NEWSWATCH: “Russian economic slump shows further signs of easing” – Reuters

Cash, Calculator, Pen

Russia’s GDP is still estimated to fall anywhere between 0.2 percent and 1.5 percent in 2016, depending on estimates, but … recent economic activity … showed that the slump continued to ease and fourth-quarter GDP might be positive. Retail sales, a barometer of domestic consumer demand, were down 4.8 percent, but the fall was less than the 5.8 percent seen […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia still plans to occupy Ukraine – defence minister; Ukraine’s Poltorak warns of further Kremlin’s aggression” – Ukraine Today

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

Russia is strengthening its military positions on its border with Ukraine and is still planning to occupy the neighbouring state. … according to Ukraine’s Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak who stated, ‘We clearly notice that Russia is bolstering its army positions on the border with Ukraine. It plans to deploy additional units and military bases on the border with Ukraine.’ Click […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Liberals in the Crosshairs: The Russian opposition’s troubles are only beginning.” – The National Interest/Maria Snegovaya

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

As Russia approaches parliamentary elections scheduled in September 2016, the prospects for Russia’s so-called nonsystem liberal opposition look increasingly gloomy. Not only have democratic opposition leaders failed to create a unified coalition yet again, as in essentially every previous election – a failure that will likely diminish their already limited chances to win seats in Russia’s federal and regional parliaments […]

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Interfax: Liquidation of Taliban leader to hinder negotiations in Afghanistan – Russian Foreign Ministry

Afghanistan Map of Ethnicities

MOSCOW. May 23 (Interfax) – The liquidation of Taliban movement leader Akhtar Mansoor will lead to further military escalation in Afghanistan, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. “If this information is confirmed, it will seriously hinder the negotiating process,” Special Representative of the Russian President for Afghanistan, Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Second European Department Zamir Kabulov told Interfax. It […]

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Warning Of War, Ex-Deputy Commander Says NATO Must Counter ‘Russian Adventurism’ In Baltics

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Eugen Tomiuc – May 22, 2016) A former NATO deputy supreme commander is warning that the alliance could find itself in a full-fledged armed conflict with Russia within a year if it does not strongly step up its presence in the Baltic states. Retired British General Richard Shirreff set out the stark scenario in a book […]

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Interfax: Foreign investors believe in Russia’s prospects despite sanctions – Shuvalov

Igor Shuvalov file photo

(Interfax – May 22, 2016) Foreign investors believe in the prospects of Russian economy and are setting up their productions here, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said in the Sunday Evening with Vladimir Solovyev show on Rossiya 1 (VGTRK) television on May 22. “If you take a look at how many new plants are opening now [in the […]

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Putin’s Advisors to Outline Russian Economic Reform

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 23, 2016) Russia’s latest economic reform package is set to cut state spending and raise the retirement age, the Vedomosti newspaper reported Monday. The reforms, which are due to be discussed Wednesday May 25 by President Vladimir Putin’s economic council, will focus heavily on stimulating domestic investment. It is the first time the council […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s reported doping is a subversion of the Olympic ideal” – Washington Post

sochi-olympics-200

… The latest evidence is a detailed report in the New York Times that Russian officials clandestinely carried out a doping program at the Sochi Games by giving athletes performance-enhancing drugs and then tampering with their urine samples to cover it up. The … account comes from the director of the Russian anti-doping agency at the time, who played a […]

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NEWSWATCH: “NATO finalizes military build-up to counter Russia” – AFP

NATO Meeting file photo

NATO foreign ministers were … finalising the alliance’s biggest military build-up since the end of the Cold War to counter what they see as a more aggressive and unpredictable Russia. … [At] a “landmark” summit … in July … NATO leaders will formally endorse the revamp which puts more troops into eastern European member states as part of a “deter […]

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RUSSIA & UKRAINE – Johnson’s Russia List table of contents :: JRL 2016-91 :: Friday, 20 May 2016

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

[check back for updates, including more links; links also posted to facebook and twitter] Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2016-#91 Friday, 20 May 2016 A project sponsored through the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs The contents do not necessarily represent the views of IERES or the George Washington University. JRL homepage: russialist.org – JRL […]

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Is neoliberalism applicable to Russia? A response to Ilya Matveev; Attempts to call the Putin regime “neoliberal” get one fundamental thing wrong: capitalism doesn’t exist in Russia.

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(opendemocracy.net – Anastasiya Ovsyannikova – May 20, 2016) Anastasiya Ovsyannikova is an economist and journalist. She has worked for F5 and Cityboom.ru, as well as Moscow’s Sakharov Center. oDR recently published an article by Ilya Matveev, “Russia, Inc”, which positioned neoliberalism as an organic part of the Putin regime. The intense discussion that followed brings us back to two central […]

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Economy Minister Says Russia Out of Recession More Than Six Months

Alexei Ulyukayev file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 20, 2016) The Russian economy has been out of recession for more than six months, Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said during a briefing at the Russia-ASEAN summit on Friday, the TASS news agency reported. Russia’s GDP may perform better than the official forecast, which predicted a decline of 0.2 percent, Ulyukayev said, attributing […]

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Russians Significantly Cut Back on Booze – Drug Treatment Center

Man in Silhoette with Bottle of Alcohol and Head in Hand

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 20, 2016) Over the past five years, Russians’ alcohol consumption has dropped by almost a third, the Health Ministry’s top drug specialist Yevgeny Bryun told the M24.ru news website. “An adult drinks 12.8 liters of pure alcohol a year on average. Five to six years ago the official amount was 18 liters per person,” […]

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Interfax: Mutko believes in rebirth of Russian track and field athletics

Olympic Rings Lit at Night, adapted from image at state.gov

MOSCOW. May 20 (Interfax) – After the restoration of its rights, Russian track and field athletics should start with “a clean slate,” Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told Interfax. “The majority of the disqualifications happened in track and field athletics and we will immediately set everything right and, I believe, start with a clean slate. At this stage, if everything […]

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RUSSIA & UKRAINE – Johnson’s Russia List table of contents :: JRL 2016-90 :: Thursday, 19 May 2016

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

[check back for updates, including more links; links also posted to facebook and twitter] Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2016-#90 Thursday, 19 May 2016 A project sponsored through the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs The contents do not necessarily represent the views of IERES or the George Washington University. JRL homepage: russialist.org – JRL […]

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The West Shouldn’t Fear Russia’s ‘Hybrid Warfare’

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – May 18, 2016) In the two years that have passed since Russia annexed Crimea, the expression “Russian hybrid warfare” has become a fixture in the Western political, media and academic lexicon. It’s a catch-all for Russian hostility — and a perfect mirror image of the Kremlin’s own paranoia about the West. The Atlantic […]

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Russia’s Atheists Organize to Fight Clericalization

Church Domes with Crosses file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 18, 2016) Russia’s atheists who in Soviet times enjoyed the active support of the government now face a situation in which the Russian regime is both supporting Orthodox Christianity and heavily influenced by it. As a result, this newly embattled minority has organize to fight the clericalization of Russia. Last Friday, […]

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The Monster Under The Kremlin

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – May 19, 2016) At first glance, the massive shoot-out at Moscow’s Khovanskoye Cemetery this past weekend seemed pretty retro. What, after all, reminds us more of the 1990s than rival Russian gangs staging a deadly brawl in a turf war over control of the lucrative burial business? What is more reminiscent of the […]

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Russia eyes $12.6 billion windfall from privatization of state companies

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

In 2016 the government intends to sell a part of the shares in its large raw commodity companies. The buyers can be foreign investors, but on certain conditions. It has already been announced that shares in Russia’s largest diamond mining company, Alrosa, will be sold through the Moscow Stock Exchange. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ANNA KUCHMA, RBTH […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Inevitable Decline of Putin’s Russia” – US News/Paul Shinkman

Putin Descending a Staircase

The downfall of the Soviet Union has taken on renewed resonance in 2016, as a similar set of pressures appears to be aligning against America’s former Cold War foe, raising questions as to whether it, too, may overtax itself. … the Kremlin in the early 2000s consolidated a resurgent Russia’s economic power among a few trusted business elites, failing to […]

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Cossacks Chief Denies Attack on Navalny Group at Anapa Airport

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 18, 2016) A group of Cossacks did not attack Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny but tried to break up the fight, the chief of Anapa’s Cossack community told the RBC newspaper Tuesday. “Those who attacked Navalny and his companions are not Cossacks. Police are now looking for them,” Ivan Petrov said. Navalny, his colleagues […]

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Ukraine Talks Seek Progress, But Donbas Elections Remain a Hurdle

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

(Voice of America – voa.com – Daniel Schearf – MOSCOW, May 17, 2016) U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland’s surprise trip to Moscow is evidence of a new push for progress on implementing the peace deal for Ukraine signed last year in Belarus’ capital, Minsk. Nuland’s trip began Tuesday, just a day before the Trilateral Contact Group meets in […]

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Russia Retools After Crash as Post-Oil Economy Takes Shape

Oil Well file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas – May 18, 2016) Call it a stealth overhaul. With none of the fanfare that greeted Saudi Arabia’s plan for the post-oil era, the Russian economy is quietly getting its biggest makeover under President Vladimir Putin. A trail left by crude’s collapse has turned up some unlikely survivors and even industries that found a […]

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RUSSIA & UKRAINE – Johnson’s Russia List table of contents :: JRL 2016-89 :: Wednesday, 18 May 2016

[check back for updates, including more links; links also posted to facebook and twitter] Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2016-#89 Wednesday, 19 May 2016 A project sponsored through the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs The contents do not necessarily represent the views of IERES or the George Washington University. JRL homepage: russialist.org – JRL […]

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Russia’s Single-Industry Towns to Lose 16,000 Jobs in 2016

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 18, 2016) More than 16,000 Russians in single-industry towns are expected to lose their jobs in 2016, the RBK news website reported Wednesday. Russia’s monotowns – cities where one industry or company provides the vast majority of local employment – have been badly hit by the financial crisis. Overall production in single-industry towns fell […]

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Russian Charities to Be Exempt From ‘Foreign Agent’ Label

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 18, 2016) Charities are no longer to be classified as “foreign agents” if they receive money from abroad, according to a new amendment approved by the Russian State Duma. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in areas such as art and culture will also be exempt from the “foreign agent” label, the Interfax news agency reported […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting of the Commission for Monitoring Targeted Socioeconomic Development Indicators

Kremlin and River

(Kremlin.ru – May 16, 2016) The meeting discussed the state of progress in implementing the instructions set out in the presidential executive orders of May 2012. The agenda included, in particular, issues pertaining to staffing the healthcare system with qualified personnel, development of supplementary education for children, and raising the quality of public services, including in the housing and utilities […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] State Council meeting on construction sector and urban planning development

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Kremlin.ru – May 17, 2016) Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the State Council in the Kremlin on developing the construction sector and improving urban planning. The meeting agenda included measures to develop the construction sector, including by implementing investment projects, introducing new technology, harmonising construction legislation and applying public-private partnership mechanisms. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues, […]

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Russia’s Economy Shows Signs Of Stabilization In First Quarter

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – May 17, 2016) Russia’s economy contracted by less than expected in the first quarter of 2016 in a sign it may be stabilizing. The Russian state statistics service said on May 16 that the economy declined by 1.2 percent from a year earlier, after falling by 3.8 percent in the final quarter of 2015. Russia’s economy […]

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RUSSIA & UKRAINE – Johnson’s Russia List table of contents :: JRL 2016-88 :: Tuesday, 17 May 2016

St. Basil's Domes

[check back for updates, including more links; links also posted to facebook and twitter] Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2016-#88 Tuesday, 17 May 2016 A project sponsored through the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs The contents do not necessarily represent the views of IERES or the George Washington University. JRL homepage: russialist.org – JRL […]

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A Euro ‘vision’ of discord: The reaction from Russia and Ukraine

Joseph Stalin file photo

Eurovision, Europe’s most popular song contest, has pitted Russia against Ukraine. The winning song and the results of the jury have prompted considerable commentary in both countries, turning an apolitical show into yet another frontline in an ongoing media war. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – OLEG YEGOROV, YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH – May 17, 2016) The Eurovision 2016 winning […]

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RBTH: Olympic doping scandal: Whistleblower Rodchenkov may face court in Russia

Olympic Rings Lit at Night, adapted from image at state.gov

Grigory Rodchenkov’s exposure of Russian Olympic champions’ use of doping contains many unsubstantiated accusations and few facts, say Russian officials and experts. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ALEXEY MOSKO, RBTH – May 16, 2016) Criminal proceedings may be launched against former head of the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory Grigory Rodchenkov, the man who revealed to The New York Times […]

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Russians Face Sustained Declines in Standard of Living for the Foreseeable Future, Economist Says

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 14, 2016) Dmitry Prokofyev, a St. Petersburg economist, says that barring an unexpected shock, Russia faces declines of its GDP of 1.0 – 1.5 percent a year for the foreseeable future, a trend that will exacerbate differences between life in the megalopolises which may improve somewhat and life elsewhere which will […]

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Eurovision meets its Waterloo as Russia-Ukraine rivalry takes center stage

Joseph Stalin file photo

While Russian officials lost no time in lashing out over Ukraine’s Eurovision victory with a song about the Stalinist deportations of the Crimean Tatars, the results of the public vote suggest that Russia-Ukrainian enmity doesn’t extend to the general public. But the overtly political nature of the winning song may mark a watershed for the competition. (Russia Beyond the Headlines […]

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Interfax: Lower key rate would not boost Russian economy – Central Bank

Russian Central Bank file photo

MOSCOW. May 16 (Interfax) – Lowering the key interest rate in current conditions would not result in growth for the real economy, Dmitry Tulin, first deputy governor of the Central Bank, said in the State Duma, during a discussion of the Central Bank’s annual report. “We take into consideration the factor of the impact of monetary policy on the state […]

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Russian Economy Shrank Less Than Forecast as Growth Seen Closer

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas – May 16, 2016) Russia’s economy contracted less than forecast in the first quarter, leaving it closer to growth than at any time since it slid into recession last year. Gross domestic product fell 1.2 percent from a year earlier after a decline of 3.8 percent in the previous three months, the Federal Statistics […]

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Could a union do anything to protect Russian journalists?

satellite-dish-big-disa-mil

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

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NEWSWATCH: “What to expect from next U.S. ambassador to Ukraine” [former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, Marie Yovanovitch] – Kyiv Post/Armine Sahakyan

Marie Yovanovitch file photo, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

Ukraine can expect Marie L. Yovanovitch, likely the next U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, to try to help achieve a political accommodation between Kyiv and eastern Ukraine’s separatists, to oppose corruption and political thuggery, and to defend human rights and journalist rights. * * * Yovanovitch, who was born in Canada into a family of immigrants from Russia, majored in history […]

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