Putin’s New Internet Czar Wants Apple and Google to Pay More Taxes

iPad file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ilya Khrennikov and Stepan Kravchenko – February 8, 2016) When he’s not checking Gmail on his MacBook, Vladimir Putin’s new Internet czar can’t stop railing against American technology companies. Google, Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp., collectively worth more than Russia’s gross domestic product, have all entered German Klimenko’s crosshairs since he was named Putin’s first Internet […]

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RUSSIA & UKRAINE – Johnson’s Russia List table of contents :: JRL 2016-28 :: Tuesday, 9 February 2016

St. Basil's Domes

[check back for updates, including article links; links also posted to facebook and twitter] Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2016-#28 Tuesday, 9 February 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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Why Russia is steaming back into the Pacific

TU-95 Bear Bomber File Photo

Russia’s power projection in the Pacific is in sync with its growing assertiveness globally, but it doesn’t necessarily threaten the U.S. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – RAKESH KRISHNAN SIMHA, SPECIAL TO RBTH – February 4, 2016) Russia is expanding its military presence in the Pacific in a manner not seen since the Cold War. From California to Guam […]

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When Baikal water will be more expensive than oil

Lake Baikal and Environs Satellite Photo

The average price of a bottle of drinking water in Moscow has become more expensive than what a bottle of Brent crude would cost. RBTH asks experts if it would be worthwhile for Russia to start exporting water from Lake Baikal. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – GLEB FEDOROV, RBTH – February 5, 2016) [Charts here rbth.com/politics_and_society/society/2016/02/05/when-baikal-water-will-be-more-expensive-than-oil_564923] In January, […]

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How likely is an armed conflict between Russia and Turkey?

Turkey and Environs Satellite Image

As relations between Russia and Turkey deteriorate, the question of a possible armed conflict between the two countries is being discussed more frequently. RBTH asked Russian and Turkish military experts to comment on how likely this outcome would be and asked them to lay out the possible scenarios. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA CHULKOVSKAYA, RBTH – February […]

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Ukraine Bond Rout Worsens on Bets Political Tussle to Block Aid

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Natasha Doff – February 8, 2016) Ukrainian bonds slid, sending the yield on the nation’s shortest-dated restructured debt above 11 percent for the first time, as a political shakeup raised the likelihood for further delays to an international bailout that’s keeping the country afloat. The $1.15 billion of bonds maturing in September 2019 dropped 2.22 cents […]

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Russian Academia’s Struggle to Attract Top Talent

Skolkovo File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Vasily Kolotilov – February 8, 2016) About half an hour from the western outskirts of Moscow, the grays of Russian suburbia give way to a jagged horizon of shiny glass, concrete and abandoned building sites. A series of giant wooden pencils emerge, bearing the insignia “Skoltech.” The curious art installation signals arrival at the Skolkovo […]

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Investment in oil and gas exploration may drop 10-15% in 2016

Gas Facility file photo

(Interfax – February 7, 2016) Investment in geological exploration for oil and gas in Russia may reduce 10-15% in 2016, Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology Sergei Donskoy said in a program aired by the NTV television channel. “Investment in hydrocarbon [exploration] will reduce somewhere between 10% and 15%, somewhere between these two digits,” he said. The minister said that […]

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A law beyond improvement; Defining “political activity” may seem like an academic exercise, but in Russia, it is an existential one.

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

Defining “political activity” may seem like an academic exercise, but in Russia, it is an existential one. (opendemocracy.net – Tanya Lokshina – February 8, 2016) Tanya Lokshina is Russia program director at Human Rights Watch. In May 2013, as Russia was craving positive international publicity before the Sochi Olympic Games, the secretary general of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland, […]

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RUSSIA & UKRAINE – Johnson’s Russia List table of contents :: JRL 2016-27 :: Monday, 8 February 2016

St. Basil's Domes

[check back for updates, including article links; links also posted to facebook and twitter] Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2016-#27 Monday 8 February 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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Rose Gottemoeller: Washington, Moscow could settle INF problem in 2016

File Photo of Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan at Table Signing Documents

(Interfax – February 5, 2016) U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security State Rose Gottemoeller has given an interview to Interfax in which she speaks about U.S.-Russian issues over the INF Treaty and states that the United States is not going to return to the IV stage of its missile shield in Europe and not going […]

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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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Putin vs. Erdogan – This Time It’s Personal

Turkey map

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – February 4, 2016) On Feb. 2, Turkish President Recep Erdogan urgently sought an audience with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. The Turkish ambassador in Moscow relayed the message, but has, it seems, yet to receive a response. It was the second time Erdogan has been rebuffed by Putin following Turkey’s downing of […]

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Micromanaged Democracy: Russia’s Ruling Party Schools Candidates On Campaigning

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Robert Coalson – February 3, 2016) Elections for Russia’s State Duma, as well as a large number of local contests, are scheduled for September. And the ruling United Russia party wants to make sure its candidates are prepared for any awkward encounters with voters or journalists. The party has created a largely closed section on its […]

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Russia’s latest anti-crisis plan: How will it work?

Kremlin and River

The Russian government is making fresh attempts to lead the economy out of the crisis, primarily by investing in industry. RBTH analyzes the Kremlin’s latest anti-crisis plan and offers three alternative strategies for overcoming the crisis. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ALEXEI LOSSAN, RBTH – February 4, 2016) At the beginning of 2016 the signs for the Russian […]

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Russia sees 1% January inflation, annual falls to single figures – Rosstat

Cash, Calculator, Pen

MOSCOW. Feb 5 (Interfax) – Russia had 1% inflation in January 2016, compared with 0.8% in both December and November 2015, the Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat) said. Analysts told Interfax in a consensus forecast at the end of January that they thought inflation for the month would be 1%. Inflation soared to 3.9% in January 2015 – the highest […]

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More Than Half of Russians Negative on State of Economy – Poll

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 5, 2016) More than half of Russians have a negative outlook for the economic situation, the highest amount since the country’s financial crisis began, the Kommersant newspaper reported Friday, citing a recent poll. According to the results of the poll carried out by the Obshchestvennoye Mnenie (Public Opinion) Foundation, 54 percent of Russians now […]

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Putin Using Specter of Russia’s Disintegration to Avoid Reform, Rogov Says

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 4, 2016) Vladimir Putin is talking about the disintegration of the Soviet Union in order to promote among Russians that their country is at risk of the same fate, an idea that as it gains currency will drive off the political agenda all other issues, including the failures of the current […]

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Russia’s year of cinema, or a return to silent films

File Photo of Reel of Film

In Russia, 2016 has been designated the Year of Cinema. But any new films are likely to be ‘silent’, lacking any voice of their own. (opendemocracy.net – Eleonora Zbanke – February 3, 2016) Eleonora Zbanke is a filmmaker, videographer, producer, human rights activist and a speaker at the 2015 World Forum for Democracy on “Freedom vs Control”. Russia’s cinema industry […]

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Russia’s Got Talent: Kadyrov’s Electoral Politics

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Maxim Trudolyubov – February 3, 2016) Maxim Trudolyubov is a Senior Fellow at the Kennan Institute and the Editor-at-Large of Vedomosti, an independent Russian daily. Mr. Trudolyubov was the editorial page editor of Vedomosti between 2003 and 2015. He has been a contributing opinion writer for The International New York Times since the fall of […]

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What Do Russians Really Think? The Truth Behind the Polls

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Eva Hartog – February 4, 2016) [Charts here http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/what-do-russians-really-think-the-truth-behind-the-polls/558537.html] The champagne corks were already popping for New Year’s Eve celebrations when several thousand Crimeans received an unexpected phone call. The voice on the end of the phone was a pollster from the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM). The pollster had just two questions:”Do you […]

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VIDEO & ARTICLE: ‘I Love Russia. I Am A Patriot:’ Pussy Riot Strikes At Prosecutor

File Photo of Pussy Riot Members in Courtroom Enclosure, With Man Showing Papers to One While Female Guard Looks On

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Anna Shamanska, Michael Scollon – February 3, 2016) They have made a scene at the altar, crashed the Sochi Olympics, and taken numerous lumps for taking on Putin’s Russia. Pussy Riot, the Russian punk rock collective of fierce Kremlin critics, is now going after the man that lords over Moscow’s version of justice — Prosecutor-General Yury […]

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U.S. Senator Predicts Revelations Of Putin’s Wealth Will Destabilize His Rule

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – February 1, 2016) A senior U.S. lawmaker says revelations about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s wealth will be “destabilizing” to his rule as the Russian population becomes increasingly aware of them. U.S. Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Voice Of America on February 1 that the Russian people “are beginning […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Reinforcing Deterrence on NATO’s Eastern Flank Wargaming the Defense of the Baltics” – RAND

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

RAND addresses the military dynamic in the Baltics in the event of a hypothetical prospective Russian attack. Russia’s recent aggression against Ukraine has disrupted nearly a generation of relative peace and stability between Moscow and its Western neighbors and raised concerns about its larger intentions. From the perspective of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the threat to the three […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia could overrun Baltics in 3 days. NATO forces would face severe casualties.” – Washington Times

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

The Washington Times covers a recent RAND report about the military dynamic that could exist in the Baltics in the event of a hypothetical Russian attack. On the same day the Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, announced new resources being sought to strengthen Eastern European defenses from any possible Russian aggression, a report from the RAND corporation was released and […]

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Can Russia Be More Miserable? Judging by Oil, the Answer Is Yes

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

Combining inflation and unemployment, Russia is among the world’s unhappiest economies (Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Elena Popina – February 4, 2016) [Charts here bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-02-04/can-russia-be-more-miserable-judging-by-oil-the-answer-is-yes] The sinking price of crude has Russia hostage over a barrel of oil. For an inkling of how unhappy everyday Russians have gotten as Brent crude heads further south, take a look at the Misery Index […]

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Why Germans Supported Hitler to the End and Why Russians May Do the Same with Putin

File Photo of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler Riding in Convertible

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 3, 2016) In a recent book review essay in the New York Review of Books, military historian Max Hastings cites a passage from Nicholas Stargardt’s “The German War” (Basic Books, 2015) to explain why Germans continued to “close ranks around Hitler” even after it became obvious that their country was going […]

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52% of Russians favor open borders with Ukraine, without visas or customs

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Interfax – February 3, 2016) Half of Russians (52 percent) believe that Russia and Ukraine should be independent countries but friends, with open borders and without visas or customs, Levada Center told Interfax. The opinion was held by 52 percent of respondents in 2015, and 59 percent in 2014, the sociologists said. A third argue that Russia-Ukraine relations should be […]

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Moscow Institution in the Top 20 of the World’s Best Small Universities Ranking

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 3, 2016) Moscow’s National University of Science and Technology (MISiS) has taken 19th place in the Times Higher Education’s World’s Best Small Universities Ranking for 2016. The Times Higher Education (THE) defines small universities as having fewer than 5,000 students, with teaching and research across more than four academic disciplines. The ranking, published here […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with the core group of the Leaders Club

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Kremlin.ru – February 3, 2016) Vladimir Putin met with the core group of the Leaders Club, an informal association of small and medium business owners from various economic sectors. The Leaders Club was established in February 2012 and is engaged primarily in having businesspeople provide independent evaluations of conditions for doing business in Russia’s regions and the quality of state […]

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Putin Opens Asset Sales to Foreigners as Budget Gap Widens

Empty Boardroom

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ilya Arkhipov and Andrey Biryukov – February 2, 2016) President Vladimir Putin will allow foreign investors to bid for stakes in some of Russia’s largest companies as the government prepares its most ambitious asset-sale program in years to close a widening budget gap. “Russia was and remains open for foreign investment and Russia is interested in […]

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NEWSLINK: “Could sanctions spur Russia’s ascent to agricultural superpower? Since the end of the Soviet era, Russia’s agricultural industry has languished. But with sanctions now keeping European goods out of the Russian market, small domestic farmers are stepping up.” – Christian Science Monitor

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RUSSIA & UKRAINE – Johnson’s Russia List table of contents :: JRL 2016-23 :: Tuesday, 2 February 2016

St. Basil's Domes

[check back for updates, including article links; links also posted to facebook and twitter] Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2016-#23 Tuesday 2 February 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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Virtual Stalinism

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – February 2, 2016) Russian officials seem to have developed an execution fetish of late. One example, of course, is the disturbing video Ramzan Kadyrov posted on Instagram showing opposition figures Mikhail Kasyanov and Vladimir Kara-Murza in the crosshairs of a sniper’s rifle. Another is the bizarre series of animated clips Vladimir Putin’s All-Russian […]

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Interfax: DPR militiamen accuse Kyiv of over 100 shellings over past day

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

DONETSK. Feb 2 (Interfax) – The Defense Ministry of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) said that the Ukrainian military have breached the ceasefire 28 times over the past day; two people were wounded. “The situation on the contact line has not changed over the past day. The Ukrainian army has shelled the territory of the republic 109 times as […]

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What do the U.S. presidential candidates think about Russia?

United States Map

On Feb. 1 the first important stage of the selection of presidential candidates from the Republican and Democratic parties – the Iowa Caucus – was held in Iowa. The subject of relations with Moscow is a key geopolitical trump for participants in the U.S. election race, with even those who are not too savvy in international politics making their position […]

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Is liberalism the future for Russia?

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

For years, ‘liberal’ has been a dirty word in Russia, a shorthand for everything undesirable. Yet state propaganda is having an unexpected side-effect: the rehabilitation of liberalism. (opendemocracy.net/Colta.ru – Andrei Arkhangelsky – February 2, 2016) Andrei Arkhangelsky is a Russian journalist, essayist and scholar of cultural studies. He is also cultural editor for Ogonyok and researches contemporary Russian media. According […]

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Peskov on Kasyanov’s plans to await president’s response to threats from Kadyrov: “This is his right”

Mikhail Kasyanov File Photo

MOSCOW. Feb 2 (Interfax) – The Kremlin has said that PARNAS opposition party leader, Mikhail Kasyanov, has a right to expect a response from the Russian president, as the guarantor of the constitution, to Chechen head Ramzan Kadyrov’s Instagram publication with threats toward the non-systemic opposition and Kasyanov personally. “This is his right,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on […]

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Oil prices could reach $40 a barrel if Russia made deal with OPEC

Oil Well file photo

Analysts say that if Russia reduces its oil production by 5 percent, black gold prices may increase to $40 a barrel and over. However, the Russian government admits that it has no real control over production policy in private companies, though firms may reduce production themselves due to the fall in hydrocarbon prices. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – […]

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Kremlin: Privatization of Russian companies open for foreign investors

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

(Interfax – February 2, 2016) Privatization of Russian companies is open for foreign investors, and Russia is interested in attracting new foreign partners, the Kremlin has said. “Russia has always been interested in foreign investors; we value cooperation with those who continue to operate on the Russian market and we are interested in an inflow of fresh investments,” Kremlin press […]

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Putin Says No Privatization at Knockdown Prices

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 2, 2016) President Vladimir Putin on Monday threw cold water on proposals to quickly sell stakes in state companies to fill holes in Russia’s budget. “There should be no sale of shares cheaply, at giveaway prices. This won’t bring particular benefit to the budget,” Putin said at a meeting with officials and heads of […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting on privatisation

Empty Boardroom

(Kremlin.ru – February 1, 2016) Vladimir Putin held a meeting to discuss privatisation issues. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues. We have met today to discuss the Government’s privatisation plans for 2016. I have just looked over a few issues with [Prime Minister] Mr Medvedev. The privatisation process plays an important part in changing the Russian economy’s structure […]

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Economic Minister says moderate economic growth possible in Russia in 2016

Alexei Ulyukayev file photo

(Interfax – February 2, 2016) Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev does not rule out the possibility of the Russian economy shifting to moderate growth in 2016. “A shift is already possible this year, perhaps, to moderate, recovery growth in the economy for the time being. We should be prepared for this,” Ulyukayev said at a ministry meeting on Feb. 2. […]

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Inflation Is Most Worrying Problem for Russians – Poll

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 2, 2016) The number of Russians that consider high inflation one of the country’s biggest problems increased sharply in January, a survey by state-run pollster VTsIOM revealed Tuesday. Twelve percent of Russians were concerned about rising prices in December, but in January that number jumped to 20 percent, according to the poll. Other problems […]

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