Category Archives: Politics, Government, Protests, Elections

Russians’ Hatreds Easy to Unleash But Difficult to Limit, Reverse or Overcome

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, March 30, 2015) Many are taking comfort in the notion that just as Russians appear to have reduced their hatred of immigrants when encouraged by the Kremlin to hate Ukrainians instead so too their hatred against the latter could be ended relatively easily if Moscow changed course — and in any case […]

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Russians With Houses on State Land Get Right to Buy Plots at Discount

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 31, 2015) Russians with homes and cottages located on state-owned land now have the exclusive right to buy that land – and at a reduced rate, according to an order signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and published on the government’s website Monday. “For a citizen possessing a residence, dacha or garage on the […]

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Cultural Figures Demand Minister’s Sacking Over Opera Scandal

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – March 31, 2015) Leading cultural figures launched a petition Monday calling for the dismissal of Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky, saying his position on a controversial opera production was an attack on freedom of creativity, while the Kremlin said it had the right to influence the content produced by cultural organizations financed by […]

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Party led by Navalny can’t run in elections

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Interfax – March 30, 2015) The Moscow City Court has upheld the Justice Ministry’s refusal to include the Progress Party in the register of parties that have the right to run in elections, an Interfax correspondent has reported, citing a decision made by the judicial collegium on civilian cases read on Monday. The court declined the complaint filed by representatives […]

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Worker Strikes Will Only Boost Kremlin’s Popularity, Say Analysts

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – March 31, 2015) Withheld salaries, unforeseen firings and pay cuts have amplified discontent in an array of Russia’s economic sectors, leading to a handful of strikes political analysts said Monday were more likely to bolster workers’ support for the Kremlin than weaken it. A scattering of Russian teachers, builders and factory workers […]

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NEWSWATCH Wall Street Journal: In Russia, Exhibition Seeks to Show Ivan Wasn’t So Terrible

File Image of Ivan the Terrible Etching, adapted from image at loc.gov

[“In Russia, Exhibition Seeks to Show Ivan Wasn’t So Terrible; Medieval-history show raises question if Russia’s often-bloody history is being whitewashed to fuel nationalist campaign” – Wall Street Journal – JAMES MARSON – March 31, 2015] The Wall Street Journal covers efforts to rehabilitate the image of Ivan the Terrible, and questions about whether revisions of historical accounts are aimed at remaking the […]

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NEWSWATCH New York Times: Russian History Receives a Makeover That Starts With Ivan the Terrible

File Image of Ivan the Terrible Etching, adapted from image at loc.gov

[“Russian History Receives a Makeover That Starts With Ivan the Terrible” – New York Times – NEIL MacFARQUHAR and SOPHIA KISHKOVSKY – MARCH 30, 2015] The New York Times reports on a Russian historical exhibition that apparently attempts to rehabilitate the reputation of Ivan the Terrible, blaming foreigners for his negative image. Ivan the Terrible, the Russian czar, should really be considered […]

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Putin’s Collapse Could Spark Russia’s Violent Disintegration, Kasparov Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, March 28, 2015) Speaking in Kyiv yesterday, Russian opposition leader Garri Kasparov said that the collapse of Vladimir Putin’s regime could spark the disintegration of the Russian Federation and that that in turn would likely be far more dangerous and explosive than was the end of the USSR. It could occur suddenly […]

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The Russian politics of multiculturalism

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

(opendemocracy.net – Anna Alekseveva – March 30, 2015) The relationship between religion and ethnicity on the one hand, and civic assimilation on the other, is far less harmonious than Putin’s magniloquence asserts. Much has been made in the last several years of Vladimir Putin’s close alliance with the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). With charges of corruption, laundering, and a now […]

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New Report Names and Shames Russia’s Worst Regional Governors

Russia Regions Map

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – March 30, 2015) A Kremlin-linked think-tank released a rating of Russia’s regional governors on Monday that names the head of the Leningrad region, which surrounds St. Petersburg, as the most effective manager and the head of the Sverdlovsk region in the Ural Mountains as the least effective. The rating, which was conducted […]

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NEWSWATCH BBC: Vladimir Putin’s formative German years

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

[“Vladimir Putin’s formative German years” – BBC News – Chris Bowlby – Dresden, March 27, 2015] The BBC covers some of Vladimir Putin’s experiences earlier in life, including his first foreign posting as a KGB officer, in East Germany during the collapse of Soviet Communism in eastern Europe. They also explore speculation about the lasting impact of those experiences upon Putin’s perspective towards […]

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NEWSWATCH The Guardian: How Nemtsov’s murder could force Putin into a big decision

Boris Nemtsov file photo

[“How Nemtsov’s murder could force Putin into a big decision: A month after the politician’s killing in Moscow there are signs of a Kremlin power struggle – and Russia’s president may soon have to take sides” – The Guardian – Shaun Walker in Moscow – March 29, 2015] The Guardian covers the aftermath of the Moscow assassination of former Deputy Prime Minister and […]

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NEWSWATCH BBC: Brand Putin: Russia’s president still in fashion 15 years on

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

[“Brand Putin: Russia’s president still in fashion 15 years on” – BBC News – Sarah Rainsford – Moscow, March 27, 2015] The BBC examines Russia President Vladimir Putin’s personal notoriety and power as political symbol. Fifteen years ago, Vladimir Putin was elected promising to make Russia strong again: a country its citizens could be proud of and that the world would respect. * […]

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NEWSWATCH Reuters: Russia’s rich forego some luxuries but still back Putin

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

[“Russia’s rich forego some luxuries but still back Putin” – Reuters – Elizabeth Piper –  March 29, 2015] Reuters covers the reactions among Russia’s elite to economic changes such as Western sanctions, a falling ruble, oil price losses and other disruptions. … the enforced modesty has not yet driven the super wealthy out of Russia or against President Vladimir Putin, who […]

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NEWSWATCH Moscow Times: Predicting the Future With Russia’s Economic Nostradamus

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

[“Predicting the Future With Russia’s Economic Nostradamus. (Mikhail Dmitriyev)” – The Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 18, 2015] The Moscow Times talks with former Putin Deputy Economy Minister Mikhail Dmitriyev about unfolding changes in the Russian economy, as well as the interaction between foreign and military policy, economic pressures, political trends and public attitudes towards the Russian government and the […]

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Sanctions and Regime Survival

Tower and Building Inside Kremlin

(PONARS Eurasia – ponarseurasia.org – Mark Kramer, Director, Cold War Studies Program, and Senior Fellow, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University – March 11, 2015 – article also appeared at ponarseurasia.org/article/sanctions-and-regime-survival) Some debates never die; they just get replayed. After the Soviet Army invaded Afghanistan in late December 1979, the United States imposed economic sanctions against the USSR. The Russian Federation since […]

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Witness can’t recognize suspected Nemtsov assassin – newspaper

Nemtsov March of Mourning

MOSCOW. March 27 (Interfax) – The confession of Zaur Dadayev, the suspected perpetrator of the killing of opposition activist Boris Nemtsov, is not confirmed by a direct witness to the crime, Kommersant reported on Friday. Kommersant reported, citing a source close to the investigator, that Ukrainian model Hanna Durytska, who was accompanying Nemtsov at the time he was killed, was […]

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Putin Urges FSB: Harder, Faster, Stronger

FSB Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – March 27, 2015) Western governments will attempt to discredit and destabilize Russia, but their efforts will be futile, President Vladimir Putin told Russia’s top security officials Thursday. “We have always had and always will have a proper response to all internal and external threats to national security,” Putin told senior officers of the […]

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Putin marks 15 years in power with harangue against West

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

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – MOSCOW BLOG: Ben Aris in Moscow – March 27, 2015) Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 26 marked 15 years since he was elected as Boris Yeltsin’s successor by summoning the heads of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and warning them sternly that there was a western conspiracy to undermine and contain Russia. Putin struck a dark […]

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Russians Increasingly Believe State Planning Better Than Market Economy

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 27, 2015) Russians increasingly believe in an economic system founded on government planning rather than the free market, a poll by the independent Levada Center showed. Fifty-five percent of respondents said that a country’s economic system should be based on “government planning and allocation,” the pollster said in a report this week. On the other […]

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NEWSLINK Forbes: Russian Support For Democracy Just Hit The Lowest Level In More Than 20 Years

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

The invaluable Levada Center, Russia’s only genuinely independent polling agency, regularly conducts a survey about Russians’ attitudes towards the government, the economy, and the proper relationship between the state and its citizens. The 2015 results were just released, and it makes for rather depressing reading. Basically, right across the board, Russians have become substantially more statist and nationalist in their […]

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Interview with a murderer

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

(opendemocracy.net – Ekaterina Loushnikova – March 25, 2015) Ekaterina Loushnikova is a radio and print journalist based in the city of Kirov. There are currently 59,000 women in Russian penal establishments. For many of them prison is not so much a punishment, more a way of life. According to the International Centre for Prison Studies, there are currently 671,700 Russians […]

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Uproar in Murmansk as Teachers’ Salaries Withheld Amid Economic Crisis

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – March 26, 2015) Teachers’ salaries have been withheld en masse in Murmansk as Russia’s economic crisis bears down on the regional budget, news site FlashNord reported Wednesday. The Murmansk branch of Russia’s national teachers’ union filed a complaint with regional governor Marina Kovtun, claiming that a large number of employees of Murmansk’s […]

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New team on the way?

Tower and Building Inside Kremlin

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – MOSCOW BLOG: Ben Aris in Moscow – March 26, 2015) A rumour was doing the rounds in Moscow on March 25: Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to hold a big press conference on March 26 and will sack the entire cabinet – presumably including Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev – and appoint a […]

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NEWSLINK Carnegie Moscow: A Chechen Dragon Splits Moscow

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

… In any case, the Chechen connection has split the ruling elite. Putin faces a backlash from those who object to his reliance on Kadyrov. Anti-Chechen racism is only part of it. Kadyrov’s enemies in the FSB and other places suspect, for good reasons, that the loyalty of the Kadyrovtsy to the Russian state is provisional. They recall that many […]

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Vladimir Putin: A Reincarnation of Dracula?

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

(©2015 Ukrainian Magazine (Chicago) – ukrainianchi.com – Rev. Myron Panchuk, M.A. – March 24, 2015 – article also appeared at ukrainianchi.com/vladimir-putin-reincarnation-dracula/ – reprinted with permission) In August of 1991 a miracle occurred: Ukraine declared its independence. I remember the joy, the euphoria felt in our Ukrainian-American community in Chicago. People greeted each other in the streets as if it was Easter Day, and on […]

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EVENT: March 26 event in Washington: “Major Crisis in U.S.-Russia relations and searching for the way out”

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

Subject: March 26 event in Washington: “Major Crisis in US – Russia relations and searching for the way out” Date: Tue, 24 Mar 2015 10:38:26 -0400 From: Edward Lozansky <lozansky@gmail.com> Please join the discussion with the leading American foreign policy experts on “Major Crisis in US – Russia relations and searching for the way out” on Thursday, March 26 from […]

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BOOK REVIEW: “Mr Putin: Operative in the Kremlin” – an updated version

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

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Timothy Ash, Head of EM Research, ICBC-Standard Bank, London – March 23, 2015) “Mr Putin: Operative in the Kremlin”, new and expanded, by Fiona Hill and Clifford G. Gaddy, Brookings Institute Press, Washington, 2015. This book is sold as a biography, but if you want a standard chronological recap of the life of Vladimir Putin […]

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Paul Grenier: “A Conservative Russia? This Means War! (The Tragedy of American Ideology)”

Tower and Building Inside Kremlin

Subject: A Conservative Russia? This Means War! (The Tragedy of American Ideology) Date: Mon, 23 Mar 2015 From: Paul Grenier <psgrenier@gmail.com> A Conservative Russia? This Means War! (The Tragedy of American Ideology) By Paul R. Grenier Paul Grenier is an essayist and translator who writes regularly on political-philosophical issues. After advanced study in Russian affairs, international relations and geography at […]

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Russia needs Ukraine fix as its power hits post-Soviet peak

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

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris in Moscow – March 23, 2015) Russia needs a resolution to the conflict with the West over Ukraine now because its power has probably hit its post-Soviet peak. The US can afford to do nothing, and that is probably its best strategy – but it comes at the possible cost of the destruction of […]

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NEWSWATCH Georgetown Journal of International Affairs: Inequality: The Ukraine Invasion and Public Opinion

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

[“The Ukraine Invasion and Public Opinion” – Georgetown Journal of International Affairs –  Harley Balzer – March 20, 2015]  Writing in the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, Professor Harley Balzer examines various aspects of Russian involvement in the Ukraine conflict, such as Ukrainian and Russian public opinion, foreign policy considerations and the relevance of Russian public opinion to Russian policymaking. […]

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Moscow Times: Poll: Russian Volunteer Fighters in Ukraine Enjoy Broad Support at Home

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Spinella – March 23, 2015) Only 7 percent of the survey’s 1,600 respondents said they personally know someone who has gone to fight in east Ukraine as a volunteer. Sixty-five percent of Russians are supportive of their countrymen who are volunteering to fight alongside the rebels of eastern Ukraine, a recent survey by state pollster […]

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NEWSLINK Washington Post: An interview with Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny

Alexei Navalny file photo

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny recently spent about a year under house arrest, barred from most contact with journalists. He spoke to The Washington Post about his aspirations for Russia, about his fears after the killing of ally Boris Nemtsov and about how Ukraine’s allies can persuade the Kremlin to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine. …     http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2015/03/18/a-rare-interview-with-kremlin-critic-alexei-navalny/ […]

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NEWSLINK New York Times: Chechen’s Ties to Putin Are Questioned Amid Nemtsov Murder Case

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

Ramzan A. Kadyrov, the strongman leader of Chechnya, has been at the center of intrigue surrounding the murder of Boris Y. Nemtsov, a prominent critic of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. So before a busy weekend that included a night out with the boys to watch cage fighting, Mr. Kadyrov wanted to clear something up. “I am utterly devoted […]

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Interfax: Best effort put into investigation of Nemtsov murder – Russia’s former minister

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(Interfax – Moscow, March 18, 2015) The investigation into the murder of politician Boris Nemtsov is regarding all possible theories of the crime using best law-enforcement practices, former Russian Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin has said. “I know what effort has been put in there and so far I cannot say that the investigation is on the wrong track,” Kudrin told […]

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Moscow Times: Russia Will Overcome Post-Crimea Challenges, Putin Vows

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – March 19, 2015) With the Kremlin walls glowing crimson in the background Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin praised tens of thousands of adulating fans for their support of Russia’s annexation of Crimea one year ago. He acknowledged that issues have mounted since the annexation, but assured the cheering crowd – the size of […]

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Outsourcing sovereignty from Russia to Chechnya

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

Just like in business, the centre of Russia has transferred a range of its functions to a regional political ‘contractor’. But now the tail is starting to wag the dog. (opendemocracy.net – Sergey Markedonov – March 17, 2015) Sergey Markedonov is Associate Professor at the Russian State University for the Humanities The North Caucasus is back in the news. This time, the […]

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NEWSWATCH: How Nemtsov’s killing puts Putin in the crosshairs

Nemtsov March of Mourning

[“How Nemtsov’s killing puts Putin in the crosshairs” – Los Angeles Times – Paul Stronski – ] Writing in The Los Angeles Times, the Carnegie Endowment’s Paul Stronski considers prospects for Russian political turbulence following the assassination of opposition figure Boris Nemtsov. Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov’s killing is not just a tragedy for Russia, but could be a harbinger of political turbulence. […]

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NEWSLINK Politico: What If Putin Disappeared for Real? The Russian president’s absence points to Russia’s looming succession crisis

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

Well, he’s ba-ack, but Russia’s brief sojourn without Vladimir Putin in public view won’t be forgotten soon. Even as Putin rather airily dismissed the issue of his long public absence on Monday, saying life “would be boring without gossip,” the frenzied rumor-mongering over the Ten Days That Shook the Twitter World raised a lot of serious issues. Most of all, […]

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Lawyer Claims Main Suspect in Nemtsov Killing Has Alibi

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – March 17, 2015) Three more suspects in last month’s assassination of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov have been officially charged with his murder, the Interfax news agency reported Monday, as the main suspect’s lawyer said his client had an alibi. Zaur Dadayev’s lawyer, Ivan Gerasimov, told the RBC newspaper Monday that his client had […]

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Interfax: All defendants in Nemtsov murder refusing to cooperate with police – source

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(Interfax – March 17, 2015) Defendants in the murder of politician Boris Nemtsov have refused to cooperate with the police, a source familiar with the situation told Interfax. “The defendants have declined to help the detectives,” he said. He also confirmed that some of the defendants had refused to answer police questions on the basis of article 51 of the […]

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Russia: All five men in custody charged with Nemtsov’s murder

Nemtsov March of Mourning

(Interfax – March 16, 2015) All five men held in custody in connection with the murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov have now been formally charged, privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax news agency has reported. Three men – Shadid Gubashev, Khamzat Bakhayev and Tamerlan Eskerkhanov – were charged on 16 March, the agency reported the same day. Two others, Zaur […]

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Russian Elites but Not Russian People, Ready to Capitulate to the West, Kagarlitsky Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, March 17, 2015) The West does not understand Russia, but it does understand very well indeed Russia’s elites; and as a result, it has seriously miscalculated in its dealings with Moscow about Ukraine, according to Boris Kagarlitsky, who argues the elites are ready to capitulate in the face of sanctions but the […]

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A Post-Putin Russia Might Be Bad News for Everyone, Including Ukraine, in the Short Term

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, March 14, 2015) If Vladimir Putin is ousted or when he dies, the Russian government likely to emerge at least in the near term would not be the liberal, democratic and peaceful one in which so many are placing their hopes. And in the short term, such a regime almost certainly would […]

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Vying for influence in Ukraine: Oligarchs and Western experts are lining up to shape the future of Ukraine. But they’re not all on the same side

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(opendemocracy.net – Fabian Burkhardt – March 13, 2015) Fabian Burkhardt holds an MA in Russian Studies from the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, and is currently a PhD researcher at the Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies at LMU Munich. He tweets on Russian and post-Soviet politics @sanwaldinjo Berlin, Geneva, Paris, and Minsk. […]

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Russian State TV Shows Footage of Putin Working in Good Health

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 14, 2015) Russian state television aired what it said was footage of President Vladimir Putin working at his residence outside Moscow on Friday, a first appearance since he dropped out of sight days ago, triggering rumours he was ill or sidelined by internal conflict. In the footage, Putin was shown in his office at […]

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NEWSLINK Moscow Times: Vladimir Frolov, Kadyrov, FSB at War After Nemtsov Death

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

The Chechen connection to the assassination of Russia’s opposition leader Boris Nemtsov is pushing Russia’s spooks into political battles they would rather avoid. The FSB appears to have uncovered signs of a conspiracy that implicates Chechen leaders very close to Ramzan Kadyrov. According to Novaya Gazeta, investigators have found a sustained effort by elements in the Chechen security forces to track and target not only Nemtsov, but several prominent opposition figures and public personalities critical […]

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Nemtsov murder suspect was not tortured – lawyer

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(Interfax – March 12, 2015) A lawyer for one of the men charged with the murder of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov has dismissed suggestions that his client was tortured in order to force him to confess to the crime, the privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax reported on 12 March. Ivan Gerasimov said that his client, Zaur Dadayev, had told […]

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Russia Beyond the Headlines: New evidence sheds doubt on ‘Islamic’ motive in Nemtsov killing

Nemtsov March of Mourning

Experts say that conflict between Russia’s security services and the president of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, likely played a role in the murder. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Yekaterina Sinelschikova, RBTH – March 12, 2015) New details in the Feb. 27 murder of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov have cast doubt on the claim of the investigators that Nemtsov was […]

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Where is Putin?

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

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – MOSCOW BLOG: Ben Aris in Moscow – March 13, 2015) Moscow is gripped by the disappearance of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who hasn’t been seen in public for a week. Is he dead? Is there a palace coup underway? Perhaps he has sneaked off to marry his girlfriend, or he is just undergoing another […]

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