Poll finds 45% of Russians Dissatisfied With The Country’s Situation

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 19, 2017) A recent poll by the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) found that 45 percent of Russians are dissatisfied with the general situation in the country, the RBC newspaper reports. Nearly half the population expressed dissatisfaction with the authorities in the realm of healthcare, the economy and the social safety net. The results of […]

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State Duma speaker deems CoE pressure over family violence decriminalization by Russia to be inadmissible

File Photo of Council of Europe Headquarters Building with Flags in Front

MOSCOW. Jan 18 (Interfax) – State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin deems the pressure of Council of Europe (CoE) Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland on Russia in connection with the law decriminalizing family violence to be inadmissible. “This is pressure, and it is inadmissible,” Volodin told the press on Wednesday. The State Duma adopted the amendments in first reading in January, and the […]

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Over half of Russians approve of arrests of government officials suspected of corruption – poll

MOSCOW. Jan 18 (Interfax) – Most Russians know about and approve of the arrests of high-ranking officials suspected of bribery, embezzlement, and abuse of office, the VTsIOM public opinion service reported based on findings of a public opinion poll of 1,600 respondents conducted in 130 populated areas in 46 regions of Russia on December 17-18. As many as 55% of […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] [j]oint news conference with President of Moldova Igor Dodon

Moldova Map and Flag

(Kremlin.ru – January 17, 2017) Vladimir Putin and Igor Dodon gave a joint news conference following the Russia-Moldova talks. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, Our talks with the Moldovan President were held in a constructive and I would also say friendly atmosphere. They were concrete and covered issues of mutual interest. We have discussed […]

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Share of Russians Willing to Protest. Never Large, has Fallen Since 2014, Levada Expert Says

Moscow Protest File Photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 17, 2017) The share of Russians willing to protest or take part in any political activity at all, never large in the best of times, has fallen significantly since Vladimir Putin began tightening the screws in 2014. Instead, ever more Russians are showing their willingness and ability to adapt to the […]

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The Impossible Grand Bargain

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – January 16, 2017) There’s a very simple reason why a new reset won’t work. There’s a very simple reason why any grand bargain with Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin regime is doomed to failure. There’s a very simple reason why a new detente with Moscow would probably make matters much worse. And that’s the simple […]

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Another Fatal Flaw in Russia’s Company Towns: Business More Powerful than the State

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 14, 2016) Russia’s 300-plus urban centers known as “monogorods” or “company towns” where the vast majority of the population have been the subject of episodic discussions typically triggered when the chief firm closes down, the population is impoverished, and protests arise. Then, these places where more than ten percent of the […]

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Golden Skepticism; Wild allegations in unverified Trump dossier fail to impress Kremlin critics and supporters alike

File Image of Laptop Computer, Tables and Mobile Device, adapted from image at energy.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ola Cichowlas – January 12, 2017) In the past 24 hours, on both sides of the Atlantic, the Internet has exploded in incredulity, responding to an unverified dossier published by BuzzFeed News, describing U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s alleged relationship with the Kremlin. The 35-page report features several salacious and uncorroborated claims about Trump’s ties to […]

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TRANSCRIPT EXCERPTS: [Medvedev at] The 8th Gaidar Forum

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Government.ru – January 12, 2017) The Gaidar Forum is an ongoing project for discussing topical problems of our time. The forum was first held in 2010 and is dedicated to the memory of Yegor Gaidar, researcher, economist and ideologist of Russian reforms of the early 1990s. The forum’s discussions center around topics concerning Russia’s status and strategic role in the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Twenty years ago, Russians loved the US. Where did it all go wrong? In the immediate post-Soviet era, Russians held the US in high esteem. But that started to change amid economic woes and Western adventurism in the Balkans and Middle East.” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin

“… Time magazine’s July 15, 1996, cover. … depicts Russian President Boris Yeltsin, recently reelected … grinning and clutching an American flag under the headline ‘Yanks to the Rescue!’ The story tells of a group of high-powered US political consultants who were secretly brought to Russia amid the hard-fought presidential elections of 1996, in which a beleaguered Mr. Yeltsin was […]

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Russian Ministry Airs Drastic Proposals To Snuff Out Smoking

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, January 10, 2017) Since 2013, Russia has banned smoking in restaurants and taken serious measures to reduce its huge number of smokers. Now, drastic proposals aired this week could put Russia on course to try and eradicate the habit altogether. The Russian Health Ministry on January 9 proposed a blanket ban on […]

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Prosecutors should continue paying more attention to protecting fair business from pressure, unjustified checks – Putin

File Photo of Cash Register with Drawer Open and Hands of Cashier

MOSCOW. Jan 11 (Interfax) – Fair business must be reliably protected by the state, including from unjustified checks, prosecutors must continue work in this direction, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “Fair, honest, transparent business must be reliably protected by the state, including from unjustified checks and other pressure,” he said at a meeting on the occasion of the 295th anniversary […]

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Econ Ministry to prepare measures in Feb to improve Russia’s Doing Business rating

Empty Boardroom

MOSCOW. Jan 11 (Interfax) – The Economic Development Ministry plans to prepare a list of measures in February to further improve Russia’s Doing Business rating. “The need to further improve the business climate has been spoken of. Here standard work for moving further ahead is underway. Russia made a very big step in the Doing Business rating, for instance, over […]

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Peskov on next U.S. State Secretary Tillerson: we aren’t wearing rose-tinted glasses

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

MOSCOW. Jan 11 (Interfax) – The Kremlin is counting on the ability of the next U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to be receptive to arguments pertaining to Moscow-Washington cooperation. Presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov commented on abstracts from the speech Rex Tillerson would deliver at the confirmation hearing in Senate, which had been published by the Western media. Peskov […]

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NEWSWATCH: “For 1st time since Cold War, U.S. tanks roll into Russia’s backyard” – CBS

U.S. Army Tanks in Transport Arriving in Germany, adapted from army.mil

“… All the massive hardware of a U.S. combat brigade arrived in Germany over the weekend, and started rolling east toward Poland, where 4,000 American soldiers will be waiting for it. … the first build-up of American troops and weapons in Europe in almost 30 years … meant, in large part, to reassure America’s nervous allies in Europe that the […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Higher School of Economics Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Kremlin.ru – January 9, 2017) Yaroslav Kuzminov updated the President on the implementation of the Academic Excellence Project 5-100. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Kuzminov, the Higher School of Economics will mark its 25th anniversary this year. How will you celebrate this notable event? Rector of the Higher School of Economics Yaroslav Kuzminov: We will celebrate it with new […]

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Kremlin Propaganda Effort Ever Less Effective on Russians, Surveys Show

Kremlin and River

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 8, 2016) The messages Kremlin propaganda is disseminating and the actual beliefs of Russians are increasingly diverging, except on the “sacred” issue of approval for Vladimir Putin, surveys show, an indication that his regime’s media efforts are ever less successful in shaping public attitudes, according to Igor Yakovenko. The Russian commentator […]

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From Post-Soviet to Neo-Soviet

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(The Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – EDWARD C. HOLLAND – January 4, 2017) Edward C. Holland is Assistant Professor of Geography in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Arkansas. His research interests range across a variety of topics, including political violence, religion, and critical geopolitics, and are generally focused on the Russian Federation. He has recently published on […]

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‘Where Is This Country Going?’ Debt Crisis Tugs At Russian Federation’s Seams

Russia Regions Map

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Robert Coalson – January 2, 2017) A surprisingly harsh war of words has broken out between the Russian central government and one of the country’s most prosperous regions, in a sign of tension as cash-strapped Moscow struggles to fill its budget deficit. The government of the Republic of Tatarstan sought to soften the blow by pulling […]

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RIA Novosti: Putin orders check on prison conditions

Russian Jail File Photo Showing Outer Wall, Windows, Barbed Wire

(RIA Novosti – January 3, 2017) President Vladimir Putin has ordered the nation’s prosecutor-general to investigate the observance of the law inside Russia’s prison system, state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reported on 3 January, citing a statement on the Kremlin website. “The prosecutor-general is to conduct a check on the conformity by the Federal Penal Service of implementation of legislation […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH/TASS: “Putin orders to submit NGO ‘foreign agents’ report until late March”

Kremlin and River

“Russian President Vladimir Putin has instructed the presidential staff, Justice Ministry and the presidential envoy for environmental protection to analyze regulatory enforcement of the non-governmental organizations operating as foreign agents and financed by state. The list of Putin’s instructions made following the meeting of the Presidential Council for Civil Society Development and Human Rights held on December 8, 2016 was […]

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With Reforms Impossible, Some Russians Predict Revolution, Baklanov Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 2, 2016) Given that Vladimir #Putin has signaled that any serious reforms in the near term are unlikely or even impossible, ever more #Russians are predicting revolution, especially as that country enters the centenary of the two revolutions of 1917, Aleksandr Baklanov says. That doesn’t mean that a revolution will happen […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] New Year Address to the Nation

New Year's Eve on Red Square with Fireworks, Kremlin, Saint Basil's, Crowds

(Kremlin.ru – December 31, 2016) President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Citizens of Russia, friends, The year 2016 is coming to a close. It was a challenging year, but the difficulties we faced have brought us together and allowed us to reveal enormous resources for our movement forward. The main thing is that we believe in ourselves, in our strengths and […]

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Survival guide: How to survive New Year, Russian-style

Happy New Year, Clock, Champagne Glasses

A popular Russian saying holds that the way you spend New Year’s Eve is the way you will spend the entire year. Throughout 2016, RBTH has tried to provide you with advice on such crucial topics as how to drink with Russians, how to understand Russian women, how to behave when you are invited to somebody’s home and similarly important […]

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Russian Banking System Safe From Cyber-Threats — Central Bank Head

Central Bank of Russia file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 28, 2016) Russian Central Bank Head Elvira Nabiullina said that Russia’s banking system is protected against cyber-threats in an interview with the Rossiya 24 television channel. “I should say that our banking system currently has an adequate level of protection against cyber threats,” she said. Nabiullina also said the Central Bank has created a […]

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Putin’s War At Home

Russia Regions Map

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – December 28, 2016) As Vladimir Putin basks in his victories abroad, problems are piling up at home. Rustam Minnikhanov, the leader of oil-rich Tatarstan, has denounced a recent Kremlin decision to take more of his republic’s tax revenues, calling it “stupidity” and comparing it to Josef Stalin’s liquidation of the kulaks. Minnikhanov’s broadside […]

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Putin Bans Officials From Owning Foreign Assets Via Third Parties

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 29, 2016) Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law banning state officials from owning “foreign financial instruments” through third parties. The text of the new law – which applies to members of parliament, government officials, and law enforcement officers – was published on an official government legal website. The document defines foreign financial […]

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Putin’s Authoritarianism Simply a Response to Archaic Localism of 1990s, Russian Analyst Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, December 28, 2016) Pavel Pryanikov, the editor of the Tolkovatel portal, argues that the current upsurge in authoritarianism in Russia is a response to the archaic localism separate from the state that emerged after the collapse of Soviet power in 1991, the latest turn of a cycle described by Russian philosopher Aleksandr […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Syria Map

(Kremlin.ru – December 29, 2016) Mr Shoigu and Mr Lavrov briefed the President on work to resolve the Syrian crisis, in particular, agreements reached between the Syrian government and the opposition on a ceasefire and readiness to begin peace talks. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, The news has just come in that this morning, a few hours ago, an […]

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NEWSWATCH: “In 2017, Putin faces his toughest challenge: Russian pessimism; After several years of economic hardship and international pressure over its annexation of Crimea, Russia may see its lot improve next year. But most are skeptical of the possibility of lasting change” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

Putin at Desk

… Most adult Russians have seen roller-coaster ups and downs in the past 25 years, from the harrowing collapse of the superstate of their birth, the USSR; to a decade of economic despair and social decay; to several years of revival under Putin that came to a screeching halt amid economic crisis and global condemnation following Russia’s annexation of Crimea […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin focuses on domestic issues in his annual press conference marathon; International relations and the showdown with the West in Ukraine and Syria got little attention this year” – bne Intellinews

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

… Putin … [began] his annual marathon press conference … with a run down of the latest macroeconomic results. In the last two events he spent more time on international relations and the showdown with the West in Ukraine and Syria, which got little attention this year. * * * Putin indirectly dismissed … speculation … Russia hacked the US […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Reception to mark the New Year

Kremlin and River

(Kremlin.ru – December 28, 2016) Vladimir Putin attended a reception at the Kremlin to mark the New Year holiday. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends. You know the events of these last few days. We therefore decided to change the New Year reception’s traditional format and give it more of a working atmosphere so that we could gather […]

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Putin still sees USSR break-up as catastrophe – spokesman

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

(RIA Novosti – December 21, 2016) Russian President Vladimir Putin still believes that the break-up of the Soviet Union was a catastrophe, his press secretary has said. Dmitry Peskov said while the break-up could not be reversed there was no alternative to “new integration” in post-Soviet space. “Putin still thinks that it was a catastrophe for all the peoples that […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Vladimir Putin’s annual news conference

Kremlin and River

(Kremlin.ru – December 23, 2016) [Video with English translation http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/53573] The President’s news conference was broadcast live by Rossiya 1, Rossiya 24 and Channel One, as well as Mayak, Vesti FM and Radio Rossii radio stations. Television channel Public Television of Russia (OTR) and its site (otr-online.ru/online/) provided live sign language interpretation of the news conference. President of Russia Vladimir […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Vladimir Putin’s annual news conference (partial transcript)

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Kremlin.ru – December 23, 2016) [Russian here http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/53573] The President’s news conference was broadcast live by Rossiya 1, Rossiya 24 and Channel One, as well as Mayak, Vesti FM and Radio Rossii radio stations. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues, friends. Let’s begin. We have agreed with my assistant here that I will not make any lengthy opening […]

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Russians Want Fascism but Don’t Yet Have the Leader Full-Blown Fascism Requires, Ikhlov Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, December 19, 2016) Russians, polls suggest, would like to see Russia become a fascist state but it lacks one necessary ingredient, a genuinely fascist-type leader, Yevgeny Ikhlov says. As a result, it and they may be saved not by legal structures which unfortunately Russia does not yet have but rather by the […]

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Putin’s Little Helpers

Vladimir Putin

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – December 19, 2016) We’re all complicit in turning Vladimir Putin the man into Vladimir Putin the myth and the legend. We’re all guilty, to a degree, of making the Kremlin leader seem omnipotent. All of us, in one way or another, have turned the leader of a country with a GDP lower than […]

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Putin briefed on election-rigging by regional officials

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

(Interfax – December 19, 2016) Russia’s election authority has briefed Vladimir Putin on violations during the last parliamentary poll, some of them “extremely serious”, privately-owned news agency Interfax reported. Breaches of the rules were identified in 23 parts of the country, Ella Pamfilova, head of the Central Electoral Commission, told Putin. “And in some places these were extremely, extremely serious,” […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Sergei Lavrov, Sergei Naryshkin and Alexander Bortnikov

Turkey and Environs Satellite Image

(Kremlin.ru – December 19, 2016) Vladimir Putin had a meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service Sergei Naryshkin and Director of the Federal Security Service Alexander Bortnikov. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Tragic news has arrived from Turkey, where Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov was brutally murdered. First of all, I would like to […]

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RBTH: 2016 in review: Top 5 political events

Snowy Night on Red Square with Old St. Basil's Lit Up

From the war in Syria to high-level corruption and doping scandals, here are the stories that shook up Russian politics in the past year. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – OLEG YEGOROV, RBTH – December 19, 2016) 1. Intervention in Syria Although President Vladimir Putin stated in March 2016 that the operation in Syria, which began in September 2015, […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Meeting with Government members

Kremlin and River

(Kremlin.ru – December 19, 2016) Vladimir Putin held his final regular meeting with Government members for 2016 and congratulated them on the upcoming New Year holiday. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues. Keeping with tradition, I want to congratulate you on the upcoming New Year holiday and say a few words about our work over this past year. […]

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Peskov: president has ‘crazy day and busy schedule’ on Monday

Dmitry Peskov file photo adapted from image at kremlin.ru/wikimedia commons

MOSCOW. Dec 19 (Interfax) – Russian presidential press officer Dmitry Peskov has spoken about the president’s “crazy” schedule on Monday, which, besides a meeting with government officials and a meeting with businessmen before the New Year holidays, includes several international phone conversations. “The president will congratulate government officials on the New Year, he will visit cabinet members in the House […]

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RBTH: What does Moscow expect from new U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson?

Rex Tillerson file photo, adapted from image at readyagain.gov

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has selected ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson as a key member of his team. “Pragmatic,” “professional” and a “friend” of Vladimir Putin – the announcement of his appointment comes as potentially good news to Russia. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH – December 14, 2016) Donald Trump has chosen the next U.S. Secretary […]

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Medvedev says Ulyukayev’s dismissal after losing president’s trust is not ‘guilty verdict’

Alexei Ulyukayev file photo

MOSCOW. Dec 15 (Interfax) – The resignation of former Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev after he lost the president’s trust and confidence does not mean Ulyukayev has been found guilty of the crimes he has been accused of, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said. “The president made the decision to dismiss the former minister from his duties due to loss of […]

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RBTH: Russia’s opposition firebrand Alexei Navalny to run for president in 2018

Make the oligarchs equal to ordinary citizens, reduce the power of the siloviks, get out of Syria and Ukraine: opposition figurehead Alexei Navalny has spoken about his electoral program while internet users and political analysts have evaluated his chances. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH – December 14, 2016) Opposition figurehead and anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny […]

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Russia’s New Economic Development Minister is the Status Quo Candidate; Don’t expect former Finance Ministry official Maxim Oreshkin to rock the boat

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Kupfer – December 10, 2016) It took two weeks for President Vladimir Putin to find a replacement for Alexei Ulyukayev, the economic development minister sacked in a corruption scandal. His final choice of Maxim Oreshkin, a largely unknown 34-yearold deputy finance minister, raised a few eyebrows. “Maxim, you are a fairly young man, but […]

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In Russia, the Refrigerator is Finally Defeating the TV but Not Having the Political Impact Many Expected

File Photo of Older Russian Woman Shopping in Grocery Store

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, December 12, 2016) For months, Moscow commentators have suggested that Russians are caught between what the Kremlin shows them on television and what they see in their increasingly empty refrigerators and predicted that eventually the refrigerator would defeat the TV and that this would have immediate political consequences. The findings of two […]

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RBTH: Over 1,000 Russian athletes involved in doping scandal – McLaren report

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

In a more detailed version of the report released in July, the head of the independent WADA commission has announced that the international doping scandal implicates over 1,000 Russian athletes, and has repeated accusations of state involvement. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ALEXEY MOSKO, RBTH – December 12, 2016) The publication of the long-awaited second part of the […]

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Poll: Fewer Russians Believe in Russia’s ‘Special Path’

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 12, 2016) Fewer Russians believe their country has a unique, “special path” to development, a poll by the independent Levada Center has found. Only 16 percent of Russians said that Russia should have a special path and a special state apparatus for developing the country, down from 24 percent the previous year. One in […]

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