(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 23, 2017) [Minchenko report here: minchenko.ru/analitika/analitika_74.html] The number of confidants in President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle is set to shrink ahead of 2018 Presidential elections, according to the “Politburo 2.0” report published by the Minchenko Consulting Group on Wednesday. Out of the eight individuals closest to Vladimir Putin, the Minchenko report names three that […]» Read more
(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 23, 2017) The failure of Russians to see that what is being done to others may soon be done to them and to rise in protest means, Vitaly Portnikov says, that “if tomorrow Putin were to be under arrest at his dacha, it would turn out that 90 percent of those […]» Read more
(PONARS Eurasia – ponarseurasia.org – Hilary Appel, Wendy Chuyi Sheng – August 18, 2017) Hilary Appel is Podlich Family Professor of Government and George R. Roberts Fellow at Claremont McKenna College. Wendy Chuyi Sheng graduated from Claremont McKenna College in 2017 with degrees in Economics and Government. [Full text here http://www.ponarseurasia.org/memo/putins-renationalization-campaign-fighting-corruption-or-forcing-officials-loyalty] (PONARS Policy Memo) Large street protests returned to Russia […]» Read more
(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anatoly Medetsky – August 21, 2017) A quarter century after the collapse of the USSR, Russian farmers are finally poised to beat the record for grain production that the country set during the Soviet era. The harvest will total at least 130.7 million metric tons this year on bumper wheat and corn crops, said Vladimir Petrichenko, […]» Read more
(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Andrianova – August 22, 2017) Raw numbers no longer cut it for Russia’s central bank in its effort to keep up with the economy. Instead, the man running its research and forecasting wants to know how Russians really feel by mining “big data,” gathered from social media and online stores. The Bank of Russia has […]» Read more
NEWSWATCH @McFaul: “I constantly want to remind people that RT and Sputnik are state-owned propaganda organizations. You should too.” – Michael McFaul / Twitter
(Michael McFaul – @McFaul – Twitter – August 21, 2017) “I constantly want to remind people that RT and Sputnik are state-owned propaganda organizations. You should too.” [embedded live feed of tweet also should load below] I constantly want to remind people that RT and Sputnik are state-owned propaganda organizations. You should too. https://t.co/BpODfcZuyY — Michael McFaul (@McFaul) August 21, 2017» Read more
NEWSLINK: “Russia’s Attacks on Democracy Aren’t Only a Problem for America; And that’s a problem for skeptics of Russian meddling” – The Nation/ Joshua Holland
“… the Kremlin’s attempts to influence other countries’ electoral processes have been a problem across Europe for over a decade, and … our intelligence agencies weren’t alone in sounding the alarm. And that’s a serious problem for those who are dismissive of the evidence of Russian intervention. … * * * While Russian interference in last year’s election was all about […]» Read more
Interview with Mikhail Zygar — 1917-2017: An ominous anniversary for Russia; Here is why the Kremlin is not eager to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 1917 revolution and use it in its political goals.
[Interview conducted, transcribed and adapted by Pavel Koshkin, Former Editor-in-Chief, Russia Direct] Mikhail Zygar, the author of the project “1917.Free History”, talks to Johnson’s Russia List (JRL) about the reasons why the Russian authorities don’t use the 100th anniversary of the 1917 revolution in their political goals. He also discuses the lessons the Kremlin should learn from these dramatic events […]» Read more
How can Russia’s left work with Navalny? Across Russia, Alexey Navalny’s anti-corruption campaign is gaining an audience. Can Russia’s left benefit from the political opening he has provided?
(opendemocracy.net – KIRILL MEDVEDEV, OLEG ZHURAVLEV – August 21, 2017) Kirill Medvedev is a Moscow-based poet, translator, activist and a member of the Russian Socialist Movement. Oleg Zhuravlev is a researcher at the Public Sociology Laboratory (Russia), which he and his colleagues founded in 2012. He is also a PhD-candidate at the European University Institute (Italy) and teaches at the […]» Read more
“A report that a cooperating witness has emerged out of Ukraine to help the FBI’s inquiry … is drawing confusion and denials in Ukraine. … The New York Times says a malware author linked to the hacking of the DNC’s servers had turned himself in … But Ukraine’s Cyberpolice said … the unnamed individual had no established links to hacking The Times’ story has […]» Read more
Russian Emigres in New York Unfazed by Sanctions Fallout; U.S.-Russia relations are flourishing in Brooklyn’s ‘Little Odessa’
(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Evan Gershkovich – August 18, 2017) NEW YORK – U.S. President Donald Trump begrudgingly signed off on the latest round of sanctions against Russia early in August to the sound of growing hostility. In Russia, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev slammed the new sanctions, saying Washington had launched “a full-fledged economic war on Russia.” “It ends […]» Read more
(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 21, 2017) Ahead of presidential elections scheduled for March next year, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and opposition firebrand Alexei Navalny are among President Vladimir Putin’s potential successors, according to a new ranking produced by a Russian think-tank. Published by the independent Peterburgskaya Politika NGO on Monday, the list casts current […]» Read more
(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 20, 2017) Force structures have invariably played a key role in all revolutions, revolts, or palace coups, either by supporting the incumbent regime or supporting its challengers, Gennady Gudkov says; and August 1991 was no exception because in his view, the attempted coup failed because it did not have the backing […]» Read more
(Paul Goble – Staunton, August 15, 2017) There are anti-war attitudes in Russia, Igor Yakovenko says; but “there is no anti-war movement” despite the fact that Russia has been killing people in Ukraine for four years and in Syria for two and the even more significant problem for the country that “Putin is war.” Instead of focusing on creating such […]» Read more
(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 16, 2017) Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin is known for his excessively gorey plot twists, but for his Russian translator, exposing the writer to questions about President Vladimir Putin would have been a step too far. When a journalist from the Fontanka.ru outlet asked Martin during a press conference in St. Petersburg […]» Read more
(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 16, 2017) A U.S. report on religious freedoms puts Russia on a par with countries like North Korea and Sudan in its treatment of religious minorities. The annual report produced by the state United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said Russian authorities’ policy towards minorities ranged from “administrative harassment to arbitrary imprisonment […]» Read more
(Kremlin.ru – August 16, 2017) Vladimir Putin held a meeting in Kaliningrad on the opportunities for developing transportation infrastructure in Northwest Russia. The heads of relevant ministries and agencies and a number of regional heads from the Northwest Federal District took part. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues. We are here to discuss the development of transportation infrastructure […]» Read more
Piketty Zeroes In on Putin’s Pain Point; The West should stop relying on sanctions and instead target Russia’s massive offshore wealth.
(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – August 14, 2017) After alerting the Western world to the alarming rise of inequality, Thomas Piketty has turned his attention to Russia. To someone who has lived through Russia’s transition from Communism to crony capitalism, his take on that transition reveals deep flaws in his overall methodology — but some of his conclusions […]» Read more
(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 15, 2017) The average life expectancy in Russia has for the first time exceeded 72 years, deputy prime minister Olga Golodets said on Monday. According to data from the federal statistics agency Rosstat, the average life expectancy reached 72.4 in the first half year of 2017, she was cited as saying by the state-run […]» Read more
NEWSLINK: “Demands on Russian Foreign Policy And Its Drivers: Looking Out Five Years; Russia’s foreign policy priorities in the coming years hinge upon solidifying Russia’s great power status outside the post-Soviet space as well as reducing the country’s political isolation” – Carnegie Moscow/ Dmitri Trenin
“… This is the first article in a series looking ahead at the drivers of Russian foreign policy from 2017 to 2022. …”» Read more
RUSSIALINK: “Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions at the Terra Scientia on Klyazma River National Educational Youth Forum, Vladimir Region, August 11, 2017” – Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
“… We are going through a critical stage in international relations. …”» Read more
NEWSWATCH: “The problem isn’t Putin, it’s Russia; As relations worsen, US must realize Russia will not soon, if ever, become a liberal democracy” – PoliticoEU/ THOMAS GRAHAM
“The introduction of new sanctions by the United States on Russia has sent relations between the two countries to lows not seen since the end of the Cold War. Each side blames the other and claims to be seeking better relations …. the truth is that relations between the two countries have always been rocky, and the periods of cooperation […]» Read more
RUSSIALINK: “Without reforms, economic sclerosis awaits; What are Putin’s economic policy options if he retains power in 2018?” – Intersection/ Georgy Bovt
“… it is increasingly difficult for a country like present-day Russia to survive and ‘wait through’ the present. The longer anyone postpones the political decisions about launching some ‘healing measures’, the larger the scale of economic and technological collapse there will be; the economic model will inevitably become less and less competitive the more policy makers sit on their hands. […]» Read more
NEWSLINK: “The Costs of Ignoring Russia; Current mutual hostility threatens an explosive confrontation” – The National Interest/ Dimitri K. Simes
“Improving the dangerously unstable U.S.-Russia relationship will be very difficult, but it is important for U.S. national security. Current mutual hostility threatens an explosive confrontation that could destroy American (and Russian) civilization as we know it. Short of that, Russia can do much more than it is today to damage U.S. interests and values without taking extreme risks. Accordingly, the […]» Read more
“Industrial output growth continued in the first half of this year in all of Russia’s eight federal districts (or Okrug in Russian, each district containing Russia 80 regions), according to the Bank of Finland Institute for Economies in Transition (BOFIT). …”» Read more
RUSSIA & UKRAINE – Johnson’s Russia List table of contents :: JRL 2017-157 :: Monday, 14 August 2017
To inquire about a subscription to the full Johnson’s Russia List e-mail newsletter, e-mail David Johnson at email@example.com [check back for updates, including more links; links also posted to facebook and twitter] Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2017-#157 Monday, 14 August 2017 A project sponsored through the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School […]» Read more
Five years of Russia’s Foreign Agent Law; Russia’s Foreign Agent Law has made the existence of many NGOs practically impossible. But solidarity is rising among organisations that are working against these restrictions.
(opendemocracy.net – Daria Skibo – August 14, 2017) Daria Skibo is a sociologist and researcher at the Centre for Independent Sociological Research, St Petersburg. Russian civil society received July’s news happily: the case against Valentina Cherevatenko, the first person to face criminal charges under Russia’s Foreign Agent law, was dropped. In June 2017, Cherevatenko, head of the Women of the […]» Read more
(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – August 14, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/chess-kasparov-russia-us-croatia-putin/28674990.html) Former world chess champion and Kremlin critic Garry Kasparov is briefly coming out of retirement after 12 years. Kasparov, who dominated professional chess from 1985 to 2000, will compete in the Rapid and Blitz competition at the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis, […]» Read more
(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – MAXIM TRUDOLYUBOV – August 11, 2017) Maxim Trudolyubov, Senior Fellow with the Kennan Institute and editor-at-large with Vedomosti, has been following Russian economy and politics since the late 1990s. He has served as an opinion page editor for Vedomosti and editor and correspondent for the newspaper Kapital. As North Korea’s nuclear missile program advances, U.S. […]» Read more
ASTANA. Aug 14 (Interfax) – The Russian presidency of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) in 2018 will focus on trade barriers, interaction with international partners, labor standards, and support for exports, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council’s meeting in Astana on Monday. “Russia will be presiding in the Eurasian Union next year. We are setting […]» Read more
NEWSWATCH: “Contact averts conflict. Why Russia is foolish not to invite NATO observers to its war games. Instead, the biggest exercises in Europe since the cold war will be conducted amid secrecy and mistrust.” – The Economist editorial
“… Russia will hold … the biggest military exercise in Europe since the end of the cold war. According to NATO estimates … involv[ing] at least 100,000 troops …. Revived from Soviet times by … Putin … the Zapad (West) drills … take place every four years. … the Kremlin insists that the scenarios … are purely defensive [but] that is not always how they have looked […]» Read more
Why Some U.S. Ex-Spies Don’t Buy the Russia Story; Evidence that undermines the “election hack” narrative should get more attention.
(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – August 10, 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 2003, when a number of former intelligence professionals formed a group to protest the way intelligence was bent to accuse Iraq of producing weapons of […]» Read more
The One Big Problem With New Russia Sanctions; Congress won’t let Trump waive penalties, which gives Moscow no reason to change its behavior.
(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Meghan L. O’Sullivan – August 10, 2017) Meghan L. O’Sullivan is a Bloomberg columnist and the Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School. She served on the National Security Council from 2004 to 2007, and was deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan. The latest round of congressional […]» Read more
St. Petersburg. Aug 11 (Interfax) – The Russian Economic Development Ministry has approved the creation of priority development areas (PDA) in 11 mono-cities – cities that are predominantly dependant on one industry or factory – in nine constituent members of the Russian Federation, the minstry’s press service said. The Economic Development Ministry commission has approved the creation of PDAs in […]» Read more
Alexey Navalny and the moral pillars of democracy; Will the restoration of democratic institutions in Russia usher in a liberal paradise? The answer could very well be “no”.
(opendemocracy.net – William Echols – August 11, 2017) William Echols formerly served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kazakhstan and has an MA in International Politics from Queen’s University Belfast. He has spent nearly 10 years living and traveling around the post-Soviet world, working as a volunteer, journalist, teacher and translator. He is also the founder of the blog Russian […]» Read more
(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 11, 2017) Washington could force Russia to shutter one of four consulates in the United States as part of an escalating diplomatic rift between the countries over fresh U.S. sanctions, the Kommersant newspaper reported on Friday citing unidentified sources. Russian authorities on July 28 ordered the United States reduce the number of employees in […]» Read more
“Marshall I. Goldman, who diagnosed deficiencies in Moscow’s economic policies for decades and was among the first Kremlinologists to predict the downfall of Mikhail S. Gorbachev, died on Aug. 2 in Cambridge, Mass. He was 87. …”» Read more
NEWSWATCH: “Back to the land: Russia’s farming transformation; Can government policy and a new foodie class turn the country into an agricultural force?” – Financial Times/ Kathrin Hille
“… With 123 million hectares in arable land – the world’s third-largest area behind only India and the U.S. – Russia has the potential to be an agricultural superpower. The country has 36,400 agricultural enterprises and 174,600 farmers, according to the 2016 agricultural census. … although the broader economy has been in the grip of recession over the past two […]» Read more
Moscow’s Makeover Swaps Soviet Grit for Urban Sparkle; Smart city apps, historically accurate trees, a working subway. While Washington obsesses over sanctions and hacks, Russia is rebranding its capital as a model of urban planning.
(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Valerie Stivers – August 10, 2017) [Text with photos bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-08-10/moscow-s-makeover-swaps-soviet-grit-for-urban-sparkle] Moscow felt medieval when I first arrived almost 20 years ago, in January 1998, seeking adventure. There were few billboards, advertisements, or shop windows filled with merchandise. The women working at my local producti, or small grocery store, wore shawls, had moles and wens, and weighed […]» Read more
Dissent in Russia: a festival of disobedience? What kind of freedom do the latest wave of protesters want? Has a new kind of Russian emerged since the collapse of the USSR? The conclusion of our interview with one of Russia’s leading sociologists, Lev Gudkov.
(opendemocracy.net – August 10, 2017) Lev Gudkov is a Russian sociologist, director of the analytical Levada Center and editor-in-chief of the journal The Russian Public Opinion Herald. He is the author of numerous books and articles on sociology and inter-ethnic relations in Russia For the last 28 years, The Levada Center has been one of Russia’s most important surveyors of […]» Read more
Interfax: Udaltsov plans to consolidate Left Front, urges left forces to nominate sole presidential candidate
MOSCOW. Aug 10 (Interfax) – Prominent leftist Russian opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov, who served four years and six months in a penitentiary for organizing mass disturbances, plans to revive the Left Front organization and work toward consolidating leftist forces, including those in parliament, to nominate a sole candidate in the 2018 presidential elections. “The nearest objectives that I see […]» Read more
Don’t Expect Anti-Russian Ardor from Germany; Germans are looking for a rapprochement with Russia. One popular politician wants to ensure they get it.
(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – August 9, 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. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the darling of Russia hawks because of her steadfast insistence on Ukraine-related sanctions against the Kremlin. But if she wins the […]» Read more
“… The [Communist] Party’s rise, coupled with that of … other dissident factions, will not pose an immediate threat to the Kremlin, but … represents a trend that the current administration can’t afford to ignore in the long term…. cracks are beginning to show in the system that has supported … Putin’s government for 17 years. Demographic shifts, economic stagnation and building pressure […]» Read more
(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Aug. 10, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/putin-calls-us-senator-mccain-old-world-but-admires-his-patriotism/28537171.html) Sergei Udaltsov, a prominent Russian opposition activist who was released on August 8 after nearly five years in custody, has vowed to revive his dormant Levy Front (Left Front) movement and hold new protests. But at a news conference in Moscow on […]» Read more
(Kremlin.ru – August 10, 2017) Vladimir Putin had a working meeting with Chairperson of the Accounts Chamber Tatyana Golikova to discuss the results of the organisation’s work over the first half-year and the state of progress on instructions given following the Direct Line event. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ms Golikova, let’s start with the results for the first six […]» Read more
(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 9, 2017) Former tycoon turned opposition politician Mikhail Khodorkovsky has warned Russians against pinning their hopes on Alexei Navalny, saying that if he should come to power, the country would face “hard times.” “On one hand, I would feel joy [if Navalny won.] A change in leadership is a good thing,” the former CEO […]» Read more
NEWSLINK: “Russia Wants Innovation, but It’s Arresting Its Innovators” – New York Times/ Andrew Higgins
“… The troubles of Mr. Trubitsyn, however, may help explain why such a breakthrough has proved so elusive: The Russian state, which Mr. Putin has made the main vehicle for his plans for the nation’s resurgence, often stifles growth. A bureaucracy empowered by a steady erosion of democratic checks and balances can often smother new ideas. Grand state-directed projects to […]» Read more
(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 8, 2017) Alexei Ulyukayev, the first serving Russian minister to be arrested since the fall of the Soviet Union, will appear in court on Tuesday, after being accused of soliciting a bribe from the country’s largest oil company. The former Economic Development Minister has been under house arrest since his detention in the dead […]» Read more
Russia Braces for Permanent Sanctions From the U.S.; Moscow was hopeful Trump would loosen sanctions. Instead, he made them permanent.
(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Henry Meyer, Anna Andrianova – August 8, 2017) Andrey Kostin, a former Soviet diplomat in London who runs Russia’s second-largest bank, was jubilant when Donald Trump was elected last year. “We may soon see U.S. financial sanctions eased or even lifted,” he said at the time. Now, he’s changed his tune as his state-run VTB Group, […]» Read more
NEWSLINK: Sean’s Russia Blog Podcast: “Retrospective on Stalinism [with Sheila Fitzpatrick, Sean Guillory]”
“… Sheila Fitzpatrick is Bernadotte E. Schmitt Distinguished Service Professor Emerita at the University of Chicago and a Honorary Professor at the University of Sydney. She’s the author numerous books and articles on Soviet history including A Spy in the Archives: A Memoir of Cold War Russia; Tear off the Masks! Identity and Imposture in Twentieth-Century Russia; The Russian Revolution; […]» Read more