Human rights activists fear Soros Foundation to leave Russia

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Interfax – August 3, 2015) The Soros Foundation could follow the MacArthur Foundation and National Endowment for Democracy and leave Russia, veteran of the human rights movement and head of the Civil Assistance committee Svetlana Gannushkina said. “I am afraid that the Soros Foundation is leaving Russia,” she said. According to Gannushkina, the probability exists that the Soros Foundation will […]

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If Putin Remains in Power, Russia Will Become ‘North Korea 2.0,’ Gudkov Says

File Photo of Gennady Gudkov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 1, 2015) Kremlin claims notwithstanding, Russia has not reached “the bottom” of its current crisis because that crisis is systemic and not just the result of the decline in the price of oil and Western sanctions imposed in response to Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine, Gennady Gudkov says. All sanctions have done, […]

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Opposition Mayor of Russian City Refuses to Go Without a Fight

Petrozavodsk

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – August 3, 2015) In an office building in Russia’s northern city of Petrozavodsk, chance encounters between representatives of the mayor’s office and the local legislature who share the building are avoided at all costs. Petrozavodsk, capital of the republic of Karelia, is one of very few Russian cities with an elected mayor […]

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Haters and Beliebers: 8 Russian-Speaking YouTube Stars

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Elizaveta Vereykina – August 3, 2015) [Videos and links here themoscowtimes.com/arts_n_ideas/article/haters-and-beliebers-8-russian-speaking-youtube-stars/526561.html] It is a well-known fact: everyone can gain access to money and fame on YouTube these days. The trend has also hit Russia: as long as you have a laptop and are not camera-shy, you have a chance at becoming a celebrity from your […]

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Russian Poll Shows Strong Support For Internet Censorship

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – August 3, 2015) A new poll shows that nearly three-fifths of Russians would support “shutting off the Internet” in the event of a national emergency. According to the poll by the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM), 58 percent of Russians would support such a move, while 49 percent support the idea of […]

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Interfax: Committee for the Salvation of Ukraine believes there will be no peace in Ukraine with its current political administration

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

MOSCOW. Aug 3 (Interfax) – Mykola Azarov, the head of the Committee for the Salvation of Ukraine and former prime minister of Ukraine, believes peace and accord cannot be established in Ukraine without changing its political administration. “The Committee for the Salvation of Ukraine believes that it is impossible to establish peace, accord, development and provide people with minimal social […]

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Idiots ‘Useful’ and Otherwise on the Rise in Russia and the West

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(Paul Goble – Staunton, July 31, 2015) Idiotism is on the rise in both Russia and the West, with its spread in Russia having transformed that country from “a land of liars to one of idiots,” according to Vitaly Portnikov, and in the West having become the latest iteration of the “useful idiots” Lenin and the Bolsheviks always viewed as […]

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Average Bribe in Russia Doubles in Rubles, Remains Steady in Dollars

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 31, 2015) The amount of the average bribe in Russia has nearly doubled this year, reaching 208,000 rubles ($3,485 at today’s rate), as the country’s currency has shed value amid Western sanctions and an economic downturn, according to Interior Ministry estimates cited by pro-government Izvestia daily on Friday. This compares to about 109,000 rubles […]

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New tolls on heavy trucks to raise funds for road repairs in Russia

Moscow Roads

Russia is to introduce a new system for collecting tolls from heavy trucks, with the proceeds – some 50 billion rubles ($896 million) a year – to go toward vital road repairs. Payment will be controlled by special gates set up on major highways. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Anna Kuchma, RBTH – July 28, 2015) Help may […]

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NEWSWATCH The Economist: Russia’s prisons. Putin v Punk Pussy. A brave, brassy singer highlights the plight of Russia’s other inmates.

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

The Economist magazine covers prisoners rights activism by Pussy Riot member Nadia Tolokonnikova. At the last count there were 657,000 Russians behind bars, one of the world’s highest ratios of prisoners to population. … The frequency of deaths in custody amounts to a ‘Russian Ebola’. Tuberculosis is the commonest killer, she says, followed by HIV-AIDS, which may affect 75,000 prisoners. … … prisoners routinely […]

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Moscow, Kiev Grapple With Historic Ties to Prince Vladimir

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – July 29, 2015) Tuesday marked the passage of a millennium since the death of Vladimir the Great. As both Kiev and Moscow honored the occasion with high-profile celebrations, leaders of each took advantage of the opportunity to emphasize the strength of their own countries’ ties to the medieval ruler. Prince Vladimir is […]

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Architects Clash Over Vladimir Monument

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 29, 2015) On Monday evening, Rustam Rakhmatullin, the coordinator of the social movement Archnadzor, brought together eminent architects and architecture experts to discuss the proposals to erect a 24-meter monument to Vladimir the Great in the capital. Also present was Yury Nikiforov, a representative of the Russian Society of War History, which has started […]

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Chart – Just 1 in 10 Russians favour cooperation with Nato

NATO Meeting file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Francesca Moll in London – July 28, 2015) [Chart here http://www.bne.eu/content/story/bnechart-just-1-10-russians-favour-cooperation-nato] Just one in ten Russians believe their country should cooperate with Nato, according to a recent survey by the Russian Public Opinion Research Centre (WCIOM). A preference for Eastern-led organisations emerged from the study, in which a majority of Russians (54%) believe that […]

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Interfax: Kremlin: Prohibition of NGOs’ operations in Russia does not mean restriction of access to democratic values

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Interfax – July 29, 2015) The inclusion of one or several non-governmental organizations (NGO) in a list of those whose operations on Russian territory are undesirable does not restrict access of Russian citizens to democratic values, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “It would be absolutely wrong to say that, with the prohibition of this or that organization, Russian citizens would […]

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To Escape Putinism, Russia Must Expunge Muscovy as Germany Did Prussia, Sklyarov Says

Moscow Night Lights Satellite Image

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 29, 2105) Many commentators suggest that the way to move beyond the Putin regime involves economic growth, de-militarization, and re-entering the international community, but “these are all second-order tasks” that pale in comparison with what is the most important one, according to Andrey Sklyarov. The historian says that the central task […]

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Crimea Is Now Putin’s Problem Child; Russian security services are cracking down on alleged corruption in the newly annexed peninsula

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Carol Matlack – July 24, 2015) President Vladimir Putin likened Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea to a family welcoming home a long-lost relative. Now the family is showing signs of strain. Russia’s federal security service, the FSB, has opened criminal investigations of three high-ranking Crimean government officials, accusing them of graft and other misdeeds. Four regional […]

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U.S. embassy in Moscow concerned about NED’s designation as ‘undesirable organization’ in Russia

File Photo of U.S. Embassy Moscow, with Russian Foreign Ministry Building in Distance

(Interfax – July 28, 2015) The U.S. Embassy in Moscow is concerned about the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office’s decision to designate the U.S. nonprofit organization National Endowment for Democracy (NED) an undesirable foreign organization in Russian territory. “We are deeply concerned about the effect of the so-called law on undesirable organizations,” U.S. embassy spokesperson Will Stevens told Interfax when asked […]

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Pension Age for Russian Officials to Be Raised

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 28, 2015) Russia’s Labor Ministry plans to raise the retirement pension age for state officials to 65 from 60, according to a statement published Monday, as the government scrambles to cut spending amid a recession. The Labor Ministry said it had drawn up legal amendments that would bar officials from receiving retirement pay before […]

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Navalny’s Opposition Coalition Stymied in Siberia

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – July 28, 2015) Efforts to inject some of Russia’s almost invariably pro-Kremlin regional and municipal legislatures with opposition-minded lawmakers ended in failure in Novosibirsk on Monday. Opposition firebrand Alexei Navalny’s Party of Progress, Parnas and several other opposition parties formed a coalition aimed at providing a platform to like-minded candidates in various […]

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U.S. National Endowment for Democracy declared unwelcome foreign organization in Russia

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

(Interfax – July 28, 2015) The United States’ National Endowment for Democracy has been declared an unwelcome foreign organization on Russian territory, the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office announced on July 28. “Russian Deputy Prosecutor General Vladimir Malinovsky signed a resolution declaring the National Endowment for Democracy an unwelcome foreign nongovernmental organization (NGO) on Russian territory,” the agency said. The activity […]

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U.S. may keep sanctions for years, Russia to run economy, trade accordingly – PM

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Interfax – July 24, 2015) Russia will be developing its economic and trade policies assuming that the United States may keep the sanctions it imposed on Russia over the Ukraine crisis for many more years, Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev has said. Interfax news agency quoted Medvedev as saying in an interview to the Slovenian newspaper DELO ahead of a visit […]

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Most Russians Oppose Renaming Bridge After Nemtsov, Poll Shows

Nemtsov March of Mourning

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 25, 2015) [Chart here themoscowtimes.com/news/article/most-russians-oppose-renaming-bridge-after-nemtsov-poll-shows/526170.html] The majority of respondents in a survey conducted by Russian independent pollster Levada Center opposed the proposal to rename Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge after murdered opposition figure Boris Nemtsov. After the murder, an unofficial memorial was set up on the bridge, which was where Nemtsov was shot last February, with […]

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PARNAS supporters holding rally in Novosibirsk over election committee meeting on registering party lists

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

NOVOSIBIRSK. July 27 (Interfax) – The rally permitted by the Novosibirsk mayor’s office of the supporters of the People’s Freedom Party For Russia Without Lawlessness and Corruption (PARNAS) is taking place in front of the Novosibirsk region’s government building on Monday, an Interfax correspondent reported. Five people are declared to participate in the rally, event organizer Vadim Sukhonenko said. “One […]

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Flurry Of Moscow Activism Hints That Mood For Protest Is Very Much Alive

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – MOSCOW, July 26, 2015) Three years into President Vladimir Putin’s third term and a renewed effort to banish conspicuous political dissent in Russia, local protests are bubbling up all over the capital. From weekslong sit-ins to save neighborhood parks to pushback against development plans with ties to the political elite, Muscovites are taking their frustrations to […]

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NEWSWATCH AFP: Controversial Russian politician named deputy in Ukraine (Maria Gaidar)

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

AFP reports on involvement in the Ukrainian political scene by Maria Gaidar, daughter of former Russian prime minister Yegor Gaidar.  She is nominated to work with former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili. The nomination of a Russian politician to a top post in Odessa has caused a flurry of controversy in the tense political atmosphere of the violent Ukraine conflict. Maria Gaidar, daughter […]

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Ukraine’s left: between a swamp and a hard place

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

With a new-found reputation for radicalism, Ukrainian politics is in flux. The left, however, are nowhere to be seen. (opendemocracy.net – Denys Gorbach – July 24, 2015) Denys Gorbach is a Ukrainian journalist and economic analyst writing on economy, energy, political and social issues. He is a member of the Autonomous Workers’ Union. The events of the past two years-the […]

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Russia’s ‘derby grrls’ are upending gender politics

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

As the Russian state continues its conservative turn, could this fringe sport push back against the country’s gender politics? (opendemocracy.net – Ulrike Ziemer – July 23, 2015) Dr Ulrike Ziemer is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Winchester. Her research focuses on gender inequalities and young people from ethnic minorities in Russia. Recent publications include a monograph Ethnic […]

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Medvedev Upbeat About Russian Economy, Ties With Europe

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – July 24, 2015) Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said he expects Russia’s recession-hit economy to start growing again at the end of the year, while he hopes for improving economic ties with friendly countries in southeastern Europe. “I think that the economy will return to the path of growth in late 2015, early 2016. It won’t […]

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To Save Their Own Country, Russians Must ‘Forget Ukraine,’ Inozemtsev Says

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 23, 2015) Vladimir Putin has successfully counted on the war he launched in Ukraine to distract the attention of Russians from their problems at home, but if Russians are to emerge from the current crisis and save their own country, they will have to “forget about Ukraine” and focus on Russia […]

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OBITUARY: Gennady Seleznyov, night rider of Russia’s rowdy parliament

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Nick Allen in Berlin – July 23, 2015) With President Vladimir Putin’s executive fist dominating the ‘vertical of power’, while parliament toes the Kremlin line, it’s easy to forget Russia’s heyday of real rough-and-tumble oppositional party politics in the first years after the Soviet collapse. So defiant from the outset was the legislature, still […]

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Putin frees small business from inspections for three years

cash-register

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 14, 2015) Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law giving small companies a three-year holiday from regular inspections, a measure lawmakers hope will spur the development of small business in the country, according to a document published Tuesday [14 July] on the government’s legal information website. Small business is relatively underdeveloped in Russia, […]

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Russian human rights activists lodge appeals against law on “foreign agent” NGOs

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

(Interfax – July 22, 2015) A number of Russian human rights advocacy organizations have lodged court appeals against their classification as “foreign agents”, privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax reported on 22 July. Earlier the Russian Justice Ministry released a statement saying it had sent messages to a number of NGOs working in the human rights sector and included on the […]

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Russian Election Monitoring NGO Golos Removed from Foreign Agents List

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – July 23, 2015) The Justice Ministry is revoking the registration of election-monitoring group Golos as a “foreign agent” and has refunded the fines the non-governmental organization has paid for refusing to register voluntarily, the group said. In a surprise announcement that followed searches at the organization’s offices and its employees’ homes earlier […]

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Will the patriotic stop list kill Russia’s NGOs? Since 2012, Russian NGOs receiving funding from abroad have had to register as ‘foreign agents’. A new patriotic ‘stop list’ might shut this funding off forever.

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

(opendemocracy.net – Vyacheslav Kozlov – July 22, 2015) Vyacheslav Kozlov is a journalist for daily newspaper Kommersant. He writes on international relations, nationalism, extremism, narco-politics, the Russian opposition and the problems facing Russia’s NGOs. He has at various times worked for Vremya Novostei, Moskovskiye Novosti and the online publication Gazeta.ru. His work has also appeared in Novaya Gazeta and Lenta.ru. […]

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Russians Can’t Decide Between Economic Development and Military Power

Russian Soldiers Marching

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 22, 2015) Russians are divided between focusing the nation’s efforts on rejuvenating its military power and developing a strong economy, according to a survey published Tuesday by the Levada Center, an independent polling center. Russia is halfway through a decade-long 20 trillion ruble ($350 billion) military rearmament and modernization campaign that critics say is […]

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Ukrainians Suspect Obama-Putin Cooperation

File Photo of Victoria Nuland Testifying

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – July 20, 2015) It’s rare that official representatives of the U.S. visit foreign parliaments to persuade lawmakers to vote a certain way on some piece of legislation. Yet last week, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland traveled to Kiev and did just that, as the Ukrainian parliament prepared to vote on amendments to […]

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The Public’s Top Picks for the Pedestal on Lubyanka Square

FSB Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Maria Naum – July 17, 2015) On Aug. 22, 1991 at the peak of euphoria over the failure of the coup against Mikhail Gorbachev, the statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky, founder of the Soviet secret police, was pulled from its pedestal on Lubyanka Square. Since then, the square has remained empty as the public and authorities […]

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NEWSWATCH Deutsche Welle: Russia less-than-charitable toward charities.

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

Deutsche Welle covers governmental threats to charitable activities in Russia, including the saga of Dynasty and “foreign agent” labeling. … A law that calls those who receive funds from outside the country ‘foreign agents,’ an economic downturn that’s seen the market contract by 10 percent with no end in sight … sanctions that have seen the value of the ruble plummet to … anywhere […]

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NEWSWATCH New York Times/Andrei Kozyrev: Russia’s Coming Regime Change

Tower and Building Inside Kremlin

Writing in The New York Times, former Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev addresses the future of Russian governance in the face of multiple economic, political and international challenges. The firmness of the West in protecting the sovereignty of Ukraine and restoring its territorial integrity is a prerequisite not only to rein in the Kremlin’s aggressive impulses, but also to engage […]

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RBTH: Seventy percent of Russians opposed to compromise on sanctions – report

russia-economy

According to a new Levada Center opinion poll, 70 percent of Russian citizens believe that Russia should not make any sanctions-related concessions, even though a third of the population has admitted that sanctions are a problem. However, despite these difficulties, Russians continue to back President Vladimir Putin, whose popularity rating has never been higher. Experts have several theories for why […]

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Interfax: Most Russians oppose same-sex marriage – poll

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

(Interfax – July 10, 2015) Less than a quarter of Russians believe sexual orientation is a person’s personal business and a majority oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage, a public opinion poll conducted by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) shows. The poll, which surveys 1,600 people living in 130 populated areas of 46 regions of Russia, was conducted […]

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Unlike in Ukraine, a Russian Maidan Would Likely Be Violent and Destructive, Shevtsova Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 10, 2015) “Unfortunately, Russia is different from present-day Ukraine in many ways,” Lilya Shevtsova says; and consequently, if a Maidan does occur there, it is likely to be different as well, violent rather peaceful, destructive rather than constructive, and divisive rather than unifying. In the course of an interview this week […]

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RIA Novosti: Russian officials express “regret” over closure of prominent “foreign agent” NGO

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

(RIA Novosti – July 8, 2015) Russian officials have reacted with “regret” to the closure of the Dynasty (Dinastiya) NGO, Russian news agencies reported on 8 July. The Dynasty Foundation, headed by telecommunications tycoon and philanthropist Dmitriy Zimin, is one of major donors of academic research in Russia. In a highly controversial move, the Russian Justice Ministry has put it […]

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BNE: Parliamentary populism embarrasses Ukrainian government

Rada File Photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – KYIV BLOG: Sergei Kuznetsov in Kyiv – July 8, 2015) Ukraine’s parliament has sent a series of worrying signals to the country’s Western backers: it has approved a populist law that could cost Ukraine’s banks up to $4.65bn; at the same time, parliament has failed to adopt a package of bills that are meant […]

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Russia Can No Longer Afford to Be the Militarist and Expansionist Power It has Always Been, Shevtsova Says

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

(Paul Goble – Staunton, July 8, 2015) After a brief attempt to escape from its past in the 1990s, Russia under Vladimir Putin is “again returning to militarism … the model of existence in which Russia had existed for centuries” in order to prepare for war. No other such civilization exists in the world now, but Russia “cannot militarize as […]

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Moscow Times: Poll: Nearly Half of Russians Favor Decent Wages Over Free Speech

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – July 8, 2015) More than 40 percent of Russians would be willing to forgo the right to free speech and the freedom to travel abroad if Russian authorities would guarantee “decent” salaries and pensions, a poll released Tuesday by independent pollster the Levada Center revealed. Forty-two percent of Russians said they preferred […]

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Russian Presidential Council for Human Rights slams law on “foreign agents”

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

(Interfax – Moscow, July 7, 2015) The Russian Presidential Council for Human Rights insists on the immediate cancellation of the Justice Ministry decision to include Dynasty [Dinastiya] and Liberal Mission foundations in the list of NGOs that are foreign agents and review of the law on NGOs. “Since the first days of the existence of this very approximate and therefore […]

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