Putin has Degraded Russian Political Discourse to Level of ‘Pathological Ravings,’ Piontkovky Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 25, 2016) One of the most dangerous things Vladimir Putin has done is to degrade the level of political discourse across the board in Moscow to the level of “pathological ravings,” a development that some in the West appear not to understand and thus continue to be affected in the ways […]

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NEWSLINK RBTH: “Businessman takes hostages in Moscow bank in desperate plea to Putin”

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

On Aug. 24, a bankrupt businessman took the staff and customers of a bank in downtown Moscow hostage in a bid to attract the attention of Russian President Vladimir Putin to the plight of those in his position.

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NEWSLINK The Nation/Sarah Lindemann-Komarova: “How A Siberian Mom Took on Politics as Usual in Russia and Won.”

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

In Siberia, Natalia Pinus is taking on established political forces and challenging the idea that Russian democracy is no more than a puppet show

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Russians blame government for price rise, insufficient social protection – poll

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW. Aug 25 (Interfax) – Russians mostly criticize the national government for “being unable to deal with the price rise and shrinking household income” (42%) and “failing to ensure social protection” (34%), the Levada Center told Interfax. The price rise problem is losing its topicality (48% in January 2016 vs. 55% in 2015), while social protection demands are on the […]

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Putin’s Election Grip Is So Tight Even His Nemesis Can Take Part

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Henry Meyer, Irina Reznik – August 24, 2016) The last time Vladimir Putin’s political party won national elections, ballot-stuffing allegations sparked the biggest protests of his rule. Five years on, Putin appears to be so confident in his hold on power that even his most dogged adversary is welcome to challenge United Russia in next month’s […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Chance to Change History” – Stratfor

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

Twenty-five years ago, an unsuccessful coup attempt, known as the August Coup, was launched by a group of hawkish Communist Party members and security elites against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, in what was widely seen as one of the key moments that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. * * * A keen student of history, Vladimir Putin […]

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In Putin’s ‘Corporate Fascist State,’ Ideological Labels like ‘Liberal’ are Irrelevant, Inozemtsev Says

Vladimir Putin

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 22) It is a profound mistake to discuss Kremlin politics in terms of liberal, conservative or any of the other ideological labels, Vladislav Inozemtsev says, because in “the corporate state of a fascist type” that Putin has established, individuals even just below the supreme leader are “cogs” in a machine who […]

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A Long Jump: Russia Claims Moral Victory From Rio Olympics

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, August 22, 2016) Russia’s medal haul at the Summer Olympics in Rio was the country’s smallest since the 1912 games in Stockholm, but that did not deter various officials and pundits from spinning the result as a victory for Moscow — or a moral one, at the least. With much of its […]

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NEWSWATCH: “More of Kremlin’s Opponents Are Ending Up Dead. A Pattern That Suggests State Involvement” – New York Times

Kremlin and River

In a series of public meetings on Capitol Hill … [Vladimir] Kara-Murza, a leader in the Russian opposition, urged American lawmakers to expand economic sanctions against the Russian government under a law known as the Magnitsky Act. That would hasten political change in Russia, he argued. … in Moscow a month later, in May 2015, the changes Mr. Kara-Murza detected […]

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How Bad are Things in Russia Today? Some People There are Now Pawning Their Teeth

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 21, 2015) The worsening economic situation in Russia is highlighted by many things but none more compelling than the fact that it is forcing ever more people there to pawn whatever items of value they have – including their teeth — and then not to be in a position to reclaim […]

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Putin Unbound

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – August 22, 2016) We’re about to learn where Vladimir Putin really wants to take Russia. We’re about to see what one-man rule really looks like. We’re about to witness Putin unbound and unchained. And this is because, until recently, Putin was basically the front man for a ruling oligarchy — one comprised mostly […]

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Russian Justice Ministry to consider Anti-Maidan leader’s request on checking several NGOs for foreign financing

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

MOSCOW. Aug 20 (Interfax) – The Russian Justice Ministry will consider an appeal by Federation Council member Dmitry Sablin, the founder of the Anti-Maidan movement, on checking a number of non-governmental organizations (NGO) for receiving financing from abroad. “The Russian Justice Ministry has received an appeal from Russian Federation Council member Dmitry Sablin. The appeal will be considered within the […]

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NEWSLINK RBTH: “Why is Russia postponing the privatization of its oil companies?”

Oil Well file photo

The Russian government has announced that it will postpone the privatization of state share packages in the Rosneft and Bashneft oil companies. Russian analysts believe that this is because the price being asked is not acceptable to buyers.

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What Happened To The August 1991 Soviet Coup Plotters?

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Ron Synovitz – August 19, 2016) Eleven hard-liners in the Soviet government, military, Communist Party, and #KGB were named in a Russian court as the organizers of the failed August 1991 coup against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. They included the so-called “Gang of Eight” that had placed Gorbachev under house arrest — a short-lived, self-declared provisional […]

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RIA Novosti: Russian envoy says NATO dialogue “gradually being restored”

NATO Logo, NATO, OTAN

(RIA Novosti – August 18, 2016) Russian permanent representative to NATO Alexander Grushko has said that dialogue with NATO is gradually improving. “Today our main attention is on political dialogue, which is gradually being restored. Two sessions of the Russia-NATO council have taken place,” Grushko told Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti. “Furthermore, taking part in the last session were […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Why We Need Kremlinology Again. How a careful study of behind-the-scenes power struggles can open a window into a closed society” – The American Interest/ Anders Aslund

Kremlin and River

The increasing opacity of Russian politics has opened a window of opportunity for Kremlinology to make a comeback. … I see Kremlinology as the formalized study of hard facts in a closed society, observing appointments, organization, decrees, and formal speeches. Kremlinology has no role in an open society, but Russia today is no open society, though it is far from […]

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The Weird Science and New Kremlin Chief of Staff

Kremlin and River

A bizarre article about “spacial scanners” and “registering the unseen” has been linked to the newly appointed top bureaucrat Anton Vaino. (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – August 16, 2016) “The market is a manifestation of life. The brightest manifestations of life occur in its condensation: in certain points, certain lines, certain spatial-temporal formations.” For some, this might […]

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Putin’s Regime Stalinist in Form but Not in Content, Shelin Says

Putin Descending a Staircase

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 14, 2016) Last week, Moscow political analyst Nikolay Petrov argued that Vladimir Putin’s regime had shifted from a Brezhnevite to a Stalinist approach in the way it uses the bureaucracy to run the country (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2016/08/putins-neo-nomenklatura-system-shifts.html). Now, Sergey Shelin, a commentator for the Rosbalt agency, argues that while “the current Russian regime […]

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It’s Security, Stupid: How Putin Manipulates National Emergencies

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Moscow Times/Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Maxim Trudolyubov – August 15, 2016) Maxim Trudolyubov is a Senior Fellow with the Kennan Institute and editor-at-large with Vedomosti. Vladimir Putin is both feared and admired for his signature move of creating suspense to keep everybody on their toes. He knows how to make sure his next move is unpredictable. And yet, he […]

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Russia’s Solitary Man; [Putin is firing powerful allies and is setting himself up as tsar]

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – August 15, 2016) Vladimir Putin is throwing his old pals under the bus. He’s replacing them with loyal and docile servants. And he’s building a security apparatus that answers to him alone. A year ago, Putin fired longtime associate Vladimir Yakunin as head of Russian Railways. A few months back, he effectively dismissed […]

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Putin’s Latest Personnel Changes Make a Stable Long-Term Dictatorship More Likely, Pastukhov Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 15, 2016) The retirement of Sergey Ivanov as head of the Presidential administration, whatever the proximate causes, “symbolizes a change in eras of the Putin administration,” from one of a kind of collective leadership to a one-man dictatorship that is likely to last a long time, according to Vladimir Pastukhov. Ivanov’s […]

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Putin’s incredible shrinking circle; Ivanov’s departure leaves few voices able to speak truth to Putin

File Photo of Sergei Ivanov, adapted from defense.gov image

(opendemocracy.net – Mark Galeotti – August 16, 2016) Mark Galeotti is principal director of the Mayak Intelligence consultancy and a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. True to the informal tradition that August brings surprises in #Russia, on the 12th it was announced that Vladimir Putin’s chief of staff, Sergei Ivanov, was leaving his position as head […]

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NEWSWATCH: “THE VERY STRANGE WRITINGS OF PUTIN’S NEW CHIEF OF STAFF” – The New Yorker/Masha Gessen

Kremlin and River

… Putin changed his chief of staff, replacing an old K.G.B. colleague, Sergei Ivanov, with Anton #Vayno, a younger, little-known bureaucrat who has been serving as deputy chief of staff. … The possibilities are endless …. Vayno, who is forty-four, … not a surprising choice. … a member of the Putin clan for years, and, for at least the past […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Can government reshuffles bring any hope for #Russia?” – bne Intellinews/Mark Galeotti

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

The unexpected removal of Sergei Ivanov … has inevitably created a frenzy of kremlinological speculation. A reshuffle is certainly underway … there is clearly some longer-term political goal. However, one aspect which has largely been neglected has been how this will affect the governance of #Russia in the short term, and the perennially any-day-now prospects of meaningful economic reform. … […]

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The Putin Doctrine

Russian Soldiers Marching

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – August 17, 2016) Eight years ago, Georgia’s government apparently started a war with Russia — even though Georgian troops never left Georgian territory. Two and a half years ago, the Ukrainian people apparently started a war with Russia — by overthrowing a corrupt and autocratic ruler in a popular uprising. You really gotta […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian government finds itself under social spending pressure in election season” – bne Intellinews

Two Babushkas file photo

The Russian government will discuss either indexing pensions by 8.6% on September 1 or making a one-time payment to pensioners …. Despite the ongoing efforts to consolidate the budget amid the unprecedented fiscal squeeze, the government might have to give in to increasing social spending as the two-year election season starts …. The Russian government needs to find RUB2 trillion ($31bn) from somewhere […]

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Detention of PARNAS party members in Russia’s Tatarstan “absolutely stupid” on part of local law enforcement agencies – Russian Central Elections Commission head

File Photo of Mosque in Kazan and other Landmarks

MOSCOW. Aug 16 (Interfax) – The detention of PARNAS party members in Tatarstan is a sign of the local law enforcement agencies’ lawlessness, Russian Central Elections Commission (CEC) Chairperson Ella Pamfilova said. “This is outrageous. The mildest words here are: it’s absolutely stupid. This is direct connivance with the law enforcement agencies; the Tatarstan authorities have never been notable for […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] State Council Presidium meeting on developing internal waterways

Siberian River, Forest, Mountain

(Kremlin.ru – August 15, 2016) In Volgograd Vladimir Putin chaired a State Council Presidium meeting on developing internal waterways. Before the meeting, the President visited the exhibition Water Transport – Today’s Goals and Tomorrow’s Prospects, which displayed, among other things, models of river ships of various types, both currently in the design phase and already in production, and models of […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s personnel moves. Dancing in the dark. Desk shuffles in the Kremlin signal something, but no one knows what.” – The Economist

Kremlin and River

The Kremlin’s political nature resembles its physical structure: a walled fortress whose interior is invisible to those on the outside. … when … Putin sacked Sergei Ivanov, his powerful chief of staff, the Kremlin released only a cryptic video in which … Putin thanked … Ivanov for his 17 years of service. The move’s real meaning was left to speculation. […]

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On Russian studies [and Re: “Opportunities and Constraints of Authoritarian Modernisation: Russian Policy Reforms in the 2000s”]

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

Subject: On Russian studies Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2016 From: Brian D Taylor <bdtaylor@maxwell.syr.edu> Thanks again for all you do with JRL. It’s a very valuable resource. I would like to say, though, that “real Russian studies” are not particularly rare. If you ask social scientists who study Russia, they could point you to many detailed analyses of practically every […]

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NEWSLINK Anders Åslund/Project-Syndicate.Org: “The Putin Question”

Vladimir Putin

As war fever returns in Ukraine, the question of why Russian President Vladimir Putin went from would-be modernizer to aggressive autocrat is being revived. Whatever the reason – fear for his safety, a sense of historical grievance, or both – Putin’s inability to reform Russia’s economy seems certain to be his downfall.

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian reshuffle claims another big name: Putin’s chief of staff”

File Photo of Sergei Ivanov, adapted from defense.gov image

… Putin has abruptly sacked his longtime aide and confidant, Kremlin Chief of Staff Sergei Ivanov, amid what appears to be a major reshuffling within the ranks of Russia’s ruling elite. … the Kremlin website says … Ivanov asked to retire, and requested that his trusted deputy, Anton Vaino, replace him. Even if wholly accurate, it does little to explain […]

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EVENT: Save the Date: Rethinking Politics in Putin’s Russia [Washington, D.C., Sept. 21]

National Press Club Facade file photo

Subject: Save the Date: Rethinking Politics in Putin’s Russia Date: Mon, 15 Aug 2016 From: Center on Global Interests <info@globalinterests.org> The Center on Global Interests invite you to save the date for: Arrested Development: Rethinking Politics in Putin’s Russia The National Press Club Washington DC Wednesday, September 21 10:00am – 12:00pm The Center on Global Interests is pleased to invite […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s flirtation with fascism: Putinism is real, but fleeting” – The Daily Star (Lebanon)/Vladislav Inozemtsev

Kremlin and River

Assessing the Russian political system, Vladislav Inozemtsev writes in Lebanon’s The Daily Star that: … the Russian system should be characterized as proto-fascist – tamer than European fascist states during the 1920s and 1930s, but still featuring key elements …. the structure of Russia’s political economy; the idealization of the state as a source of moral authority; and … international […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Meeting with Sergei Ivanov and Anton Vaino

Putin Descending a Staircase

(Kremlin.ru – August 12, 2016) Vladimir Putin had a meeting with Sergei Ivanov and Anton Vaino. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Ivanov, we have been working together for many years, and working successfully. I am pleased with your performance in the areas you have supervised. I remember very well our agreement when you asked me to not extend your […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian Public Assessments of the Putin Policy Program: Achievements and Challenges” – John P. Willerton/Russian Politics

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

A decade and a half into the Putin team’s tenure, what are Russians’ policy concerns, and how do they accord with Putin team priorities and actions? What is the level of public support for Putin and his team, and how do Russians assess the Putin team’s policy record to date? * * * … survey results reveal that Putin and […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin, Shuvalov, Livanov, Galushka at] Meeting with Government members

Siberian River, Forest, Mountain

(Kremlin.ru – August 10, 2016) Vladimir Putin met with Government members to discuss measures to develop Russia’s Far East and a number of routine matters, in particular, the results of this year’s national final school exam and support measures for single-employer towns. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon colleagues, We agreed to discuss matters regarding the development of the […]

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Russian Opposition Should Support Medvedev Rather than Try to Have Him Fired, Inozemtsev Says

File Photo of Dmitry Medvedev with United Russia Logos Behind Him

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 9, 2016) At a time when Dmitry Medvedev has become the object of snickers for his comments to pensioners in Crimea and to and when more than 250,000 Russians have signed a petition calling for Vladimir Putin to replace him as prime minister, Vladislav Inozemtsev argues opponents of the Kremlin have […]

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Over 180,000 Russians Sign Petition Calling For Ouster Of Medvedev

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – August 6, 2016) More than 180,000 Russians have signed a petition calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev after his remarks about teachers’ pay sparked outrage earlier this week. The petition, posted on the website Change.org, had gathered 180,000 signatures by midday on August 5 and appeared to be accumulating supporters rapidly. The petition […]

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