Russia’s Media Monitor Moves To Block Websites Of ‘Undesirable’ Organizations

File Image of Laptop Computer, Tables and Mobile Device, adapted from image at energy.gov

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – December 12, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-blocks-access-website-khodorkovsky-open-russia-prodemocracy-group/28910984.html) Russia’s Roskomnadzor media regulatory agency has begun blocking access to websites of organizations deemed “undesirable” by the Justice Ministry under a 2015 law aimed at restricting the activity of organizations the Kremlin accuses of fomenting political dissent. The regulator’s website on December […]

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Russia’s Channel One Will Broadcast Olympics, Despite Team’s Ban

Olympic Rings Lit at Night, adapted from image at state.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 12, 2017) Russia’s state-run Channel One television channel has announced that it will broadcast the 2018 Winter Game’s despite the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision last week to bar Russia’s team from competing. The IOC decision said that individual Russian athletes could participate in the Olympics in February if they proved to a panel […]

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Debt and poverty: the thriving business of high-risk moneylenders in Russia; In Russia, loansharks and payday lenders masquerade as “microfinance” organisations to attract clients. But for many people, short-term loans are a way of life.

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(opendemocracy.net – Ewa Dabrowska – December 12, 2017) Ewa Dąbrowska is PhD researcher at the University of Amsterdam. She focuses on the Russian financial system and microfinance in the post-Soviet space. “Avoid multiple loans. With several loans you are at greater risk of over-indebtedness,” warns the Warsaw-based Microfinance Center in a recent education campaign directed at users of microcredits in […]

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Recession Recoveries In Russia, Brazil Help Lift World Growth To Six-Year High

File Photo of UN Building with Flags

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – December 12, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/recession-recoveries-russia-brazil-help-lift-world-growth-six-year-high-3-percent-2011/28911154.html) World economic growth rose this year to 3 percent, the strongest rate since 2011, aided by recoveries from recession in Russia, Brazil, Argentina, and NIgeria, the United Nations has estimated. In its annual report on global growth on December 11, the UN […]

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Jack Matlock: Current tension in U.S.-Russia relations is result of political mistakes on both sides

Jack Matlock file photo, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

(Interfax – November 7, 2017) Famous diplomat and political analyst, last U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union Jack Matlock has given an interview to Interfax in which he speaks about the first year of U.S. President Donald Trump in power and relations between Russia and the United States. Question: Mr. Ambassador, you have been following Russia-U.S. relations for almost 60 […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Re-election Is Assured. Let the Succession Fight Begin” – New York Times/Neil MacFarquhar, Ivan Nechepurenko, Oleg Matsnev

Putin Descending a Staircase

“Ask Russian analysts to describe the coming presidential election campaign, and their answers contain a uniform theme: a circus, a carnival, a sideshow. What they do not call it is a real election. With the victory of President Vladimir V. Putin assured, the real contest, analysts said, is the bare-knuckled, no-holds-barred fight to determine who or what comes after him […]

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NEWSWATCH: “In Putin’s Heartland, Apathy and Disappointment Rule” – AP

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

“Three months ahead of Russia’s presidential election, apathy and disappointment pervade … A new person is unlikely …. If Putin’s 18 years in power have induced apathy and a sense of helplessness … that’s the big issue in Navalny’s view. Putin has made voters in industrial cities … his base, touting stability …. A … Levada Center [survey] suggests that enthusiasm for Putin is in […]

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U.S. Consulates Resume Visa Services in Russia

File Photo of U.S. Embassy Moscow, with Russian Foreign Ministry Building in Distance

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 11, 2017) U.S. consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok have resumed processing applications for travel visas, after suspending their work this summer as relations between Washington and Moscow soured. The U.S. Embassy has warned consulate services might still be affected by low staff numbers. The consulates temporarily suspended processing non-immigrant visas in August […]

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What do Regular Russians Think of the IOC’s Olympic Doping Ban?

Olympic Rings Lit at Night, adapted from image at state.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 6, 2017) “This is undoubtedly a political decision,” says Igor, 40. In Moscow, news that Russia’s entire Olympic team had been barred from next year’s Winter Games was still sinking in on Wednesday afternoon. In the latest chapter of the Russian doping scandal, the International Olympic Committee’s President Thomas Bach on Tuesday evening announced […]

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Putin Grants Alekseyeva State Award For Human Rights

Lyudmila Alekseyeva file photo

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – December 11, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-putin-alekseyeva-state-award-human-rights/28909427.html) Russian President Vladimir Putin has bestowed a state award on Lyudmila Alekseyeva, a veteran human rights activist and vocal critic of his actions over 18 years in power. Putin’s decree, published on December 11, granted Alekseyeva a “state award for outstanding achievements […]

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NEWSLINK: “Reactions To Putin’s Announcement That He Is Running For A Fourth Term” – Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)

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

“On December 6, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his 2018 presidential bid …. The Russian news agency Tass explained that Putin did not yet disclose whether he would run as the United Russia party nominee or as an independent self-nominated candidate. …”

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NEWSLINK: “After the INF Treaty: An Objective Look at US and Russian Compliance, Plus a New Arms Control Regime” – Russia Matters/Kevin Ryan

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

“… The 1987 INF Treaty attempted to eliminate a threat by prohibiting the sides from developing and deploying certain kinds of offensive missile systems, much like the ABM Treaty attempted to prevent development and deployment of missile-defense systems. These agreements proved brittle under the pressure of new technologies and threats. Many in the U.S. and Russia have come to believe […]

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Trump was ‘Russia’s Friend’ in Russian Media for Only a Very Brief Period, New Study Says

File Photo of Donald Trump Waving Before Large Crowd with Trump Signs, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, December 7, 2017) Many assume that Donald Trump was portrayed in the Russian media as Russia’s friend until last summer when it became clear that he would not be willing or at least able to deliver any improvement in Russian-American relations; but that view is incorrect, according to two scholars at Moscow’s […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia Takes a Step Toward the Post-Putin Era; The president has made Russia a geopolitical disruptor without a coherent domestic policy. That’s not sustainable” – Bloomberg/ Leonid Bershidsky

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

“Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement that he would run for a fourth term as president was long predicted, though it seemed to some Russian observers (incorrectly) that he waited unusually long to make it. Less predictable is how the system Putin built will plan its perpetuation after his term ends in 2024, when he’s constitutionally barred from running again. …”

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NEWSLINK: “Is Russia Souring on Donald Trump? Jacob Heilbrunn interviews Andranik Migranyan about Trump and U.S.-Russia relations” – The National Interest/ TNI Staff

Vladirmir Putin and Donald Trump Sitting in Chairs with Flags Behind, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

“… National Interest editor Jacob Heilbrunn interviews Andranik Migranyan, a professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (an academic institution run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia) …”

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NEWSLINK: “Flynn Flipped. Who’s Next?” – New York Times editorial

Michael Flynn file photo

“… Flynn pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the F.B.I. about his communications with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, during the transition period in December 2016. … The president has repeatedly denied that he or his campaign had any involvement with Russia, and he has mocked the investigation as a ‘witch hunt.’ …”

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NEWSLINK: “BOOK REVIEW: COLLUSION [re Luke Harding]” – Irrussaianality/ Paul Robinson

FBI Headquarters File Photo

“… evidence of direct collusion between Trump and the Russians is looking a little thin, to say the least. Now, into this maelstrom steps Guardian reporter Luke Harding … * * *  I wish I could say that this book was a joke. If you were going to write a parody of the collusion story, this is perhaps what it would look like. […]

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Indigenously Funded Russian Civil Society

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

(PONARS Eurasia – ponarseurasia.org – Debra Javeline, Sarah Lindemann-Komarova – November 30, 2017) Debra Javeline is Associate Professor at the University of Notre Dame. Sarah Lindemann-Komarova is Instructor at Novosibirsk State University. [PDF version ponarseurasia.org/sites/default/files/policy-memos-pdf/Pepm496_Javeline_Lindemann-Komarova_Nov2017.pdf] (PONARS Policy Memo) Most reports on Russian civil society focus on government efforts to restrict Western funding to Russian nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) with legislation on […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian PM says poverty is ‘glaring problem’ in country” – AFP

Dmitry Medvedev file photo

“… Medvedev … said poverty remained a ‘glaring problem’ in [Russia], where presidential elections are due to be held next year. ‘Poverty is, of course, one of the glaring problems of our modern economy,’ Medvedev said … ‘When the economy is weak, it’s impossible for there not to be any poor people’, Medvedev said …. A World Bank report … said that […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Red mist; How the Russia investigation looks from Moscow; Hyperventilating about Vladimir Putin infuriates Russian liberals, but it has led to a better Russia policy” – The Economist

Vladirmir Putin and Donald Trump Sitting in Chairs with Flags Behind, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

“Buzzfeed recently broke an explosive story about Russia’s meddling in America’s elections. On August 3rd 2016, it reported, just as the presidential race was entering its final phase, the Russian foreign ministry wired nearly $30,000 through a Kremlin-backed bank to its embassy in Washington, DC, with a remarkable description attached: ‘To finance election campaign of 2016’. … only one of 60 […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “In Conversation with Dmitry Medvedev: Interview with five television channels” – GovernmentRu

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Government.ru – November 30, 2017) The Prime Minister answered questions from TV anchors Valery Fadeyev (Channel One), Sergei Brilyov (Rossiya), Irada Zeinalova (NTV), Igor Poletaev (RBC) and Mikhail Fishman (TV Rain). Excerpts from the transcript: Results of the Government’s performance in the outgoing year and the state of the economy Dmitry Medvedev: Today we can say that the economy has […]

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Neither Russians nor the West Understand the Full Dimensions of What’s Happening in Moscow, Gudkov Says

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 29, 2017) Neither in Russia nor in the West is there a good understanding of the full dimensions of what is now taking place in Russia, Levada Center director Lev Gudkov say, with people in both places living with illusions that reflect more what they want to believe than the disturbing […]

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NEWSWATCH: “For Some Russian Oligarchs, Sanctions Risk Makes Putin Awkward to Know” – Reuters

“The threat of new U.S. sanctions has spread anxiety among Russia’s wealthiest people that their association with … Putin could land them on a U.S. government blacklist …. drawn up by early next year … part of a sanctions bill passed overwhelmingly by Congress …. Although those included on the list would not automatically be sanctioned, six people … part of the […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia’s Regions Strike Back: Provincial Leaders Want More From Moscow” – Carnegie Moscow/ Andrey Pertsev

Russia Regions Map

“Russian regional leaders are rediscovering their power and their ability to fight with Moscow over budgets and autonomy. Discontent over Moscow siphoning off regional funds has reached a breaking point, while Tatarstan is in a new contest with the center over regional language rights. …”  

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NEWSLINK: “Before Election, Putin Offers $8.6 Billion to Russians to Have More Babies” – Bloomberg/Jake Rudnitsky, Olga Tanas

Couple in Hospital with Newborn

“… The government will spend 500 billion rubles ($8.6 billion) over three years on measures to encourage Russians to have more babies, including mortgage subsidies and payments to new and growing families …. The money will come from government reserves and won’t require changes in the budget, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told the upper house of parliament. …”

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NEWSWATCH: “Gazprom spends big to keep trillion dollar dream alive; Russian gas exporter ramps up borrowing and raids cashpile to maintain growth” – Financial Times/ Henry Foy

Gas Facility file photo

“In an effort to fight back, Gazprom is …. [r]amping up borrowing and raiding its … cash pile … splurging on critical new infrastructure …. it announced that it expected to spend 24 per cent more this year on long-term investment, capital expenditure and acquisitions previously forecast. … next year’s spending [is projected to] hit a record Rbs 1.28tn ($22bn), up 13 per cent on […]

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RUSSIA & UKRAINE – Johnson’s Russia List table of contents :: JRL 2017-226 :: Thursday, 30 November 2017

St. Basil's Domes

To inquire about a subscription to the full Johnson’s Russia List e-mail newsletter, e-mail David Johnson at davidjohnson@starpower.net [check back for updates, including more links; links also posted to facebook and twitter] Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2017-#226 Thursday, 30 November 2017 A project sponsored through the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian answer to opioid epidemic: ‘Cold turkey’; Russia has an opioid abuse problem as big as America’s, but a very different way of dealing with it. No methadone replacement therapy in Moscow – just a couple of aspirin and a short, sharp withdrawal shock.” – Christian Science Monitor/ Fred Weir

Blurred Image of Young Woman Holding Up Pill Between Her Thumb and Index Finger, adapted from image at drugabuse.gov

“Russia has an opioid addiction crisis about as grave as America’s. … the two countries’ approaches to the problem could hardly be more different. … most US and European clinics offer patients methadone as replacement therapy [yet] Russian doctors disdain such ‘soft’ treatment. … their [cold turkey] methods … have a lower success rate than the 50 percent achieved in the United States. … […]

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World more peaceful when Russia, U.S. work together – Ambassador Huntsman

File Photo of John Huntsman, Men in Military Uniforms and Others, adapted from image at army.mil

ST. PETERSBURG. Nov 28 (Interfax) – United States Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman is convinced that Russia and his country should work together to preserve peace in the world. Speaking at the opening of the U.S. artist Susan Swartz’ exhibition at the Marble Palace of the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg on Tuesday, Huntsman expressed his hope for an improvement […]

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Russia’s Optimistic GDP Projections Fall Shy of Targets; The government’s GDP target was undermined by disappointing third-quarter GDP numbers and industrial output stumbling in the fall

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 29, 2017) [Text with chart themoscowtimes.com/articles/russias-optimistic-gdp-projection-falls-short-of-targets-59734] Russia’s GDP is expected to grow by 1.9 percent in 2017 and 2018 in the latest outlook published by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on Nov. 28. The OECD’s optimistic forecast is almost in line with 2-2.1 percent official government’s target, which was recently undermined […]

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Russia’s new media law: expanding the field of uncertainty; Russia’s new legislation is not only aimed at foreign media. It’s another step in the process of blurring legal definitions – until they’re useless.

File Image of Laptop Computer, Tables and Mobile Device, adapted from image at energy.gov

(opendemocracy.net – Sergey Lukashevsky – November 29, 2017) Sergey Lukashevsky is the director of the Sakharov Center, Moscow. The Russian state currently lives for two problems – its relations with the US, and the upcoming presidential elections. Society is worried about something slightly different – the state of the healthcare system, rising taxes and reducing incomes. But it’s the authorities […]

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Dysfunction in U.S.-Russia Relations

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

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Matthew Rojansky – November 27, 2017) Matthew Rojansky is Director of the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C I am an American expert on Russia. It is my job to pay close attention to the ups and downs of the U.S.-Russia relationship, with the goal of helping U.S. policymakers, the press, […]

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Interfax: OSCE sees tangible progress in Transdniestrian settlement

Moldova Map and Flag

CHISINAU. Nov 28 (Interfax) – The recent agreements between Chisinau and the unrecognized Transdniestrian Moldovan Republic, including the one to open for traffic a bridge destroyed 25 years ago and rebuilt in 2000, are signs of constructive interaction between the conflicting sides, the OSCE said in a statement. A two-day round of the official Transdniestrian settlement talks in the 5+2 […]

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Interfax: Matviyenko calls decrease in number of orphans unprecedented

Valentina Matviyenko file photo

MOSCOW. Nov 28 (Interfax) – The number of orphans has halved in Russia, which is unprecedented by world standards, Federation Council Chairwoman Valentina Matviyenko said at a meeting of the president’s coordination council on the implementation of the national child action strategy for 2012-2017. “I deem our achievements in addressing the problem of social orphans to be crucial. Our joint […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Business ombudsman Boris Titov to run for president” – bne Intellinews/ Vadim Dumes

Boris Titov file photo

“Russian business ombudsman Boris Titov will run for president in the 2018 election, representing the business-oriented Party of Growth …. [running] on the ‘Growth Strategy’ program developed by the Stolypin Club … unlikely to become a serious competitor … [but he] could bring pressing economic issues [to] the forefront …. * * * … the greatest other threat to [Putin’s] re-election is perhaps public apathy […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Populism Trap” – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace/ Julia Gurganus

Putin Descending a Staircase

“In contrast to the populist image … Putin has created to galvanize support, he is part of today’s Russian establishment elite. This puts him in an awkward position as populism spreads across Europe and Russia marks the one hundredth anniversary of the 1917 revolution. Should Putin again take the populist approach, he is likely to inspire accusations of hypocrisy from the […]

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Kudrin says govt studying his proposals at Putin’s instructions

Alexei Kudrin file photo

MOSCOW. Nov 25 (Interfax) – Alexei Kudrin, head of the Center of Strategic Research and Committee of Civic Initiatives and former Russian finance minister, says President Vladimir Putin has instructed the government to analyze his proposals on Russia’s development strategy. “I reported the key provisions of our proposals on the country’s development strategy to him. That primarily concerns the budget […]

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Kremlin Pours Cold Water on Kadyrov’s Retirement Plans; It was not the first time that Kadyrov had announced his resignation

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 27, 2017) Ramzan #Kadyrov, the strongman leader of #Chechnya, said on Sunday that his job is over and that it was time for him to step aside. A rebel turned gamekeeper, Kadyrov has been a central and controversial figure in the #Caucasus, tasked by the #remlin to keep peace in the region after two […]

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How did 1917 change the west? Failed utopias lead to the death of idealism, and the likes of Putin and Trump are symbols of this process. As we watch Russia struggle with history, the U.S. and U.K. cannot afford to pretend that this history doesn’t affect us too.

File Photo of Revolutionaries Marching in Moscow in 1917, adapted from image at state.gov

(opendemocracy.net – Sam Greene – November 22, 2017) Samuel A. Greene is Reader in Russian Politics and Director of the Russia Institute at King’s College London Revolutions – and their centenaries – are best dealt with in the first person. That, of course, creates a certain awkwardness for an academic, whose stock in trade is meant to be distance from […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin in the Boot; New sanctions are about to bite, and Russia’s elite are spooked; The personal sanctions against regime cronies are especially tough” – The Economist

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

“… CAATSA moderately increases the pressure …. It extends the restrictions on investing in new Russian oil and gas projects to the operations of Russian firms in third countries. … the effectiveness of these new sanctions, which the administration is allowed to pause until late January, is undermined by the fact that European firms have been ring-fenced from their effects. Gazprom … has […]

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Nine Months After New Domestic Violence Law, Russian Women Still Struggle; The decriminalization of battery has made it harder for women to come forward, advocates say

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anastasia Manuilova – November 24, 2017) For Svetlana, a 35-year-old mother of three from Moscow, domestic violence is a family affair. Her ex-husband repeatedly threatened to take their son away and beat her mother. Last spring, it was Svetlana’s turn. “He cornered me in our flat in Moscow for several hours and beat me,” she […]

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Gazprom Speaks Out Against OPEC Production Cut Extension

Gas Facility file photo

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – November 21, 2017) While OPEC is said to be mostly leaning toward a 9-month extension of the production cuts, Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak and major Russian oil companies discussed last week a six-month extension after March 2018, and all but one company said they were ready to extend, Russia’s TASS news agency reported on […]

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Russian Labor Official Tells Russians to Stop Partying and Start Working

File Image of Artist's Rendition of Champagne Glasses

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 22, 2017) Russians should spend more time at work if they want to be successful, the head of Rostrud, Russia’s Federal Labor and Employment Service, says. Next year, Russia will have 28 official national holidays. They include 10 days in early January when Russians celebrate the Orthodox Christmas and the country traditionally grinds to […]

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The Good Russians: Poorest Give to Others Even When They Don’t Have Enough to Eat

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 23, 2017) One of the many things those Russian officials and their allies who condemn any critic of the Russian government as a Russophobe don’t understand is that the objects of such attacks make a distinction they do not – between the horrific government and the many good Russians who suffer […]

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