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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Russian Elections Chief Says Navalny Cannot Run Until 2028

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – October 17, 2017 – article also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-navalny-elections-pamfilova-presidency/28799529.html) Russia’s top election official says that opposition politician Aleksei Navalny will not be eligible to run for office until about 2028. Speaking at a youth festival in the southern city of Sochi, Central Election Commission chief Ella Pamfilova warned Navalny and […]

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RUSSIALINK: “The Billionaire Adviser: A Story of Russia’s Anti-Corruption Campaign; The story of the arrest of Oleg Korshunov, deputy director of Russia’s prison system, looks at first glance like a victory in an anti-corruption campaign. But the truth is much more complex”  – Carnegie Moscow/ Olga Romanova 

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

“… Korshunov merely operated too blatantly, his detention is unlikely to change much, and he may eventually get free on parole …”  

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A Corruption Trial Splits the Kremlin; The former economy minister got caught in a sting, and no one knows where Putin stands.

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Evgenia Pismennaya, Ilya Arkhipov, Henry Meyer, Irina Reznik – October 11, 2017) The first prosecution of a minister for graft under Russian President Vladimir Putin contains the kind of details you’d expect in a spy novel, from hidden microphones and coded hand signals to homemade sausages and a bag stuffed with cash. The case against former […]

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Kremlin had Its Reasons for Not Cracking Down Harder on Latest Protests, Commentators Say

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 10, 2017) The relative paucity of detentions in Moscow during the anti-Putin Navalny demonstrations last weekend, despite the much larger and more brutal actions of the authorities beyond the ring road, has generated a lively discussion as to why the Kremlin didn’t come down harder. Two commentators, Yekatarina Vinokurova of Znak […]

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Navalny Fund Publishes Retractions in Usmanov Libel Suit

Alisher Usmanov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 11, 2017) The Anti-Corruption Foundation has complied with a court order to publish retractions related to a video critical of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Foundation founder and opposition leader Alexei Navalny was sued for libel in April by Uzbekistan-born Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov over allegations of bribery. Navalny is currently serving a 20-day jail […]

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Interfax: Foreign activity on Kirovles case is attempt to influence 2018 elections in Russia – Federation Council

File Photo of Council of Europe Headquarters Building with Flags in Front

MOSCOW. Sept 25 (Interfax) – The high interest of structures of the Council of Europe in the Kirovles case is an attempt to influence the preparations for the presidential elections in Russia, the Russian Federation Council commission on the protection of state sovereignty said. “Foreign activity around the debate in the structures of the Council of Europe on the so-called […]

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How Western Election Monitors Help Putin

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

(The Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Fedor Krasheninnikov – September 7, 2017) Fedor Krasheninnikov is a well-known Russian journalist and political analyst. He has been a contributing opinion writer with the business newspaper Vedomosti and the independent online publication Snob.ru. Krasheninnikov also serves as political commentator for the radio station Echo of Moscow. He has organised environmental and political campaigns […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Show Trial of a Russian Theater Director; If it is not clear by now, let me say it in no uncertain terms: The #Serebrennikov case is a show trial” – Moscow Times/ John Freedman

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

“The arrest of director Kirill Serebrennikov … created a firestorm of reaction …. Serebrennikov’s arrest is the latest development in an affair that went public in late May. At that time, he was questioned about funds allegedly embezzled from theater projects mounted by an entity called Seventh Studio, an offshoot of the Gogol Center, where Serebrennikov has been artistic director …. […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia’s surveillance state is giving us a false sense of security The Russian state’s mass expansion of surveillance online and offline is not making citizens any safer.” – OpenDemocracyNet – Damir Gainutdinov

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

“… Human rights defenders moving around the country regularly encounter increased attention from law enforcement agencies — they are detained, searched and questioned about why they’re travelling ….”

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Russian ex-deputy minister Aleksashenko detained in airport, released, then case on cultural valuables smuggling opened against him – source

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

MOSCOW. Aug 23 (Interfax) – A criminal case on charges of smuggling of cultural valuables was opened against Sergei Aleksashenko, a former Russian deputy finance minister turned public figure, a source in law enforcement structures told Interfax. “Aleksashenko was detained in a Moscow airport, where several orders of the Soviet era, prohibited to be exported, were seized from him,” the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Corruption Case Puts Sechin in the Spotlight” – Carnegie Moscow Center/ Konstantin Gaaze

Igor Sechin file photo

“The high-profile trial of former Russian economy minister Alexei Ulyukayev is not playing out according to the script that most analysts had expected. The prosecution’s case increasingly relies on the testimony of one man, state oil chief Igor Sechin, making this master of Kremlin intrigue potentially politically vulnerable. The powerful reputation of the official said to be Russia’s second most […]

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Interfax: Stage director Serebrennikov says charges brought against him absurd, asks court not to take him into custody

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

MOSCOW. Aug 23 (Interfax) – Stage director Kirill Serebrennikov, the art director of the Gogol Center theater, who has been charged with organizing the embezzlement of at least 68 million rubles allocated from the budget to Studio Seven, which he founded, for implementation of the Platforma theatrical project, has dismissed the charges as absurd. “The charges brought against me are […]

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Putin’s Renationalization Campaign: Fighting Corruption or Forcing Officials’ Loyalty? (excerpt)

Alexei Navalny file photo

(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 […]

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Piketty Zeroes In on Putin’s Pain Point; The West should stop relying on sanctions and instead target Russia’s massive offshore wealth.

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(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 […]

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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.

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

(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 […]

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Released Russian Activist Udaltsov Vows To Continue Protests, Won’t Back Navalny

File Photo of Sergei Udaltsov Speaking Outdoors, Holding Microphone and Gesturing

(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 […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia Wants Innovation, but It’s Arresting Its Innovators” – New York Times/ Andrew Higgins

Skolkovo File Photo

“… 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 […]

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The Stunning Story of Russian Minister Ulyukayev’s Arrest for Bribery, Explained

Alexei Ulyukayev file photo

(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 […]

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Pussy Riot members en route to Moscow from Yakutsk where they were supposed to face trial after detention

File Photo of Pussy Riot Members in Courtroom Enclosure, With Man Showing Papers to One While Female Guard Looks On

YAKUTSK. Aug 8 (Interfax) – The Yakutsk City Court has once again proven unable to decide on an administrative penalty for two members of the Pussy Riot punk group, Maria Alyokhina and Olga Borisova, who were detained on Monday for staging an unpermitted action in support of Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov. “The judge decided to return the administrative material […]

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Kremlin Plan to Make Fight for Justice Centerpiece of Putin Campaign Seen Backfiring

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 26, 2017) Two anonymous sources “close to the Presidential Administration” tell the Znak news agency that Vladimir Putin plans to fight “the struggle against poverty and social injustice” a centerpiece of his re-election campaign in order to mobilize Russians against local and regional elites. But Znak commentator Yekaterina Vinokurova warns that […]

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Interfax: Defense finish reviewing evidence in Browder, Cherkasov dossier

File Photo of William Browder Seated at Table with Microphone as Woman Listens, with Image Watermark Saying Presented by Library of Congress with U.S. House of Representatives Seal, adapted from image at house.gov

MOSCOW. July 22 (Interfax) – The materials concerning Hermitage Capital Management co-founder William Browder and his business partner Ivan Cherkasov were sent for approval to the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office, the defense lawyer Alexander Antipov said on Thursday. “The defense finished reviewing the case files, currently, the dossier has been sent to the Prosecutor General’s Office but I don’t think […]

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Anti-Corruption Protests Didn’t Make Navalny More Popular – Poll

Kremlin and River

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 17, 2017) Highly publicized anti-corruption protests organized by opposition leader Alexei Navalny in June did not increase his popularity, the news outlet RBC reported Monday. Citing an unpublished report by independent pollster Lavada Center, RBC said the percentage of respondents who recognize Navalny and the Anti-Corruption Fund that he leads remained unchanged from March […]

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VIDEO NEWSWATCH: “The deadly risk of standing up to Putin” – PBS Newshour

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

(PBS Newshour – July 13, 2017 – also appeared at pbs.org/newshour/bb/deadly-risk-standing-putin/) “What can happen to you if you oppose the Kremlin? There is a high mortality rate among prominent critics of the Russian government, which some say is emblematic of how President Vladimir Putin runs the country. As part of our week-long series Inside Putin’s Russia, special correspondent Nick Schifrin […]

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Russian investigators say Nemtsov not killed over religion

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(Interfax – July 13, 2017) The Russian Investigations Committee has ruled out the theory that opposition politician Boris Nemtsov was murdered on religious, rather than financial grounds, its spokeswoman has said. “During the investigation there was an analysis of the testimonies of suspects Zaur Dadayev and Anzor Gubashev on how they committed the murder of Boris Nemtsov on grounds of […]

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Yavlinsky on Nemtsov’s murder trial: we never learned mastermind’s name

Boris Nemtsov file photo

MOSCOW. July 13 (Interfax) – The trial of the killers of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov has left too many questions to say that their punishment is proportionate, Chairman of the Yabloko party’s Federal Political Committee Grigory Yavlinsky said. “There is no trust in either the trial over Boris Nemtsov’s murder or the judgment. Too many doubts and questions remain. […]

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NEWSLINK: “Will the cliche of the ‘Russian baddie’ ever leave our screens? With James Norton starring in McMafia, an upcoming BBC drama about a mob family, the country’s criminal image shows no sign of disappearing” – The Guardian (UK)/ Stuart Jeffries

File Photo of British Parliament Building, Big Ben, Thames, adapted from image at loc.gov

“… Will McMafia buck or conform to the stereotypes? On the lawn of Munden House, James Norton tells the Guide that he hopes his performance will remind us that Russians are different to what is considered the norm on cinema and TV. He says that one reason he wanted to play Alex, the Anglo-Russian who’s both revolted and seduced by […]

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Nearly 40 Percent of Russian Economy Still in Shadow Sector

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 2, 2017) According to the international Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, 39.3 percent of the Russian economy remains in the shadow sector, making Russia one of the leaders in this regard and meaning that 35.55 trillion rubles (600 billion US dollars) of economic activity there are off the books and not […]

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Court turns down motion on mitigating Oleg Navalny’s prison sentence

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

VORONEZH. June 14 (Interfax) – The Uritsky District Court in the Oryol region has turned down a request on mitigating the punishment of Oleg Navalny, the brother of prominent opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is serving his time at a local penitentiary, the court press service told Interfax. “The court today heard a request by Oleg Navalny’s lawyer on replacing […]

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Aggrieved party in Nemtsov murder case sees crime as not solved – lawyer

Boris Nemtsov file photo

MOSCOW. June 6 (Interfax) – The aggrieved party in the case dealing with the murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov sees the crime as not solved, as the investigation has not identified those who ordered and organized it, even though there is every opportunity for this, a lawyer said. “Those who ordered and who organized the crime must be identified […]

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Russian prosecutor general suggests giving Justice Ministry right to conduct extraordinary inspections of NGOs that breach legislation

Yury Chaika file photo

MOSCOW. June 7 (Interfax) – Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika has suggested giving the Justice Ministry the right to conduct extraordinary inspections of NGOs. “We suggest giving the Justice Ministry the right to conduct extraordinary inspections of NGOs if there is information that they are in breach of any bans and restrictions envisaged by the law,” Chaika told a parliamentary […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Kremlin Critic Alexei Navalny Vows to Fight On; As legal obstacles to opposition figure’s presidential run multiply, he says in interview ‘Kremlin will have no choice’ than to let his campaign proceed” – Wall Street Journal/ Nathan Hodge

Alexei Navalny file photo

“… Navalny has mobilized thousands of demonstrators across [Russia] to protest corruption under … Putin. Now he says he is pressing ahead with a quixotic effort to run against his country’s powerful leader in elections next year. … despite … serious legal obstacles …. he was found guilty of embezzlement by a court in Kirov … a verdict he said was politically motivated to […]

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Ukraine’s justice ministry sues Saakashvili

Mikheil Saakashvili file photo

KYIV. May 31 (Interfax) – Ukrainian Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko intends to file a defamation lawsuit against Mikheil Saakashvili, leader of the Rukh Novykh Syl political force. “I have made a decision to file a lawsuit based on all those statements that this citizen made regarding the protection of honor and dignity,” Petrenko told a briefing in Kyiv on Tuesday. […]

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NEWSLINK: “‘Do you know what memes are?’ Billionaire Alisher Usmanov’s lawsuit against opposition leader Alexey Navalny goes to trial” – Meduza

Alisher Usmanov file photo

“On Tuesday, May 30, a Moscow court convened to consider the merits of a defamation lawsuit brought by billionaire businessman Alisher Usmanov against opposition politician Alexey Navalny and his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK). Usmanov is demanding that Navalny retract multiple accusations he made in a recent investigation into corruption allegedly involving Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, as well as allegations Navalny has […]

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State, society and the individual in the Russian courtroom; One of Russia’s leading human rights lawyers discusses competing realities inside and outside the courtroom.

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

(opendemocracy.net – Igor Gukovsky – May 23, 2017) Igor Gukovsky is a campaigner with the Memorial Human Rights Centre, where he works on its programme supporting individuals prosecuted for political reasons and protecting civil society activists in Russia. For many, politically motivated criminal cases in Russia may seem like a foregone conclusion. The defendant is always found guilty, and the […]

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Interfax: Tragic events associated with informers in Russia, this institution must not migrate from sports to other spheres – Putin

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

KRASNODAR. May 23 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for treating the idea of introducing an institution of informers into Russian sports with extreme caution, recalling that tragic events are associated with this phenomenon in the Russian history. Speaking at the presidential council on physical training and sports on Tuesday, Putin warned against this institution the creation which […]

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NEWSLINK: “The Fall of Dmitry Medvedev” – Russian and Eurasian Politics/ Gordon Hahn

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

“Opposition leader Alexei Navalnyi’s recent corruption allegations against Russian Prime Minister and former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev poses a grave threat to Medvedev’s political survival in that position. The timing of the allegations is crucial, coming as the presidential campaign approaches as does Putin’s impending decision whether or not to retain Medvedev in the PM’s post. Putin is not left […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Dissent Shakes the Foundation of the Kremlin’s Power” – Stratfor

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

… Most of the dissidence in Russia today does not come in response to a specific incident – such as the electoral fraud that incited mass demonstrations in 2011-12 – but to the country’s political system more generally. With a few exceptions, rather than targeting the president himself, the current protests are aimed at corruption or economic stagnation. … To […]

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Sokolovsky charges of God denial “absurd” – Federation of Jewish communities

Yekaterinburg file photo

MOSCOW. May 11 (Interfax) – The Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (FJCR) backed the court ruling in the case against the “Pokemon catcher” Ruslan Sokolovsky, but called some of the charges against him absurd. “That the judge chose a penalty not involving incarceration is, in my view, a positive fact because prison has not yet made anyone better. Whenever […]

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