Putin says stopped learning physics, chemistry to become intelligence officer

Putin at Desk

MOSCOW. June 22 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said he decided to become an intelligence officer back in his school years and even visited the KGB to ask for advice. “I was a student of the Institute of Technology’s chemistry school but developed a different inclination and decided to join the security services. I came to a KGB reception […]

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Another Reason to Avoid Rushing on Russia’s Election Role

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – April 20, 2017) Leonid Bershidsky is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru. In January, the U.S. intelligence community accused the Kremlin of aiding Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and refused to reveal the evidence that led to the claim […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Why has a Moscow restaurant been named after Stalin’s secret service?”

Moscow Night Lights Satellite Image

“In December 2016, a restaurant in central Moscow changed its name to NKVD, an abbreviation closely associated with the bloody period of Stalin’s Terror of the 1930s. Human rights activists are outraged, Stalin supporters are rejoicing, while experts point out that the proprietors have just come up with a cynical way of making money through provocation.”

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New Russian Consensus Reflects National Masochism, Rosbalt Commentator Says

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 4, 2016) This year has been marked by the rise in Russia of a new “societal agreement” on three points: that the country is in stagnation and will remain so for a long time, that Putin will stay in office “until the end of life (his or ours), and that “after […]

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Expert: Putin’s Reported Plan to Restore KGB May Reflect Fear of Overthrow

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

(Voice of America – voanews.com – Jim Kovpak – MOSCOW, September 26, 2016) The consolidation of Russia’s intelligence agencies into a massive security ministry, in effect recreating the old Soviet KGB, is a worrisome prospect for some Kremlin watchers. The plan reportedly under discussion would merge the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s principal security agency, the Foreign Intelligence Service and […]

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It’s Security, Stupid: How Putin Manipulates National Emergencies

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Moscow Times/Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Maxim Trudolyubov – August 15, 2016) Maxim Trudolyubov is a Senior Fellow with the Kennan Institute and editor-at-large with Vedomosti. Vladimir Putin is both feared and admired for his signature move of creating suspense to keep everybody on their toes. He knows how to make sure his next move is unpredictable. And yet, he […]

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Hybrid Business — The Risks In The Kremlin’s Weaponization Of The Economy

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Commentary: Mark Galeotti, Anna Arutunyan – July 20, 2016) Mark Galeotti is a senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations Prague and director of the consultancy Mayak Intelligence. Anna Arutunyan is a Moscow-based journalist and writer, author of The Putin Mystique. “How many divisions does the pope have?” Josef Stalin was meant to have […]

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What Russia’s New Draconian Data Laws Mean for Users

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – July 14, 2016) After three years of relative silence, NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden spoke up: “[President Vladimir] Putin has signed a repressive new law that violates not only human rights, but common sense. Dark day for Russia.” For the man who fled to Russia after blowing the lid off the NSA’s unprecedented […]

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NEWSLINK RBTH: “Russia’s strict new anti-terror laws: What is the debate about? A new package of “anti-terrorist” laws adopted by the State Duma on the last day of the legislative season has the potential to affect many areas of the lives of ordinary Russians. What do lawmakers hope to achieve with the new legislation and why has it been criticized?”

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Why the U.S. Needs Russian Rocket Engines to Spy on Russia

File Photo of Atlas Rocket on Launch Pad

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Eli Lake – June 6, 2016) When President Barack Obama came into office, the fact that Russia sold the U.S. the rocket engines it needed for launches was a feature of U.S. foreign policy, not a bug. Obama was trying to reset the U.S. relationship with Moscow, and that meant finding areas where the two former […]

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‘Putin’s people’: The mysterious agency that guards the president’s life

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

The head of Russia’s Federal Protection Service (FSO), responsible for protecting the life of the president, has been replaced. RBTH looks into what this change means and what this most mysterious of all Russian special services does today. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH – June 1, 2016) The Federal Protection Service (FSO) is a powerful, […]

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

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

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RBTH: Putin announces creation of National Guard for Russia

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

A series of important changes has taken place within Russian security organs, with the most significant being the establishment of a National Guard, to be formed from Interior Ministry troops. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – IGOR ROZIN, RBTH – April 6, 2016) A reorganization of government bodies has seen Russian President Vladimir Putin place the Federal Drug Control […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting of the Working Group to Monitor and Analyse Law Enforcement Practice in Entrepreneurial Activity

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(Kremlin.ru – March 23, 2016) Vladimir Putin chaired the first meeting of the Working Group to Monitor and Analyse Law Enforcement Practice in Entrepreneurial Activity, which discussed a number of business community proposals on legal guarantees for businesspeople. The working group was formed in February 2016 to organise cooperation between business associations and the federal executive authorities. The group’s participants […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting of the Federal Security Service board

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(Kremlin.ru – February 26, 2016) Vladimir Putin took part in a meeting of the Federal Security Service (FSB) board to review the results of the Service’s work in 2015 and set its priority tasks for 2016. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, We are here today to review the results of the Federal Security Service’s work in 2015 and […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Countering Putin begins with knowing what his regime is saying” [Bring back FBIS] – The Hill/Stephen Blank, Glen Howard, Enders S. Wimbush, Paul Goble

Recent media accounts have argued that the U.S. government suffers from an absence of high-quality expertise on Russia. * * * One such solution that does not require legislation is directing the intelligence community to resume the daily electronic Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) now supervised by the Open Source Center. … a daily electronic feed of worldwide media, press, […]

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NEWSLINK: “Europe’s Extremists Are Not Putin’s Fault. Europeans should look to Brussels – not Moscow – for the source of their extremism problem” – Foreign Policy Magazine/Scott Radnitz

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TRANSCRIPT: Dmitry Medvedev’s interview with Euronews TV channel

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(Government.ru – February 14, 2016) The Prime Minister spoke with Global Conversation presenter Isabelle Kumar on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference Question: Mr Prime Minister, thank you for joining the Global Conversation. The Syrian issue is a priority; it dominates the international agenda. It is now believed that we are approaching a turning point, although it remains to […]

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U.S. National Intelligence Director Says Russia Is Paranoid, Aggressive

DNI Seal and Smaller Seals of Agencies Related to DNI

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – February 10, 2016) Russia is “paranoid” about NATO and is likely to continue “aggressive” actions this year to support its claim to great power status, U.S. National Intelligence Director James Clapper said in Senate testimony Tuesday. In a report on “Worldwide Threat Assessment” that Clapper presented to the Senate, Russia topped a […]

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NEWSLINK: “How Litvinenko’s poisoning fits into Putin’s power play. Everything Vladimir Putin has done to reassert Russian power has seemed farfetched, outlandish and inconceivable-until he did it” – Maclean’s (Canada)/Michael Petrou

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NEWSLINK TASS: “Russia’s ex-PM asks FSB to launch criminal proceedings against Chechen leader”

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Half of Russians don’t trust conclusions made by British in Litvinenko case

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(Interfax – January 31, 2016) Over half of Russians (53%) believe the London court had no real grounds to accuse Russian officials of involvement in the death of former Federal Security Service official Alexander Litvinenko, Levada Center has reported. The poll, which surveys 1,600 respondents, was conducted in 137 populated areas of 48 regions of Russia on Jan. 22-25. The […]

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Russians do not want authorities to have access to non-public personal data

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Interfax – January 31, 2016) Most respondents surveyed by the Public Opinion Foundation (58%) believe the state should not have access to non-public personal data and people’s correspondence on social networking sites and via email, while 24% believe it violates human rights and 22% believe it constitutes privacy invasion and is not ethical. The poll, which surveys 1,000 respondents who […]

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Antony Penaud: Reflections on the Litvinenko case

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Subject: Reflections on the Litvinenko case Date: Mon, 25 Jan 2016 From: Antony Penaud <antonypenaud@yahoo.fr> Antony Penaud completed his DPhil at the University of Oxford in 2000. His essays on Russia and Ukraine are on www/scribd.com/antonykharms. He is French and lives in London. I returned last Thursday from a holiday in Moscow, and on the Gatwick train I picked up […]

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NEWSLINK The Independent (UK): “Alexander Litvinenko accused Vladimir Putin of being a paedophile four months before he was poisoned”

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VIDEO: What the Litvinenko assassination accusation means for the Kremlin

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PBS interviews former Ambassador Mike McFaul and Steven Lee Myers of The New York Times about a British investigative report into the assassination of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko, including implications for the Russian government and Russian President Vladimir Putin.  Video below; click here for original post and transcript. MICHAEL MCFAUL…: … it’s very important, even if nothing more comes […]

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NEWSLINK: “So Putin Killed Litvinenko. Carry On. Britain has been cozying up to Russian money for years, and a dead spy isn’t going to change that.” – Foreign Policy magazine/Peter Pomersantsev

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British Inquiry Implicates Russia, Putin In Death Of Ex-Agent Litvinenko

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(RFE/RL – rferl.org – January 21, 2016) A British inquiry has concluded that the Russian government was behind the 2006 poisoning death of former Russian security agent Aleksandr Litvinenko and that President Vladimir Putin “probably approved” the killing. The findings, issued on January 21, said that there is a “strong probability” that it was carried out by Russian citizens Dmitry […]

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NEWSLINK Russia Today: “UK report points to ‘probable involvement’ of Putin, Russian officials in Litvinenko death”

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Interfax: Moscow dismisses findings of UK public inquiry into Litvinenko death – source

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MOSCOW. Jan 21 (Interfax) – Moscow dismisses the findings of the public inquiry conducted in the United Kingdom into the death of former Russian special services officer Alexander Litvinenko, a source with knowledge of the situation told Interfax on Thursday. “Russia has every reason to declare that it will not accept any verdict handed down following this kind of inquiry,” […]

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Russian Minister: Security Concerns Justify Restricting Civil Rights

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – November 28, 2015) Russia’s interior minister said restricting civil rights is justifiable if security considerations demand it, according to a television interview that was broadcast Thursday night and prompted criticism from human rights advocates. Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev told NTV television that police and security agencies must “tighten the screws” in case […]

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Activist Says Russia Using ‘Hybrid Warfare’ In Syria

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(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tony Wesolowsky, Mark Krutov – November 11, 2015) The head of a team of Russian cybersleuths who have uncovered what they argue is a much more robust Russian military role in Syria than officially claimed, says the Kremlin seems to be following the “hybrid warfare” playbook perfected in eastern Ukraine. Activists from the Moscow-based Conflict Intelligence […]

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Confession of a Russian internet provider: A firsthand account of how the internet is monitored, regulated and blocked in the Russian Federation

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(opendemocracy.net – Dmitry Okrest – November 5, 2015) Dmitry Okrest is a former staff writer with The New Times and currently works as an independent journalist. The internet is no longer free in Russia-that’s according to Freedom Net, a report recently published by Freedom House. Freedom of expression on the internet has been under threat for some time in the […]

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Russian military intelligence officers captured in eastern Ukraine change story

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

(Human Rights in Ukraine – khpg.org – Halya Coynash – October 27, 2015) One of the two Russian spetsnaz officers captured in eastern Ukraine in May this year is now denying that he was a serving Russian officer, and the other, whose family has just hired a different lawyer, may be planning to do the same.   Any claim now that […]

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Russia’s secret treason investigations; In Russia, the number of state treason cases is rising. Secret service tactics mean we know less and less about who is under investigation

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

(opendemocracy.net – Gleb Belichenko – October 22, 2015) Gleb Belichenko is a journalist and former member of the activist group Team 29, which works to further freedom of information in Russia. Statistics for the past few years show that, in Russia, four to six people a year are put on trial for state treason. In 2014, this number rose sharply: […]

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Russian Academia Divided Over FSB Vetting of Research Papers

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – October 22, 2015) A report this week of research papers and scientific articles becoming subject to vetting by the Federal Security Service (FSB) before publication rattled Russian academics, coming on the heels of several cases in which people have been accused of espionage and treason in connection with their professional activities. The […]

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Knocking back Russia’s nationalists

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The conflict in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea has brought the Kremlin and Russia’s ultra-nationalists closer together. Recent prosecutions show that their ideas still have the government worried. (opendemocracy.net – Vyacheslav Koslov – September 15, 2015) Vyacheslav Kozlov is a journalist for daily newspaper Kommersant. He writes on international relations, nationalism, extremism, narco-politics, the Russian opposition and the problems […]

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Brussels Break-In Shines Light on Putin’s European Mischief

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Henry Meyer, Jeremy Hodges – August 23, 2015) It was an unusual delivery at the European Parliament by a pair of native Russians. They broke into the third-floor mailroom and deposited for the 751 legislators English-language copies of “Red Dalia,” a scathing biography of Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, according to a parliamentary probe. The book, published […]

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Moscow Mulling ‘Nuclear Provocation’ Against Ukraine, Kyiv Analyst Says

Radioactivity Symbol

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 4, 2015) To overcome the stalemate on the ground and to get itself out of the diplomatic corner it has painted itself into by vetoing the UN Security Council resolution on the Malaysian airliner tribunal, Moscow appears to be planning an act of “nuclear provocation” against Ukraine so as to turn […]

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Ex-Ukrainian Spy Chief: Russian Camps Spreading Chaos

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

(Voice of America – Mark Snowiss – July 24, 2015) Ukraine’s former intelligence chief says Russia is financing and organizing training camps from within Ukraine’s rebel-controlled eastern provinces in order to destabilize the country. “Up to 30 camps in Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea are training subversive groups, providing them with weapons and sending them on missions throughout Ukraine,” said Valentyn […]

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The Public’s Top Picks for the Pedestal on Lubyanka Square

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Maria Naum – July 17, 2015) On Aug. 22, 1991 at the peak of euphoria over the failure of the coup against Mikhail Gorbachev, the statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky, founder of the Soviet secret police, was pulled from its pedestal on Lubyanka Square. Since then, the square has remained empty as the public and authorities […]

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