RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Medvedev at] The 8th St Petersburg International Legal Forum” – GovernmentRu

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Government.ru – May 16, 2018) Dmitry Medvedev attended a plenary session titled Future of the Legal Profession. The St Petersburg International Legal Forum was launched in 2011 and is a major platform for dialogue between politicians, lawyers, economists and researchers representing all the main economic and legal systems. The forum seeks to promote ways to modernise the law in the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia hosts World Cup in heat of battle with West” – AFP

Men Sitting Around Long Oval Boardroom Table, File Photo of FIFA Officials Meeting with Vladmir Putin

  “… Russia was a controversial choice when it was handed the rights to the world’s most watched event in a 2010 vote now tainted by bribery charges. … The years since have seen Moscow clash with the West over everything from Syria and Ukraine to the poisoning of a former Russian double agent in England. Russia was even banned […]

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NEWSLINK: “England fans at World Cup ‘at risk of blackmail from Russian mafia hookers’; There are fears gangsters could threaten to send incriminating pictures to fans’ wives or post them on social media” – The Daily Mirror (UK)/Tom Davidson

File Image of Soccer Ball, Field, Stadium with Lights, adapted from image at fbi.gov

“… ‘It’s not just the Russian government we have to be fearful of when it comes to England fans.  It is also the Russian mafia who we know exploit sex, and use the internet and dating, to offer women in order to blackmail customers.’ …”  

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia Blacklists Progressively Fewer ‘Foreign Agent’ NGOs, Justice Ministry Says” – Moscow Times

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 10, 2018) Russia has blacklisted NGOs at a progressively slower rate since an infamous foreign agent law was signed in 2012, the Justice Ministry has said in an annual report. President Vladimir Putin observed last year that the sharp decline in “foreign agents” resulted from organizations turning down foreign funding. The law has been […]

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Interfax: “Human Rights Council member Svanidze criticizes bill on imposing fines for involving minors in unauthorized rallies”

Russian State Duma Building file photo

MOSCOW. May 10 (Interfax) – The bill proposed by a number of Russian State Duma deputies that would make encouraging minors to participate in unsanctioned rallies an administrative offence is controversial and potentially unconstitutional, Nikolai Svanidze, a member of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council and the head of its commission on civil freedoms, told Interfax on Thursday. “It’s a […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Hundreds arrested during Russian ‘He’s not my tsar’ protests” – bne Intellinews

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Marching on Street with Others in Background; adapted from image at commons.wikimedia.org by Evgeny Feldman, subject to Creative Commons license; original image at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FEV_1795_(cropped1).jpg, with license information at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en and https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode

“Up to 2,000 people were briefly arrested during a series of protests across Russia on May 5 just a few days before … Putin’s upcoming inauguration. … [with the] slogan was ‘He’s not my tsar.’ The biggest, and what turned out to be the most violent protest, was organised for the heart of Moscow on Pushkin Square by anti-corruption blogger […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Rusal Case Is a Failure of U.S. Sanctions; There are ways to hit Putin’s shadowy cronies without hurting top Russian firms” – Bloomberg/Leonid Bershidsky

“… Most of the $1 trillion that has fled Russia to the West since the Soviet Union’s collapse isn’t owned by the old-school ‘oligarchs.’ It was the corrupt officials and the little-known regime clients who moved it overseas. The West is still doing little to track that wealth and its owners; it’s looking under the lamp, not in the shadows where […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Countering a Kleptocratic Kremlin; We must remember that predatory authoritarianism is not stamped into the Russian DNA” – The American Interest/Larry Diamond

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

“With every passing week we have new evidence of the threat that Vladimir Putin’s kleptocracy poses to our democracy, our national security, and the entire liberal world order. Putin’s regime – something akin to an organized crime ring masquerading as a state – has looted the wealth of Russia, subjugated its people, attacked neighboring former republics of the USSR, annexed […]

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NEWSWATCH: “How to Stop Vladimir Putin’s Mafia; The real enemy is a group of about 100 beneficiaries of the regime and several thousand accomplices” – Wall Street Journal/Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky file photo

“… The West’s real enemy – and the enemy of the Russian people too – is a group of about 100 key beneficiaries of the Putin regime, and several thousand of their accomplices, many of whom hold posts in the Federal Security Service and the presidential administration.  Most of these people began their careers in the criminal underworld of St. […]

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Russia haunts the western imagination; The dividing line between authoritarian Russia and liberal democracies is growing ever thinner.

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

(opendemocracy.net – Ivan Krastev – April 16, 2018) Ivan Krastev is Visiting Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Programmes at The Graduate Institute and Geneva Permanent Fellow, Institute for Human Sciences (IWM), Vienna. He is also Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia. He is author of After Europe (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017). If a Martian were sent to earth with […]

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NEWSLINK: “Autumn of the Oligarchs; Vladimir Putin’s Billionaire Buddies Are Getting Scared, and Not Just of Sanctions” – The Daily Beast/Amy Knight

Kremlin and River

“Some of the oligarchs now face major U.S. sanctions, while others are getting arrested on the Kremlin’s orders. Is Putin’s circle of the shameless rich beginning to crumble?”  

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NEWSLINK: “BOOK REVIEW: EVERYDAY LAW IN RUSSIA” – Irrussianality/Paul Robinson

File Photo of Judge and Clerk in Russian Court, with Russian Flag Behind Bench

“A while ago I met a businessman working for a large multinational corporation in Russia. Apparently, Russian tax officials are paid according to how many tax violations they report, creating an incentive to accuse companies of violating the tax code even when they haven’t. As a result, the Russian tax authorities regularly accuse this businessman’s company of breaking the law. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Is it a crime to worship God? According to Russia, yes.” – Washington Post

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

“… Dennis Christensen … of Denmark, has been held [in Russia] in pretrial detention for 11 months … about to be tried on charges of organizing … activities of an ‘extremist organization,’ the Jehovah’s Witnesses. … [potentially] fac[ing] 10 years in prison. … the Russian Supreme Court declared the group ‘extremist’ and banned it from operating [in Russia]; there were […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian Billionaire Arrest Jolts Stocks, Fuels Cabinet Shake-Up Speculation” – Bloomberg/Ksenia Galouchko, Ilya Arkhipov, Stepan Kravchenko

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

“The arrest of one of Russia’s best-connected billionaires on charges of fraud and embezzlement knocked shares in his companies lower and fueled speculation it could be the harbinger of a shake-up in the cabinet …. [Dagestani-born] Ziyavudin Magomedov was arrested … with his brother … as he prepared to fly to the U.S. … he denied the charges but was […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian President Putin promises justice after Siberian shopping mall blaze tragedy” – bne Intellinews

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

“… details emerge of the fire that has killed 64 people, according to the latest official report, including 41 children, making this the worst tragedy of its type in Russia’s history. Twenty people were rescued … about 100 were evacuated. 15 people remain in hospital …. [O]ne of the owners of the mall has been arrested [for] criminal negligence …. […]

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Interfax: Russian Constitutional Court restricts use of house arrest

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

ST. PETERSBURG. March 24 (Interfax) – House arrest cannot be used in charges that do not envisage imprisonment and deviation from this rule is only possible in a situation when the person has already breached a preventive measure before, the Russian Constitutional Court has ruled. The decision was posted on the court website on Friday. The claim was filed with […]

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“Gangster’s paradise: how organised crime took over Russia; Under Vladimir Putin, gangsterism on the streets has given way to kleptocracy in the state” – The Guardian (UK)/Mark Galeotti

“… The challenge posed by Russian organised crime is a formidable one – and not just at home. Across the world, it trafficks drugs and people, arms insurgents and gangsters, and peddles every type of criminal service, from money laundering to computer hacking. For all that, much of the rest of the world remains willing – indeed, often delighted – […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Real Drama in Russia’s Election: How Many Voters Will Show Up? Putin is poised to win another term as president, and efforts to boost turnout recall Soviet-era elections” – Wall Street Journal/Thomas Grove

Russia Regions Map

“… the challenge for the Kremlin [is] not how to assure [Putin’s] victory … but how to boost voter turnout and legitimize an uncompetitive election. … in the northern Yamal-Nenets region … residents of voting age will be able to take their pictures against an election banner at a voting booth and post it on VKontakte, one of Russia’s most […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian lawmaker accused of sex harassment apologizes” – AP

Russian State Duma Building file photo

“An influential Russian parliament member accused of sexual harassment by several female journalists has issued an apology and asked for forgiveness. … allegations against [foreign affairs committee head] Leonid Slutsky by three journalists include groping and making demeaning comments. … demonstrators including … Sobchak held pickets outside the parliament demanding [his] resignation ….” Click here for: “Russian lawmaker accused of […]

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Russians Increasingly Blasé about Major Corruption Cases But Infuriated by Local Ones

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, March 4, 2018) The anti-corruption cases Moscow has launched in recent months no longer shock most Russians who view them as a kind of theater or surrogate for a genuine struggle against corruption because it is hard for them to view money in the capital as if it were their own, Aleksey […]

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NEWSLINK: “The Russian government blocks Navalny’s website, as Instagram caves to the censor’s demands and YouTube wavers” – Meduza

Montage of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook Logos, adapted from image at nps.gov

“When the dust finally settled, the morning after Valentine’s Day, it was Instagram – not YouTube – that had complied with orders from Russia’s federal censor to delete content flagged as a privacy violation by a court in Ust-Labinsky. On February 9, Instagram was given three weekdays to delete 14 posts uploaded by a self-described escort who calls herself ‘Nastya […]

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Roskomnadzor threatens to block sites that don’t delete info from Navalny film by Wed night

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

MOSCOW. Feb 14 (Interfax) – Roskomnadzor has given websites that have yet to delete the information contained in the film made by Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation until Wednesday evening to do so, saying they will be blocked if they do not comply. “The monitoring of the sites that have failed to delete the prohibited information and remain in the Unified […]

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Russian parliament moves to extend capital amnesty

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Interfax – February 9, 2018) The State Duma, the lower house of Russian parliament, has passed in third and final reading a package of bills extending the existing capital amnesty programme, which was proposed by President Vladimir Putin late in 2017. In December, Putin announced that Russia’s existing programme – aimed at encouraging wealthy Russians holding assets abroad to transfer […]

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Interfax: Global anti-doping system reform needed, IOC president resignation not on agenda – Duma committee head

Russian State Duma Building file photo

MOSCOW. Feb 9 (Interfax) – There needs to be a reform of the global anti-doping system after the Olympic Games, but Russia has no direct influence on the composition of the leadership of international sports organizations, and the issue of International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach’s resignation is not being raised now, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on […]

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Russian Olympians’ Last Ditch Appeals to Compete in the Winter Games, Explained

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 8, 2018) Although Russia has long been a powerhouse in the Winter Olympics, its flag, anthem and tricolor will be absent from the games kicking off tomorrow in South Korea. After a blanket ban of the Russian Olympic team in December by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over doping allegations, individual athletes have still […]

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Interfax: Navalny tells of his questioning at Investigative Committee

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Marching on Street with Others in Background; adapted from image at commons.wikimedia.org by Evgeny Feldman, subject to Creative Commons license; original image at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FEV_1795_(cropped1).jpg, with license information at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en and https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode

MOSCOW. Feb 6 (Interfax) – The Russian Investigative Committee on Tuesday questioned the opposition politician Alexei Navalny in connection with injury caused to police officers during an unauthorized rally on January 28. “Today I was questioned by the Investigative Committee which explained to me what it was probing. I was shown a police report which contained this ridiculous phrase, literally: […]

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Interfax: Moscow City Court overturns sentence of Navalny foundation’s lawyer due to insufficient evidence

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Marching on Street with Others in Background; adapted from image at commons.wikimedia.org by Evgeny Feldman, subject to Creative Commons license; original image at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FEV_1795_(cropped1).jpg, with license information at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en and https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode

MOSCOW. Feb 5 (Interfax) – The Moscow City Court has acquitted Alexander Pomazuyev, a lawyer of Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation charged with resisting police during an unauthorized rally, and canceled his administrative arrest on Monday. “The court has overturned the ruling of Moscow’s Simonovsky District Court and halted the proceedings in the administrative case due to the failure to prove […]

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Belykh case reveals flaw of Russian law enforcement: lack of mercy for the ill – Kudrin

Nikita Belykh file photo

MOSCOW. Feb 2 (Interfax) – The case of Nikita Belykh, the former governor of the Kirov region, who has been sentenced to eight years in jail, is a manifestation of the absence of mercy for sick people, Russia’s former finance minister, Alexei Kudrin, said. “Among other things, the Belykh case revealed the most anti-humane flaw of our law enforcement system: […]

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Interfax: Putin warns against further politicization of global sports

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

NOVO-OGARYOVO. Jan 31 (Interfax) – Russia hopes that international sports organizations will not turn into government departments in certain countries however powerful these might seem sometimes, President Vladimir Putin said. “Of course, we very much feel for our athletes who could not go to the Olympic Games. We will do everything to support them,” Putin said at a meeting with […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia and Ukraine: More similar than either wants to admit” – bne Intellinews/Anders Åslund

“… Russians see themselves as economically superior while Ukrainians cherish their freedom. Yet … economically the similarities are greater than the differences. Their current fundamental problem is their absence of real property rights. … Russia experienced an attempt at serious market economic reform from 1991-94 … avoid[ing] Ukraine’s … hyperinflation in 1993. While Russia’s situation was bad, Ukraine’s was far […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “Vladimir Putin spoke at meeting for Supreme Court 95th anniversary” – KremlinRu

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Kremlin.ru – January 23, 2018) The meeting was held at the Supreme Court building in Moscow and was attended by members of the judiciary, the Government and the Federal Assembly. The history of Russia’s supreme legislative authority for civil, criminal and administrative cases and economic disputes began with the establishment of the Supreme Court of the RSFSR in 1923. In […]

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Interfax: Russian Constitutional Court doesn’t accept Navalny’s complaint over participation in presidential election

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

ST. PETERSBURG. Jan 19 (Interfax) – The Russian Constitutional Court has refused to accept Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny’s complaint about the norms of the court’s law on presidential elections. The court’s ruling, dated January 18, is available on the court’s website. The Russian Constitutional Court earlier scrutinized a norm similar to that contested by Navalny as part of a […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Future of Navalny’s Opposition Movement; Why It Will Continue to Challenge the Kremlin” – Foreign Affairs/Anton Barbashin

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Marching on Street with Others in Background; adapted from image at commons.wikimedia.org by Evgeny Feldman, subject to Creative Commons license; original image at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FEV_1795_(cropped1).jpg, with license information at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en and https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode

“In March 2017 … Navalny released a shocking video investigation … reveal[ing] that Medvedev has been able to amass a tremendous fortune while in power … several mansions in Russia, a villa and property in Italy, and other assets worth roughly $1.2 billion. … spark[ing] a great deal of interest among Russians … receiv[ing] almost 26 million views on YouTube […]

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U.S. Urges Travelers To Reconsider Visiting Russia

State Department Building and U.S. Flag

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 11, 2018) The U.S. State Department listed Russia as one of the most dangerous countries to visit in a new travel advisory system released Wednesday, together with states including Sudan, Pakistan and Niger. The new four-tier advisory replaces the State Department’s travel warnings and alerts system and is based on seven risk factors including […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin Toughens Penalty for Bomb Threats Plaguing Russia” – AP

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

“… Putin has signed a law doubling the penalty for false reports of impending explosions or fire to a possible 10 years in prison. … Since September, authorities have received false bomb reports allegedly targeting more than 3000 structures in about 180 Russian cities. The subsequent building evacuations have sometimes caused severe traffic problems. A top Interior Ministry official said […]

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NEWSLINK: “‘I don’t like the Central Election Commission’ Alexey Navalny’s speech to the government officials who moments later barred him from Russia’s 2018 presidential election (full translation)” – Meduza

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Marching on Street with Others in Background; adapted from image at commons.wikimedia.org by Evgeny Feldman, subject to Creative Commons license; original image at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FEV_1795_(cropped1).jpg, with license information at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en and https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode

“Russia’s Central Election Commission refused to register Alexey Navalny’s presidential candidacy on December 25, a day after the opposition politician’s campaign staged nomination gatherings in 20 cities across the country and Navalny personally submitted his candidacy application to the commission. Before the formal vote, Navalny addressed the commission in a fiery speech where he called on election officials to let […]

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NEWSLINK: “Putin’s Russia Keeps Getting More Dangerous; The Ulyukaev verdict shows that personal loyalty to Putin cannot protect an official in the event of a conflict with those who are part of Putin’s inner circle” – The National Interest/ Sergey Aleksashenko

Alexei Ulyukayev file photo » Read more

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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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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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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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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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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NEWSWATCH: “Russia moves up to 35th place in the World Bank’s annual ‘Doing Business’ index” – bne Intellinews

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

“… Russia is ranked 35th in the 2018 issue of the World Bank’s Doing Business 2017 report published on October 31, moving up five places …. Another international rating, the 2017 Economic Freedom Index compiled by the Heritage Foundation in February, placed Russia in the 114th position in the ‘Mostly Unfree’ category … with a score of 57.1 of 100. … the […]

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Journalist Felgengauer’s attacker says deed prompted by ‘telepathic harassment’

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

MOSCOW. Oct 23 (Interfax) – The individual who attacked Tatyana Felgengauer, the Ekho Moskvy radio station’s deputy editor-in-chief, has failed to provide a rational explanation for his actions, providing confusing testimony. “[I was] compelled [to attack the journalist] because she harassed me for two months,” the attacker said in a video, which was posted on the radio station’s Telegram account. […]

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Top Russian official ‘unaware’ of plans for new ‘foreign agent’ law

Kremlin and River

(Interfax – October 18, 2017) The first deputy head of Russia’s presidential administration, Sergei Kiriyenko, has said he is unaware of any forthcoming Russian legislation which would designate individuals with the status of “foreign agents”. “I don’t know anything about this,” Kiriyenko said on 18 October when asked about the matter. Media reports on 9 October, citing a source, said: […]

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