Archive for Politics, Government, Protests, Elections

Finance Ministry Eyes 10% Cuts to Russia’s State Spending as Economic Outlook Worsens

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 28, 2014) With sanctions, oil price falls and the ruble devaluation making Russia’s official growth forecasts look increasingly overconfident, the Finance Ministry will draw up contingency measures to shave 10 percent off state spending in 2016 and 2017, business daily Vedomosti reported, citing undisclosed government sources. Such a drastic

Fewer Russians Ready to Re-Elect Putin, Poll Shows

Putin Descending a Staircase file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 28, 2014) President Vladimir Putin’s rating has fallen for the first time this year, with a substantial drop in the number of those who say they are ready to re-elect him, a poll by the Levada Center showed Tuesday. While a poll in August showed 57 percent of respondents

Interfax: Poll: Western-style democracy won’t work for Russia

Map of Russia

(Interfax – October 28, 2014) Russians are prone to describe the Western democratic model as unviable under the Russian conditions but exhibit an interest in the life and work in Western countries, sociologists told Interfax. Fifty-five percent of 1,630 respondents polled by the Levada Center in 134 populated localities in 46 regions in September said

Business New Europe: Russia will recognise rebel elections to be held in east Ukraine

Map of Western CIS/FSU and European Environs

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – October 28, 2014) Russia will recognize elections to be held by rebels in Ukraine’s Donbass region on November 2, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, told newspaper Izvestiya in an interview. The move will likely worsen Russia’s already strained relations with the West, which has demanded that Russia withdraw support

Business New Europe: Poroshenko could squeeze tiny Yatsenyuk lead with constituency seats

Rada File Photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – October 28, 2014) With 80% of votes counted, People’s Front party headed by Ukraine’s prime minster, Arseny Yatsenyuk, has held its hair-breadth lead over President Petro Poroshenko’s eponymous party. People’s Front is on 21.94% of the vote, while Petro Poroshenko Bloc is on 21.6%, according to the Ukrainian Central

Re: 2014-#220-Johnson’s Russia List (Adomanis on Applebaum)

Map of Russia

Subject: Re: 2014-#220-Johnson’s Russia List (Adomanis on Applebaum) Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2014 From: Martin Dewhirst <martin.dewhirst@googlemail.com> Anne Applebaum (whom I read but do not know personally) does not need a low-profile person like myself to spring to her defense, but I would guess that she is too busy, and would consider it beneath her dignity, to respond

Finance Minister: Russia Needs Backup Budget For Worst-Case Scenario

Anton Siluanov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Delphine d’Amora – October 24, 2014) Russia must create a contingency budget to counter the threat that Western sanctions, economic stagnation and low oil prices will dash the country’s hopes of restoring growth in the near term, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said Friday. “A budget cannot constantly have expenses that

Does Russian Liberalism Still ‘End at Ukraine’?

Map of European Portion of Former Soviet Union

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, October 14, 2014) Since at least the time of the Russian Civil War, it has been common ground among many observers in Moscow and the West that Russian liberalism “ends at Ukraine,” a notion for which Aleksey Navalny’s statement that Russia will retain Crimea whatever happens appears

Interfax: Ukraine rebels reject German reports blaming them for downing flight MH17

Ukraine Air Crash Scene with Uniformed Security Personnel, Flames, Smoke

(Interfax – Moscow, October 19, 2014) First deputy prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk people’s republic Andriy Purhin [Russian: Andrey Purgin] rejects German intelligence allegations of militia members’ involvement in the crash of the Malaysian Boeing, suggesting that Ukrainian troops may have shot down the airliner in error, mistaking it for a reconnaissance aircraft. “These

Russia’s ‘Era of Freedom’ has Come to an End, Academician Says

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, October 19, 2014) Russia’s 25-year-long era of freedom, which began in 1989 with the Congress of Peoples Deputies, has come to an end and the prospects for the future are extremely bleak, according to Academician Yury Pivovarov. If Russians do not transform themselves, their country risks becoming

Khodorkovsky expecting large-scale civil war in Russia

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(Pravda.ru – October 17, 2014) Mikhail Khodorkovsky said in an interview with the BBC that he was expecting a large-scale civil war in Russia in the future. “What is happening in Ukraine, is undoubtedly bad for Russia, as it strengthens the authoritarian regime in Russia and ruins the hopes of the progressive part of the

Putin’s Class Of 2014

Kremlin and Environs Aerial View

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – October 17, 2014) The iPhone-toting hipsters hanging out in their trendy downtown Moscow office are just the high-profile part of the Kremlin’s new youth strategy. Founded in November 2013, the youth group Set — which means “Network” in Russian — has organized patriotic fashion shows and film festivals,

Life in Russia with $80 oil

Oil Well file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Chris Weafer – October 17, 2014) Chris Weafer is Senior Partner at Macro-Advisory, which offers bespoke Russia-CIS consulting. From late 2010 until the middle of August this year, the price of Brent crude has traded within a relatively narrow range and averaged close to $110 per barrel. Over the

Russia to crack down on tax evasion

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

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – October 17, 2014) Russian authorities are moving ahead with a campaign to plug external and internal tax loopholes, with the government preparing a new law on ‘de-offshorisation’ and the central bank closing down banks complicit in grey capital outflows. The de-offshorisation campaign is intended to repatriate Russian business from

Navalny Wouldn’t Return Crimea, Considers Immigration Bigger Issue Than Ukraine

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – October 17, 2014) Prominent Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny said in an interview this week that he would not return the Crimean Peninsula to Ukraine if he had the power to do so, and that the issue of illegal immigration was more important for Russia than anything

Putin’s Glamour Deemed Threat to National Security

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – October 17, 2014) In 2009, during his stint as prime minister, President Vladimir Putin flirted with being a columnist at literary magazine Russky Pioner, famous for its ostentatious parties. A vehicle for the literary ambition of the Russian elite, its contributors have also included presidential aide Vladislav

Interfax: FMS: Over 3.5 million Ukrainian nationals move to Russia in 2014

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

MOSCOW. Oct 16 (Interfax) – More than 3.5 million Ukrainian nationals moved to Russia this year, Lilia Arestova, deputy head of the Federal Migration Service (FMS) naturalization department, said at a meeting of the committee for public support to residents of south-eastern Ukraine. “The FMS is keeping a daily record of arrivals. A total of

Kremlin-Run Generational Change in Regime Reproducing Soviet-Era Nomenklatura, Pastukhov Says

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, October 14, 2014) A revolution is taking place in Russia, but it is not in the streets but in the halls of government where the Putin regime is bringing into positions of power a new generation of officials who are more like the Soviet-era nomenklatura than like

RIA Novosti: Putin prepared to be held responsible for all happening in Russia

Putin Descending a Staircase file photo

(RIA Novosti – Moscow, October 14, 2014) Russian President Vladimir Putin does not agree with a widespread opinion that everything in Russia depends on him only; he believes that many simply want to find a person with whom the buck stops, and he does not resist this role. “This widespread belief that everything depends on

Putin Immune to Economic Decline – So Far

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – October 16, 2014) Most of Russia’s indicators of economic health have plummeted this year. Inflation last month was at its highest level in three years, capital outflow this year is expected to exceed $100 billion, the ruble has lost almost 20 percent of its value since January,

Fewer Russian Bureaucrats But Salaries Increased 30%, Study Shows

Kremlin and Environs Aerial View

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 16, 2014) The number of Russian officials has decreased slightly from 2009, but their collective earnings have grown 31 percent to 682 billion rubles ($16 billion), a new study showed Wednesday. Russia had 1.45 million officials in 2013, compared with 1.5 million five years ago, the study conducted by

Interfax: Most Russians think Putin is doing his job well – poll

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Interfax – Moscow, October 15, 2014) Russians support the president of the Russian Federation and more and more often see their trust in Vladimir Putin as a reflection of his successful handling of the problems facing Russia, sociologists have told Interfax. A poll conducted by the [Russian independent polling organization] Levada Centre among 1,630 people

De-Modernization and Degradation-A Net Assessment of Russia’s Domestic Situation Since the Start of 2014

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 11, Issue 181 – Pavel K. Baev – Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – October 14, 2014) Considering Russia’s shocking transformation in the course of just half a year, it is easy to forget that last February the country was united in the joy of hosting the Sochi Winter Olympic games. The

Down with Lenin!

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

As they are toppled one after another in cities across the country, statues of Lenin are becoming an endangered species in Ukraine. But Lenin the political symbol is still alive and kicking. (opendemocracy.net – LEONID RAGOZIN – October 13, 2014) Inside a granite pyramid on Red Square, in front of the Kremlin wall, lies the

RIA Novosti: Former Soviet Leader Gorbachev Out of Hospital, Back at Work

File Photo of Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan at Table Signing Documents

MOSCOW, October 10 (RIA Novosti) – Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev told RIA Novosti on Friday that he has left hospital and is back at work. “Now I am out of hospital,” Gorbachev said. Answering a question about how he is feeling, the former Soviet leader stated that “well” would be an overstatement. “If I

Bill Proposes Softening NGO ‘Foreign Agent’ Law

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 9, 2014) A legislative commission has approved a bill reducing fines for non-governmental organizations that fail to register with the Justice Ministry as so-called “foreign agents,” the government said in a statement Wednesday. The bill, conceived after the Ministry received complaints from the country’s human rights commissioner, proposes halving

Russia Releases Opposition Activist Charged With Violence Against Police

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – October 9, 2014) Russia has released from custody opposition activist Sergei Mokhnatkin, who gained prominence among fellow activists for what he said was an attempt to protect a woman from police brutality at a protest rally, and who has been charged with violence against police. Mokhnatkin’s attempt

RIA Novosti: Russian President Says He Took 5-Mile Hike on His Birthday

Map of Russia

MOSCOW, October 9 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Thursday that he went on a 5-mile hike in the mountains of Siberia on his 62nd birthday. “The day before yesterday was a day of walking for me. I walked in the mountains for almost 9 kilometers [about 5 miles]. Everything still hurts,” Putin

Putin Seeks Solitude Amid Russia’s Perfect Storm

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Outdoor Rally with Microphone in Hand and Heavy Coat

(Stratfor.com – October 9, 2014) Russian President Vladimir Putin celebrated his 62nd birthday Tuesday in a peculiar fashion: by himself in the Siberian forests. For the past few days, Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, has brushed off journalists’ questions about why the president decided not to celebrate his birthday in Moscow or do other work as he

VIDEO: Mikhail Khodorkovsky on Open Russia and Building Civil Society: A Conversation With Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky file photo

The Council on Foreign Relations hosted an event featuring former Russia oil oligarch, and former Russian prison inmate, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. “Mikhail Khodorkovsky on Open Russia and Building Civil Society: A Conversation With Mikhail Khodorkovsky,” is archived at cfr.org/russian-federation/mikhail-khodorkovsky-open-russia-building-civil-society/p33555. Among other things, Khodorkovsky argued that Putin has become so entrenched as a strongman, that any successor might be

Interfax: Kremlin aide: Ukrainian economy faces collapse, GDP could plummet 50 percent

Ukraine Map and Flag

(Interfax – October 9, 2014) The Ukrainian economy is in a catastrophic state and the country could need hundreds of billions of dollars to stabilize it, Russian presidential aide Sergei Glazyev said at a Eurasian Economic Integration conference in Moscow. “Ukraine has entered into a phase of economic catastrophe. Calculations by the Eurasian Development Bank

Interfax: Georgian president hopes to restore relations with Russia

Tblisi, Georgia, File Photo with Building with Tower on Hillside and City Buildings in Valley in Distance

TBILISI. Oct 8 (Interfax) – Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili thinks the relations between Tbilisi and Moscow will improve and does not fear aggression from Russia. “Vladimir Putin seems to me an interesting person who is capable of really solving issues of utmost complexity for Georgia,” Margvelashvili said in an interview with Forbes Georgia. “I have

Putin Aloof as Russia’s Economic Troubles Close In

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Seated at Desk

(Moscow Times editorial – themoscowtimes.com – October 8, 2014) Official documents published Monday show the Kremlin has scrapped the president’s annual budget address. President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS that the set piece speech would, from now on, be folded into the state-of-the-union address, usually given in December. While Putin floated the idea

RIA Novosti: Russia’s Ethnic Tensions Drop Due to Crimea Reunification, President’s Approval: Kremlin

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

MOSCOW, October 8 (RIA Novosti) – Interethnic tensions have reduced significantly this year in Russia as a result of the country’s reunification with Crimea and President Vladimir Putin’s high approval ratings, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office, Magomedsalam Magomedov said Wednesday. “The main factors for the significant reduction in interethnic tension

Russia Beyond the Headlines: What is democracy? A third of Russians don’t know

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

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Darya Lyubinskaya, special to RBTH – October 8, 2014) Results of a recent poll indicate a discontinuity between views on the meaning of democracy and what constitutes democratic leadership. A recent poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) provided new insight into how Russians feel about democracy

Critic of Russian Economic Policy Ejected From Influential Journal

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Delphine d’Amora – October 8, 2014) Prominent economist and Kremlin critic Sergei Alexashenko says that political pressure has forced him to surrender his post as editor and contributor to a respected macroeconomic bulletin published by Moscow’s Higher School of Economics. “Someone doesn’t like what I write, what I do, where

Moscow Times: Vladimir Putin’s (Imaginary) Bucket List

File Photo of Vladimir Putin and Pilot in Hang Glider Airborne Next to Flying Cranes

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexey Eremenko – October 7, 2014) Russian President Vladimir Putin turns 62 on Tuesday. Though he has manned the helm of Mother Russia for nearly 15 years, he remains such a divisive figure that a 2044 textbook will be needed to glean his real place in history. But one thing

Business New Europe: Ukraine’s refugee flood to Russia accelerates demographic hemorrhage

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – October 7, 2014) Hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled from the conflict in Ukraine’s Donbass region to Russia may never return. Despairing of peace in Donbass, and with unemployment in Russia at a historic low, the population movement may exacerbate Ukraine’s already disastrous demographics. According to United

Interfax: Tymoshenko and Nuland discuss implementation of Minsk protocol for Ukraine

Victoria Nuland file photo

(Interfax – October 7, 2014) Ukraine’s Batkivshchyna party leader Yulia Tymoshenko and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland met in Kyiv recently to discuss the implementation of the September 5 Minsk agreements offering steps to settle the conflict in south-eastern Ukraine. Gazprom proposes to pay for gas transit with Ukrainian debt Gazprom proposes to

Dmitry Gudkov, L’Enfаnt Terrible of the State Duma

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – October 7, 2014) In a Russian parliament filled with yes-men, Dmitry Gudkov is Mr. Nyet. Since his election to the State Duma in 2011, the 34-year-old deputy has opposed many legislative initiatives of symbolic importance to the Kremlin. Gudkov – who has served as an independent since

RUSSIA & UKRAINE: JRL 2014-#209 table of contents with links :: Tuesday 7 October 2014

[check back for updates, including more links; links also posted to facebook and twitter] Johnson’s Russia List JRL 2014-#209:: Tuesday 7 October 2014 E-Mail: davidjohnson@starpower.net A project of the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George  Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs: www.ieres.org JRL homepage: russialist.org JRL on Facebook: facebook.com/russialist  JRL on Twitter: twitter.com/JohnsonRussiaLi Support JRL: russialist.org/funding.php  Ukraine 1. The National Interest: Fyodor Lukyanov,

Putin Clans Gridlocked Over Arrest as Sanctions Bite

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Irina Reznik, Evgenia Pismennaya and Ilya Arkhipov – October 5, 2014) Russia’s wheels of power are grinding to a halt. That’s the assessment of five officials close to President Vladimir Putin, who say that a struggle at the heart of his inner circle is slowing decision making as sanctions squeeze the

Not the best of presents for a Presidential birthday

Rada File Photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Nikolai Holmov, OdessaTalk – October 6, 2014) Tuesday 7th October is Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin’s 62nd birthday. It is now, also to be the date where in all probability, the currently sitting Verkhovna Rada will formally put an end to the legally held non-aligned status of the nation.

Sberbank’s Gref: Inefficiency Crippling Russia’s Development Efforts

File Photo of German Gref Shaking Hands with U.S. Official

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Delphine d’Amora – October 3, 2014) German Gref, head of Russia’s biggest lender Sberbank, on Friday castigated systemic inefficiencies in the Russian government that, he said, waste trillions of rubles and threaten to drag Russian society back into Soviet times. “We have inconceivable social costs in the area of public

RIA Novosti: Putin: Russia Has Reserves to Implement Budget Plans Regardless of Global Trends

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

NOVO OGARYOVO (outside Moscow), October 3 (RIA Novosti) – Russia has enough reserves to implement all the tasks under the state budget regardless of global political and economic trends, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday. “We certainly have reserves to resolve the issues that could arise as a result of developments of the situation in

RIA Novosti: Putin’s spokesman rules out return of Iron Curtain

Berlin Wall, Fencing, Barbed Wire, Women

(RIA Novosti – Moscow, October 1, 2014) It is absurd to raise the issue of a possible closure of the Russian borders, the Russian president’s press secretary Dmitriy Peskov has said, commenting on a survey by the Levada Centre about the possibility of a return of the Iron Curtain. “The absurdity of this survey does

Solzhenitsyn Spat Sees Mironov Attack Putin Ally

Alexander Solzhenitsyn file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – September 29, 2014) As Moscow’s weather gradually cools down, the temperature of political discourse is definitely heating up. A public spat over the place in history of novelist and historian Alexander Solzhenitsyn led last week to some fighting words that culminated with a popular actor, Yevgeny Mironov,

Life After Putin: Russia Needs to Be Rebuilt From Scratch

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

(Moscow Times editorial – themoscowtimes.com – September 30, 2014) This story begins a series of analytical articles and editorials in The Moscow Times about Russia’s long-term strategic prospects. It is strange to recall in 2014 that back at the beginning of his rule, President Vladimir Putin was hailed as a reformer. His main agenda during

Most Russians Are Against Broadening Foreign Travel Restrictions, Survey Shows

World Map Showing Continents, Greens, Browns, Ice

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 1, 2014) More than half of all Russians are against the idea of the government broadening a ban on travel to Western countries, a recent survey has shown, but one third considers more groups should be prevented from leaving the country. Out of the 1,600 people questioned by independent

Interfax: Third of Russians think Russia has all the democracy it needs – poll

Map of Russia

(Interfax – Moscow, September 30, 2014) A relative majority of Russians (39 per cent) believe that democracy in the Russian Federation was [and is] at its height under the rule of Vladimir Putin: 12 per cent said that it was so during the first two terms of Putin’s presidency (2000-2008), and 27 per cent –

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