencies; the Tatarstan authorities have never been notable for […]

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On Russian studies [and Re: “Opportunities and Constraints of Authoritarian Modernisation: Russian Policy Reforms in the 2000s”]

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

Subject: On Russian studies Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2016 From: Brian D Taylor <bdtaylor@maxwell.syr.edu> Thanks again for all you do with JRL. It’s a very valuable resource. I would like to say, though, that “real Russian studies” are not particularly rare. If you ask social scientists who study Russia, they could point you to many detailed analyses of practically every […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s flirtation with fascism: Putinism is real, but fleeting” – The Daily Star (Lebanon)/Vladislav Inozemtsev

Kremlin and River

Assessing the Russian political system, Vladislav Inozemtsev writes in Lebanon’s The Daily Star that: … the Russian system should be characterized as proto-fascist – tamer than European fascist states during the 1920s and 1930s, but still featuring key elements …. the structure of Russia’s political economy; the idealization of the state as a source of moral authority; and … international […]

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United Russia: Same Game, New Tactics

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ola CichowlasJ – June 16, 2016) By June 19, President Vladimir Putin is expected to sign a decree that will officially kick-start the campaign season. Within a few days, all the parties taking part in the election will host conventions and declare their list of candidates. These State Duma elections will be the first time […]

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Jailed for a repost: The definition of extremism in Russia gets ever looser

Kremlin and River

Russia has seen a dramatic rise in criminal prosecutions on charges of internet extremism over the last few months. Yet most of these cases concern not the creation of extremist content but retweeting, liking or reposting it. RBTH found out more. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH – June 7, 2016) On Feb. 20, Yekaterina Vologzhenova, […]

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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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NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Russia. Down But Not Out. Part I.” – Foreign Affairs/Maria Lipman, Sergei Guriev, Daniel Treisman, Katie Allawala

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

Over the past decade and a half, Vladimir Putin’s Russia has been an economic dynamo and a basket case, an imperfect democracy and a tightening tyranny, a constructive diplomatic actor and a serial military aggressor—sometimes all at once. The only constant has been surprise, as the zigging and zagging has left outside observers, and even many Russians, scratching their heads. […]

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Russia Is Giving up on Its Tragedies-and on Itself

Tower and Building Inside Kremlin

(Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 13, Issue 45 – Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Pavel K. Baev – March 7, 2016) Pavel K. Baev is a research professor at the Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO) and nonresident senior fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe at Brookings. President Vladimir Putin’s approval rating is regularly accepted as a proxy […]

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Moscow’s authoritarian future

Sergei Sobyanin file photo

Recent moves against Moscow’s street traders don’t only violate Russia’s Constitution and hurt the economy. They also consolidate the regime’s power. (opendemocracy.net – Anastasiya Ovsyannikova – March 9, 2016) Anastasiya Ovsyannikova is an economist and journalist. She has worked for F5 and Cityboom.ru, as well as Moscow’s Sakharov Center. The overnight demolition of 104 street kiosks in Moscow last month […]

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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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Putin signs law commemorating victims of political repressions

File Photo of Prison in Russia with Wall, Barbed Wire, Guard Tower

(Interfax – March 9, 2016) Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a bill reinforcing the right of central-government bodies and local authorities to conduct measures to perpetuate the memory of the victims of the political repressions and provide support for nonprofit organizations involved in such efforts. The bill was proposed by the Russian government. The law reinforces the […]

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Review: Arkady Ostrovsky’s ‘The Invention of Russia’

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

This new history tells a compelling, if normative, story of how Russia’s journalists and entrepreneurs threw off their former shackles, only to put them back on again. (opendemocracy.net – Maxim Edwards – February 3, 2016) Maxim Edwards is Commissioning Editor at oDR. He writes on nationalism, inter-ethnic and inter-religious relations, with a focus on post-Soviet countries. His articles have appeared […]

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Just How Bad is Putin? Ever More People Are Counting the Ways

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 31, 2016) As the number of Vladimir Putin’s violations of international law and normal morality grows, ever more people are offering lists of the actions for which he must be held accountable. Three particularly interesting examples of that trend have been offered over the last several days. Russian journalist Oleg Kashin […]

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Ever more Russians are at risk of repression as Putin’s Russia heads toward totalitarianism

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – January 27, 2016) There is an old observation that in a democracy, anything that isn’t prohibited is permitted; in an authoritarian system, anything that isn’t permitted is prohibited; and in a totalitarian one, anything that is permitted is compulsory and any failure to go along can result in arrest or worse. Judging from […]

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NEWSLINK: “How a liberal bastion is persevering in an increasingly illiberal Moscow. The Andrei Sakharov Center, one of the last safe spaces for Russia’s liberal community, has been fined and fined again for its purported ‘political activity.’ But celebrity support and crowdsourcing have kept it alive.” – Christian Science Monitor

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

Russian Minister: Security Concerns Justify Restricting Civil Rights

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – November 28, 2015) Russia’s interior minister said restricting civil rights is justifiable if security considerations demand it, according to a television interview that was broadcast Thursday night and prompted criticism from human rights advocates. Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev told NTV television that police and security agencies must “tighten the screws” in case […]

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New Museum Stakes Claim to Russia’s Gulag Legacy

File Photo of Gulag Victim Ivan Burylov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Howard Amos – November 5, 2015) [Photos here http://www.themoscowtimes.com/arts_n_ideas/article/new-museum-stakes-claim-to-russias-gulag-legacy/542211.html] Russia’s largest museum devoted to the horrors of the Soviet gulag has opened, even as many Muscovites remain unwilling to talk about political repression. Moscow’s new Gulag Museum opened Friday even as the country remains polarized by the legacy of its brutal system of Soviet-era prison […]

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Like Stalin, Putin hasn’t Changed the Rules of the Game; He’s Destroyed Them, Portnikov Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 28, 2015) The Anschluss of Crimea and the murder of Boris Nemtsov were not continuations of the rules of the game that had existed before, with the first following the 2008 Russian actions in Georgia and the second that of murders like Galina Starovoitova and Anna Politkovskaya, Vitaly Portnikov says. Instead, […]

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Unlike Stalin’s Show-Trial Victims, Russia’s Political Defendants Don’t Back Down

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

(RFE/RL – Robert Coalson – August 20, 2015) There are, of course, many differences between the infamous show trials of Josef Stalin’s Great Terror and the politically convenient prosecutions of the political adversaries of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Stalin liked to try his victims in huge mass productions on blatantly political charges and then march them off for summary execution […]

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NEWSLINK Washington Post: Russia’s summer of intrigue: Political trials take center stage.

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

Russian Opposition Cornered by Authorities in Regional Election Race

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – August 10, 2015) Attempts by the opposition’s Democratic Coalition to take part in upcoming regional elections have been thwarted by local election commissions’ refusal to register its members as candidates, in what analysts say is a concerted effort to nip opposition bids in the bud. The coalition, which consists of opposition firebrand […]

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Faced with Any Kremlin Action, Russians Want Explanations Not Change, Kirillova Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 9, 2015) Many analysts in Russia and the West are speculating about whether the burning of food at the Russian border will finally be enough to spark major protests in Russia.  But they are missing the point: faced with any Kremlin action, no matter how absurd and immoral, Russians want explanations […]

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Moscow Times: Poll: Nearly Half of Russians Favor Decent Wages Over Free Speech

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – July 8, 2015) More than 40 percent of Russians would be willing to forgo the right to free speech and the freedom to travel abroad if Russian authorities would guarantee “decent” salaries and pensions, a poll released Tuesday by independent pollster the Levada Center revealed. Forty-two percent of Russians said they preferred […]

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Moscow Times: More Than 80% of Russians Favor State Censorship of Literature, Film, Art

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – May 8, 2015) Fourteen percent of Russians do not support state intervention when it comes to the content and dissemination of artistic creations, the survey also showed. A vast majority of Russians think the state should censor artistic creations believed to be vulgar, immoral or harmful to society, according to a survey […]

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Persecuted Russian Lawyer Finds New Ways Around Foreign Agents Label

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Sergey Chernov – April 29, 2015) The life of St. Petersburg human rights lawyer Ivan Pavlov has changed dramatically in the last 12 months. After his American wife was deported as a “threat to national security” in August, the family moved to Prague, but Pavlov returns regularly to lead high-profile cases and manage a group […]

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Some Who Left: A New Wave Of Russian Emigration

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Robert Coalson – April 21, 2015) Hundreds of thousands have left Russia over the last two years, citing a variety of political, economic, and personal reasons. According to Russian government statistics, 203,000 people left the country permanently in the first eight months of 2014. That’s up from 186,000 in 2013, and very likely to break Russia’s […]

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Russian dissidents seek asylum in Kyiv

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(opendemocracy.net – Anna Yalovkina – Anna Yalovkina is a journalist from Kyrgyzstan and a correspondent at the internet portal Vecherny Bishkek. She writes for lenta.ru and films video for RFE/RL – April 17, 2015) As oppression heats up in Russia, post-revolutionary Ukraine is attracting political émigrés from the Russian opposition. From the moment the Maidan started in Ukraine, Russian authorities rushed […]

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Why Putin’s Next War Will Be at Home; A pollster and a former Putin adviser predict new popularity problems-and renewed focus on domestic enemies

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Ragozin – April 17, 2015) Vladimir Putin appeared this week in his annual marathon television broadcast to answer questions posed by viewers from across Russia. Of course, the four-hour show, Direct Line With Vladimir Putin, was carefully choreographed to avoid anything that could embarrass the Russian leader. But that doesn’t mean the broadcast shied away […]

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Russian Investigators Have Difficulty Accessing Nemtsov Murder Suspects in Chechnya

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(Eurasia Daily Monitor – Volume 12, Issue 68 – Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Valery Dzutsev – April 13, 2015) Six weeks after the assassination of prominent Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov near the Kremlin in Moscow, authorities have failed to present a coherent explanation for the crime. As one observer has pointed out: “It looks like the Kremlin has […]

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Russian state will not clamp down on dissenters, senate speaker says

Valentina Matviyenko file photo

(RIA Novosti – Moscow, April 1, 2015) Russia does not intend to conduct a clampdown on the opposition as it is not threatened by a “colour revolution” no matter how hard the West tries to de-stabilize the interior situation in the country, Russian Federation Council speaker Valentina Matviyenko has said. “The Russian state does not intend to pursue a clampdown […]

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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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‘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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Khodorkovsky Speech Aired in St. Pete Hotel Despite Chaos

Mikhail Khodorkovsky file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – December 8, 2014) It seems St. Petersburg authorities on Sunday did not want a Holiday Inn conference room to show a speech by one of President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent and vocal critics: Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The conference area was searched for drugs, police attempted to evacuate the building because of a bomb […]

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Moscow Ready to Use Internal Troops against Any Maidan-Like Activity in Russia, Interior Minister Says

Kremlin and Environs Aerial View

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, November 29, 2014) In words that are clearly intended to intimidate but that may have just the opposite effect by exposing official nervousness, Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev says that Moscow is ready to use its internal troops against any Maidan-like activity in any part of the Russian Federation. The minister told […]

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Half of Russians Expect Repeat of Soviet-Era Repression, Poll Says

File Photo of Prison in Russia with Wall, Barbed Wire, Guard Tower

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Allison Quinn – October 30, 2014) Nearly half of all Russians believe that a return to Soviet-era repression is possible within their lifetime, a poll by the state-run Public Opinion Foundation revealed Wednesday. The poll, titled “Mass Repression in the Soviet Union,” examined the public’s perceptions and interpretations of Soviet-era repression. Millions were persecuted for […]

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Interfax: Poll: Western-style democracy won’t work for Russia

Map of Russia

(Interfax – October 28, 2014) Russians are prone to describe the Western democratic model as unviable under the Russian conditions but exhibit an interest in the life and work in Western countries, sociologists told Interfax. Fifty-five percent of 1,630 respondents polled by the Levada Center in 134 populated localities in 46 regions in September said Russia needed a special type […]

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Can Russia Disconnect From The Internet?

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(RFE/RL – Luke Johnson – October 02, 2014) After chairing a meeting of the Russian Security Council on October 1, President Vladimir Putin insisted the Kremlin was not planning to limit access to the Internet or put it under total state control. The authorities would, however, take additional measures to increase cybersecurity and continue to shut down sites promoting extremism, xenophobia, […]

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RIA Novosti: Putin’s spokesman rules out return of Iron Curtain

Berlin Wall, Fencing, Barbed Wire, Women

(RIA Novosti – Moscow, October 1, 2014) It is absurd to raise the issue of a possible closure of the Russian borders, the Russian president’s press secretary Dmitriy Peskov has said, commenting on a survey by the Levada Centre about the possibility of a return of the Iron Curtain. “The absurdity of this survey does not require any answer,” Peskov […]

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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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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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Five Stories From Put-Upon Small Business in Moscow

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Panin – December 18, 2013) Before Mayor Sergei Sobyanin came to power in 2010, Guram Bolkvadze, a businessman from Georgia, owned 24 kiosks at bus stops across Moscow. Then one day, he was given just a few hours to get his goods out of the shops before the bulldozers came in and leveled 18 […]

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Interfax: There is no persecution of political views in Russia, but ‘law can’t be violated with actions’ – Putin

Kremlin and St. Basil's file photo

MOSCOW. Nov 21 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said that no one is imprisoning anyone for their political views in Russia, but no one allowed to take actions that break the law. “No one is grabbing anyone and no one is imprisoning anyone for ideas, for political views, and we will never allow that. We will never go back […]

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