Archive for Politics, Government, Protests, Elections

Russian History Provides Five Lessons for Liberals in Illiberal Times, Makarkin Says

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, July 26, 2014) Russian liberals have lived through many periods of illiberal governance in the past, have devised various strategies to cope because the repressive regimes have been so different, but have managed to survive and see their country change course at least for a time in

Ukraine Claims Rebels Wanted Phosphorus Bombs

Map of Western CIS/FSU and European Environs

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 23, 2014) Ukraine’s Interior Ministry on Tuesday accused the pro-Russian insurgency of attempting to procure white phosphorus ammunition, whose use is limited by international agreements. The ministry cited intercepted conversations between the insurgents, who allegedly spoke about obtaining phosphorus missiles for Grad missile launchers at their disposal. The rebels

Interfax: Putin vows to avoid clampdown in fight against radicalism

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Interfax – July 22, 2014) Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed that the fight against radicalism in Russia will not result in a state clampdown on civil society and said he expects the Russian public to help prevent one, Russian privately-owned news agency Interfax reported on 22 July. Putin made the statements at a meeting

Interfax: Putin says Ukrainian “scenario” won’t happen in Russia

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

(Interfax – July 22, 2014) The “scenario” that has been used in Ukraine by “external” forces will not happen in Russia, President Vladimir Putin has said. He made these remarks at a meeting with the Russian Security Council, as reported by privately-owned news agency Interfax. Speaking about the so-called “colour revolutions” and in particular Ukraine,

Interfax: Ukrainian Security Service keeps recordings of tower conversations with Malaysian Boeing – source

MOSCOW. July 23 (Interfax) – Recordings of conversations between Ukrainian air traffic controllers and Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 have yet to be transferred to aviation specialists for an objective analysis. An informed source in Kyiv told Interfax last Friday, “Recordings of tower conversations with the Boeing crew have been seized and kept by the Ukrainian

Convinced of His Own Exceptionalism, Putin is Both ‘a Pragmatist and a Fool,’ Milshtein Says

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, July 22, 2014) In a commentary entitled “Forewarned and Armed,” Ilya Milshtein argues that tragically “there are no particular reasons to hope that Putin will change his approach” in Ukraine. Instead, the Moscow analyst says, he will proceed in ways that reflect his beliefs in his own

Stratfor: Can Putin Survive?

Vladimir Putin file photo

(Stratfor.com – George Friedman – July 21, 2014) There is a general view that Vladimir Putin governs the Russian Federation as a dictator, that he has defeated and intimidated his opponents and that he has marshaled a powerful threat to surrounding countries. This is a reasonable view, but perhaps it should be re-evaluated in the

King’s gambit: Can Russia remain a world leader on the chessboard?

Chess Pieces File Photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Svetlana Korneva, special to RBTH – July 20, 2014) July 20 is International Chess Day. Chess is practically the only sport in which Russia has managed to preserve its leadership since the breakup of the Soviet Union. Although public interest in chess has waned in recent years, chess

Interfax: Patrushev says Russian decision-makers must heed opposition

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

MOSCOW. July 22 (Interfax) – The Russian Security Council Secretary, Nikolai Patrushev, has spoken of the need to draw conclusions from what is going on in Ukraine and heed the opinion of the Russian opposition. “The events occurring in Ukraine – their role for us is this: we must draw the right conclusions from them,”

Slobodan’s Ghost

File Photo of Slobodan Milosevic at Table in Profile, Surrounded by Officials and Others

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – July 14, 2014) There’s a specter haunting Vladimir Putin — the specter of Slobodan Milosevic. As the Ukraine crisis has unfolded, it has become fashionable — and even a bit of a fetish — to compare the Kremlin leader to the late Serbian dictator. Writing recently in “The New Republic,” Vera Mironova

Russia Becoming ‘Land of Obscurantism in Age of Smartphones,’ Moscow Psychologist Says

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, July 13, 2014) Despite the trappings of modernity, Russia is rapidly moving toward an obscurantist medievalism much Afghanistan under the Taliban and Iran under the ayatollahs and equally and even more disturbingly much like Germany under the Third Reich, according to Aleksandr Asmolov, a psychologist at Moscow

Russian Blog Post Decrying Government’s Internet Crackdown Goes Viral

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – July 14, 2014) Is this an updated version of Aldous Huxley’s classic antiutopian novel, “Brave New World”? Not exactly. If you live in Russia, this will be your world by September 1, according to a blog, “A Guide Through Your Life: What the Duma Has Banned in

A Kremlin ‘Reset’ – Putin from ‘Defender of the Russian World’ to ‘Peacemaker’

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, July 10, 2014) Russian public opinion “is being prepared for a change in Kremlin policy” toward Ukraine, Moscow commentators say, with central government media now downplaying the need for and utility of force and playing up the ways in which Vladimir Putin can serve as “peacemaker.” But

Having Failed to Stage ‘Short Victorious War’ in Ukraine, Putin Faces Problems at Home

Vladimir Putin file photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, July 8, 2014) Both those Russians who continue to press Vladimir Putin to intervene militarily in eastern Ukraine and those who say that his policies in Ukraine have been a disaster are increasingly reviving an old Russian metaphor that cannot be encouraging to the current incumbent of

Interfax: Matviyenko: Russia to restore standard time once and for all

Analog Clock Artist's Rendition

MOSCOW. July 8 (Interfax) – The Russian authorities have decided to restore standard “winter” time once and for all, Federation Council Chairperson Valentina Matviyenko said. “I can assure you that this decision is serious and for the long haul. No one will make further changes, especially as federation constituent territories have actively contributed to this

Former Georgian President Shevardnadze Leaves Mixed Legacy

Georgia Map

(Moscow Times – moscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – July 8, 2014) Eduard Shevardnadze, the Soviet Union’s last foreign minister who later served as Georgian president, died Monday at the age of 86, sparking a collective assessment of the mixed legacy that he left to both Russia and his native Georgia. Shevardnadze’s death following a long

Moscow To Kyiv, Tbilisi, And Chisinau: EU Deals Will Cost You

Map of Western CIS/FSU and European Environs

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Daisy Sindelar – July 6, 2014) Russia has never hidden how it feels about neighbors forging closer ties with the European Union. So it was no surprise when Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said there would be “grave consequences” for Ukraine when it signed a landmark deal on closer economic ties with Brussels on June

Putin versus the NGOs

Vladimir Putin file photo

(opendemocracy.net – Pavel Chikov – July 3, 2014) Pavel Chikov is chair of AGORA, an association of human rights organisations based in Kazan. Agora, founded in 2005, provides legal advocacy for victims of suspected human rights abuses, in particular for journalists, political activists and NGOs. Since 1999 Chikov has been a leading human rights lawyer

Putin’s Authoritarianism Now Self-Re-Enforcing, New Book Concludes

Vladimir Putin file photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, July 4, 2014) That Putin has intervened in Ukraine at least in part to overcome the political challenges he faced in 2011-2012 and that he has made Russian more authoritarian in the process is largely common ground. But a new book gives remarkable details about these links

Russians Failing to Notice Ways Their Country Becoming Like Hitler’s Reich, Portnikov Says

File Photo of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler Riding in Convertible

(Paul Goble – Staunton, July 5, 2014) “Putin’s Russia has already long been a Reich” much like Hitler’s Germany, but ordinary Russians now, like ordinary Germans 75 years ago, have not taken note of the fact because so far the state’s repressive attentions have not been directed primarily at them, according to Vitaly Portnikov. Portnikov,

Kremlin Moves Away From Aggressive Youth Policy

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – July 4, 2014) President Vladimir Putin signaled a switch Thursday from the government’s previous youth policy of aggressive political groups toward a more traditional approach to instilling patriotism. “We need to give young people more knowledge about Russia’s historical, cultural and natural riches back in school,” Putin

Putin’s Successor May Be ‘Already in His Entourage,’ Kryshtanovskaya Says

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, June 30, 2014) Olga Kryshtanovskaya, head of the Center for the Study of Elites at the Academy of Sciences Institute of Sociology and Russia’s most distinguished student of elites and their rotation, says that “Putin’s successor is already in his closest entourage” and that Putin may even

Why Putin Is in Trouble With 86% Approval

Vladimir Putin file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com –  Evgenia Pismennaya, Henry Meyer, Brad Cook – June 27, 2014) One month he wins the Olympics and kudos from world leaders. The next he grabs Crimea and gets kicked out of their most exclusive club. Now he’s facing a recession with few tools to fight it save the public’s love. Even

Interfax: Approval rating of Russian authorities on rise – poll

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Interfax – June 26, 2014) A record growth of the approval rating of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his political course continues, sociologists said. The approval rating of President Putin stood at 86 percent in June, Levada Center told Interfax. The approval rating of the president grew 3 percent from 83 percet in May and

Putin’s Popularity Near 2008 Peak on Ukraine Actions

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ilya Arkhipov – June 26, 2014) Russian President Vladimir Putin’s popularity continued to rise near its 2008 peak this month amid the unrest in neighboring Ukraine, Moscow-based polling company Levada Center said in a statement. The Russian leader’s approval rating is 86 percent, up from 65 percent in January and compared

Interfax: U.S. attempts to create some parallel law for itself, its allies – Pushkov

Alexei Pushkov file photo

MOSCOW. June 26 (Interfax) – While accusing Russia of violating international law, the United States attempts to create some parallel law for itself and its allies accessible only to chosen ones, Russian State Duma international affairs committee head Alexei Pushkov said. “It appears to me that the attempt to accuse us of violating international law

NEWSLINK: Russian lawmakers revoke right to send troops into Ukraine

Map of Western CIS/FSU and European Environs

["Russian lawmakers revoke right to send troops into Ukraine" - Reuters - June 25, 2014] Reuters covers a vote by Russia’s Parliament to formerly rescind a past authorization of military intervention in Ukraine.  The legislators acted in response to a directive from Russian President Vladimir Putin.  The authorization of force could be reinstated in short order if

Support for Putin’s Policies on Ukraine Broad but Not Deep, Gudkov Says

Map of Western CIS/FSU and European Environs

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, June 23, 2014) Public support for Vladimir Putin’s policies in Ukraine is broad but not deep and is likely to dissipate quickly rather than become the basis by itself for any new imperial adventures, accordin to Lev Gudkov, the head of the independent Levada Analytic Center. In

Few Russian Artists Bother to Fight Creeping Trend of Censorship

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – June 23, 2014) As we approach July 1, the day after which obscenities will officially be banned in Russian art, the Russian creative community is doing what it can to make sense of a concerted push on the part of the government to regulate the arts and

Russians Unfazed by Nudists But Outraged by Transsexuals, Poll Shows

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – June 23, 2014) While a majority of Russians feel a sense of outrage toward transsexuals, most could not care less about nudists, a somewhat questionable poll concludes. The poll, published Monday by independent pollster Levada Center – presumably testing Russians’ attitudes to non-traditional behavior – showed roughly equal numbers of

Happy in Yakutia and Russia

Map of Russia

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris in Moscow – June 23, 2014) Could you be happy living somewhere where temperatures drop below 50 degrees Celsius in the nine-month-long winters? It seems hard to imagine, but the residents of Siberia’s Yakutia in the heart of the Asian part of Russia – the coldest place

Russia’s gamekeeper has turned poacher

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(opendemocracy.net – Mikhail Kreindlin – June 20, 2014) Mikhail Kreindlin is an expert at Greenpeace Russia on specially protected areas. Russia has a vast number of nature reserves and national parks. But the government body supposed to be protecting them is in fact destroying many of them by allowing development and mining. In Russia, as

New reforms aim to make regions more independent

Map of Russia

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Marina Obrazkova, RBTH- June 18, 2014) Russia is reorganizing the system for electing local government bodies and redistributing powers between federal and municipal authorities. However, the reforms are the latest in a long line of attempts to make regional government more effective, and some experts are sceptical. A

What’s Next As Kiev Crunches Rebels?

Maidan Square file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexey Eremenko – June 18, 2014) As Ukrainian separatists concede imminent defeat unless Russian tanks roll in, it is time for Kiev to consider plans for reconciliation with the rebel regions, Russian and Ukrainian analysts said. Local elites that tacitly endorsed the separatists at first in hopes that they could

Interfax: Poroshenko: Slovyansk to be encircled, armed opposition to be liquidated

Ukraine Map and Flag

KYIV. June 18 (Interfax) – Ukrainian law enforcement units will encircle Slovyansk to liquidate the armed opposition and regain full control over the state border in eastern regions, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said. “We are taking resolute steps and conducting successful operations towards the restoration [of control] over the state border,” the president told reporters

RIA Novosti: Ukraine’s Poroshenko Suggests Relieving Foreign Minister Deshchytsia from Post

Ukraine Map and Flag

KIEV, June 18 (RIA Novosti) – President Petro Poroshenko has suggested dismissing acting Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia, the Ukrainian parliament said Wednesday. The president has also nominated Ukraine’s Ambassador to Germany Pavlo Klimkin to take over the post of foreign minister. On Saturday, Deshchytsia shouted offensive remarks directed toward Russian President Vladimir Putin. The foreign

Russia’s Nationalist Fringe Takes Center Stage In Eastern Ukraine

Ukraine Map and Flag

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – KYIV June 17, 2014) Not long ago, Aleksandr Borodai was a little-known political consultant with nationalist leanings. Back in 1993, he was among those defending hard-liners barricaded inside the Russian White House in their showdown with President Boris Yeltsin. He wrote regularly for the ultranationalist newspaper “Zavtra” and in 2011 co-founded the

Interfax: Russians losing interest in political opposition, say it is still needed – poll

Russian Duma Building

MOSCOW. June 17 (Interfax) – Over a half of Russians (57%) believes Russia needs political opposition, Levada Center told Interfax. Yet their number has reduced significantly since 2012 (72%), the sociologists said. Twenty-three percent of respondents say Russia does not need political opposition and 20% are undecided. The need for opposition was mostly expressed by

Fifty-Eight Percent of Russians Oppose Russian Nationalist Groups inside Russia after Ukrainian Events

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, June 16, 2014) In what might seem counter-intuitive but which in fact underscores the way Moscow media coverage of one thing may cause Russians to draw conclusions about others, 58 percent of Russians say that as a result of developments in Ukraine, they are more negative about

Interfax: Voting system invulnerable, but will require Russian-made software in future – Churov

File Image of Map of Russia for Polling Place Webcams

MOSCOW. June 17 (Interfax) – The head of the Russian Election Commission, Vladimir Churov, has confirmed the invulnerability of the state automated voting system “Vybory” (Elections) but added that in future the system will require Russian, not foreign, software to counter potential threats to it from abroad. “Currently our system (“Vybory”) is invulnerable, but we

Interfax: NASA wishes to carry on ISS cooperation after 2020 – newspaper

International Space Station file photo

MOSCOW. June 16 (Interfax) – The United States hopes to carry on the International Space Station (ISS) cooperation project with Russia after 2020, Izvestia wrote on Monday, quoting NASA ISS Flight Program Manager Sean Fuller. Fuller told the newspapers the partners had built a remarkable orbital laboratory and hoped to continue using it after 2020

Russia cuts Ukrainian gas supplies

Gas Flame file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – June 16, 2014) Russia’s state-owned Gazprom cut Ukraine’s gas supply off at 10 a.m. Moscow time for failing to pay its bills after talks broke down ahead of a June 16 deadline. “This decision was taken due to systematic failure of Naftogaz Ukraine to pay,” Gazprom said in a

Russia Day: The country’s most misunderstood day off

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

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – June 12, 2014 Nikolai Litovkin, RBTH – June 12, 2014) On June 12, Russia celebrates one of its youngest national holidays, Russia Day. Nominally a celebration of Russian statehood, the significance of the day is widely misunderstood, even within the country itself. What is the history of the

Russia Beyond the Headlines: What is the link between economics and Putin’s popularity?

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Denis Volkov, special to RBTH – June 9, 2014) Denis Volkov is a sociologist with Levada Center. The analysis is based on data provided by the independent pollster Levada Center. A recent opinion poll by the Levada Center indicates that amid tensions over Ukraine and the takeover of

RIA Novosti: Russian Human Rights Activists Should Not Conform to Western Colleagues – Russian Ombudsman

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

MOSCOW, June 11 (RIA Novosti) – Russian human rights activists should boost partnership with their Western colleagues, hold constructive conversations with them, but not pander or conform to them, Russia’s Human Rights Ombudsman Ella Pamfilova believes. “We should preserve our partnership with oversees colleagues, but our work should be based on the interests and needs

Kremlin distances itself from Putin’s aide’s statements on Ukraine

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Interfax – June 10, 2014) The Kremlin has distanced itself from statements by presidential adviser Sergey Glazyev, which he made at a roundtable discussion on the Ukrainian crisis in Moscow on Tuesday 10 June, the Russian Interfax news agency reported on 10 June. A senior source in the Kremlin once again stressed that “all thoughts

Moscow Renews Demolition Crusade Against Khrushchev’s 1950s Apartment Blocks

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Mark Lammey – June 10, 2014) Demolition men have flattened 1,451 of Moscow’s Khrushchevki – cheaply built 1950′s apartment blocks that were never meant to make it into the 21st century – in the last 15 years, as part of a foundering plan by ex-Mayor Yury Luzhkov to freshen up

Putin did not voice support for bringing back Stalingrad – spokesman

Battle of Stalingrad file photo

(Interfax – Moscow, June 9, 2014) Russian President Vladimir Putin has not voiced his preferences and has not specified whether he supports the idea of renaming Volgograd Stalingrad or stands for keeping its name, presidential spokesman Dmitriy Peskov has said. “Answering a question from veterans in Normandy, Putin said that changing the name of a

Duma Deputy Seeks to Unleash Prosecutors on Anatoly Chubais and Rusnano

Anatoly Chubais file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – June 10, 2014) Anatoly Chubais, head of the state-owned technology investment firm Rusnano and architect of Russia’s chaotic 1990s privatization, has dismissed allegations of fraud and embezzlement levied against him by State Duma Deputy Oksana Dmitriyeva, who has asked Russia’s Prosecutor General to investigate the company’s activities

Interfax: Golos association to contest inclusion on registry of NGOs-foreign agents in court

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

MOSCOW. June 9 (Interfax) – The Golos (Voice) association said it intended to contest in court the fact that the Russian Justice Ministry included it on the registry of non-governmental organizations (NGO) – foreign agents. “This will not affect our work in any way. The association is in the process of liquidating itself. As to

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