NGO led by Kudrin willing to arrange independent election monitoring

Alexei Kudrin file photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW. July 11, 2013) The Committee of Civil Initiatives is willing to engage in long-term independent monitoring of election campaigns in Russia, says the committee’s head, former Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin. “Unfortunately, the activities of the almost only independent organization specializing in long-term monitoring (of elections) have been curtailed. We say responsibly today that […]

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Russian Experts See Billionaire Prokhorov Losing Interest In Politics

Mikhail Prokohrov file photo

(RIA Novosti – July 11, 2013) The Civil Platform party has a good potential in the struggle for power but its leader billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is behaving inconsistently and losing interest in politics, Russian RIA Novosti news agency reported on 11 July, quoting political analysts. Prokhorov said earlier that the party would not nominate candidates for the Moscow mayoral and […]

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Russian President Decrees Changes To Gubernatorial Candidate Nomination Rules

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

(RIA Novosti – Moscow, July 11, 2013) Parties represented in the State Duma and (regional) legislative assemblies, rather than just the victorious party in regional elections, will have the right to nominate gubernatorial candidates to the president in the regions that have decided not to hold direct elections (for regional governors), says the president’s degree published on the official portal […]

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Mayoral Candidates Down to 6 After Deadline Elapses

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 12, 2013) Only six candidates, including acting Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin and opposition activist Alexei Navalny, have managed to submit the necessary documentation for registration in the upcoming mayoral elections. The deadline for accepting candidates’ registration papers was 6:00 p.m. Thursday. While eight people submitted documentation to the Election Committee, only six managed to […]

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Orthodox Patriarch Says Russians Having Too Much Fun

Valaam file photo showing Monastery church on wooded island

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – July 11, 2013) Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill has urged Russians to have less fun and spend more of their free time in seclusion. On July 11, Kirill said there was “more fun than needed” in the life of Russians. He said people spent a lot of their energy working and should occupy their time in isolated, […]

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Russian Labor Ministry claims increase in birth rate, natural population decline

File Photo of Crowd of Russians with One Waving Russian Flag

(Interfax – MOSCOW, July 11, 2013) The death rate in Russia grew by 3,900 year on year in January-May 2013, the Labor and Social Protection Ministry said on Thursday. “Some 813,200 people died in January-May 2013 or 3,900 more than during the relevant period in 2012,” the press service quoted Minister Maxim Topilin. The minister said though that the death […]

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Inflation, corruption catching up with public utilities on Russian top problems’ list – poll

Electrical Yard file photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW, July 11, 2013) Housing and public utilities remain the biggest concern for Russians (55%) although the problem’s acuteness has been alleviated in recent months, the Russian Public Opinion Study Center (VTsIOM) said. The second biggest problem is inflation (47%) and low living standards rank third (46%). Corruption and bureaucracy (44%) and healthcare problems (43%) follow. The other […]

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Rights commissioner denounces Magnitsky’s postmortem conviction

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

(Interfax – MOSCOW, July 11, 2013) Russian Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin has denounced the postmortem conviction of late Hermitage Capital auditor Sergei Magnitsky by Moscow’s Tverskoi Court. “I object to trying people post mortem. There is an element of some ancient pagan mentality in this,” Lukin told Interfax on Thursday. “Then let’s arrange the trial of Ivan the Terrible […]

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Hermitage Capital blasts Magnitsky’s posthumous conviction

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

(Interfax – MOSCOW, July 11, 2013) British investment fund Hermitage Capital has attacked Thursday’s posthumous conviction of its lawyer Sergei Magnitsky and in absentia conviction of its chief executive William Browder. “This trial reflects the authorities’ disrespect for fundamental international legal values and personal rights and freedoms,” Hermitage said in a statement made available to Interfax. Moscow’s Tverskoi Court convicted […]

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Russia’s Medvedev hopes Obama, Biden visits will boost economic ties

File Photo of Barack Hussein Obama and Dmitry Medvedev with Flags, Shaking Hands

(Interfax – July 11, 2013) Russian Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev has said he hopes the upcoming visits of US President Barack Obama and US Vice-President Joe Biden to Russia will strengthen Russian-US economic ties. He was speaking at the Innoprom industrial trade fair in Yekaterinburg on 11 July, as reported by Russian privately-owned Interfax news agency. “I hope that the […]

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JRL NEWSBLOG: ITAR-TASS reports on text of Edward Snowden’s message inviting rights activists to conference

Edward Snowden file photo

[Text of Edward Snowden’s message inviting rights activists to conference revealed – ITAR-TASS – MOSCOW, July 12, 2013 – http://www.itar-tass.com/en/c32/805618.html] Russian news agency ITAR-TASS reports on fugitive Edward Snowden, former NSA IT support contractor, and his e-mail message to Russian activists, which later resulted in a video news conference with the activists at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. Click here for the […]

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JRL NEWSBLOG: Snowden Is Said to Renew Plea for Asylum in Russia

Edward Snowden file photo

[Snowden Is Said to Renew Plea for Asylum in Russia – New York Times – Ellen Barry – July 12, 2013 – http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/13/world/europe/snowden-russia-asylum.html] Ellen Barry of The New York Times reports on fugitive Edward Snowden, former NSA IT support contractor, and his renewed interest in gaining asylum in Russia: … Snowden, the fugitive American intelligence contractor, met with representatives of […]

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JRL NEWSBLOG: Russia Today: Snowden wants asylum in Russia, ready to meet condition not to damage U.S.

Edward Snowden file photo

[Snowden wants asylum in Russia, ready to meet condition not to damage US – russiatoday.com – July 12, 2013 – http://rt.com/news/snowden-meets-rights-activists-013/] Pro-Kremlin Russia Today reports that the fugitive former NSA IT support contractor Edward Snowden, wanted for espionage in the United States, once again is seeking asylum in Russia: NSA leaker & former CIA employee Edward Snowden has asked for […]

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Johnson’s Russia List :: 2013-#125 :: 11 July 2013

Map of Russia

Johnson’s Russia List :: 2013-#125 :: 11 July 2013 E-Mail: davidjohnson@starpower.net A project of the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs: www.ieres.org JRL homepage: russialist.org JRL on Facebook: facebook.com/russialist JRL on Twitter: twitter.com/JohnsonRussiaLi Support JRL: russialist.org/funding.php POLITICS 1. Moscow Times: Sergei Markov, The Myths of Putin’s Political Repression. […]

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After Fatal Brawl, Russia’s Ethnic Tensions Hard to Cool

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, July 10, 2013) ­ Russian officials and community leaders tried Wednesday to cool interethnic tensions by calling for a liquor ban, evacuating “radical” youngsters and promising justice, after a stabbing death in a small town triggered days of angry protests demanding that residents from Russia’s war-scarred republic of Chechnya be kicked out. President Vladimir Putin’s regional […]

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Russian senator blames underfunding for loss on influence in post-Soviet space

Map of European Portion of Former Soviet Union

(Interfax – St. Petersburg, July 10, 2013) The Federation Council is concerned that Russia is losing influence in the post-Soviet space because of the lack of funds to finance Russian NCOs (noncommercial organizations) which work there. Igor Morozov, a member of the Committee on International Affairs, told a Federation Council meeting on Wednesday (10 July) that the European Union and […]

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Germans Hail Snowden as NSA Evokes Stasi Seizing Lives of Others

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Cornelius Rahn & Leon Mangasarian – July 10, 2013) Willi Kuhlmann remembers the day the Berlin Wall was erected on Aug. 13, 1961, and how the system of spying on East German citizens by secret police known as the Stasi intensified. His experience as a border guard along the Wall that divided Germany’s capital city for […]

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Rotenberg denies his friend Putin helps him run his business

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Interfax – MOSCOW, July 10, 2013) Russian oligarch Arkady Rotenberg has denied that Russian President Vladimir Putin, who he has known for a long time, helps him solve his business problems. “Vladimir Vladimirovich and I started training in sambo wrestling when I was a little over 13 and he a little over 12. Our acquaintance goes back to that time, […]

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Russia will not see significant change in tax system in next three yrs – Medvedev

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Interfax – MOSCOW, July 10, 2013) Russia will not see any significant changes in its tax system within the next three years, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at a meeting with members of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RUIE) board. The government has endorsed the principal areas of its tax policy development for 2014-2016, he said. “No […]

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Russian Booker Nominees Listed

Map of Russia

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 11, 2013) The “long list” for the Russian equivalent of the prestigious literary award was announced at a press conference on Wednesday. Twenty-four hopefuls have entered the running, whittled down from 87. The final shortlist of six candidates is to be announced on October 3. The award is considered one of the most prestigious […]

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Russian prosecutor calls for more NGOs oversight

Yury Chaika file photo

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Anna Arutunyan – July 11, 2013) Russia’s Prosecutor General Yury Chaika has claimed that non-government organizations lack oversight and are capable of undermining state interests, after revealing that three NGOs were allegedly involved in terrorist activity, while 20 NGOs violated tax regulations. Chaika’s calls for more oversight have come amid debates in wake of a […]

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Russian Duma members take on nepotism in state institutions

Duma Session file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Marina Obrazkova, RBTH – July 10, 2013) Members of parliament have submitted a bill to the State Duma that they believe will help eradicate nepotism and corruption among state agencies. The bill proposes adding two new articles to the federal anti-corruption law. The first would ban money transfers from state agencies to organisations […]

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Poll Shows Sobyanin With Huge Lead in Mayoral Race

Sergei Sobyanin file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Natalya Krainova – July 11, 2013) Less than two months before the Moscow mayoral election, an independent public opinion poll shows acting Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin with a double-digit lead over the other 39 potential candidates, none of whom received even 10 percent of respondents’ support. The poll published Wednesday by the Levada Center named […]

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Nabiullina Seen Holding Russia Rates as Inflation Limits Options

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Scott Rose & Olga Tanas – July 10, 2013) Elvira Nabiullina will probably kick off her tenure as Russia’s monetary policy chief by holding rates as inflation remains above target, which her predecessor blamed for the lack of monetary easing the past nine months. The central bank will leave the refinancing rate at 8.25 percent at […]

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Russia’s New Digital Vigilantes

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – July 10, 2013) MOSCOW — It’s sort of a freelance sting operation aimed at suspected pedophiles. And it works like this: An activist logs into an Internet chat forum and poses as a minor. If an adult man shows interest and suggests inappropriate contact, he is gently warned that his interlocutor is underage. […]

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Half of Russians Support Tough NGO Sanctions

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 11, 2013) Over half of Russians support tough measures implemented against NGOs, while nearly a third don’t know what activities these organizations are actually engaged in, a Levada Center poll suggests. A controversial law was passed in November requiring all groups that receive foreign funding and engage in “political activity” to register as “foreign […]

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Putin Preferred in Moscow With Protests Seen Shifting to Regions

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ilya Arkhipov – July 11, 2013) The mood for protest has shifted from Moscow to the regions as Russia’s economy slows, according to the Center for Strategic Studies in Moscow. Approval ratings for President Vladimir Putin, 60, have stabilized, and he’s now more popular in the capital than in the rest of Russia, according to the […]

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Corruption up 450% in a Year in Russian Forces – Prosecutors

File Photo of Russian Tanks in Military Parade

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, July 11, 2013) ­ The financial cost of corruption uncovered in the Russian Armed Forces this year has soared 450 percent from last year to over 4.4 billion rubles ($130 million), the Prosecutor General’s Office reported on Thursday. “The amount of damage inflicted on the state by corruption crimes this year rose by five and a […]

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Rights Council Members Shown a Transformed Chechnya

Map of Chechnya and Environs

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – July 11, 2013) During the Second Chechen War, witnesses described Chechnya’s Chernokozovo prison as a place where suspected Chechen rebels were tortured until their relatives paid a bribe sufficient for their release. Prisoners arriving at the facility were greeted with the phrase “Welcome to hell” and subsequently forced to undergo a series […]

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Ponomaryov Accused of Orchestrating Bolotnaya Riots

Russian Duma Building

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 11, 2013) A State Duma deputy from the leftist A Just Russia party Ilya Ponomaryov has been accused of helping to organize mass riots on Bolotnaya Ploshchad in central Moscow, one of the officers in charge of policing at the rally testified. “Ilya Ponomaryov ­ along with Udaltsov ­ has organized mass riots,” Dmitry […]

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Memorial refuses to be recognized as foreign agent

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Interfax – MOSCOW. July 10, 2013) The Russian human rights and educational society Memorial has dismissed Prosecutor General Yury Chaika’s statement that Memorial has set up a ramified structure in order to evade registration as a foreign agent. “Memorial (branches) emerged in many cities and consolidated into one organization on its own, and it had nothing to do with those […]

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Johnson’s Russia List :: 2013-#124 :: 10 July 2013

Map of Russia

Johnson’s Russia List :: 2013-#124 :: 10 July 2013 E-Mail: davidjohnson@starpower.net A project of the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs: www.ieres.org JRL homepage: russialist.org JRL on Facebook: facebook.com/russialist JRL on Twitter: twitter.com/JohnsonRussiaLi Support JRL: russialist.org/funding.php POLITICS 1. RIA Novosti: Russians Prefer Patriotic Leaders, Not Liberals or Conservatives. […]

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Review of Gilbert Doctorow’s book “Stepping out of Line: Collected (Nonconformist) Essays on Russia-American Relations, 2008-12”

File Photo of Barack Hussein Obama and Dmitry Medvedev with Flags, Shaking Hands

From: “Vladimir Sobell” <vlad.sobell@btinternet.com> Subject: Review of Gilbert Doctorow’s book “Stepping out of Line: Collected (Nonconformist) Essays on Russia-American Relations, 2008-12” Date: Wed, 3 Jul 2013 Vlad Sobell Professor, New York University, Prague Review of Gilbert Doctorow’s book “Stepping out of Line: Collected (Nonconformist) Essays on Russia-American Relations, 2008-12” Link to the book: http://www.amazon.com/Stepping-Out-Line-Nonconformist-Russian-American/dp/1481270060/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370415087&sr=8-1&keywords=gilbert+doctorow [About the Author Gilbert Doctorow is […]

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The Moscow Front

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – July 9, 2013) With Moscow’s election months away and the result likely predetermined, the next big showdown in the Russian capital should come as early as next week. In the last couple days, more than 6,000 people have already joined a special Facebook page calling on Russians to gather on Moscow’s Manezh Square […]

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Inter-Ethnic Conflicts in Russia Reflect the Erosion of State Power, ‘Vedomosti’ Says

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, July 10, 2013) Russian officials have long sought to dismiss ethnic conflicts as being product of the everyday disputes people have rather than clashes between two nationalities, but today the editors of “Vedomosti” offer another and more disturbing diagnosis by suggesting that such conflicts “above all” are a reflection of “the continuing […]

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Moscow metro to get new circle line

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Dmitry Romendik, specially for RIR  – July 8, 2013) Two rapid rail links will come up in the Russian capital within the next few years ­ a new subway circular line and a surface, commuter-train circular line. Muscovites who travel on the efficient yet crowded underground will benefit from expansion of the Moscow […]

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Putin Officials, Judges Seen Topping Russia Corruption in Survey

Hands Opening Envelope Containing Cash

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anton Doroshev & Ilya Arkhipov – June 9, 2013) Police, judges and lawmakers, as well as bureaucrats, are seen in Russia as the most corrupt groups, fueling popular discontent with the government, according to a global survey by Transparency International. Five percent of Russian respondents rated President Vladimir Putin’s anti-corruption campaign as effective, a sharp drop […]

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For $50 Million You Too Can Enter Putin Moscow Playhouse

Vladimir Putin file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Stepan Kravchenko, Evgenia Pismennaya & Irina Reznik – July 10, 2013) Josef Stalin built a massive luxury apartment compound across the river from the Kremlin to both reward and spy on his closest comrades. The one Vladimir Putin built for his clique is smaller and harder to find. Tucked among a warren of Soviet-era structures about […]

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Supreme Court Clarifies Difference Between Bribes and Payment

File Photo of Man Placing Stack of Large Bills into Inside Pocket of Suitcoat

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 10, 2013) The receipt of payment for professional services cannot be considered a bribe, the Supreme Court has ruled, a news report said Wednesday. A bribe is the receipt of money or services in return for actions performed by a public official using the authority delegated to him, the court said. The ruling may […]

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High-ranking civil servants won’t have right to accept money from abroad – government

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Interfax – MOSCOW, July 9, 2013) Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed an anti-corruption directive which prohibits civil servants from engaging in activities funded by foreign or international organizations. The ban will apply to civil servants employed by the Pension Fund, Social Insurance Fund, Federal Mandatory Health Insurance Fund and other organizations where appointments and dismissals are ordered by the […]

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Russians Prefer Patriotic Leaders, Not Liberals or Conservatives

Map of Russia

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, July 10, 2013) ­ Many more Russians approve of politicians labeled as “patriots” than they do “liberals,” “conservatives” or even “nationalists,” according to a state survey published Wednesday. Eighty-five percent of respondents expressed a positive sentiment toward “patriot” politicians, while only 6 percent viewed them negatively, Russia’s VTsIOM pollster reported. Some 59 percent said they approve […]

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Russian rights ombudsman sets hopes on changes to controversial NGO law

Vladimir Lukin file photo

(Interfax – July 9, 2013) Russia’s human rights ombudsman, Vladimir Lukin, has said he hopes the controversy over Russia’s “foreign agent” NGO law will subside if the legislation is amended to clearly distinguish between organizations engaged in political activity and those working on social issues, Russian privately-owned Interfax news agency reported on 9 July.(1) “Everything depends on which amendments are […]

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Academicians fear reform may kill ‘oasis of freedom and democracy’

Adaptions of Image from Livermore.gov of Element 118 Atoms

(Interfax – MOSCOW, July 9, 2013) Academicians may draft their own amendments to the bill reforming the Russian Academy of Sciences, Academy corresponding member and Economics Institute Director Ruslan Grinberg said. “This reform is a sore subject; we may draft our own amendments….The main attack is being made on the Academy’s self-government. Even assets do not matter. Sure, these are […]

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Website owners obliged to delete slanderous comments posted by others – Russian Constitutional Court

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

(Interfax – ST. PETERSBURG, July 9, 2013) Website owners are obliged to delete information discrediting citizens posted in comments sections, the Russian Constitutional Court ruled. The resolution was made at a session on Tuesday. According to the materials of the court’s press office, the implementation of the right to freedom of speech imposes relevant obligations and responsibilities, including the respect […]

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Russian Wikipedia Faces Ban Due to Anti-Piracy Law – Director

File Photo of Little Russian Girl at Laptop Next to Globe

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, July 9, 2013) ­ Russia’s controversial anti-piracy law may cause the biggest online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, to be blocked in the country, the executive director of Wikimedia Russia said Tuesday. The legislation was pushed through parliament in less than three weeks and will come into force on August 1. It will allow copyright holders to get a […]

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Russian military takes step toward civil society?

File Photo of Russian Tanks in Military Parade

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Viktor Litovkin, special to RBTH – July 10, 2013) Military officials disclose plans online for the development of the army and navy. Striking changes have started taking place in Russia’s armed forces since Sergei Shoigu took over as defense minister. For example, last week the military posted what until then had been top-secret […]

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Medvedev calls on business to work more closely with government

Dmitry Medvedev file photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW, July 10, 2013) Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has called on Russian business to more closely work with the government in conditions of a complex economic situation in the country and changes in the world model for economic growth. “For the state and for business it is important not to waste time and to act in conjunction, […]

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Rising Financial Literacy among Russians is a State Priority

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Irina Filatova – July 10, 2013) The name Lyonya Golubkov is well-known to many Russians from the 1990s television advertising campaign that encouraged millions of people to put their money into MMM, a vast financial pyramid whose subsequent collapse caused devastating losses. Choosing investment instruments is still a problem for most Russians as the financial […]

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Russian privatisation programme in complete disarray

Empty Boardroom

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – July 10, 2013) Russia’s privatisation programme fell into complete disarray on July 9 after the state-owned shipping giant Sovcomflot announced it would float a 25% stake on the New York Stock Exchange later this year. The decision to launch an IPO on the US exchange comes only a few months after Russian President Vladimir […]

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Russian ruble not in danger of ‘almighty devaluation’ – expert

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Interfax – MOSCOW, July 9, 2013) The Russian ruble is not in danger of any “almighty devaluation” and Russian citizens have no reason to begin buying large amounts of foreign currency, Ruslan Grinberg, director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Economics Institute, said. “Our world is sinking into total uncertainty. It is a guarantee for high oil prices. In this […]

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