NEWSWATCH: “Why IR Theory Gets Russia Wrong; Moscow’s Predictably Unpredictable Politics” – Foreign Affairs/Timothy Frye

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

With Russia’s economy sagging, support for the government falling, and even … Putin’s sky-high approval ratings beginning to come down to earth, there has been no shortage of speculation about Russia’s political stability. Some argue that a collapse of the Putin regime is imminent … others are more cautious. * * * Russia is oil-rich, but less so than many […]

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Degradation of Russian Elites Underlies Russia’s Decline, Pastukhov Says

Russia Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 24, 2016) “The thinning out of the Russian ‘cultural stratum’ and, as a result, the degradation of elites who have turned out to be incapable of responding to new historical challenges,” Vladimir Pastukhov says, is the underlying cause of the current decline of the country. All other causes, technological, societal and […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Liberals in the Crosshairs: The Russian opposition’s troubles are only beginning.” – The National Interest/Maria Snegovaya

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

As Russia approaches parliamentary elections scheduled in September 2016, the prospects for Russia’s so-called nonsystem liberal opposition look increasingly gloomy. Not only have democratic opposition leaders failed to create a unified coalition yet again, as in essentially every previous election – a failure that will likely diminish their already limited chances to win seats in Russia’s federal and regional parliaments […]

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Putin’s Advisors to Outline Russian Economic Reform

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 23, 2016) Russia’s latest economic reform package is set to cut state spending and raise the retirement age, the Vedomosti newspaper reported Monday. The reforms, which are due to be discussed Wednesday May 25 by President Vladimir Putin’s economic council, will focus heavily on stimulating domestic investment. It is the first time the council […]

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Is neoliberalism applicable to Russia? A response to Ilya Matveev; Attempts to call the Putin regime “neoliberal” get one fundamental thing wrong: capitalism doesn’t exist in Russia.

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(opendemocracy.net – Anastasiya Ovsyannikova – May 20, 2016) Anastasiya Ovsyannikova is an economist and journalist. She has worked for F5 and Cityboom.ru, as well as Moscow’s Sakharov Center. oDR recently published an article by Ilya Matveev, “Russia, Inc”, which positioned neoliberalism as an organic part of the Putin regime. The intense discussion that followed brings us back to two central […]

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Economy Minister Says Russia Out of Recession More Than Six Months

Alexei Ulyukayev file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 20, 2016) The Russian economy has been out of recession for more than six months, Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said during a briefing at the Russia-ASEAN summit on Friday, the TASS news agency reported. Russia’s GDP may perform better than the official forecast, which predicted a decline of 0.2 percent, Ulyukayev said, attributing […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Excerpts: Medvedev at] The 6th St Petersburg International Legal Forum

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Government.ru – May 18, 2016) Dmitry Medvedev attended a plenary session titled Trust in Law – Mechanism for Global Crisis Resolution. The St Petersburg International Legal Forum was launched in 2011 and is a major platform for dialogue between politicians, lawyers, economists and scientists who represent various economic and legal systems. The forum seeks to promote ways to modernise the […]

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Russia’s Atheists Organize to Fight Clericalization

Church Domes with Crosses file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 18, 2016) Russia’s atheists who in Soviet times enjoyed the active support of the government now face a situation in which the Russian regime is both supporting Orthodox Christianity and heavily influenced by it. As a result, this newly embattled minority has organize to fight the clericalization of Russia. Last Friday, […]

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The Monster Under The Kremlin

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – May 19, 2016) At first glance, the massive shoot-out at Moscow’s Khovanskoye Cemetery this past weekend seemed pretty retro. What, after all, reminds us more of the 1990s than rival Russian gangs staging a deadly brawl in a turf war over control of the lucrative burial business? What is more reminiscent of the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Inevitable Decline of Putin’s Russia” – US News/Paul Shinkman

Putin Descending a Staircase

The downfall of the Soviet Union has taken on renewed resonance in 2016, as a similar set of pressures appears to be aligning against America’s former Cold War foe, raising questions as to whether it, too, may overtax itself. … the Kremlin in the early 2000s consolidated a resurgent Russia’s economic power among a few trusted business elites, failing to […]

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Russian Charities to Be Exempt From ‘Foreign Agent’ Label

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 18, 2016) Charities are no longer to be classified as “foreign agents” if they receive money from abroad, according to a new amendment approved by the Russian State Duma. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in areas such as art and culture will also be exempt from the “foreign agent” label, the Interfax news agency reported […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting of the Commission for Monitoring Targeted Socioeconomic Development Indicators

Kremlin and River

(Kremlin.ru – May 16, 2016) The meeting discussed the state of progress in implementing the instructions set out in the presidential executive orders of May 2012. The agenda included, in particular, issues pertaining to staffing the healthcare system with qualified personnel, development of supplementary education for children, and raising the quality of public services, including in the housing and utilities […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting on defence industry development

Patriot Missile Launch file photo

(Kremlin.ru – May 13, 2016) Vladimir Putin held this week’s final meeting with Defence Ministry leadership and defence industry representatives. The meeting covered the current tasks of the defence industry, specifically, mobilisation readiness of defence industry companies. Another issue on the agenda was the deployment of the US missile defence system in Eastern Europe. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good […]

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Putinism won’t end with a bang, but a warrant; New charges concerning several leading Russian officials reveal the greatest threat to the Kremlin’s hold on power – elite corruption.

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

(opendemocracy.net – Mark Galeotti – May 10, 2016) Mark Galeotti is currently Professor of Global Affairs at New York University and a visiting fellow at the ECFR, although from August he will be principal director of the Mayak Intelligence consultancy in Prague and senior researcher at the Czech Institute for International Relations. He blogs on Russian security affairs at In […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Interview with the French Newspaper Le Figaro

Paris, France, View from Eiffel Tower

(Kremlin.ru – October 26, 2000) Question: Thank you for finding the time to meet with us. Vladimir Putin: Thank you. I think it is important that on the eve of our visit to Paris your readers find out the answers to the wide range of questions you are going to ask me. Question: French readers have long been interested in […]

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Jailed for Protesting Against the Kremlin – Life 4 Years After Bolotnaya

Russian Riot Police file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Eva Hartog – May 13, 2016) The Bolotnoye protest followed disputed parliamentary elections that saw the ruling United Russia secure a narrow parliamentary majority and Putin return to the presidency. The lights went out without so much as a flicker in the Moscow apartment shared by Andrei Barabanov, his mother and girlfriend one evening in […]

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Russia Ratifies International Agreement on Financial Information Exchange

File Photo of Man Placing Stack of Large Bills into Inside Pocket of Suitcoat

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 12, 2016) Russia has signed an international agreement on the exchange of financial information, state news agency TASS reported Thursday. The head of Russia’s Federal Taxation Service (FNS) Mikhail Mishustin said that Russia will join the global system of data exchange between tax authorities in different countries in 2018. “This will allow us to […]

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Russia Convenes Presidential Council to Boost Economy

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anastasia Bazenkova – May 12, 2016) Stuck in a second year of recession and facing a long period of economic stagnation, Russian officials are searching hard for ways to stimulate growth. On May 25, a presidential economic council will convene for the first time in three years. According to presidential aide Andrei Belousov, it aims […]

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‘All Its Members Faced Jail’: Alekseyeva Recalls Birth Of Russia’s Oldest Rights Group

Lyudmila Alekseyeva file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Claire Bigg, Yelena Polyakovskaya – May 12, 2016) Few activists today can speak firsthand about the creation of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Russia’s oldest operating human rights organization, 40 years ago. Lyudmila Alekseyeva is one of them. At 88, she is Russia’s best-known human rights activist and among the last Soviet-era dissidents still active in the […]

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1 out of every 2: What do half of all Russians believe?

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

Opinion polls are regularly published in Russia containing curious facts about ‘every second Russian’ – according to surveys half of the population pray, steal items from hotel rooms and live in anticipation of a war, among other things. RBTH found out more. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH – May 11, 2016) Sociological services often publish […]

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Putin walks fiscal tightrope; deficits seen to 2020

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – ANDRE TARTAR AND OTT UMMELAS – May 7, 2016) If the Russian government’s in-house forecaster is right that muted oil prices are here to stay, budget deficits will stretch to the end of this decade, according to a Bloomberg survey of analysts. Under the Economy Ministry’s projection that oil will average $40 a barrel through 2019, […]

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‘Russia Urgently Needs a Defeat,’ Moscow Commentator Says

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 8, 2016) As Russians prepare to commemorate Victory Day tomorrow, Moscow commentator Mikhail Berg argues that “Russia urgently needs a defeat,” because the experience of countries suggests that defeats have the effect of “sobering up” society and elevating the recognition of the value of the individual relative to the state. In […]

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Lower-Level State Employees Nucleus of Coming Social Revolt in Russia, Kagarlitsky Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 4, 2016) The reasons Russians are protesting haven’t changed but the composition of those taking part in protests has, Boris Kagarlitsky says; and the groups that are likely to form the nucleus of a new social explosion are not the young and the pensioners as in the past but men in […]

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In the Flesh: Russian Scientists Work to Preserve Lenin’s Corpse

Lenin Mausoleum on Red Square, Kremlin Walls

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – May 5, 2016) He lies in a glass sarcophagus. His eyes are closed, reddish beard and mustache trimmed, and his hands rest calmly on his thighs. Dressed in an austere black suit, Vladimir Lenin, the first Soviet leader, looks, on first impressions, to be sleeping. His image is so lifelike that it […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Kudrin and Poroshenko will fail because corruption is the system in Russia, Ukraine” – bne Intellinews/Ben Aris

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

… The irony is that Russia and Ukraine find themselves in exactly the same place: both countries are suffering from an economic miasma and both need deep and far-reaching reforms if they are to prosper. The difference between them is that Russia is half way through the process and will very like actually make some more reforms, whereas Ukraine is at the […]

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NEWSLINK Russia Direct: “Divide in the Russian opposition, the return of Alexey Kudrin, and a new controversy in Crimea. Media Roundup: Russia’s journalists covered the comeback of former finance minister Alexey Kudrin and the split within the Russian opposition ahead of the 2016 parliamentary elections.”

Alexei Kudrin file photo » Read more

A sheltered existence: Life in Russia’s closed cities

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

Dating back to the Soviet era, closed cities, where important strategic facilities were hidden and secured, continue to exist in today’s Russia. These cities cannot be entered without a special pass, but tourists occasionally manage to make it inside. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – OLEG YEGOROV, SPECIAL TO RBTH – May 2, 2016) In the late 1940s, a […]

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Interfax: Putin views fair competition during parliamentary election as basis for building confidence in authorities among citizens

Russian State Duma Building file photo

ST PETERSBURG. April 29 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has reaffirmed that the State Duma election to be held this autumn must be characterized by a fair and competitive campaign. “You understand perfectly that it is of the utmost importance for this campaign to be spared violations and proceed in an absolutely competitive and fair contest,” Putin said at […]

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Higher School of Economics shrugs off reports on its involvement in new Russian constitution drafting allegedly contracted by Khodorkovsky

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

MOSCOW. April 30 (Interfax) – Russia’s Higher School of Economics (HSE) said that it has nothing to do with any drafting of the new Russian constitution allegedly ordered by former Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky. “The National Research University Higher School of Economics is out of politics and does not engage in personal projects of any participants in the political process,” […]

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Russians, Their Guns And the State

Makarov Handgun file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – April 29, 2016) U.S. gun enthusiasts live in constant fear of the federal government confiscating their weapons. For Russian gun owners, such a fear may be about to become a reality. On April 14, President Vladimir Putin, announced the formation of a new National Guard, and declared one of its key fuctions […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with members of Legislators’ Council

Tauride Palace file photo - adapted from image © A.Savin, Wikimedia Commons

(Kremlin.ru – April 29, 2016) Vladimir Putin took part in a meeting of the Federal Assembly’s Council of Legislators timed for the Day of Russian Parliamentarianism and the 110th anniversary of Russia’s first State Duma. The meeting at the Tauride Palace is attended by Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko, State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin and speakers of regional parliaments. President […]

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Ex-minister joins Putin’s economic policy advisors

Alexei Kudrin file photo

(Interfax – April 30, 2016) Russia’s former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin has been appointed deputy head of President Vladimir Putin’s Economic Council, Interfax news agency reported. The decree to this effect has been published on the Russian presidential website, Interfax noted. Earlier, Kudrin became head of the Centre for Strategic Research think-tank, Interfax added. He told reporters at the time […]

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Nearly Half of All Russians Now Say They Can Live without Relying on the State, Sociologists Find

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 27, 2016) Given everything that has occurred in Russia over the past five years, few have noticed what can only be described as “a quiet revolution”: the percentage of Russians who say they don’t need to rely on the state has increased from 34 to 44 percent, with an ever rising […]

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Moscow’s Chief Architect Envisions the City’s Future

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Lena Vanina – April 29, 2016) [Photos here themoscowtimes.com/business/article/moscows-chief-architect-envisions-the-citys-future/567455.html] For many years, Triumfalnaya Ploshchad was a nondescript square across from Moscow’s beating heart. It was an occasional meeting point for anti-regime protesters, a space to get across to reach somewhere else. Today, however, it is an example of modern design, a beautifully lit Scandinavian oasis […]

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Public support for Putin’s job performance remains at 82%

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

(Interfax – April 27, 2016) Eighty-two percent of Russians are satisfied with the work of Vladimir Putin as Russian President; 17 percent are not, the Levada Center told Interfax after an April survey. The indicator remains virtually unchanged since the beginning of the year: in January and March, 82 percent were content with Putin’s performance, in February – 81 percent. […]

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Outrage and outsourcing in Russian healthcare

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

The doctor is out. Hunger strikes, mistreatment of patients and general desperation are beginning to seem like a feature – as opposed to a bug – of Russia’s healthcare system. (opendemocracy.net – Artur Asafyev – April 28, 2016) Artur Asafyev is a freelance correspondent for Radio Svoboda and Novaya Gazeta in Ufa, Bashkortostan. He has worked as a journalist since […]

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NEWSLINK Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir: “In Russia, young Communists see moment to vie for power. Under the impact of economic crisis and impatient with ‘mutant capitalism’ dominated by Kremlin cronies, younger members of the Communist Party say they could provide an alternative to ‘Putinism.'”

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo » Read more

NEWSWATCH: “KPIs For The Public Service Sector: A Fig Leaf Of A Real Change.” – Moscow Times/Oleg Buklemishev

Kremlin and River

… It has been announced that … Putin would himself be heading a special commission on government reform …. his commission, initially the idea of … Medvedev, will be tasked with developing new work approaches and key performance indicators (KPIs) for the Russian public sector. … in 2004, the authorities also tried to eliminate inefficiencies in the work of state agencies, develop performance benchmarks, and redistribute powers between federal, state and local […]

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NEWSLINK Russia Direct/Marina Obrazkova: “Making sense of Russia’s strange new choice to defend human rights. The appointment of new human rights ombudswoman Tatyana Moskalkova has provoked a mixed reaction within Russian society in part because she is a former law enforcement official and a conservative politician who supported a series of controversial laws”

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo » Read more

Atomic energy and political power in Russia

Nuclear Plant File Photo

In Russia, the space for environmental activism and advocacy is changing under increasing state pressure. An interview with one of Russia’s leading ecological organisations about the prospects for anti-nuclear activism today. (opendemocracy.net – EDITORS OF OPENDEMOCRACY RUSSIA, VLADIMIR SLIVYAK, NAILYA IBRAGIMOVA – April 25, 2016) In the coming days, much of the coverage of the Chernobyl disaster in Russia is […]

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Interfax: Putin calls ‘media attacks’ a reaction to the consolidation of Russia

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Speaking At All-Russia Popular Front Gathering

(Interfax – April 25, 2016) Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that media attacks on Russia were the reaction to the country’s strengthening, its capability to protect own interest. “You are right, this is surely the reaction of our opponents (let’s call them this way) to the consolidation of the country. It’s just that such a player, who is independent, sovereign, […]

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