‘Thieves-in-law’: Russia’s close-knit criminal corporation

Hands Opening Envelope Containing Cash

In mid-July, the police detained Shakro Molodoi, or Shakro the Young, a king of the underworld and infamous “thief-in-law,” who lived in a lavish mansion in Moscow. In the 1990s and early 2000s, people like him were the protagonists of popular Russian TV series, later forgotten – but the “thieves” themselves have not gone anywhere. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – […]

» Read more

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 […]

» Read more

NEWSWATCH: “Ban Russia From the Rio Olympics” – New York Times

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

The latest and most comprehensive report on Russia’s cheating at the 2014 Winter Olympics gives the International Olympic Committee all the evidence it needs to ban every Russian team from the forthcoming Rio Games. The report, commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency to investigate a fast-growing body of evidence against Russia, is damning and unequivocal. … it affirms ‘beyond a […]

» Read more

In Ukraine, not only heroes deserve justice; A Ukrainian blogger sentenced for his scandalous views on the conflict in the Donbas has just been released. Whatever his shortcomings, Ruslan Kotsaba deserved our solidarity.

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

(OpenDemocracy – opendemocracy.net – Maxim Edwards and Thomas Rowley – July 17, 2016) Maxim Edwards is Commissioning Editor at oDR. Tom Rowley is Lead Editor at oDR. He is currently finishing a PhD on Soviet dissent at the University of Cambridge. Last Thursday, Ruslan Kotsaba addressed journalists in a west Ukrainian courthouse, tears running down his face. “This is a […]

» Read more

NEWSWATCH: “Bar Russia from the Rio Olympics” – Washington Post

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

At the Winter Olympics in Sochi … no Russian athletes tested positive for doping, and to much celebration they took home 33 medals, more than any other nation. … behind the scenes, a system was in place that concealed the use of performance-enhancing drugs by … Russian athletes. … doping and coverups have been carried out by Russia across a range […]

» Read more

TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Statement in response to the report by the World Anti-Doping Agency

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

(Kremlin.ru – July 18, 2016) President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Recent events and the tense atmosphere that has formed around international sport and the Olympic movement involuntarily recall the situation in the early 1980s. Back then, many Western countries, citing the deployment of Soviet troops in Afghanistan, boycotted the Moscow Olympics. Four years later, the Soviet Union retaliated by boycotting […]

» Read more

Russian ‘Gun-For-Hire’ Rinat Akhmetshin Lurks In Shadows Of Washington’s Lobbying World

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Mike Eckel – WASHINGTON – July 17, 2016) The hoots and jeers began the minute the movie ended and the lights went up on the seventh floor of the Newseum, a Washington museum dedicated to the free press. The film was a semifictionalized look at the story of Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian lawyer who helped uncover […]

» Read more

NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Doping Scandal. A new report finds that Olympic cheating was state policy.” – Wall Street Journal editorial

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

Less than three weeks before the Summer Olympics in Rio … an independent probe … produced the most damning evidence to date of a vast, state-sponsored #doping program run by #Russia’s sports officials that included corrupting the testing lab at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. … the report sets up a choice as delicate as it is momentous: whether to ban […]

» Read more

NEWSWATCH: “Pyatt: High hopes, some regrets, one big question” – Kyiv Post/Brian Bonner

Geoffrey R. Pyatt file photo

Pyatt is part a big turnover … coming in the Western diplomatic corps, as ambassadors who served during the EuroMaidan Revolution and the start of Russia’s war against Ukraine are being reassigned …. * * * It was in support of Ukrainians’ fight against their corrupt authorities that Pyatt took one of his stronger and more memorable stands. … * […]

» Read more

Russian Artist Pavlensky Stripped of Award Over Support for Police Killers

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ed Crowther – July 8, 2016) The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) has stripped radical political performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky of the Vaslav Havel prize, awarded to him in May, the Dozhd news website reported Friday. The decision was a result of Pavlensky’s support for the Primorye Partisans, a group recognized as a criminal organization by […]

» Read more

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?”

Kremlin and River » Read more

RBTH: St. Petersburg State University researchers battle corruption

Cropped File Photo of Two Men in Business Suits Shaking Hands and Passing Cash

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Gleb Fedorov, RBTH – June 29, 2016) After studying more than 36,000 regional laws and regulations, researchers from St. Petersburg State University (SPbU) have found vague words and terminology that could be misused by corrupt officials. One of the most well-known sayings in Russia is “the law is like a horse harness, it […]

» Read more

Governor Belykh’s Arrest Has Russian Elite on Edge

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Mikhail Fishman – June 30, 2016) For the last decade, regional governors in Russia are usually appointed apparatchiks, with faces unrecognizable outside their home territory. There are some exceptions to the rule, like Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of the republic of Chechnya. Another rare exception was Nikita Belykh, the governor of the Kirov region, a […]

» Read more

Putin will decide whether to “veto” anti-terrorist laws when he receives them for signing – Peskov

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

MOSCOW. June 29 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin will make a decision on the so-called ‘anti-terrorist package’ of laws after he receives it for signing, Russian presidential press officer Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday. “We know of different views on this bill. We know of specific remarks, including those made by communications [operators], public figures, and public organizations. […]

» Read more

Lack of Solidarity Among Russian Opposition an Ominous Echo of 1937, Pavlova Says

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 27, 2016) The reaction of many Russian opposition figures to the arrest of corrupt figures today eerily and ominously echoes the reaction of many ordinary Soviet citizens to the arrest and then execution of many corrupt officials in the late 1930s, according to Irina Pavlova, a US-based Russian historian. And the […]

» Read more

Sharapova to spend disqualification period at Harvard

File Photo of Maria Sharapov Carrying Olympic Torch and Waving at Sochi

Maria Sharapova enrolls at Harvard Business School after being banned from tennis for two years. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NIKOLAI LITOVKIN, RBTH – June 27, 2016) Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova, who has been banned from tournament play for two years, will spend her disqualification period at the Harvard Business School. However, what exactly she will study […]

» Read more

New Anti-Terrorist Acts Means Kremlin is Preparing for War at Home and Abroad, Ponomarev Says

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 24, 2016) Today, the Russian Duma passed on second and third reading the so-called “Yarova-Ozerov law on terrorism,” a draconian measure that means not only that Vladimir Putin’s recent call for improved relations with the West was nothing more than “a special operation” but also and more seriously that he is […]

» Read more

All Russians Are Tainted by Putin’s Regime

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – June 21, 2016) The International Olympic Committee’s decision to let Russian athletes compete in the Rio Olympics if they can prove that they haven’t used performance-enhancing drugs won’t be popular with other countries. Nonetheless, it was the right call. But it also carries some unpleasant undertones: It formally requires Russians to prove that […]

» Read more

NEWSWATCH: “Olympic Ban Adds to Russia’s Culture of Grievances” – New York Times

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

When a global governing body for sports barred Russia’s track and field team from the 2016 Summer Olympics on Friday over a wide-ranging doping scandal, it was greeted in Russia, as is so often the case here these days, with a deep sense of victimhood. …Putin …called the decision ‘unjust, of course.’ …. Click here for New York Times: Olympic […]

» Read more

Antony Penaud: The Observer, the anonymous Twitter account, and the unnamed official

Rotating Soccer Ball

Subject: The Observer, the anonymous Twitter account, and the unnamed official Date: Sun, 19 Jun 2016 From: Antony Penaud <antonypenaud@yahoo.fr> Antony Penaud received his DPhil from the University of Oxford in 2000. He is French and lives in London. His articles on Russia and Ukraine can be found on www.scribd.com/antonykharms Following three days of violent clashes in Marseille (the first […]

» Read more

Banned Russian Runners Struggle to Keep Their Careers Afloat

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – June 11, 2016) His first international race, the Kanazawa marathon was a special occasion for Viktor Ugarov, 30. Thousands of amateur Japanese runners took part, but none, in the end, provided serious competition for the runner from Irkutsk. Ugarov, who a year earlier had finished fifth in the Russian Championship, ended up […]

» Read more

How the reporting of the British media changed during the Marseille cashes

Rotating Soccer Ball

Subject: How the reporting of the British media changed during the Marseille cashes Date: Tue, 14 Jun 2016 ) From: Antony Penaud <antonypenaud@yahoo.fr> Being French, having lived in England for half of my life, and being Russophile, I followed the Marseille streetfight events and the way they were reported in the British press with a special interest. In the France […]

» Read more

Jailed for a repost: The definition of extremism in Russia gets ever looser

Kremlin and River

Russia has seen a dramatic rise in criminal prosecutions on charges of internet extremism over the last few months. Yet most of these cases concern not the creation of extremist content but retweeting, liking or reposting it. RBTH found out more. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH – June 7, 2016) On Feb. 20, Yekaterina Vologzhenova, […]

» Read more

Anti-doping rule breakers will be harshly punished – Mutko

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

MOSCOW. June 9 (Interfax) – The harshest measures will be taken against those who were caught violating anti-doping rules, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said. “If this is established, naturally, we will take the harshest measures against every person. All our correspondence will be examined, and even if anyone participated in this scheme with him [Grigory Rodchenkov, former head of […]

» Read more

Interfax: Russia won’t put up with unsubstantiated slander against it on issue of doping in sports – Peskov

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

MOSCOW. June 8 (Interfax) – Russia is against the use of doping in sports, but that does not mean that it is ready to put up with unsubstantiated slander against it on this issue, Russian presidential press officer Dmitry Peskov said. “We all remember that the Russian president has given an absolutely clear signal that the use of any types […]

» Read more

Russian Election Commission Head Says ‘No One Is Untouchable’ on Violations

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – June 6, 2016) The head of Russia’s Central Election Commission, Ella Pamfilova, said that an interdepartmental working group is being set up to quickly react to election violations, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta government daily reported Monday. The working group will include representatives of the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Interior Ministry and the Investigative Committee, Pamfilova said […]

» Read more

NEWSWATCH: “‘Anti-travelogue’ on Putin’s Russia wins £10,000 Ondaatje prize. Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev takes prize honouring writers who best ‘evoke the spirit of a place” – The Guardian

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

… Pomerantsev said he had been struck by the ‘state-reinforced psychology of the new Russia, the insistence that all identities are mutable, that nothing is true and everything is possible.’ Born in Ukraine and now living in London, Pomerantsev has worked as a journalist, film-maker and as a consultant for the EU and World Bank. * * * Judge and […]

» Read more

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

sochi-olympics-200

… 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 […]

» Read more

TRANSCRIPT: [Excerpts: Medvedev at] The 6th St Petersburg International Legal Forum

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Government.ru – May 18, 2016) Dmitry Medvedev attended a plenary session titled Trust in Law – Mechanism for Global Crisis Resolution. The St Petersburg International Legal Forum was launched in 2011 and is a major platform for dialogue between politicians, lawyers, economists and scientists who represent various economic and legal systems. The forum seeks to promote ways to modernise the […]

» Read more

Panama Papers: Are Russian entrepreneurs actually moving back onshore?

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

The latest information published from the Panama Papers shows that some Russian billionaires began closing their offshore companies after the beginning of the governmental de-offshorization campaign in 2015. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – ALEXEI LOSSAN, RBTH – rbth.ru – May 16, 2016) According to the business newspaper RBK Daily, the expanded database of the so-called Panama Papers, published in May […]

» Read more

NEWSWATCH: “Revelations of State-Backed Doping Should Bar Russia From Rio Olympics” – New York Times/JULIET MACUR

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

Accusations of Russian doping and reported claims of systematic distribution of performance-enhancing drugs and of bribes paid to cover up positive tests would be enough to scare off officials of any event worried about safeguarding its credibility. … you have to wonder what officials from the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee are thinking now, in light of […]

» Read more

Putinism won’t end with a bang, but a warrant; New charges concerning several leading Russian officials reveal the greatest threat to the Kremlin’s hold on power – elite corruption.

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

(opendemocracy.net – Mark Galeotti – May 10, 2016) Mark Galeotti is currently Professor of Global Affairs at New York University and a visiting fellow at the ECFR, although from August he will be principal director of the Mayak Intelligence consultancy in Prague and senior researcher at the Czech Institute for International Relations. He blogs on Russian security affairs at In […]

» Read more

Jailed for Protesting Against the Kremlin – Life 4 Years After Bolotnaya

Russian Riot Police file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Eva Hartog – May 13, 2016) The Bolotnoye protest followed disputed parliamentary elections that saw the ruling United Russia secure a narrow parliamentary majority and Putin return to the presidency. The lights went out without so much as a flicker in the Moscow apartment shared by Andrei Barabanov, his mother and girlfriend one evening in […]

» Read more

NEWSWATCH: “How Western aid enables graft addiction in Ukraine” – Washington Post/Neil A. Abrams, M. Steven Fish

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

Over the past 25 years, Western donors have funneled billions of dollars into post-communist Ukraine, with two main goals: helping the country build a self-sustaining, competitive market economy, and laying the legal and regulatory groundwork for a law-governed state. … the hopes that accompanied the EuroMaidan movement of 2014 have crashed on the rocks of renewed asset-grabbing …. gains from […]

» Read more

NEWSWATCH: “Kudrin and Poroshenko will fail because corruption is the system in Russia, Ukraine” – bne Intellinews/Ben Aris

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

… The irony is that Russia and Ukraine find themselves in exactly the same place: both countries are suffering from an economic miasma and both need deep and far-reaching reforms if they are to prosper. The difference between them is that Russia is half way through the process and will very like actually make some more reforms, whereas Ukraine is at the […]

» Read more

NEWSWATCH: “As Russians Struggle to Pay Bills, Debt Collectors Mimic the Mob” – New York Times

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

They have stripped and sexually abused a woman, severely burned a toddler by firebombing a house and broken a woman’s pinkie as a warning. Gang members, bandits, mobsters? … These are debt collectors, a peculiarly Russian variety … flourishing amid the country’s economic turmoil. … With unpaid debts mushrooming, collection has turned into something of a blood sport reminiscent of […]

» Read more

Higher School of Economics shrugs off reports on its involvement in new Russian constitution drafting allegedly contracted by Khodorkovsky

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

MOSCOW. April 30 (Interfax) – Russia’s Higher School of Economics (HSE) said that it has nothing to do with any drafting of the new Russian constitution allegedly ordered by former Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky. “The National Research University Higher School of Economics is out of politics and does not engage in personal projects of any participants in the political process,” […]

» Read more

Russians, Their Guns And the State

Makarov Handgun file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – April 29, 2016) U.S. gun enthusiasts live in constant fear of the federal government confiscating their weapons. For Russian gun owners, such a fear may be about to become a reality. On April 14, President Vladimir Putin, announced the formation of a new National Guard, and declared one of its key fuctions […]

» Read more

RBTH: Polls: Corporate corruption in Russia falls to U.S. level

Cropped File Photo of Two Men in Business Suits Shaking Hands and Passing Cash

Russian companies have recorded a drop in the number of kickbacks and bribes in their sectors, a study by Ernst & Young has revealed. According to the survey, corporate corruption in Russia has dropped so much that it is now on a par with the U.S. A similar conclusion has been reached by experts from PwC. (Russia Beyond the Headlines […]

» Read more

Outrage and outsourcing in Russian healthcare

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

The doctor is out. Hunger strikes, mistreatment of patients and general desperation are beginning to seem like a feature – as opposed to a bug – of Russia’s healthcare system. (opendemocracy.net – Artur Asafyev – April 28, 2016) Artur Asafyev is a freelance correspondent for Radio Svoboda and Novaya Gazeta in Ufa, Bashkortostan. He has worked as a journalist since […]

» Read more

NEWSWATCH: “New Russian Security Force Will Answer to Vladimir Putin. The Russian Guard is being formed ahead of coming parliamentary elections.” – Wall Street Journal

Vladimir Putin

The Kremlin is creating a new internal security force that answers directly to … Putin, ahead of parliamentary elections. … the new force … the Russian Guard, will be headed by Viktor Zolotov, who served as Mr. Putin’s personal bodyguard for 13 years. … Putin directed the creation of the force … through an executive order … under review by […]

» Read more

Same Level of Corruption Recorded in Russian, U.S. Businesses – Survey

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 23, 2016) Thirty-four percent of respondents in Russia and and the United States agree that bribery and corruption are widespread in their country, a survey by multinational financial services company EY reported. The survey results show business professionals in both countries agreed that corruption in business was widespread in their respective nations. EY – […]

» Read more

NEWSWATCH Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:/ Balázs Jarábik, Mikhail Minakov: “Ukraine’s Hybrid State. Ukraine has new institutions and a vibrant civil society, but a culture of corruption erodes state legitimacy. The state has been captured by enemies within.”

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

With no end in sight to the slow-motion hybrid war in Donbas, the impetus to reform the Ukrainian state has moved in fits and starts. Attempts to carry out a series of fundamental reforms have fallen far short of expectations. These efforts have produced what some observers have described as a hybrid Ukrainian state. The country boasts new institutions and […]

» Read more

Alarm bells ring as chief Maidan crimes investigator threatened with criminal charges

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(Human Rights in Ukraine – khpg.org – Halya Coynash – April 21, 2016) Civic activists and Euromaidan victims’ lawyers have sounded the alarm about a major offensive against Serhiy Horbatyuk and his special investigative department which has been described as the “last bastion within the Prosecutor General’s Office really doing anything to investigate Euromaidan-related crimes”.  Several criminal investigations have been […]

» Read more

Were the Panama Papers Planted? Who Cares.

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – April 15, 2016) Last week, a respected Russia scholar in the U.S. speculated that the Kremlin might be behind the so-called Panama Papers, the big dump of data about offshore accounts that has implicated several countries’ officials in shady dealings. And on Thursday, President Vladimir Putin of Russia blamed the U.S. for the […]

» Read more

In Ukraine, Expats and Romantics Are Out

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – April 15, 2016) The new Ukrainian cabinet, confirmed by the parliament on Thursday, is more interesting for the people it doesn’t include than for those it does. Ukraine’s experiment with bringing foreign reformers and private sector professionals into the government is now officially over, and it has failed. President Petro Poroshenko tapped his […]

» Read more

How Greed and Incompetence Put Russia’s Heritage at Risk

Novodevichy Convent file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ekaterina Motyakina – April 14, 2016) The Novodevichy convent is a rare glimpse of tranquility in Russia’s bustling capital. Perched on the banks of the Bolshoi Novodevichny Lake, the convent’s golden domes and soaring bell towers have given refuge to Moscow’s needy since the 16th century. When cultural and scientific agency UNESCO designated it a […]

» Read more

Russia’s in the red: As Russia’s personal debt crisis spirals out of control, collectors are turning to violence to ensure people pay on time. These stories aren’t for the fainthearted.

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

(opendemocracy.net – Sean Guillory – April 14, 2016) Sean Guillory lives in Pittsburgh, where he hosts the SRB podcast, a weekly podcast on Eurasian politics, history and culture, and blogs at seansrussiablog.org. You can follow him on Twitter @seansrussiablog. At this point, I should be numb to Russian horror stories. But several days ago, the following story struck a chord, […]

» Read more

On My Mind

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – April 11, 2016) In many ways, corruption is the new communism. The Soviet Union sought to spread communism and establish a bloc of nations loyal to Moscow. Vladimir Putin’s Russia seeks to spread its corrupt business model to establish a bloc of nations dependent upon Moscow. The Soviet Union tried to co-opt Westerners […]

» Read more
1 2 3 22