The Cold War, Post-Cold War, and the Academy: Policy Recommendations from an Oral History of Russian and Eurasian Studies

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

(PONARS Eurasia – Alexander Cooley, George Gavrilis – October 15, 2018) Alexander Cooley is the Claire Tow Professor of Political Science at Barnard College and Director of Columbia University’s Harriman Institute. George Gavrilis is an Independent Consultant specializing in international relations, foreign policy, higher education, and oral history. [ponarseurasia.org/memo/cold-war-post-cold-war-academy-oral-history-Harriman-russia-eurasia] (PONARS Policy Memo) In Know Your Enemy: The Rise and Fall […]

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NEWSLINK: “Voronezh and the re-branding of post-Soviet Russia; The writer returns to the university she studied at in the 1970s to find a city transformed” – Mary Dejevsky

Russia Map

“… Voronezh is, in many ways, unrecognisable from its Soviet self. Even its layout has been altered to restore the 19th-century plan. A vast new church rises from what was once a scruffy park. The skyline boasts a dozen gleaming domes and crosses. Old vistas have been reopened. Voronezh is, once again, a river town. … But the history told […]

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Nuclear Near Miss: Remembering the ‘Man Who Saved the World’

Space in Low Earth Orbit with Partial Sun

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – RM Staff – September 21, 2018 – russiamatters.org/blog/nuclear-near-miss-remembering-man-who-saved-world) Next week marks 35 years since America and Russia narrowly avoided fighting a nuclear war—the kind that “cannot be won and must never be fought,” in the words of Ronald Reagan. It wasn’t the first time the two nations lived through such a close call, and stories […]

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NEWSLINK: “Grave Robbers, Nazi Collaborators and Official Apathy: How Ukraine Is Erasing the Holocaust” – Haaretz/Shmuel Herzfeld

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

“At Janovska, the Auschwitz of Ukraine, I saw skulls, hypodermic needles and tons of trash. Looters desecrate mass graves of Jews, searching for gold; the sites’ histories are ‘revised’, overwritten by Christian and nationalist symbolism. This is why we should still care”

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “A Spy Story: Sergei Skripal Was a Little Fish. He Had a Big Enemy” – New York Times/Michael Schwirtz, Ellen Barry

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

“Sergei V. Skripal was a little fish. … But … Skripal was significant [to] … Putin, an intelligence officer of the same age and training. … When [the intelligence war between the USSR and the West] was suspended, both struggled to adapt. … While … Skripal was trying to reinvent himself, … Putin and his allies, former intelligence officers, were […]

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“Sara’s Century” Podcast

Map of Former Soviet Union

Subject: “Sara’s Century” podcast Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2018 16:43:23 +0000 From: BARBARA T NORTON <btnorton@widener.edu> I wanted bring to your attention a fascinating new podcast serial, “Sara’s Century,” by a colleague at Rutgers U-Camden. The description below is from the website http://sarascentury.blogs.rutgers.edu/: “Sara’s Century” is a 12-episode podcast serial about Sara Mebel, a nearly 100-year-old Jewish woman who left […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The right way to sanction Putin’s Russia” – Reuters/William Courtney

“The United States and … allies are increasingly frustrated over malign activities by Russia. Moscow wages war in Ukraine, abets brutality in Syria, interferes in elections, and poisons opponents. … Washington has imposed sanctions and closed Russian consulates … and vacation estates in Maryland and New York, all believed to be used by … Putin’s government for intelligence purposes. This […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russians Get a Revisionist View of Soviet Union’s End; A new narrative paints from a former vice president paints Yeltsin as a tool of the U.S. in thwarting 1991 coup by hardliners” – Bloomberg/Leonid Bershidsky

Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin

“Only 27 years after the failure of a coup meant to keep the Soviet Union alive, some of the people who helped crush the revolt are doing their best to blacken their own victory. It’s been many years since Russia celebrated an anniversary of those three days, Aug. 19-21, 1991. Resolute action by Russia’s first president, Boris Yeltsin, and by […]

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More than Half of Russians Say Neither Side in August 1991 Putsch was in the Right

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 14, 2018) Fifty-three percent of Russians say that neither those who launched the August 1991 putsch against Mikhail Gorbachev nor those who defended the legitimate government were in the right, a figure that has remained more or less constant over the last 12 years, the Levada Center reported today. The polling […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Sobchak on Sobchak: A New Film about Russia in the 1990s; Vera Krichevskaya and Ksenia Sobchak teamed up to make a film about Anatoly Sobchak” – Moscow Times/Andrei Muchnik

Ksenia Sobchak file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Andrei Muchnik – June 29, 2018) Ksenia Sobchak, recent presidential candidate, TV host and socialite, and director Vera Krichevskaya, known for her documentary about Boris Nemtsov’s life “The Man Who Was Too Free,” just released a film about Sobchak’s father Anatoly Sobchak, a controversial liberal democratic politician and the first mayor of St. Petersburg. The […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “An outrageous penalty; As the World Cup begins, Russia should free Oleg Sentsov; A film-maker locked up for protesting against the annexation of Crimea is on hunger strike” – The Economist Editorial

Oleg Sentsov file photo, adapated from image at csce.gov

“… Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian film director serving a 20-year sentence … in Siberia. … was jailed for protesting against … Putin’s illegal annexation of Crimea and the war Russia’s president unleashed in eastern Ukraine …. Sentsov started a hunger strike demanding the release of all 64 Ukrainian political prisoners from Russian jails. The … World Cup … June 14th […]

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NEWSLINK: “THE EARLY CHAPTERS; Books on the Russia scandal focus on the news. What they need is more history” – Washington Post/Carlos Lozada

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

“… None of the works on Trump and Russia is comprehensive; the appeal of one or another depends on the angles you obsess over and the blind spots you ignore. …” * * * THE FUTURE IS HISTORY How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia By Masha Gessen. Riverhead. 515 pp. $28 COLLUSION Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russian Ministry: Gulag Prison Records Digitized, Not Destroyed” – Moscow Times

File Photo of Soviet Gulag at Manzanar, adapted from image at nps.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – June 14, 2018) Russia’s Interior Ministry has denied reports that records of Soviet-era gulag labor camp survivors are being destroyed, saying instead that the files are being digitized. The Gulag Museum in Moscow alleged last week that cards with the personal information of former inmates and their release dates were being permanently destroyed under secret […]

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Francis A. Boyle: “Solzhenitsyn at Harvard (JRL #105 item 31)”

Alexander Solzhenitsyn file photo

Subject: Solzhenitsyn at Harvard (JRL #105 item 31) Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2018 From: Boyle, Francis A <fboyle@illinois.edu> Forty years ago, I went there just to hear him speak. Originally I was not going to bother to attend Harvard’s Commencement in June of 1978 just to pick up my Master’s Degree in Political Science from the Harvard Graduate School of […]

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NEWSLINK: “Interview: Will Russia Move to the Left?” – The National Interest/Paul Saunders/Maksim Shevchenko

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

“… Editor’s Note: Paul J. Saunders, associate publisher of the National Interest, interviewed Maksim Shevchenko, a former newspaper editor and television personality who is a prominent left-wing candidate for the post of Moscow mayor. …”  

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NEWSLINK: “Translating “The Americans,” and Seeing a Mirror of My Own American Experience” – The New Yorker/Masha Gessen

“… I immigrated to the United States with my parents in 1981, the year the show begins. … * * * In its quest for uncanny accuracy, ‘The Americans’ was full of lessons about Russia, spies, the Cold War, and life. The most important of these, surely, is that eternity will come crashing down when you least expect it to.”

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NEWSLINK: “How Putin’s Russia Became Mafia Heaven; Inside the long, strange story of organized crime taking over the former Soviet Union-and how Russia tamed it only to unleash it on the West. [re: Mark Galeotti]” – ViceCom/Seth Ferranti

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

“…  Putin is engaged in this kind of political war with the West—he’s effectively trying to weaponize Russian organized crime against the west. We have seen Russian-based organized crime groups being used to kill enemies of his, to gather intelligence, to move spies across boarders, and raise money for Putin by supporting particular groups or media outlets that he likes […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH AUDIO: “In Russia, Scant Traces And Negative Memories Of A Century-Old U.S. Intervention” – National Public Radio (NPR)/Lucian Kim

U.S. Troops Marching on Vladivostok Street ca. 1918, Followed by Other Allied Troops, adapted from image at almc.army.mil

[Transcript, photos, original audio: npr.org/sections/parallels/2018/05/28/608455970/in-russia-scant-traces-and-negative-memories-of-a-century-old-u-s-intervention]  “… civil war was raging across Russia … [between] the Bolsheviks … [and] the ‘Whites’ – supporters of the deposed czar, republicans, social democrats, Cossacks. … the Bolsheviks withdrew Russia from [World War I] in March 1918. … More than 8,000 U.S. troops started landing in Vladivostok in August 1918 to guard Allied military stocks … […]

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Ira Straus: “Correction to my note on Pipes”

Subject: Correction to my note on Pipes Date: Tue, 22 May 2018 From: Ira Straus <irastraus@aol.com> I’d like to clarify that my note was not meant to be a comprehensive appraisal of Richard Pipes and his work, and all the good and bad points I might find in it. I do note with concern that I’ve been taken to task […]

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Gilbert Doctorow: “From a chance meeting in Widener to today [re: Richard Pipes]”

File Photo of Library at Harvard University with Banners and Persons Walking on Quad, from image at state.gov

Subject: Fw: from a chance meeting in Widener to today (re Richard Pipes) Date: Sat, 19 May 2018 From: Gilbert Doctorow <gdoctorow@yahoo.com> Since you carried the obits of Richard Pipes yesterday, my exchange with Francis Boyle may be of interest to you. No one, NO ONE has raised the issues about Pipes as an historian of Russia that flagged. They […]

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Francis A. Boyle: “NYT Obit on Dick Pipes”

File Photo of Library at Harvard University with Banners and Persons Walking on Quad, from image at state.gov

From: Francis A Boyle <fboyle@illinois.edu> Sent: Saturday, May 19, 2018 Subject: NYT Obit on Dick Pipes [Francis Anthony Boyle is a professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law] I took Imperial Russian History with Dick Pipes at Harvard and got an A, which I was grateful for and deserved. So this is not a case […]

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NEWSLINK: “Richard Pipes, Historian of Russia and Reagan Aide, Dies at 94” – New York Times/William Grimes

Lit Candle with Reflection and Dark Background

“Richard Pipes, the author of a monumental, sharply polemical series of historical works on Russia, the Russian Revolution and the Bolshevik regime, and a top adviser to the Reagan administration on Soviet and Eastern European policy, died on Thursday at a nursing home near his home in Cambridge, Mass. He was 94. …”

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Behind the wire: pride and paranoia in one of Russia’s closed towns; Thousands of Russian citizens live in “closed towns.” I visited one of them, Lesnoye, to find out how people live today.

Montage of Radioactivity Symbol and Russian Map with Russian Flag, adapted from images at .gov sites

(opendemocracy.net – Ivan Chesnokov – May 16, 2018) Ivan Chesnokov is a Russian freelance journalist specialising in social issues and conflicts. His work has appeared in Takie Dela, the Moscow Times, RBTH, and other publications, and he is engaged in several multimedia journalism projects. [opendemocracy.net/od-russia/ivan-chesnokov/behind-the-wire] A shabbily dressed older man in a cap with ear flaps, looking like a character […]

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Like Soviet one, Putin system can’t be reformed, only destroyed and replaced, Inozemtsev says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – April 27, 2018) One of the many debates that riled Western studies of the Soviet Union concerned whether that system could ever be reformed or would have to be destroyed and then replaced with something else. Some political analysts insisted that of course it could be reformed, while those who came out of […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Soviet roots of invoking fears about World War III” – Brookings/James Kirchick

“Editor’s Note: Dire predictions about foreign intervention leading to ‘World War III’ aren’t merely the most predictable and laziest form of anti-interventionist ‘logic,’ argues Jamie Kirchick. They’re also an insidious echo of Soviet propaganda, routinely deployed to undercut the West’s defense of democracy and important international norms. …” Click here for: “The Soviet roots of invoking fears about World War […]

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NEWSLINK: “Putin says he wishes the Soviet Union had not collapsed. Many Russians agree.” – Washington Post/Adam Taylor

Berlin Wall, Fencing, Barbed Wire, Women

“A day after unveiling dramatic new weapons – including a nuclear-powered cruise missile – that sparked talk of a return to Cold War tensions … Putin suggested that he’d reverse the collapse of the Soviet Union if he could. Putin’s comments on the 1991 fall of the U.S.S.R. – which bound Russia and many of its neighbors while exerting influence […]

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NEWSWATCH VIDEO: “The Long Hangover – Putin’s Russia and the Ghosts of the Past” – NYU Jordan Center/Ben Dalton

Large Mother Russia Statue Near Volgograd

“In late 1999, as … Putin began his long rule over Russia, the new president faced a slew of economic and political problems, but also an existential one. While post-Soviet countries like Belarus and Estonia had apparently settled into new national narratives (continuity with the past for Belarus, rupture and independence for Estonia and the other Baltic states), Russia remained […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin Supporters’ Election Pitch: Remember Stalingrad; Video made at memorial to WWII victory is part of patriotic wave ahead of Russia’s March election” – Wall Street Journal/James Marson

Large Mother Russia Statue Near Volgograd

“… the video has also been chided for taking things too far, including on state television, underscoring the tension around the Kremlin’s efforts to drum up support despite a stagnant economy and a fall in living standards in recent years. * * *  Putin has made commemoration of the World War II [Stalingrad] victory a centerpiece of his rule, portraying […]

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IN MEMORIAM [Link]: “Donald Barry Obituary” – Legacy.com

Lit Candle with Reflection and Dark Background

“Donald D. Barry, 83 of Bethlehem, died January 31, 2018 at home surround by his family. Born in East Cleveland, Ohio, he was the son of the late Ruth May Barry and John L. Barry. Don was educated at Ohio University and Syracuse University. During his time in graduate school he spent a year at Moscow University in the early […]

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NEWSLINK: “STALIN, PADDINGTON, AND THE PRESS” – irrussianality/Paul Robinson

File Photo of Reel of Film

“What do Josef Stalin and Paddington Bear have in common? Answer: The Russian Ministry of Culture has tried to ‘ban’ films about them – or at least that what recent headlines would have you believe. The truth is a bit more complex. …”

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NEWSLINK: “The KGB Playbook for Infiltrating the Middle East; In 1988, the Soviet intelligence service, the KGB, looked at its mistakes in the Middle East, where the CIA often had the upper hand. Putin has worked to change that” – Daily Beast/ Michael Weiss

FSB Building file photo

“This is the second article in a three-part series based on never-before-published training manuals for the KGB, the Soviet intelligence organization that Vladimir Putin served as an operative, and that shaped his view of the world.”

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NEWSLINK: “Revealed: The Secret KGB Manual for Recruiting Spies” – Daily Beast/ Michael Weiss

FSB Building file photo

“This is the first of a three-part series based on never-before-published training manuals for the KGB, the Soviet intelligence organization that Vladimir Putin served as an operative, and that shaped his view of the world. Its veterans still make up an important part of now-Russian President Vladimir Putin’s power base. All were trained in the same dark arts, and these […]

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Arseny Roginsky: Giving Russia its history back; On 18 December, Arseny Roginsky, historian, dissident and one of the founders of Russia’s Memorial society, passed away. He will be sorely missed.

Lit Candle with Reflection and Dark Background

(opendemocracy.net – Mikhail Kaluzhsky – December 20, 2017) Mikhail Kaluzhsky is Lead Russian-Language Editor at oDR. “For me, the archive (and I mean, of course, only literary and historical archives) is the natural continuation of the library. And unpublished archival documents are in no way different from published documents, you can treat them as accidentally unpublished or as-yet-unpublished. I believe […]

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‘Russian Lessons for Reagan’ Launch at Gorbachev Foundation Reunites Old Friends; Author Suzanne Massie meets with old friends and fellow optimists

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Justin Lifflander – December 13, 2017) Tuesday’s event at the Gorbachev Foundation was supposed to be a typically mundane book launch. But the presentation of the Russian language version of Suzanne Massie’s “Trust But Verify: Russian Lessons for Reagan” turned out to be an unofficial meeting of the multi-generational club of peace-makers and optimists. Ronald […]

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NEWSLINK: “ORDER FROM CHAOS; U.S.-Russia arms control was possible once – is it possible still?” – Brookings/ Strobe Talbott

“Thirty years ago last week, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, resulting in the elimination of some 2,700 U.S. and Soviet ground-launched intermediate-range missiles. …”

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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: “Russia Celebrates an Uncomfortable Centennial” – Stratfor.com

File photo of Czar Nicholas II in Military Uniform Outdoors with Soldiers in Background, adapted from image at defense.gov

“The centennial anniversary of the launch of the Russian Revolution on Nov. 7 will serve as a haunting reminder for Russia’s current leaders that their power is finite. … a year after Russia observed the 25th anniversary of the collapse of the Soviet Union, a similarly unsettling marker for the [Putin] government … facing opposition from within its own ranks and on […]

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Pavel Koshkin: “The Review on Zygar’s Book — The Empire Must Die”

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

Subject: the review on Zygar’s book — The Empire Must Die Date: Thu, 9 Nov 2017 From: Pavel Koshkin <pkoshkin.russia.direct@gmail.com> The Empire Must Die: Understanding Russia’s political theater between 1917 and 2017 The main goal of Mikhail Zygar’s new book is to prove that every member of society can contribute to the development of a country’s history and make difference. […]

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On Revolution Centenary, Perplexed Russians Ask, ‘Who Am I To Judge?’

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

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth, Robert Coalson – ST. PETERSBURG/MOSCOW – Nov. 5, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/anniversary-bolshevik-revolution-100-lenin-assessment/28836011.html) The small museum in St. Petersburg located in the apartment where Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin lived in the months before the October 1917 Bolshevik coup was inexplicably closed one recent weekday afternoon. A small, […]

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‘Russians to This Day Remain Soviet People,’ Moscow Psychologist Says

Artist's Rendition of Head and Brain, adapted from .gov image at lbl.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 31, 2017) Russians remain “Soviet people,” Aleksandr Asmolov says, not in terms of the specific ideological program pushed by the communist regime but rather according to three deep structures which informed that program, ensured its widespread acceptance, and guarantee its continuing vitality. Asmolov, a professor of psychology at Moscow State University, […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the global themed conference titled 100 Years of the Russian Revolution: Unity for the Future – Moscow, October 31, 2017” – Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Putin at] Opening of Wall of Sorrow memorial to victims of political repression” – KremlinRu

Russia Map

(Kremlin.ru – October 30, 2017) Following the meeting of the Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, Vladimir Putin and the Council members attended the opening of the Wall of Sorrow memorial to victims of political repression on Akademika Sakharova Prospekt. The opening was also attended by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin. President […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Vladimir Putin and Mikhail Fedotov at] Meeting of Council for Civil Society and Human Rights” – KremlinRu

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(Kremlin.ru – October 30, 2017) Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the Council for Civil Society and Human Rights at the Kremlin. The focus of the meeting was on measures to implement the State Policy Concept on immortalising the memory of victims of political repression. The agenda also included issues related to the Council’s activities on ensuring citizens’ environmental rights, […]

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Russian Liberals Attack Current Regime but Defend Foundation of Regime as Such, Birna Says

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 27, 2017) One of the fundamental weaknesses of liberal Russian thought and behavior, Irina Birna says, is Russian liberals are always ready to criticize the current regime but defend the basis of that regime as such, refusing to see the links between the two and thus manifesting “a latent imperialism.” They […]

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Interfax: Don’t forget saddest lessons of Russian history – Volodin in connection with day memorializing victims of repression

Russian State Duma Building file photo

MOSCOW. Oct 30 (Interfax) – Russian State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said that the events associated with political repression in the 20th century should be remembered so that the past can unite society, not divide it. “The Day of Remembrance of Victims of Political Repressions is one of the hardest memorial dates in our country’s calendar. In the year of […]

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Russia To Unveil Monument To Victims Of Political Repression

File Photo of Soviet Gulag at Manzanar, adapted from image at nps.gov

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – October 30, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-stalin-putin-soviet-repression-remembrance-day-moscow/28823208.html) Amid controversy over his own methods of maintaining control over Russia, President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to appear at the unveiling of a memorial dedicated to victims of state repression during the Soviet era. The Wall Of Sorrow will be unveiled on […]

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Interfax: Kremlin had no plans for Russian Revolution centenary celebrations in first place – Peskov

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

MOSCOW. Oct 25 (Interfax) – The Kremlin did not plan to celebrate the Russian Revolution’s centenary in the first place, presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday. “The Kremlin is not planning any events on this occasion,” Peskov said. “No one is cancelling anything,” he said. The media said that the Kremlin had planned no events celebrating the […]

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