Russian Lower House Speaker Compares Snowden to Don Quixote

Edward Snowden file photo

(RIA Novosti – BRATISLAVA, August 29, 2013) ­ The chairman of Russia’s lower house of parliament has likened fugitive US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden to the hero of Miguel de Cervantes’ novel. “You know, I compare him [Snowden] to Cervantes’ hero, Don Quixote,” State Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin said Wednesday in an interview with Slovak television during an official visit […]

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Russian and American soldiers: Brothers in arms?

Stylized Russian and U.S. Flags with Number 200, 1807-2007

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Andrei Kislyakov, special to RBTH August 29, 2013) News of American decorations being given to Russian servicemen ­ and reconnaissance officers at that ­ could in no way be called ordinary. Meanwhile, the current geopolitical situation and potential threats to the global community attest to the need to strengthen international military peacekeeping forces […]

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Poll shows 40% Russians opposed to international military operation in Syria

Syria Map

(Interfax – MOSCOW, August 28, 2013) The majority of Russian citizens do not support either side of the Syrian conflict but more people believe in the victory of the Syrian authorities rather than the opposition, Levada Center sociologists told Interfax on the basis of the poll they conducted. The majority of respondents (61%) have heard about the conflict in Syria […]

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Ukraine to Seek Free Trade With EU Despite Russian Pressure

File Photo of Ukrainians with Ukrainian Flag in Public Square Near Tower with Golden Dome

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anatoly Medetsky – August 29, 2013) Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov on Wednesday signaled that his country would not back out of its push toward free trade with the European Union despite Russian pressure. Azarov’s statements at a meeting of his Cabinet follow a brief spell of sweeping checks for Ukrainian imports in Russia, which […]

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Russia Strikes Back at Belarus in New Trade War

Belarus Map

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW/MINSK, August 29, 2013) ­ Russia hit back at two mainstays of the Belarusian economy this week after Minsk arrested the head of Russia’s largest fertilizer company, imposing cuts on oil exports and threatening food imports in moves that it insists have no connection to the arrest. Russian oil pipeline monopoly Transneft announced plans Wednesday to cut […]

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Interview: Fukuyama On Democratization In Eastern Europe

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

(RFE/RL – August 27, 2013) More than two decades ago, at a time when the world was witnessing the collapse of the Soviet Union and its socialist economy, as well as the triumph of the free market and democracy, American political scientist Francis Fukuyama predicted that liberalism would sweep away competing ideologies. But in an exclusive interview with RFE/RL’s Belarus […]

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Lavrov disagrees with Kerry on blaming Syrian govt for chemical attacks – Russian Foreign Ministry

File Photo of John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov at Separte Podiums, Kerry with a Visible Earpiece; Adapted from Photo at state.gov

(Interfax – MOSCOW, August 28, 2013) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the latest tensions surrounding Syria in a telephone conversation late on Tuesday. “John Kerry set out his judgments based, as was stated, on information from trustworthy sources, according to which the government of the Syrian Arab Republic is to blame for […]

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G20 will need to make decisions on investment, financial sector regulation – Putin

File Photo of Russia-Hosted G20 Banners Outdoors Before Yellow and White Facade of Historic-Looking Building

(Interfax – August 28, 2013) Russian President Vladimir Putin said important decisions are expected to be made in the sphere of investment stimulation at the G20 summit scheduled to take place in St. Petersburg. “A roadmap for the financing of long-term investment has been created. It will be implemented during the years of Australia’s chairmanship [of the G20]. The principles […]

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Russian companies may be forced to declare offshore units

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

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – August 28, 2013) The Kremlin’s drive to increase transparency and limit the amount of money held in offshore havens could be extended to companies, which will be forced to declare an overseas status. Duma deputy Dmitry Savelyev for the ruling United Russia Party, has submitted a bill, which would oblige the companies to inform […]

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From protests to pogroms

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(opendemocracy.net – Emil Pain – August 27, 2013) Emil Pain is a professor at the National Research University­Higher School of Economics, Moscow, and the General Director of the Center for Ethno-Political Studies. As the level of inter-ethnic violence reaches disturbing proportions, Emil Pain asks if Russia’s protest moment has turned nasty.   In the middle of 2012, Russia’s influential Centre […]

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About 1 Million Foreigners Registered in Moscow

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, August 28, 2013) About one million foreigners are officially registered with the migration authorities in Moscow and 1.5 million in surrounding areas as of Tuesday, a senior migration official said. “We have a centralized database of foreign nationals. Today we have obtained the most recent figures: there is about a million of foreign nationals in Moscow […]

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Citizens can ensure fair elections themselves

File Image of Map of Russia for Polling Place Webcams

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Makar Butkov, special to RBTH – August 27, 2013) The protests in the winter of 2011-2012 used “For Fair Elections” as a slogan.  Subsequently, many politically active citizens became observers at the presidential elections that March. This year, the Election Commission is being formed five years early. What is the Russian Election Commission, […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Address by Vladimir Putin on the occasion of the G20 Leaders’ Summit in St Petersburg

File Photo of Russia-Hosted G20 Banners Outdoors Before Yellow and White Facade of Historic-Looking Building

(Kremlin.ru – August 28, 2013) [The official website of the Russian G20 presidency http://en.g20russia.ru/] PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: This year marks the G20’s 5th anniversary. At the peak of the crisis the G20 members agreed on coordinated measures to support the global economy. We made the commitment to curb trade protectionism, developed new principles of financial regulation, and defined […]

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U.S., Russia in Anti-Terror Exercise

File Photo of Airplane Approaching Runway About to Land

(RIA Novosti – WASHINGTON, August 27, 2013) ­ While the United States and Russia might be engaging in a war of words over Syria, Edward Snowden, adoption and gay rights, the differences are not stopping the two countries from joining together with Canada in an anti-terror exercise this week. Fighter jets from the joint US and Canadian North American Aerospace […]

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Western military intervention in Syria highly likely – Russian experts

Syria Map

(Interfax – August 27, 2013) The likelihood of Western military intervention in Syria is very high, Sergey Karaganov, honorary chairman of the presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy (SVOP) think-tank, has said. “Unfortunately, the concentration of troops in the region is such that a war may start. The USA may strike within the next two months, even […]

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Interfax: No ‘easy victory’ for USA, NATO in case of attack on Syria – Russian source

Syria Map

(Interfax – Zhukovskiy, Moscow Region, August 27, 2013) In case of a military operation in Syria, Western countries will not be able to secure an easy victory since Syrian troops are armed with Russian Buk-M2E air defence systems and other air defence means, a military-diplomatic source told Interfax AVN news agency on Tuesday (27 August). “If the US army, together […]

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Filmmaker Says Lonely Leader Scared to Loosen Grip

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Evgenia Pismennaya and Irina Reznik – August 27, 2013) Vladimir Putin was lonely and homesick after moving to Moscow to work in the Kremlin in 1996 and planned to return to St. Petersburg within a year, according to a friend, documentary filmmaker Igor Shadkhan. “But then things began to happen very fast and suddenly Putin became […]

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Kremlin Now Views Elections as Way to Distract and Divide Society Rather than as Threat to Itself, Commentators Say

File Image of Map of Russia for Polling Place Webcams

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, August 28, 2013) ­ The statement by Vyacheslav Volodin, first deputy chief of Presidential Administration, that Moscow won’t block opposition candidates is just for show, Russian analysts say, but it does indicate that the Kremlin has sufficient confidence in its ability to manage the process in ways that will distract and divide […]

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The Scandalous Truth About Russian Men

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(RIA Novosti – Natalia Antonova, Acting Editor-in-Chief, The Moscow News – August 27, 2013) Earlier this month, Russian-American journalist Diana Bruk shocked the delicate sensibilities of the American reading public by writing a no-holds-barred account of why she loves (and hates!) dating Russian men. [http://www.salon.com/2013/08/12/i_love_and_hate_dating_russian_men/] In her essay, published by Salon.com, Bruk talked about how her feminist sensibilities came up […]

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Interfax: U.S. interference in Syria fraught with geopolitical catastrophe – military expert

Syria Map

(Interfax – MOSCOW, August 26, 2013) The possible military interference of the United States and its allies in Syria will have catastrophic consequences for the situation at Middle East, military expert, member of the Russian Federation Council Foreign Affairs Committee Igor Morozov said. “The military interference of the U.S. and its allies in Syria will lead to a geopolitical explosion […]

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Russians put career before having a family

Empty Boardroom

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Marina Obrazkova, RBTH – August 26, 2013) A third of Russians think raising children gets in the way of having a successful career. People younger than 24 years of age are putting career before family, a poll by major recruiting web portal Superjob showed. Experts are not surprised and believe the trend is […]

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Economic ministry expects Russian GDP growth to quicken to 1.9% in Q3, to 2.2% in Q4

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Interfax – MOSCOW, August 27, 2013) The growth of Russia’s gross domestic product could quicken to 1.9% in the third and 2.2% in the fourth quarters, Deputy Economic Development Minister Andrei Klepach told the press. “We have revised the GDP growth forecast for the third quarter to 1.9%, for the fourth to 2.2%, Klepach said, noting that second-half growth generally […]

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Road Project Brings Hope and Problems

Moscow Traffic file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Irina Filatova – August 27, 2013) The Kremlin’s move to revive ambitious Luzhkov-era plan to build a gigantic circular highway 50 kilometers beyond the Moscow Ring Road is bringing to life the dreams of developers and nightmares of owners of property in its path. Construction of the Central Ring Road was first approved by federal […]

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Foreign funding is no obstacle to provision of state grants to NGOs – expert

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Interfax – MOSCOW, August 26, 2013) Non-governmental organizations that received funding from abroad are on the lift of recipients of grants from the state, Maria Slobodskaya, president of the Institute of Civil Society Issues and a member of the Russian Public Chamber, said. “The issue of who received foreign funding or did not receive foreign funding was not even considered. […]

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Russia’s Single Power Vertical Dividing at the Top, Commentator Says

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, August 27, 2013) What Vladislav Surkov described as “sovereign democracy” now lacks a single “sovereign” because the power vertical Vladimir Putin so carefully constructed no longer has one but rather several decision-making centers, a new situation that inevitably calls the entire edifice into question, according to a Moscow commentator. In an essay […]

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Russia dreams of creating an alternative to Suez

Eurasia Map

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Ilya Dashkovsky, special to RBTH – August 26, 2013) Railways across Siberia and the Far East might become alternatives to the sea route. An ambitious program of railway expansion in Russia’s Far East opens up the prospect of creating rapid new trade routes between Asia and Europe. At least $17bn is to be […]

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Sobyanin claims rivals see mayoral polls as bridgehead in trying ‘to storm the Kremlin’

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW, August 26, 2013) Acting Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has slammed candidates for mayor of the Russian capital who “say that, generally speaking, Moscow is just a stage for them in trying to seize power in the country, to storm the Kremlin.” “I don’t think this trick will work. Neither you and I nor the Muscovites would put […]

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Prokhorov’s Future Hazy as Elections Approach

Mikhail Prokohrov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Oleg Sukhov – August 27, 2013) Civil Platform leader Mikhail Prokhorov’s future seemed uncertain Monday as he denied a report that he would leave politics, while analysts said the billionaire may have indeed scaled down his political ambitions even as his party establishes itself ahead of regional elections. Some commentators argued that the tycoon’s refusal […]

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RIA Novosti: Kremlin to Finance ‘Foreign Agent’ NGOs – Report

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, August 26, 2013) ­ The Kremlin will give grants to the Memorial human rights organization and several other opposition-minded NGOs that prosecutors earlier this year accused of being “foreign agents,” the Russian business newspaper Vedomosti reported Monday. Two regional branches of Memorial will receive a combined 800,000 rubles ($24,000) from the 2.3 billion rubles ($700 million) […]

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Tensions Rise In Georgia’s Breakaway Regions

Georgia Map

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Liz Fuller – August 26, 2013) Five years after their formal recognition by the Russian Federation as independent states on August 26, 2008, Georgia’s breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are on very different trajectories in terms of relations with their northern neighbor. But both are plagued by growing domestic political instability. Abkhazia has experienced […]

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Putin Wants Me Dead or Caged, Georgia President Saakashvili Says

Mikheil Saakashvili file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – By Helena Bedwell, Henry Meyer, Hellmuth Tromm – August 26, 2013) Georgia’s outgoing President Mikheil Saakashvili said his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin wants him jailed or dead and urged the U.S. to help curb what he says is Russia’s rising influence over his country. Saakashvili, a 45-year-old American-educated lawyer who allied Georgia with the U.S. after […]

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Russia failing to test vulnerable groups for HIV

HIV Infection Microscopic Photo of Cells

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Ivan Varentsov, public health expert with the Andrey Rylkov Foundation; special to RBTH – August 22, 2013) The country’s ineffective and conservative policy stymies efforts to stop the epidemic. The HIV epidemic is one of the most pressing public health problems in Russia today. According to the latest UNAIDS global report, Eastern Europe […]

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Taken from Chita, Made in China

Map of Russia

(opendemocracy.net – Mikhail Loginov – August 24, 2013) Mikhail Loginov is a journalist and novelist based in St Petersburg. He is the author of the recently published bestselling political thriller “Battle for Kremlin”. Lake Baikal, the largest freshwater lake on the planet, is part of Russia’s DNA, and many romantic ballads sing of its size and beauty. Beyond the lake […]

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U.S. interference in Syrian conflict will lead to chaos in Middle East – political expert

Syria Map

(Interfax – MOSCOW, August 26, 2013) U.S. President Barack Obama could possibly resort to military intervention in the Syrian conflict due to pressure of his political opponents, but will try to limit it to a short-term war, head of a working group under the Russian president’s human rights council, political expert Sergei Karaganov said. Obama will do everything possible not […]

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Moscow expects UN to start examining Russian bid for extending seabed borders

Polar Map Showing Permafrost Areas, Adapted From NOAA.gov Graphic

(Interfax – MOSCOW, August 23, 2013) Russia expects that its application to the United Nations to approve its bid for extending the boundary of its part of the Sea of Okhotsk section of the continental shelf will receive consideration in the international organization early next year, said Deputy Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Minister Denis Khramov. Russia also wants the […]

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Georgia is ready to wait for voluntary return of Abkhazia, South Ossetia – Georgian minister

Georgia Map

(Interfax – TBILISI, August 26, 2013) Georgian Reintegration Minister Paata Zakareishvili believes the people of Abkhazia and South Ossetia will make a final choice between Russia and Georgia over the next several years. “We will always give them [the people of Abkhazia and South Ossetia] a chance to choose between a developed Georgia and a Russia of those times. That […]

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Paid political rallies do brisk business in Moscow

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – August 26, 2013) Paying or coercing participants to come to rallies is an ongoing issue in the capital’s political sphere It’s a warm summer morning, and I’m standing with a disjointed cluster of about fifteen people outside Tretyakovskaya metro station. A young blonde woman ­ dressed in grey sweatpants and a hoodie with dangling rabbit […]

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Moscow mayoral battle: Clash of political cultures

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Yulia Ponomareva, RBTH – August 26, 2013) Kremlin ally faces convicted opposition leader Navalny after a date change rules out Prokhorov. A political contest for control of Europe’s largest city has become a fight between Kremlin-backed Mayor Sergei Sobyanin and opposition activist Alexei Navalny. The Sept. 8 election for mayor of Moscow will […]

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About half of crimes in Moscow are committed by migrants – poll

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Interfax – August 23, 2013) Half of crimes in Moscow are committed by migrants; in general, the situation with ethnic crime in the Russian capital remains tense; the head of the Moscow city’s central directorate of the Interior Ministry, Anatoliy Yakunin, told Russian privately-owned news agency Interfax on 23 August. “I’d like to say that 50 per cent of all […]

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1953 Says More about Future of Russia than Does 1991, Pastukhov Argues

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, August 25, 2013) Most people in Moscow and the West see Russia’s current political problems as a working out of the events of 1991, a view that very much defines what they are doing and what they expect to happen next, according to Vladimir Pastukhov, perhaps the most penetrating analyst writing on […]

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Presidential Order Bans Protests in Sochi During the Olympics

File Photo of Sochi Olympics Banner Near Highway in Warm Weather with Vehicle and Cyclicsts Nearby

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Lena Smirnova – August 26, 2013) Public protests in heightened security zones in Sochi will be prohibited during the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games next year, according to a presidential order published Friday. Some activists have denounced the order as unconstitutional, though Human Rights Watch representatives said that protests might still be possible since the […]

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Snowden was forced to remain in Moscow over Cuba’s decision to bar his entry – daily

Edward Snowden file photo

(Interfax – August 26, 2013) Former CIA employee Edward Snowden changed his plans of flying from Moscow to a Latin American country after he learned that Cuba had decided to deny landing to an Aeroflot plane carrying him, Kommersant reported on Monday. “Moscow definitely expected that Edward Snowden who arrived at [Moscow’s] Sheremetyevo airport on June 23 would fly to […]

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Kadyrov denies Islamization of Chechnya

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW, August 23, 2013) Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Chechnya, said there is no Islamization in Chechnya, the people of the republic simply have deep respect for Islamic traditions and unity with Russia is a choice of the Chechen people. “We don’t have any Islamization. To our great regret, we have young women who go around naked, without […]

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Effects of 1991 August Putsch still felt in Russia

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Alexander Kolesnichenko, special to RBTH – August 23, 2013) The collapse of the Soviet Union, the transition to a market economy, the ban on the Communist Party, the complete transformation of the public and the economic structure of the country ­ all of these followed the coup attempt on Aug. 19-21, 1991. The […]

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Johnson’s Russia List :: 2013-#153 :: 21 August 2013

Map of Russia

[check back for updates, including more links; links also posted to facebook and twitter] Johnson’s Russia List :: 2013-#153 :: 21 August 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 […]

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Ukraine-EU Deal to Entail Protective Measures – Putin

Map of Western CIS/FSU and European Environs

(RIA Novosti – ROSTOV-ON-DON, August 23, 2013) The Moscow-led Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan may have to use protective measures should Ukraine sign an association agreement with the European Union, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said. “If our neighbors [Ukraine] resort to a substantial liberalization of their customs regime with the EU, goods that are not bad in […]

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Russia and Ukraine on the Verge of a Decisive Choice

Russian Naval Vessel in Ukrainian Port

(RIA Novosti – August 22, 2013 – Fyodor Lukyanov, Editor-in-Chief of the Russia in Global Affairs journal, authoritative source of expertise on Russian foreign policy and global developments) Russian-Ukrainian relations are again at the center of attention. Nothing has happened between Moscow and Kiev in the three years since the signing of the Kharkiv agreement, under which Ukraine extended Russia’s […]

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Johnson’s Russia List :: 2013-#156 :: 25 August 2013

Map of Russia

[check back for updates, including more links; links also posted to facebook and twitter] Johnson’s Russia List :: 2013-#156 :: 26 August 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 […]

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Navalny Faces New Pressure as Mayoral Race Heats Up

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Yekaterina Kravtsova and Ezekiel Pfeifer – August 23, 2013) The mayoral campaign of opposition leader Alexei Navalny faced a new wave of pressure by authorities Thursday as the Moscow Elections Commission warned he could be struck from the ballot and police raided a printer of his campaign materials. With just over two weeks left before […]

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Georgian government extends contract with U.S. lobby company

File Photo of U.S. Capitol Dome

(Interfax – TBILISI, August 22, 2013) The Georgian government has extended its contract with the influential lobby and legal firm Patton Boggs, which is headquartered in Washington, DC, until the end of 2013, the Georgian media have reported. Under the contract, Patton Boggs will receive monthly payments of $110,000 for its services, which is $20,000 more than it received before. […]

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