Category Archives: Politics, Government, Protests, Elections

NEWSLINK Euromaidan Press: Putin regime can’t be reformed, only replaced, like its Soviet predecessor, Yakovenko says

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

“Having unleashed the imperial self-consciousness of the population, Yakovenko continues, ‘Putin not only does not want but cannot stop this insanity. He already lacks the powers to stop the war he began in Ukraine, even if he wanted to. He lacks the power to stop the hysteria of hatred in the media.’

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Interfax: No military solution to Ukraine conflict – Russian Defence Ministry

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Interfax – St. Petersburg, June 30, 2015) The Russian Defence Ministry sees no alternative to a peaceful settlement of the crisis in Donbass. “We are convinced that the conflict in Ukraine has no military solution. There is no alternative to a peaceful settlement of the crisis on the basis of full compliance with the Minsk accords,” Russian Deputy Defence Minister […]

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RIA Novosti: No plans for military alliance with Moscow, says Chinese envoy

Eurasia Map

(RIA Novosti – June 30, 2015) Li Hui, the Chinese ambassador to Russia, has said that Beijing has no plans to form a military alliance with Moscow. He made this statement during an in-depth interview published on the website of RIA Novosti (part of the state-owned International News Agency Rossiya Segodnya) on 30 June. (http://bit.ly/1FNjB7z) No threat to third parties […]

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Russia’s state banks are rotten

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris in Moscow – June 29, 2015) Banks epitomise capitalism, but not in Russia. The financial industrial empires of men like JP Morgan, Rockefeller, Rothschild and Harriman are intimately tied up with creating the vibrant no-holds-barred capitalism in the US. In Russia the top five banks are all state-owned and their power comes […]

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Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#129 :: Wednesday 1 July 2015

St. Basil's Domes

Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#129 Wednesday 1 July 2015 A project sponsored through the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs The contents do not necessarily represent the views of IERES or the George Washington University. JRL homepage: russialist.org JRL on Facebook: facebook.com/russialist JRL on Twitter: twitter.com/JohnsonRussiaLi Support JRL: russialist.org/funding.php Support for JRL is provided in part by a […]

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Primakov was Putinism’s ‘Godfather,’ Russian Analysts Say

Yevgeny Primakov file photo, with William Cohen in partial profile

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 28, 2015) Many Western obituaries and appreciations of the late Yevgeny Primakov portray him as an alternative to Vladimir Putin and someone who would have led Russia in an entirely different direction than the current Kremlin leader. But two Russian analysts argue that in fact Primakov laid much of the groundwork […]

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Russian reaction to same-sex marriage ruling in the USA

U.S. Supreme Court Facade

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Oleg Yegorov, special to RBTH – June 29, 2015) On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriages were legal on the whole territory of the country. The ruling generated a strong reaction [in] Russia, with some conservative politicians slamming it, while some liberals voiced support for the U.S. and the global […]

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Interfax: Russia should get less aggressive towards sex minorities – senator

Federation Council file photo

(Interfax – June 28, 2015) Deputy chairman of the Federation Council Committee for Constitutional Legislation Konstantin Dobrynin has suggested that the American “don’t ask, don’t tell” principle be enshrined in the Russian law with respect to people of non-heterosexual orientation. One may laugh at America or a tolerant Europe for as long as one likes; it should be admitted, however, […]

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Most Russians Want State to Remain Secular

File Photo of Russian Orthodox Cathedral with Man in Religious Garb in Foreground

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jennifer Monaghan – June 25, 2015) The majority of Russians want to live in a secular state but almost half of the population is happy for the church to influence societal morality, a survey by state-run pollster VTsIOM has found. Sixty-four percent of those polled said they were in favor of the continued separation of […]

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Russia gripes to WTO about EU gas market laws

Gas Flame file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Iana Dreyer in Brussels – June 24, 2015) Russia has formally requested that a dispute settlement panel be established at the World Trade Organization to rule on its complaints against EU energy market laws. From a legal and geopoliticial perspective, this is perhaps one of the most interesting cases the WTO will have to […]

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Etalon still building as world huffs, puffs, tries to blow Russia’s house down

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris – June 24, 2015) The world may be huffing and puffing and trying to blow Russia’s house down. But the house made of brick is proving to be a match for sanctions and falling oil prices, to the extent that Russia’s leading residential developer Etalon Group continues to see its business prosper […]

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Kremlin chief-of-staff against moving Russian presidential election

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

(Interfax – June 20, 2015) It doesn’t make sense to move the 2018 presidential election to an earlier date, head of the Russian presidential administration Sergey Ivanov has said. “If you ask my opinion, I see absolutely no sense in this,” Ivanov said in an interview in the Vesti v Subbotu with Sergey Brilev programme on state-owned official Rossiya 1 […]

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Communists Storm Out of Moscow Duma Hearing on Monument to Feared Secret Police Chief

FSB Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – June 25, 2015) The Moscow City Duma courted controversy Wednesday with its determination that a proposed referendum question on the restoration of a monument to feared Soviet secret police chief Felix Dzerzhinsky was consistent with the law. But Dzerzhinsky – a Bolshevik revolutionary and founder of the dreaded Cheka secret police, which […]

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Consumer-Rights Advocate Calls Putin ‘Paranoid’ After ‘Foreign-Agent’ Slur

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, June 24, 2015) A Russian consumer-protection group lambasted by President Vladimir Putin as a “foreign agent” after giving cautionary advice to Russians traveling to annexed Crimea has accused Putin of “paranoia” and called him “badly informed.” Mikhail Anshakov, chairman of the Moscow-based Society for the Protection of Consumer Rights (OZPP), said his […]

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Moscow Edges Closer to First Referendum Since Soviet Collapse

FSB Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – June 23, 2015) Moscow looks set to get its first referendum in post-Soviet times – and one of the burning issues on the ballot will be the restoration of a monument to the founder of the secret police to central Moscow. On June 11, the Moscow election committee approved the Communist Party’s […]

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Russia Is Biggest Force Against Democracy In Eurasia, Report Finds

Eurasia Map

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Patricia Hill and Ron Synovitz – June 23, 2015) Russia saw its biggest loss of democracy in a decade last year, while it and other authoritarian states took aggressive action to block efforts to form new democracies elsewhere in Europe and Eurasia, a new report by Freedom House finds. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s moves to annex […]

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DOD TRANSCRIPT: Media Availability with Secretary Carter En Route to Berlin, Germany

Ashton Carter File Photo

(US Department of Defense – June 21, 2015) Presenter: Secretary of Defense Ash Carter SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ASHTON CARTER: So the purpose of this trip, the focus of it, this particular trip to Europe, is NATO. And as to take it from the top again, we’ll be going now to Germany, and talking about — to the German defense minister […]

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Russian Economic Path Is in Eye of Beholder for Putin Allies

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas, Paul Abelsky – June 19, 2015) The Russian economy is sailing along — in the eye of the storm or toward calmer waters, depending on who’s looking. Gauging the health of the economy during the first two days of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum were President Vladimir Putin’s confidantes, past and present. Things […]

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Kremlin Weighs Early Presidential Vote as Economic Worries Mount

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ott Ummelas, Henry Meyer – June 18, 2015) The Kremlin said experts will study the idea of calling early presidential elections, a move that could give Vladimir Putin a fresh term while his approval rating remains near a record high. “This is a new proposal,” Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, told reporters on a conference call just […]

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Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#120 :: Thursday 18 June 2015

St. Basil's Domes

Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#120 Thursday 19 June 2015 A project sponsored through the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs The contents do not necessarily represent the views of IERES or the George Washington University. JRL homepage: russialist.org JRL on Facebook: facebook.com/russialist JRL on Twitter: twitter.com/JohnsonRussiaLi Support JRL: russialist.org/funding.php Support for JRL is provided in part by a […]

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Interfax: Over 40 per cent of Russians do not believe corruption could be defeated – poll

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

  (Interfax – June 17, 2015) A public opinion poll conducted by the independent pollster Levada Centre has shown that two thirds of Russians believe that President Vladimir Putin is making progress in fighting corruption, but, at the same time, more than 40 per cent believe that it will be difficult to defeat it because corruption cannot be eradicated in […]

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Putin’s unrealizable dream vs. his all too-real nightmare

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – June 15, 2015) That Vladimir Putin lives in a different reality than do other world leaders is now more or less common ground. Now, two commentators have described respectively what the Kremlin leader dreams about and what his worst nightmare might turn out to be. In a commentary of Kyiv’s “Novoye vremya,” Yury […]

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EU’s Belarus dilemma

EU Map

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – MINSK BLOG: Sergei Kuznetsov in Minsk – June 16, 2015) Minsk’s recent efforts to shepherd peace talks between the EU, Russia and Ukraine have borne fruit – Brussels has shown that it is ready to renew its dialogue with Belarus, a country that has been a pariah in recent years. However, this process will […]

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Russians’ Social Bonds Increasing, Giving Them Resource for Protest, Schulmann Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 16, 2015) Social networks among Russians have grown and deepened over the last two years, according to a poll conducted by the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service, thus creating the basis for the rise of civil society and more protests by making Russians less dependent on the state. In […]

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‘Almost No One in Russia Wanted Real Democracy with Division of Powers,’ Gudkov Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 14, 2015) Vladimir Putin and his regime are a logical reflection of the fact that “almost no one [in Russia] wanted a real democracy with division of power and a vital civil society,” according to Levada Center head Lev Gudkov. Consequently, it is possible to say that “Russians have received what […]

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Dasha Zhukova: Russian Public Now Less Skeptical About Contemporary Art

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Lili Rosboch – June 12, 2015) The founder of Moscow’s Garage Museum of Contemporary Art speaks on the occasion of its grand re-opening, and discusses politics, the ruble, and Russia’s approach to experimental work Founded in 2008 by art autodidact Dasha Zhukova, Moscow’s Garage Museum of Contemporary Art is the first philanthropic institution in Russia with […]

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What will happen if Ukraine defaults?

International Monetary Fund Logo Over Ukraine Flag

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Graham Stack in Berlin – June 12, 2015) With Ukraine edging closer to the world’s first unilateral sovereign default since Argentina’s in 2001, analysts are grappling with the question of how this might impact on the ex-Soviet republic as its strives for deeper integration with the EU and the West. Ukrainian default on $23bn […]

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Banned if they do, banned if they don’t; Unable to change things in their own country, Russians are quietly leaving for good – but they will still check out Crimea

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Julia Reed in Moscow – June 11, 2015) Each week in Russia some obscure Duma deputy no one has ever heard of before proposes a new law. Usually, the proposal gets instant and almost unanimous approval of the legislative body and within days becomes law, signed by the head of state. Usually it’s a […]

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Medvedev Promises No Blacklist for Foreign Journalists Working in Russia

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Houssam Alissa – June 12, 2015) Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev condemned foreign countries who blacklist Russian journalists Thursday and said Russia has no intention of setting up its own blacklist, RIA Novosti reported, despite a series of recent incidents in which Western journalists have been prevented from working in Russia. Medvedev said the barring of […]

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Russia Day Holiday Important for only 3% of Russians

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – June 11, 2015) Only 3 percent of Russians consider the upcoming Russia Day national holiday, celebrated on June 12, among the important celebrations of the year, according to a recent poll by the analytical Levada Center. By far the most significant holiday for Russians is New Year’s, which more than 80 percent […]

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Moscow demands answers from USA on alleged plans to place missiles in Europe

Anatoly Antonov and Others Facing U.S. Official with U.S. and Russian Flags on Table

(Interfax – June 9, 2015) Russian Deputy Defence Minister Anatoliy Antonov has demanded an explanation from the USA regarding alleged plans to deploy ballistic and cruise missiles in Europe, which he has said would mean a US “exit” from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, privately-owned Russian military news agency Interfax-AVN reported on 9 June. “The measures the American sources […]

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‘Russians are the Soviet Slaves of Today,’ Panfilov Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 10, 2015) The Soviet system transformed the population of the USSR into slaves of a particular type, and “the present-day Russian slave is a direct descendent of the Soviet ones,” according to Oleg Panfilov, the director of the Center for Extreme Journalism (2000-2010) and now a professor at Georgia’s Iliya State […]

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Interfax: Russians like Belarus and China, have aversion to U.S., EU and Ukraine – poll

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(Interfax – June 8, 2015) Most Russians speak ill of the United States, the European Union and Ukraine and see Belarus, China and Kazakhstan as friends, the Levada Center has told Interfax. Seventy-three percent of 1,700 respondents polled in 134 populated localities on May 22-25 expressed negative feelings for the U.S., 15 percent said the opposite, and 12 percent were […]

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Interfax: Russia proves it can feed itself – Medvedev

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

ROSTOV-ON-DON. June 5 (Interfax) – Over the ten months after it introduced the embargo on food from the European Union, Russia has proved that it can feed itself on its own, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said. “The past ten months, from the moment the special economic measures were introduced, have shown or proved, if you will, the main thing: […]

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Kremlin Critic Emerges From Coma

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

(RFE/RL – June 2, 2015) Friends and allies of prominent Russian opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza, Jr., who mysteriously fell ill with poisoning symptoms in Moscow, say he has regained consciousness after a weeklong coma. “Vladimir has come out of a coma,” former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky said in a June 2 tweet. Kara-Murza, 33, is a coordinator for Open […]

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Interfax: Probable Nemtsov murder weapon found

Nemtsov March of Mourning

(Interfax – June 3, 2015) The police have found a handgun which probably killed opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, a source familiar with the situation has told Interfax. “The murder weapon has been found and enclosed in materials in the proceeding, examinations are in progress,” he said. The source added that the detectives had found several handguns, each of which was […]

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Interfax: Book on Kremlin history since 12th century brought out in Russia

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Interfax – June 2, 2015) A book, titled ‘Moscow Kremlin. Monuments and Shrines’ was presented in Moscow on June 2. The author, spokesman for the Federal Security Guard Service Sergei Devyatov, said that he had worked on the book for about six years. The book has been released with a print run of 1,350 copies. It has more than 2,000 […]

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Transnistria: West Berlin of the post-Soviet world

Rada File Photo

(opendemocracy.net – Sergei Markedonov, Associate Professor at the Russian State University for the Humanities – May 27, 2015) How to play hardball: Ukraine’s parliament has revoked the agreement between Russia and Ukraine on the movement of Russian troops through Ukrainian territory to Transnistria. Fresh intrigue is afoot in the Transnistrian ‘frozen’ conflict. On 21 May, Ukraine’s parliament the Verkhovna Rada […]

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Election Shifts Show Kremlin Wary Of Fallout From Recession

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, June 1, 2015) The Kremlin is moving to bring next year’s parliamentary elections forward and set up snap gubernatorial votes in several provinces this year, maneuvering that analysts say shows the authorities fear a deepening recession could weaken them and galvanize the opposition. The State Duma elections in December 2011 catalyzed the […]

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Leading Russian liberal economist does not rule out he may come back to power

Alexei Kudrin file photo

(Interfax -June 1, 2015) Head of the Committee for Civil Initiatives, former Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin does not rule out he may come back to power structures if the country is going to carry out reforms, political among them. In his interview to the Russian privately-owned news agency Interfax on 1 June he said: “I’ve never ruled out a comeback […]

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Former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin Sets Conditions for Return to Government

Alexei Kudrin file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – June 2, 2015) Former Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, who left his position over personal disagreements with the Kremlin in 2011, said in an interview with the Interfax news agency Monday that if the authorities would undertake sweeping reforms, he would be willing to return to the government. “I have never ruled […]

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Moscow Times: Putin’s Approval Rating Remains at 86% Unfazed by Economic Crisis, Ukraine Conflict

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jennifer Monaghan – May 29, 2015) President Vladimir Putin continues to enjoy the approval of a staggering 86 percent of the Russian public, a poll revealed Thursday, indicating levels of support that many Western leaders could only dream of. Putin’s approval rating, announced by independent Moscow-based pollster the Levada Center, sat at the same level […]

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NEWSLINK International New York Times/Michael Khodarkovsky: Putin’s Disunited Nation

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

During those tense days in early March when Vladimir Putin disappeared from public view, the Russian president issued only one official statement: He instructed his prime minister to prepare a blueprint for a new federal agency that would work toward ‘consolidating the unity of the multiethnic nation of the Russian Federation.’The move passed relatively unnoticed, but it raises provocative questions. […]

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Russian Rights Activist Alexeyeva Returns to Kremlin Council

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – May 28, 2015) One of Russia’s best-known human rights advocates and the founder of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Lyudmila Alexeyeva, has rejoined the Kremlin’s human rights council, saying she intended to look into the persecution of nongovernmental organizations under the country’s “foreign agents” law. President Vladimir Putin signed a decree Tuesday appointing […]

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Russia Could Use Prison Labor For 2018 World Cup

putin-fifa-meeting

(RFE/RL – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, May 25, 2015) A prominent member of parliament for the ruling United Russia party has drafted a bill to allow enterprises to employ thousands of convicts as a cheap workforce to build infrastructure for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The legal amendments reported on May 25 in leading business daily Kommersant create a mechanism […]

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Russia Is Using Mobile Crematoriums to Hide Ukraine’s Dead

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Josh Rogin – May 26, 2015) Josh Rogin is a Bloomberg View columnist who writes about national security and foreign affairs. He has previously worked for the Daily Beast, Newsweek, Foreign Policy magazine, the Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly and Asahi Shimbun. Russia is so desperate to hide its military involvement in Ukraine that it has brought […]

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Rights Groups Condemn ‘Dangerous’ Russian Undesirables Law

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, May 26, 2015) Rights groups named as potential targets of a new law allowing the government to brand international organizations “undesirable” and shutter their Russia operations have criticized the legislation, calling it a “dangerous” new weapon in a Kremlin campaign to suppress civil society. Activists expressed concern on May 26 that the […]

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Putin Faces New Kind of Parade of Sovereignties in Degraded Russian Regions

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 27, 2015) Russian governors, “even the most loyal” to the Kremlin, as a result of the intensification of the economic crisis, find themselves between a rock and a hard place and are beginning to complain about Moscow’s failure to articulate an anti-crisis strategy which takes the interests of their regions into […]

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NEWSLINK Washington Post: Legally silencing Russia’s undesirables

Russian State Duma Building file photo

Russia has just taken another step toward pernicious use of the law to buttress the authoritarian whims of its leader. Both houses of parliament recently passed legislation that would allow the government to label as “undesirable” — in effect, to outlaw — any foreign or international organizations deemed a threat to the “defensive capabilities or security of the state, to […]

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