NEWSLINK The Atlantic: How the Media Became One of Putin’s Most Powerful Weapons

satellite-dish-big-disa-mil

After decades of wielding Soviet-style hard power, Russia is developing a subtler form of influence. … From his first days as president, Putin moved quickly to dominate the media landscape in Russia, putting not only state media but privately owned broadcast media under the Kremlin’s influence.

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Agriculture eases Ukraine’s economic pain

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

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Sergei Kuznetsov in Kyiv – April 22, 2015) While Ukraine’s steel, heavy engineering and power sectors have been crippled by the war in the east and the economic crisis, agriculture has become the country’s leading source of export revenue and the only sector putting in a positive performance. Even so, farmers are facing difficulties […]

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Muscovites Not Russians are the Problem, Shekhtman Says

Moscow Night Lights Satellite Image

(Paul Goble – Staunton, April 22, 2015) Four years ago, liberal Russians began to refer to the hurrah-patriots who opposed them as “vatniks,” a reference to the padded jackets such people often wore but used to designate their slavish support of the Kremlin and their hostility to the West and civilization. But now, Pavel Shekhtman suggests, that term should be […]

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As Crisis Mounts, Russians Open Up Their Pocketbooks to Charities

Russia Regions Map

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anastasia Bazenkova – April 22, 2015) Even as Russia’s economic crisis sees corporate donations decline dramatically, charitable organization are seeing more and more ordinary Russians step up to the plate. “The number of donations from big companies has fallen considerably since the beginning of last year,” said Victoria Agadzhanova, the executive director of charitable foundation […]

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NEWSLINK Forbes: Here’s How Much Russian Stock Values Have Eroded Since Sanctions

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

For Russia investors, timing was everything.  Those who bought on the bad news of last summer were hit with more bad news come the end of summer when the U.S. sanctioned Gazprom, Rosneft and Lukoil. Then the Russian Central Bank went into panic mode and raised interest rates to save the ruble. The market sensed that the bank was getting […]

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

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

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

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NEWSLINK Gallup: Russia Receives Lowest Approval in World; U.S. Highest

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

Russia in 2014 earned the lowest approval ratings globally for the eighth consecutive year and posted the highest disapproval ratings it has received to date. U.S. leadership received the highest approval rating in the world, with the median 45% approval topping ratings of the leadership of the European Union, Germany, Russia and China — as it has most years since […]

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Russia Says Ukraine Must Be ‘Neutral’ as It Accuses U.S., NATO

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Henry Meyer, Daryna Krasnolutska, Volodymyr Verbyany – April 22, 2015) Russia said it wants a “neutral” and unified Ukraine as it accused the North Atlantic Treaty Organization of seeking to turn its neighbor into a hostile state. The U.S. wields enormous influence over Ukraine, while Russia wants the people of its “near neighbor” to have a […]

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No U.S. plans to deliver anti-tank systems to Ukraine – U.S. ambassador to Russia

File Photo of Soldier Firing Javelin Shoulder-Mounted Anti-Tank Missile

(Interfax – April 21, 2015) The U.S. does not plan to deliver Javelin shoulder-mounted anti-tank missile systems to Ukraine for the moment and is sending defensive gear alone to that country, U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Tefft said on Ekho Moskvy radio. He said that the U.S. is supplying bullet-proof jackets, glasses and night-vision systems to Ukraine, all of which are […]

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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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Tefft Says Obama Would Be ‘Happy’ to Get Involved in Ukraine Peace Talks

File photo of Barack Obama and Petro Poroshenko facing one another, with Obama gesturing

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – April 22, 2015) Moscow would welcome the involvement of any country that could pressure Kiev into observing a cease-fire with separatists, the Kremlin said, after the U.S. ambassador to Russia suggested President Barack Obama would readily participate in the Ukrainian peace talks if he were invited. Ambassador John Tefft said U.S. officials […]

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Strengthening of ruble due to growth of oil prices over – Yudayeva

Oil Wells File Photo

MOSCOW. April 22 (Interfax) – The strengthening of the ruble due to growth in prices for oil has ended, First Deputy Central Bank Governor Ksenia Yudayeva told journalists at the Forum for Financial Stability on Wednesday. “The strengthening of the ruble has ended, it has partially ended, what we saw was connected with the sharp movement upwards in prices for […]

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Russia faces ‘new reality’ as it counts cost of Ukraine crisis, says Medvedev

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – bne IntelliNews – April 22, 2015) Western sanctions and low oil prices caused Russia’s economy to shrink by 2% in the first three months of the year, the first time it contracted since 2009, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in Moscow on April 21 as he presented the government’s annual report to parliament. The country faced […]

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RUSSIA & UKRAINE: JRL 2015-#79 table of contents with links :: Johnson’s Russia List – Tuesday, April 21, 2015

St. Basil's Domes

Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#79 :: Tuesday 21 April 2015 A project sponsored through the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs JRL homepage: russialist.org JRL on Facebook: facebook.com/russialist JRL on Twitter: twitter.com/JohnsonRussiaLi Support JRL: russialist.org/funding.php RUSSIA 1. Forbes.com: Mark Adomanis, Would Liberal Reform ‘Cure Russia’s Ailments?’ 2. Russia Direct: Putin’s Direct Line, Russia’s culture wars and the […]

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NEWSLINK Stratfor: Russia Changes Its Tone

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

Over the weekend, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin appeared to soften his line against the West, particularly the United States. Having previously stated that the United States has no allies, only vassals, Putin this time said: “We have some disagreements on several issues on the international agenda. But at the same time there is something that unites us, forces us to […]

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The Faltering Russian Economy Makes a Renewed Ukraine Offensive More Likely

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

(Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 12, Issue 73 – Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Pavel K. Baev) “Boring” is perhaps the prevalent impression of President Vladimir Putin’s televised four-hour-long Q & A session that aired last Thursday (April 16), which was meant to demonstrate his good health and relaxed attitude to the great many problems worrying his loyal subjects. The three […]

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Civil Assistance NGO defies ‘foreign agent’ status, ready to go to ECHR

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

(Interfax – April 21, 2015) The Civil Assistance human rights organization will appeal the Russian Justice Ministry’s decision to assign it ‘foreign agent’ status. “Naturally, we will lodge an appeal against this decision with the district court,” the organization’s lawyer Kirill Koroteyev has said. “We will also request a suspension of the Justice Ministrys ruling because the filing of a […]

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Western Rejection Rains on Russia’s Victory Day Parade

File Photo of Parade in Red Square from 2005

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – April 21, 2015) The Kremlin’s iconic watchtower has been renovated especially for the occasion, new military hardware will be unveiled on Red Square and the clouds will no doubt be seeded to prevent any chance of rain on the parade – but a host of world leaders have rejected invitations to Russia’s […]

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NEWSLINK AFP: Russia’s vast Arctic gas project aims to avoid Ukraine deep freeze

Arctic Map

Spread across the frozen whiteness of the Russian Arctic, the ambitious $27 billion Yamal gas megaproject aims to defy both the extreme temperatures and the Ukraine crisis impacting its funding. Some 2,500 kilometres (1,600 miles) northeast of Moscow, the Yamal site — a joint venture by Russia’s Novatek, France’s Total and China’s CNPC — is eventually meant be one of […]

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Russian Global Trade Plummets as Economic Crisis Deepens

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Hobson – April 21, 2015) Russia’s trade turnover with the outside world plunged 30.1 percent year-on-year in the first two months of 2015 as oil price falls, currency devaluation and tit-for-tat sanctions shook the Russian economy. The value of Russia’s international trade fell to $83.3 billion over January and February, according to data published […]

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Ruble Rebound Slows Russia’s Rampant Food Price Inflation

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Delphine d’Amora – April 21, 2015) The ruble’s rapid recovery in recent weeks has seen prices on some foods fall, easing months of spiraling inflation and softening one of the most widely felt blows of Russia’s economic crisis. All major retailers contacted by The Moscow Times last week said that the ruble’s rebound of some […]

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U.S. ambassador confirms Obama’s non-attendance of May festivities in Moscow

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

MOSCOW. April 21 (Interfax) – The United States Ambassador to Russia, John Tefft, has confirmed that it will be he who is representing his country at a military parade in Moscow on May 9 on the occasion of the 70th V-Day anniversary. When asked on the Ekho Moskvy radio on Tuesday why U.S. President Barack Obama declined the invitation to […]

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Russia Needs a Civil Society But Not a Liberal One, Rostov Analysts Argue

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 21, 2015) The West and Russia’s liberal intelligentsia equate civil society with the liberal opposition, but this is a serious error, two Russian analysts say. Instead, civil society need not be an opponent of the authorities but “yet another ‘branch of power’” that can take on itself things that “other branches for […]

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NEWSLINK CNBC: Why Russia is more confident: Finance Minister

Anton Siluanov file photo

Russia’s economy has been through a series of seismic shocks in the past year – but there are increasing reasons to be optimistic as the amount of money being pulled out of the country slows, according to the country’s Finance Minister, Anton Siluanov.

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Ukraine conflict must not damage unity of Russian Orthodox Church – Patriarch

Patriarch Kirill file photo

(Interfax – Moscow, April 20, 2015) Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill believes the Ukrainian crisis is a challenge to the unity of the Russian church and is opposed to attempts to lend the crisis a religious dimension. “The Ukrainian crisis and the desire of certain political forces to place it in the context of faith are a challenge […]

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Interfax: Kyiv consistently pursued line of pitting Tartars against other Crimean ethnicities – Aksyonov

Sergei Aksyonov file photo, adapted from image at kremlin.ru

MOSCOW. April 21 (Interfax) – When building its ethnic policy the government must take into account that the many years of propaganda hysteria which was stoked in order to instill hatred towards Russia in Crimean Tartars did not pass without a trace, Crimean governor Sergei Aksyonov said. “Kyiv and its allies in Mejlis consistently pursued the line towards pitting the […]

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Rifkind Tells Story of Gorbachev’s First Meeting With Margaret Thatcher

File Photo of British Parliament Building, Big Ben, Thames, adapted from image at loc.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Des Brown – April 21, 2015) Just over 30 years ago, Mikhail Gorbachev became general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The next day, The Times of London ran an editorial entitled “Mr Gorbachov’s Hour” – the British media had yet to learn to spell his name – saying that he could […]

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RUSSIA & UKRAINE: JRL 2015-#78 table of contents with links :: Johnson’s Russia List – Monday, April 20, 2015

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

Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#78 :: Monday 20 April 2015 A project sponsored through the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs JRL homepage: russialist.org JRL on Facebook: facebook.com/russialist JRL on Twitter: twitter.com/JohnsonRussiaLi Support JRL: russialist.org/funding.php RUSSIA 1. Moscow Times: Fyodor Lukyanov, Putin Wants Peaceful Coexistence With the West. 2. The National Interest: Graham Allison and Dimitri K. […]

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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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Ukraine plays hard ball with private creditors

International Monetary Fund Logo Over Ukraine Flag

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – bne IntelliNews – April 20, 2015) Ukraine is ready to play hard ball in its bid to restructure $15.3bn in foreign debt, was the signal sent by Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko to corporate bondholders in Washington on April 17. The government wants to secure a $40bn bailout package assembled with the International Monetary Fund […]

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Interfax: Four killed, twelve wounded in DPR over past week – report

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

DONETSK. April 20 (Interfax) – Four people were killed in hostilities in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) in the period of April 11-17, DPR Ombudsperson Darya Morozova said. She posted her weekly socioeconomic report for the DPR on her website on Monday. Morozova quoted official statistics from the DPR Health Ministry and forensic medicine authorities to say that the […]

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Poor Putin’s Wealthy Friends

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – April 16, 2015) Russian President Vladimir Putin has an optics problem: Even as he asks people to be patient with the economic turmoil brought on in part by his response to Western sanctions, new income and property declarations are demonstrating that he and his top staffers aren’t sharing the pain. During today’s four-hour […]

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Sixty percent of Russian citizens deem death penalty acceptable – poll

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

(Interfax – April 19, 2015) Sixty percent of Rusian citizens, compared to 80% in 2001, see the death penalty as an acceptable punishment, according to a poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation. The poll was held on April 11 and 12 among 1,500 respondents in 100 localities of 43 regions. Twenty-two percent of those polled, compared to 16% in […]

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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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NEWSLINK New York Times/James Cartwright & Vladimir Dvorkin: How to Avert a Nuclear War

Nuclear Mushroom Cloud

We find ourselves in an increasingly risky strategic environment. The Ukrainian crisis has threatened the stability of relations between Russiaand the West, including the nuclear dimension — as became apparent last month when it was reported that Russian defense officials had advised President Vladimir V. Putin to consider placing Russia’s nuclear arsenal on alert during last year’s crisis in Crimea.

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Is Gazprom’s changing export strategy a threat to Europe?

Gas Flame file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – James Henderson – April 17, 2015) James Henderson is Senior Research Fellow, Oxford Institute for Energy Studies The visit of Chinese Premier Xi Jinping to Moscow in May to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II could also mark the next stage in Russia’s “pivot to Asia” if, as some […]

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Russia Economy Recovering as Oil Reliance Eases, Dvorkovich Says

Arkady Dvorkovich file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – David Tweed, Haslinda Amin – April 20, 2015) Russia’s economy showed signs of recovery in the first and second quarters amid a declining dependence on oil, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said. “Oil prices are not as important to the Russian economy as before,” Dvorkovich told Bloomberg TV Monday at the World Economic Forum on […]

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Weak Russian Economic Data Blunt Putin’s Optimism

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Hobson – April 20, 2015) The ruble slumped 4 percent and Moscow-listed stocks fell on Friday after official data showed that Russia’s economy contracted sharply in the first quarter of this year. The data, which showed a deep decline in real wages and consumer spending, came a day after President Vladimir Putin told Russians […]

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Ukrainians View the People as Sovereign; Russians Think Putin Is

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 20, 2015) Ukrainians and Russians differ fundamentally in the source of sovereignty in their countries, with Ukrainians, like citizens of Western democracies, viewing the people as sovereign and with the Russians, like the subjects of autocracies of all kinds, assuming that their supreme leader is, according to a new poll. Irina […]

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NEWSLINK Moscow Times/ Vedomosti: Russian Health Care Is Dying a Slow Death

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

Changes to the Russian national health care system have proceeded according to an obscure logic and led to very mixed results for medical personnel — and sometimes to lethal results for patients. The authorities wanted to optimize and modernize the system by boosting the quality of medical care and making it more accessible. Instead, medical care has become inaccessible for a large part of the population, especially in rural areas: doctors labor under increased workloads, thereby compromising patient care; mortality […]

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NEWSLINK CNBC: Russia has bigger concerns than oil, ruble: Deputy PM

Arkady Dvorkovich file photo

Faced with the triple whammy of plunging oil prices, currency volatility and Western sanctions, there’s no dearth of challenges for Russia’s ailing economy, but Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said what hurts most is the scarcity of financing for new investments. “The shortness of financing for new investments is where the Russian economy is being hit in the most important […]

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Putin Helps Russian Pet Lover to Get a New (Welsh) Puppy

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 20, 2015) Russian President Vladimir Putin may have set a dangerous precedent after convincing a retired soldier to buy his wife a pet pooch, possibly spawning a wave of similar requests from animal-lovers nationwide. “Please just say to him: ‘Boris, you’re wrong! Let your wife have a dog!’ We’ve already tried everything,” a woman […]

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NEWSWATCH: Rep. Ed Royce/Wall Street Journal: Countering Putin’s Information Weapons of War

Ed Royce file photo

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Rep. Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, addresses what he characterizes as a Russian information war, featuring anti-American propaganda and conspiracy theories. Of concern to Royce is that U.S. international broadcasting services that played a stronger role during the Cold War have “withered,” such that Russian propaganda will flourish unless the U.S. services […]

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CONGRESSIONAL HEARING: ‘Confronting Russia’s Weaponization of Information’ Peter Pomeranzev prepared remarks

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

Peter Pomeranzev Senior Fellow, Legatum Institute House Committee on Foreign Affairs April 15 2014, ‘Confronting Russia’s Weaponization of Information’ During the Russian invasion of Crimea last year, most of the world’s journalists seemed confused. Most of the West’s leaders were taken aback. But when it was over, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), General Philip M. Breedlove, defined what had happened […]

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‘Putin isn’t an Imperialist; He’s a Nazi,’ Portnikov Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 17, 2015) Vladimir Putin’s statements about Ukraine in his “direct line” program yesterday look “moderate” but only in comparison with the militaristic declarations of the Russian defense minister and chief of the Russian general staff. But no one should be deceived into thinking he has changed his mind or assumptions, according to […]

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Putin says Russia has weathered sanctions storm

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

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – bne IntelliNews – April 16, 2015) In an anticipated display of defiance towards Russia’s Western critics, President Vladimir Putin on April 16 said his country is not to blame for the continuing conflict in Eastern Ukraine, has now weathered the worst of the sanctions storm, and can expect economic growth to resume in two […]

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RUSSIA & UKRAINE: JRL 2015-#77 table of contents with links :: Johnson’s Russia List – Friday PM, April 17, 2015

St. Basil's Domes

Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#77 :: Friday PM 17 April 2015 A project sponsored through the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs JRL homepage: russialist.org JRL on Facebook: facebook.com/russialist JRL on Twitter: twitter.com/JohnsonRussiaLi Support JRL: russialist.org/funding.php  Russia 1. Kremlin.ru: Direct line with Vladimir Putin (transcript continued). 2. Business New Europe: Putin says Russia has weathered sanctions storm. […]

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RUSSIA & UKRAINE: JRL 2015-#76 table of contents with links :: Johnson’s Russia List – Friday AM, April 17, 2015

St. Basil's Domes

Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#76 :: Friday AM 17 April 2015 A project sponsored through the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs JRL homepage: russialist.org JRL on Facebook: facebook.com/russialist JRL on Twitter: twitter.com/JohnsonRussiaLi Support JRL: russialist.org/funding.php  Russia 1. Kremlin.ru: Direct line with Vladimir Putin (partial transcript). 2. Kremlin.ru: Answers to journalists’ questions after Direct Line.    

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