Category Archives: Politics, Government, Protests, Elections

NEWSLINK The Atlantic: How the Media Became One of Putin’s Most Powerful Weapons

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After decades of wielding Soviet-style hard power, Russia is developing a subtler form of influence. … From his first days as president, Putin moved quickly to dominate the media landscape in Russia, putting not only state media but privately owned broadcast media under the Kremlin’s influence.

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Muscovites Not Russians are the Problem, Shekhtman Says

Moscow Night Lights Satellite Image

(Paul Goble – Staunton, April 22, 2015) Four years ago, liberal Russians began to refer to the hurrah-patriots who opposed them as “vatniks,” a reference to the padded jackets such people often wore but used to designate their slavish support of the Kremlin and their hostility to the West and civilization. But now, Pavel Shekhtman suggests, that term should be […]

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NEWSLINK New York Times: Unpaid Russian Workers Unite in Protest Against Putin

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

After months of frustration with an economy sagging under the weight of international sanctions and falling energy prices, workers across Russia are starting to protest unpaid wages and go on strike, in the first nationwide backlash against President Vladimir V. Putin’s economic policies. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/22/world/europe/russian-workers-take-aim-at-putin-as-economy-exacts-its-toll.html?_r=0

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Poll: Russians Haven’t Been So Positive About Their Country in 5 Years

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Spinella – April 22, 2015) Russians are more positive about their country than they have been since the state-run Public Opinion Research Center began surveys for its social sentiment index five years ago, the pollster said Tuesday. The index, based on a comparison of respondents’ assessments ranging from “everything is terrible” to “everything is […]

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Some Who Left: A New Wave Of Russian Emigration

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Robert Coalson – April 21, 2015) Hundreds of thousands have left Russia over the last two years, citing a variety of political, economic, and personal reasons. According to Russian government statistics, 203,000 people left the country permanently in the first eight months of 2014. That’s up from 186,000 in 2013, and very likely to break Russia’s […]

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Tefft Says Obama Would Be ‘Happy’ to Get Involved in Ukraine Peace Talks

File photo of Barack Obama and Petro Poroshenko facing one another, with Obama gesturing

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – April 22, 2015) Moscow would welcome the involvement of any country that could pressure Kiev into observing a cease-fire with separatists, the Kremlin said, after the U.S. ambassador to Russia suggested President Barack Obama would readily participate in the Ukrainian peace talks if he were invited. Ambassador John Tefft said U.S. officials […]

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Russia faces ‘new reality’ as it counts cost of Ukraine crisis, says Medvedev

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – bne IntelliNews – April 22, 2015) Western sanctions and low oil prices caused Russia’s economy to shrink by 2% in the first three months of the year, the first time it contracted since 2009, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in Moscow on April 21 as he presented the government’s annual report to parliament. The country faced […]

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The Faltering Russian Economy Makes a Renewed Ukraine Offensive More Likely

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

(Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 12, Issue 73 – Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Pavel K. Baev) “Boring” is perhaps the prevalent impression of President Vladimir Putin’s televised four-hour-long Q & A session that aired last Thursday (April 16), which was meant to demonstrate his good health and relaxed attitude to the great many problems worrying his loyal subjects. The three […]

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Russian dissidents seek asylum in Kyiv

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(opendemocracy.net – Anna Yalovkina – Anna Yalovkina is a journalist from Kyrgyzstan and a correspondent at the internet portal Vecherny Bishkek. She writes for lenta.ru and films video for RFE/RL – April 17, 2015) As oppression heats up in Russia, post-revolutionary Ukraine is attracting political émigrés from the Russian opposition. From the moment the Maidan started in Ukraine, Russian authorities rushed […]

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Poor Putin’s Wealthy Friends

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – April 16, 2015) Russian President Vladimir Putin has an optics problem: Even as he asks people to be patient with the economic turmoil brought on in part by his response to Western sanctions, new income and property declarations are demonstrating that he and his top staffers aren’t sharing the pain. During today’s four-hour […]

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Why Putin’s Next War Will Be at Home; A pollster and a former Putin adviser predict new popularity problems-and renewed focus on domestic enemies

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Ragozin – April 17, 2015) Vladimir Putin appeared this week in his annual marathon television broadcast to answer questions posed by viewers from across Russia. Of course, the four-hour show, Direct Line With Vladimir Putin, was carefully choreographed to avoid anything that could embarrass the Russian leader. But that doesn’t mean the broadcast shied away […]

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Russia Economy Recovering as Oil Reliance Eases, Dvorkovich Says

Arkady Dvorkovich file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – David Tweed, Haslinda Amin – April 20, 2015) Russia’s economy showed signs of recovery in the first and second quarters amid a declining dependence on oil, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said. “Oil prices are not as important to the Russian economy as before,” Dvorkovich told Bloomberg TV Monday at the World Economic Forum on […]

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Ukrainians View the People as Sovereign; Russians Think Putin Is

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 20, 2015) Ukrainians and Russians differ fundamentally in the source of sovereignty in their countries, with Ukrainians, like citizens of Western democracies, viewing the people as sovereign and with the Russians, like the subjects of autocracies of all kinds, assuming that their supreme leader is, according to a new poll. Irina […]

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Putin Helps Russian Pet Lover to Get a New (Welsh) Puppy

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 20, 2015) Russian President Vladimir Putin may have set a dangerous precedent after convincing a retired soldier to buy his wife a pet pooch, possibly spawning a wave of similar requests from animal-lovers nationwide. “Please just say to him: ‘Boris, you’re wrong! Let your wife have a dog!’ We’ve already tried everything,” a woman […]

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‘Putin isn’t an Imperialist; He’s a Nazi,’ Portnikov Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 17, 2015) Vladimir Putin’s statements about Ukraine in his “direct line” program yesterday look “moderate” but only in comparison with the militaristic declarations of the Russian defense minister and chief of the Russian general staff. But no one should be deceived into thinking he has changed his mind or assumptions, according to […]

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Putin says Russia has weathered sanctions storm

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

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – bne IntelliNews – April 16, 2015) In an anticipated display of defiance towards Russia’s Western critics, President Vladimir Putin on April 16 said his country is not to blame for the continuing conflict in Eastern Ukraine, has now weathered the worst of the sanctions storm, and can expect economic growth to resume in two […]

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Despite Confrontation, Russia Still Looks to West for Approval

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – April 15, 2015) Despite the ongoing confrontation with the West over Ukraine, Russian leaders still see it as the ultimate source of prestige and approval, analysts told The Moscow Times on Tuesday after readers of U.S. magazine Time named President Vladimir Putin the most influential person in the world. Putin’s victory came […]

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Over 1.5 million questions asked in upcoming Putin’s Q&A session

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

MOSCOW. April 15 (Interfax) – Over 1.5 million questions have been asked in the upcoming Q&A session of President Vladimir Putin to begin at noon on April 16. “We have received 1.2 million calls, approximately 24,000 MMS messages, 285,000 text messages, 6,500 video questions and almost 190,000 e-mails sent to the website,” Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said. Russians wishing […]

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David Hayter: Review of Clifford Gaddy’s presentation on “Operative in the Kremlin” Richmond, VA

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

Subject: Review of Clifford Gaddy’s presentation on “Operative in the Kremlin” Richmond, VA Date: Mon, 13 Apr 2015 From: David Hayter <hayterd@mymail.vcu.edu> Last week I attended a presentation by Clifford Gaddy on his book on Putin, and did a short write-up of it. David Hayter VCU Globe Assistant Global Education Office Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, Virginia On April 8, 2015 […]

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The rise and fall of the Russian oligarchy; Newly declassified U.S. documents, released to bne IntelliNews, show how Vladimir Putin’s candidacy was a compromise after a fierce battle between pro-US oligarchs and pro-state conservatives

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(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Graham Stack – April 14, 2015) Fifteen years after the then unknown Vladimir Putin took over the Russian presidency, analysts still puzzle over how he arrived in the position. Newly declassified documents from President Bill Clinton’s administration, released to bne IntelliNews, show how Putin’s candidacy was a compromise after a fierce battle for power […]

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Why Russia watchers should listen to Glenn Greenwald

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(opendemocracy.net – Philip Evans, Associate Editor at oDR – April 2, 2015) Elites throughout the former Soviet Union are cracking down on dissent. But before Russia watchers start criticising the region’s repressive governments, they should first engage with the criticism, which has long been levelled at them. From Minsk to Astana, elites throughout the former Soviet Union are clamping down on dissent as […]

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“Croneyburger please, easy on the austerity”: Inside Russia’s fast-food farce

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

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Nick Allen in Berlin – April 13, 2015) The trademark meat dish could perhaps be called “The director’s cut”: Two prolific Russian film directors recently sought a $19mn state credit from President Vladimir Putin to launch an unlikely new national fast-food chain as a counterweight to McDonald’s and other foreign operators. And they got […]

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Interfax: Great feast of Easter brings joy and hope to millions of Christians – Putin

File Photo of Russian Orthodox Church at Kremlin, adapted from defense.gov Image

Moscow, April 13, Interfax – President Vladimir Putin has greeted Orthodox Christians and all Russian citizens celebrating Easter, the Kremlin press service reports. “The great feast of Easter brings joy and hope to millions of believers, introduces them to the sources of spirituality and traditions of forefathers,” the presidential message says. “The Russian Orthodox Church plays an enormous constructive role […]

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NEWSLINK Euromaidan Press/Colta.ru: The country of triumphant resentment: Yampolskiy on Russia’s loss of reality

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

One of the most striking developments in Russian society has been the explosive growth of aggression simultaneously with a refusal to accept reality, burying it under ideological fictions. This phenomenon cannot be easily explained. It is often chalked up to the unprecedented amounts of television propaganda. While official propaganda explains a lot, it does not explain everything. Not every society […]

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Chart – Putin ratings defy grim economic outlook

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Henry Kirby in London – April 10, 2015 – bne.eu/content/story/bnechart-putin-ratings-defy-grim-economic-outlook) 25 years after Ronald Reagan left the White House, it would seem that Russia has its own ‘Teflon President’ in Vladimir Putin. The Russian president’s consistently high ratings show that his and Reagan’s similarities go beyond a Hollywood penchant for horse riding and rifle-toting, […]

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Russian State Agency Accused of Funding Opposition Media

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – April 8, 2015) Russia’s Investigative Committee has reportedly demanded explanations about government subsidies to media that support opposition positions after a pro-Kremlin daily accused a government agency of supporting publications that pursue “clearly anti-state” policies. The report by the pro-government newspaper Izvestia on Tuesday named some of Russia’s best-known remaining independent-minded media […]

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Russia Cannot Become a Democracy in Its Current Borders, Walesa Says

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 8, 2015) Just as the notion of a liberal Soviet Union proved to be a contradiction in terms, so too the Russian Federation in its current borders cannot become a democracy, according to Lech Walesa. It must first disintegrate and then some parts of it might be able to come back […]

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Moscow Times: Kremlin Reliance on the Russian Orthodox Church May Backfire, Analysts Say

File Photo of Russian Orthodox Church at Kremlin, adapted from defense.gov Image

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – April 8, 2015) While the Russian federal government’s burgeoning reliance on the Russian Orthodox Church is a tool aimed at consolidating society, in using it the authorities risk giving the clergy too much power, an issue that may eventually backfire against the Kremlin, experts told The Moscow Times on Tuesday. Recent public […]

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RIA Novosti: Russian ex-minister [Kudrin] says turned down government job offers over “half-hearted” reforms

Alexei Kudrin file photo

(RIA Novosti – April 7, 2015) Aleksey Kudrin, Russia’s finance minister from 2000 to 2011, has said he still receives offers to return to the government but has turned them down because of “half-hearted” reforms, RIA Novosti (part of the state-owned International News Agency Rossiya Segodnya) reported on 7 April. “My leaving the government, as is well-known, was related to […]

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Former Finance Minister Slams Russian Government on Corruption

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 8, 2015) While the Russian government is trying to involve itself in more economic spheres, the state is failing to perform its basic functions and corruption has swelled to levels “unimaginable” during the heydays of previous administrations, the head of Russia’s second-largest bank said at an international conference on economic development conference on Tuesday. […]

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Russia launches new version of president’s website

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

MOSCOW. April 8 (Interfax) – A new version of the Russian president’s website launched on Wednesday took a year to develop within the current budget, no extra funds were allocated, the Kremlin said. “An updated version of the official website of the Russian president has been opened. The previous version was launched more than five years ago, in September 2009. […]

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NEWSLINK Atlantic Council: Former Putin Advisor [Andrei Illarionov] on Kremlin’s Big War

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

Western sanctions on Russia are not working and a proposal to provide defensive weapons to Ukrainian security forces will not deter the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine, according to Andrei Illarionov, a former advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Atlantic Council: Former Putin Advisor on Kremlin’s Big War. (Andrei Illarionov)

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NEWSLINK New York Times: Lawmakers Take Step to Remove Putin Critic [Ilya V. Ponomarev]

Russian State Duma Building file photo

Russian lawmakers took a major step on Tuesday toward ousting Ilya V. Ponomarev, the only member of Parliament who opposed the annexation of Crimea last year and one of the few elected officials who have repeatedly dared to challenge President Vladimir V. Putin publicly. New York Times: Lawmakers Take Step to Remove Putin Critic. (Ilya V. Ponomarev)

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[CALL FOR PAPERS: State of War: Human Condition and Social Orders:] The Russian Sociological Review

Bookcase file photo, adapted from image at nlm.nih.gov

Subject: The Russian Sociological Review Date: Mon, 06 Apr 2015 12:47:05 -0500 From: Nail Farkhatdinov (farkhatdinov@gmail.com) The Russian Sociological Review (sociologica.hse.ru/en), an international peer-reviewed academic journal published by the National Research University – Higher School of Economics (www.hse.ru), invites contributions from philosophy, social sciences and cognate fields for the special issue entitled State of War: Human Condition and Social Orders. […]

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Dmitry Oreshkin: “In the light of Nemtsov’s murder, Putin looks like a weak and dependent politician”

Nemtsov March of Mourning

(Institute of Modern Russia – imrussia.org – Leonid Martynyuk – April 6, 2015 – article also appeared at imrussia.org/en/opinions/2222-dmitry-oreshkin-in-the-light-of-nemtsovs-murder-putin-looks-like-a-weak-and-dependent-politician) The Institute of Modern Russia continues its series of interviews with Russian and Western experts on the situation in Russia, its relationship with the West, and the future of its political system. Journalist Leonid Martynyuk speaks with prominent Russian political scientist Dmitry Oreshkin […]

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Few in the Russian Intelligentsia Oppose Putin Even if They Don’t Support Him, Kirillova says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 7, 2015) Many members of the Russian intelligentsia do not support Vladimir Putin and his repression at home and aggression abroad, but a significant and surprising number of them do, the result of a complex combination of their experiences over the last generation and Putin’s actions as well, according to Kseniya […]

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Half of Russians say political, economic position of their country mediocre – poll

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

(Interfax – April 6, 2015) Fifty percent of Russians are happy with their life, which is 7 percent more than a year ago (43 percent), the Russian Public Opinion Study Center (VTsIOM) said. Twenty percent are not happy (14 percent in 2014) and 28 percent have mixed feelings (42 percent in 2014), the center said, quoting a poll of 1,600 respondents […]

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Soviet-Style Censorship Returns to Russian Arts

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman, Moscow Times Theater Critic – April 3, 2015) How many bulls does it take to trash a china shop? We may have an answer by the time the dust settles in a seemingly self-refueling controversy that keeps swirling around an opera house in Novosibirsk. Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky said this week on […]

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Russian Political Opposition Uniting for 2016 Parliamentary Elections

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Spinella – April 3, 2015) Russia’s currently fragmented political opposition – which covers a broad spectrum of ideologies, from the far left to the far right – has agreed to form single alliance for next year’s parliamentary elections, newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported Thursday. Nine of Russia’s most prominent opposition politicians, including Mikhail Khodorkovsky and […]

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Sexism in Russia: On the retreat but still a long way to go

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

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Marina Obrazkova, RBTH – April 4, 2015) There is a prevalent idea in Russian society that men and women should behave according to some unwritten standards. However, it is the country’s women that are affected much more by discrimination. What kinds of problems does this create in daily life and how long is […]

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Domestic political stability in Russia depends on Ukraine – report

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Yekaterina Sinelschikova, RBTH – April 6, 2015) A newly published report titled “Between Crimea and the Crisis” puts forward two scenarios of Russia’s future, both of which predict serious domestic upheavals. Everything hinges on the outcome of the Ukrainian conflict. How likely are these scenarios? RBTH investigates. Russia will be swept by moods […]

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NEWSLINK AFP: Trolling for Putin: Russia’s information war explained.

Kremlin and River

Lyudmila Savchuk says it was money that wooed her into the ranks of the Kremlin’s online army, where she bombarded website comment pages with eulogies of President Vladimir Putin, while mocking his adversaries. “Putin is great,” “Ukrainians are Fascists,” “Europe is decadent”: Savchuk, 34, listed the main messages she was told to put out on Internet forums after responding to […]

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The Trolls Who Came In From The Cold

Satellite Dishes

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Viktor Rezunkov – ST. PETERSBURG, March 16, 2015) Last May, Tatiana N decided she wanted a higher salary than the average journalist can expect. After responding to an advertisement in the popular HeadHunter job-search website, she became a Kremlin-paid Internet troll. Tatiana — who, like others interviewed for this story, asked that her last name not […]

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Putin’s Propaganda Industry Tightens Its Belt

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – January 23, 2015) “One does not economize on ideology” — so, according to historian Roy Medvedev, went a favorite saying of Mikhail Suslov, the man responsible for maintaining the purity of Marxism-Leninism in 1970’s Soviet Union. While high oil prices held, Russian President Vladimir Putin acted in full accordance with this adage, building an expensive, […]

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Sanctions-Strapped Russia Outguns the U.S. in Information War; Moscow drowns out Voice of America, and facts are a casualty

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Nicole Gaouette – April 2, 2015) The troubled U.S. agency responsible for delivering news around the world is being outgunned in Eastern Europe by Russian outlets unrestrained by notions of fact-based journalism. The unequal competition raises fears among U.S. officials that Moscow is winning the information war about events in Ukraine, even as the Russian economy […]

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NEWSLINK Wall Street Journal: Putin’s Disinformation Matrix

Satellite Dishes

Russia Today, the Kremlin’s English-language TV organ, launched a U.K. edition earlier this month. Headquartered near Westminster, the channel will beam RT’s signature blend of propaganda and tinfoil-hat conspiracy theorizing into millions of British homes. Welcome to Vladimir Putin’s disinformation matrix. RT is merely one part of the Kremlin’s aggressive media effort, as a new Institute of Modern Russia report […]

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Earth Hour 2015 is over as spring thaw in Siberia begins … Natural Disaster Response in “Putin’s Russia”

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

By Sarah Lindemann-Komarova (echosiberia@gmail.com) Founder, Siberian Civic Initiatives Support Center 1995 – 2014. Helped to establish this as the hub for the first civil society development support network in the former Soviet Union. (This is an edited version of “The Flood: A tree is best measured when it is down”, full version is available with photos at: https://medium.com/@ECHOSiberia/the-flood-a-tree-is-best-measured-when-it-is-down-1-e8c98cbc6ac5) At 8 […]

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Russian state will not clamp down on dissenters, senate speaker says

Valentina Matviyenko file photo

(RIA Novosti – Moscow, April 1, 2015) Russia does not intend to conduct a clampdown on the opposition as it is not threatened by a “colour revolution” no matter how hard the West tries to de-stabilize the interior situation in the country, Russian Federation Council speaker Valentina Matviyenko has said. “The Russian state does not intend to pursue a clampdown […]

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Experts: Putin’s New Ethnic Affairs Agency Aims to Thwart Political Threats

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – April 2, 2015) President Vladimir Putin’s recent decision to launch a government agency charged with maintaining interethnic and interfaith harmony in Russia is a bid to prevent foreign powers and internal opposition factions from seeking to exploit a weak spot in Russia’s power structure, analysts told The Moscow Times. Since the collapse of the […]

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NEWSLINK New York Times: A Russian TV Insider Describes a Modern Propaganda Machine

Satellite Dishes

“It was shocking,” said Mr. Pomerantsev, speaking over coffee in London last month. “They really saw television and news as a movie, and talked about it as a movie.”

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