Category Archives: Politics, Government, Protests, Elections

Interfax: Over 73 percent of Russians admit crisis in Russia

Tower and Building Inside Kremlin

(Interfax – February 27, 2015) A public opinion poll conducted by the Institute of Priority Regional Projects in February 2015 4 showed that three-fourths of Russians see the situation in the country as a crisis, Nikolai Mironov, general director of the Institute, said. The poll surveyed 1,600 Russian citizens aged older than 18. It was conducted in 120 populated areas […]

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Moscow Preparing Revolts in Major Ukrainian Cities, Poroshenko Ally Says

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, February 27, 2015) Having been slowed by Ukrainian resistance and hope to use the Minsk Accords to avoid new sanctions, Moscow is planning to spark uprisings in major Ukrainian cities in March and April before beginning a major military attack on the country in May, according to Yuri Lutsenko, head of the Poroshenko […]

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A third of Russians back opposition demands, only 22% believe rallies can be effective – poll

File Photo of Moscow Protest with Riot Police

(Interfax – February 26, 2015) Russians are skeptical about demonstrations and many have not heard about the opposition rally scheduled for March 1 but a considerable part of them back the demands to be made during the March 1 action irrespective of the event per se and its organizers, General Director of the Institute for Priority Regional Projects Nikolai Mironov […]

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Interfax: Putin’s job approval rating reaches 86 percent

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

(Interfax – February 26, 2015) The job approval rating of Russian President Vladimir Putin has grown one percentage point in the past month, rising to 86 percent in February against 85 percent in January, Levada Center sociologists told Interfax on Thursday. Thirteen percent of respondents to the center’s latest survey criticized Putin’s work at the post of Russian president. The […]

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The red tape tied around Donbass

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

(opendemocracy.net – Yulia Gorbunova – February 19, 2015) Yulia Gorbunova is Researcher at Human Rights Watch, Moscow Daily life in the Donbass region can be described as follows: ‘If there is a Ukrainian flag, there is life. If there isn’t – you are on your own.’ Donetsk: ‘Did they come to an agreement?’ Sergey, my driver, asked anxiously as soon […]

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Putin Aide Linked to Maidan Killings

Vladislav Surkov file photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, February 20, 2015) In the classic film about Watergate, “All the President’s Men,” Deep Throat warns that in unmasking a conspiracy, it is important not to go too fast but rather to build from the outer rings into the center. Otherwise, the conspirators will feel protected, and the possibility that anything will […]

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It’s the economy, stupid

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – MACRO ADVISER: Chris Weafer – February 17, 2015) Chris Weafer is Senior Partner at Macro-Advisory, which offers bespoke Russia-CIS consulting. Bill Clinton famously won the first of his two presidential elections using the slogan: “It’s the economy, stupid”. He recognised that while support for the first Gulf War had been strong, people were starting […]

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Kyiv blames Moscow, Donetsk and Luhansk republics for violating Minsk agreements

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Interfax – KYIV, Feb. 17, 2015) Ukraine’s presidential chief of staff has blamed Russia, and the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics for violating the Minsk accords reached on February 12. “Contrary to the expectations that all parties will demonstrate a responsible position after the adoption on February 12 of the Declaration of measures to be taken, including Russia – […]

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Russia in Far Worse Shape than Most Assume, Moscow Commentator Says

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, February 15, 2015) Vladimir Putin’s bombast and aggressiveness both is rooted in and helps conceal the underlying reality: “the situation of Russia is much more difficult than it appears,” as even the most superficial examination of Russian realities demonstrates, according to Moscow political analyst Vasily Zharkov. In a commentary in yesterday’s “Novaya […]

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Embattled Teatr.doc Proudly Returns to the Stage

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – February 16, 2015) “I always thought this democracy stuff was, you know … ,” Alexei Yudnikov said, his voice trailing off with disgust still ringing in it. “Yes, yes! No, no!” A couple hundred people burst into laughter. The joke was both subtle and obvious. Yudnikov was emceeing the reopening of the […]

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Putin Evokes Tolstoy 26 Years After Soviet Troops Pulled Out of Afghanistan

Soviet Era Afghan Soldiers with Flag

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 16, 2015) President Vladimir Putin marked the 26th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s withdrawal from Afghanistan Sunday, vindicating his country’s involvement in the Afghan War and praising novelist Leo Tolstoy’s moral teachings. “When years pass and more facts become known, we more clearly understand the reason why Soviet troops were sent to Afghanistan,” Putin […]

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Interfax: Corruption not Russians’ primary concern – deputy interior minister

Cropped File Photo of Two Men in Business Suits Shaking Hands and Passing Cash

(Interfax – February 9, 2015) Russian citizens are not particularly worried about corruption in the country, Russian Deputy Interior Minister Igor Zubov has said, as reported by privately-owned news agency Interfax on 9 February. “All the colour revolutions, in every country that has had one, took place under the slogan of fighting corruption, but thereafter these countries were thrown into […]

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Moscow Times: How the U.S. Struggles to Crack the Putin Code

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – February 9, 2015) “Who is Mr. Putin?” The ongoing Ukraine conflict has breathed new life into a question that has long stumped Western policymakers and analysts. Efforts to grasp President Vladimir Putin’s logic have all but reduced Western leaders to soothsaying and studying tea leaves, with hundreds of thousands of U.S. taxpayer […]

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Getting Ready for President Putin’s Successor

Putin at Desk

Date: Thu, 5 Feb 2015 From: David Law <davidmurraylaw@gmail.com> Subject: Getting Ready for President Putin’s Successor David Law, www.davidmlaw.com, is Senior Associate at the Security Governance Group and Senior Fellow at its partner organisation, the Centre for Security Governance. President Putin’s current mandate runs out in 2018. It has long been expected that he will go for a second six-year […]

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There are Alternatives to Putin and Not All of Them are in the Kremlin, Satarov Says

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

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, February 4, 2015) In any political system, there is always “an alternative” to the current leader, Georgy Satarov says, and consequently, when Vladimir Putin leaves his position, a new head of Russia will emerge — and it won’t necessarily be someone from the current Kremlin entourage or happen peacefully. But it is […]

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A Coup Against Putin?

Kremlin and Environs Aerial View

(Institute of Modern Russia – imrussia.org – Donald N. Jensen – February 4, 2015) As Russia’s economy enters recession and its political stability starts to weaken, there is increasing speculation about the possibility of a regime change in the country. Donald N. Jensen, resident fellow of the Center for Transatlantic Relations, discusses Russia’s political climate and the options currently confronting […]

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Interfax: Ukrainian ex-prime minister [Azarov] calls for new constitutional arrangement

Maidan Square file photo

MOSCOW. Feb 4 (Interfax) – Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov believes a new constitutional arrangement in Ukraine could be a way to overcome the ongoing crisis. “There is the only solution, namely, a new constitutional arrangement of Ukraine. Attempts to build Ukraine’s ideology based on hatred or denial, like ‘Ukraine is not Russia’, won’t lead anywhere. It should be […]

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Interfax: Putin proposes bill on removing NGOs from foreign-agents list

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW, Feb 4, 2015) Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed a bill on how to remove nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) from the register of foreign agents. The bill has been registered in the lower house’s electronic database. Under the federal laws concerning public associations and NGOs functioning as a foreign agent, public associations which are legal entities and other […]

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NEWSWATCH: ‘Putin’s brain’ says he doesn’t have Putin’s ear. Do we know who does?

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Valdai Club 2013 Meeting, Adapted from Screenshot of Valdai Club Video at youtube.com

[“‘Putin’s brain’ says he doesn’t have Putin’s ear. Do we know who does? As fighting in Ukraine flares up again, one influential voice says that Putin has sidelined him. And Putin’s oligarch allies, smarting from Western sanctions, have reportedly lost influence as well.” – Fred Weir – Christian Science Monitor – January 27, 2015] The Christian Science Monitor considers the question […]

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NEWSWATCH: Inside Putin’s Head: The Crisis in Russia and Ukraine and Worst-Case Putin Scenarios

Kremlin and Environs Aerial View

[“Inside’s Putin’s Head: The Crisis in Russia and Ukraine and Worst-Case Putin Scenarios” – Gordon M. Hahn – gordonhahn.com – January 31, 2015] Gordon Hahn considers the impact of the conflict in Ukraine and economic repercussions on the stability and viability of Russia’s Putin regime. The … Russian-NATO proxy war in Ukraine along with the Russian-Western economic cold war could destabilize Russia’s […]

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NEWSWATCH: How Russia props up Putin in the polls

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

[“How Russia props up Putin in the polls” – Christopher Walker and Robert Orttung – Washington Post – January 30, 2015] Christopher Walker and Robert Orttung scrutinize Russian President Vladimir Putin’s domestic political popularity ratings. … Despite the price of oil sinking below $50 a barrel and the Russian economy falling into a tailspin, Putin’s approval ratings hover above 80 percent, seemingly […]

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Russian Defense Ministry Releases Trove of Secret Auschwitz Documents

Auschwitz Concentration Entrance with Sign Arbeit Macht Frei

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – January 28, 2015) As the world reflected on the horrors of the Nazi regime on Tuesday – International Holocaust Remembrance Day – Russia seized the opportunity to emphasize the Red Army’s role in liberating the death camps. Following a recent high-profile spat over differing interpretations of World War II history, the Defense […]

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Turf War Seen at Heart of Russian Space Industry Shake-Up

International Space Station file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – January 23, 2015) An ambitious drive by a friend of President Vladimir Putin’s to take control of Russia’s defense industry may be behind a shock announcement this week that Russia would merge its federal space agency with a major industry group, analysts said. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev took industry observers by surprise […]

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More Russians See Potential for Political Protests in Their Country, Poll Shows

Moscow Protest file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jennifer Monaghan – January 23, 2015) The number of Russians who see potential for political protests to break out in their country has more than doubled in the past five months, a new survey showed Friday, though the majority would choose not to participate in them themselves. The survey, published Friday by state-run pollster VTsIOM, […]

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Russian Patriarch Says Halving Abortions Will Help Solve Population Crisis

Patriarch Kirill file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – January 23, 2015) Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, crossed Russia’s shifting line between Church and politics in his first-ever address to the State Duma on Thursday, calling on lawmakers to ensure that traditional moral values are safeguarded in the country’s legislation. The Russian Orthodox Church is known to entertain close […]

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Putin Now has His Storm Troopers and Pogroms Will Surely Follow, Ganapolsky Says

Vladimir Putin

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 23, 2014) Putin’s Russia has crossed a Rubicon: it now has sanctioned the Anti-Maidan Movement, a domestic version of Hitler’s storm troopers, and thus created a monster that almost certainly will engage in pogroms against one group or another in the future, according to Moscow commentator Matvey Ganapolsky. Despite Putin’s ratings […]

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Analyst Provides Insider View of Russian Government Think Tank

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 12, Issue 11 – Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Valery Dzutsev – January 20, 2015) The revelations of Alexander Sytnik, who recently left his position as a senior fellow at the Russian Institute for Strategic Research, a government-funded think tank, provides a rare glimpse into the inner mechanisms of policymaking in Russia. In his personal account of the […]

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Ten New Laws That Will Affect Your Life in Russia in 2015

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – January 21, 2015) New year, new you: An expression that has taken on a special meaning for those living in Russia, where a plethora of new laws – many with a direct impact on the daily lives of citizens and residents – entered into effect on Jan. 1. The Moscow Times has […]

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Putin’s Attacks on Science, Rooted in His Fear of the Educated, Destroying Russia’s Future, Koch Says

File Photo of Test Tubes with Algae Displaying Different Colors, Part of U.S. Energy-Related Research; from nrel.gov

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – January 20, 2014) Vladimir Putin “understands that the threat to his regime is to be found among the thinking and educated” and thus has been taking steps to “destroy higher education” in Russia and cut the financing of science, according to Moscow commentator Alfred Koch. Such actions may buy Putin some short term protection, […]

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Igor Eidman: Putin became a fascist-style leader in mid-2014

Kremlin and Environs Aerial View

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – January 20, 2014) [from Euromaidan PR: Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. He has served as director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy, vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn, and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege […]

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BOOK REVIEW: Russia’s Mobutu?

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

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Derek Brower in London – January 13, 2015) Corruption in Vladimir Putin’s Russia has sprouted its own sub-genre for Western publishers. Few of the many books, though, have the laser-like focus or amass the same devastating detail as Karen Dawisha’s “Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?” (Simon & Schuster, New York: 2014). Thanks to Britain’s […]

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Analysts Predict a Russian Descent Into Madness

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – January 19, 2015) President Vladimir Putin cannot afford at this point to reform the political system he has built up, as doing so would undermine his grip on power, a panel of political analysts said at the Gaidar Forum on Friday. They went on to warn that without fundamental change, Russia risks an […]

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Legislation proposes regulation of ‘undesirable’ foreign organizations

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Yekaterina Sinelschikova, RBTH – January 16, 2015) A bill that has passed its first reading the Russian State Duma would give the government the right to fine or ban foreign organizations it deems a security threat. Russia is trying to tighten its control over foreign organizations operating in the country. According to a […]

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Provincialism Keeping Russia from Becoming Great, Inozemtsev Says

Kremlin and Environs Aerial View

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 18, 2014) Russia’s latest turn to authoritarianism and isolationism was possible because of the provincialism of its leaders and people, a sense of being on the margins of the real world and one that prevents them from achieving greatness because they are less interested in that than in “seeking to present […]

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Top Russian Official ‘Ashamed’ Of Culture Crackdown, Quits Ministry

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Claire Bigg – January 15, 2015) A prominent Russian public figure has slammed the country’s culture minister for overseeing a deepening crackdown on artists critical of authorities, quitting a ministerial commission in protest. Yevgeny Savostyanov, the head of Russia’s Coordination Council on Intellectual Property Protection, said in an open letter that he was “ashamed” of Culture […]

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Russian Prime Minister Scorns Fears, But Fails to Present Strategy at Economic Forum

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – January 15, 2015) While Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev radiated confidence Wednesday that Russia would be able to use the unfolding crisis as an impetus to make necessary changes to its economy, members of his government indicated that they do not have a concrete plan for bringing about reform. “The energy- and resource-dependent […]

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Primakov’s ‘Anti-Crisis Federalism’ Seen Threatening Russia’s Non-Russians

Map of Russia

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 15, 2015) Many in Russia and the West are celebrating Yevgeny Primakov’s argument presented at the Mercury Club this week that hyper-centralization, a policy associated with Vladimir Putin, is a threat to the Russian Federation and its economic recovery and his call for devolving more powers to the regions of the country. […]

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Interfax: Fifty-five percent of Russians want to see Putin as their president after 2018 – poll

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

(Interfax – January 15, 2015) Fifty-five percent of Russian citizens recently interviewed by the Levada Center said they would like to see Vladimir Putin as Russia’s president after the 2018 elections, as compared with 32 percent in March 2014 and 26 percent in 2013, the center’s sociologists told Interfax. Ten percent of respondents said they would not be opposed to […]

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Increasingly, Russians See No Alternative to Putin

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Desk

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 15, 2015 Though it will be another three years before Russian voters cast their ballots for the next round of presidential hopefuls, most people already know whom they plan to vote for. More than half of Russians would prefer to keep President Vladimir Putin at the country’s helm after the 2018 elections and believe […]

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‘Top 15 Russian Fears for ’15’ — a ‘Versiya’ Checklist

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 14, 2015) Russians face so many problems and have so many fears that it is often a daunting task to ensure that one is keeping track of all of them. As a guide for the perplexed, Kseniya Veretennikova provides a checklist of the “top 15 fears” Russians have about the year […]

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Kremlin Foe Navalny Fined $10 For Cutting Ankle Bracelet

Alexei Navalny file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – January 14, 2015) Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny has been convicted of large-scale theft twice and spent many nights in jail after street protests. The latest punishment meted out to one of the Kremlin’s fiercest foes is perhaps the least severe: a $10 fine. On his website on January 14, Navalny posted a note from Russia’s […]

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A new drama in Moscow: Teatr.doc – a pioneer of ‘New Drama’ in Russia – has recently been evicted from its basement home in Moscow. But is it all an act?

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(opendemocracy.net – Alexey Krizhevsky – January 14, 2015) Alexey Krizhevsky is culture editor at gazeta.ru and member of Teatr.doc Teatr.doc is on the move. Having performed its last plays and a holiday evening, the theatre packed its bags and left the tiny basement in the centre of Moscow – its home for many years. The director of the independent theatre, […]

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Culture Minister Wants ‘Patriotic Internet’ to Protect Russians

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – January 15, 2015) Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky has called for the creation of a “patriotic Internet” to combat Western ideas, adding that those who are against Russia are against the truth. Russia needs to “consolidate the state and society on the basis of values instilled by our history,” said a statement released […]

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Health Ministry Says Transsexuals Can Still Drive in Russia

Moscow Traffic file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 14, 2015) The Health Ministry has denied widespread reports that transvestites and transsexuals could lose their rights to drive in Russia based on a new road safety decree. Although the decree provides for the disqualification of driving rights for certain individuals with psychological or behavioral disorders, the mere fact that a person has a […]

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Russian court explains decision not to jail Kremlin critic Navalnyy

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Interfax – January 12, 2015) A Russian court has explained its decision to give a suspended sentence to anti-corruption campaigner and Kremlin critic Aleksey Navalnyy while jailing his brother, Oleg, Interfax news agency reported on 12 January. Interfax quoted Moscow’s Zamoskvoretskiy court saying that “in handing down punishment, the court took into account the actual facts in the case, information […]

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Russia Civil Society will Grow like ‘Blade of Grass through Concrete,’ Gontmakher Says

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 13, 2015) Yevgeny Gontmakher, a prominent Moscow economist and commentator, has invoked one of the most powerful images available about the ways in which the human spirit can overcome ever the harshest and most repressive regimes: “like a blade of grass breaking through concrete.” As anyone who has been on a […]

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Opposition Posterboy Navalny Defies House Arrest … Again

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Allison Quinn – January 12, 2015) Opposition firebrand Alexei Navalny has continued to defy what he has described as his “illegal” house arrest by going to work on Saturday, as the European Court of Human Rights prepares to consider his complaint over a recent conviction. Navalny has vehemently railed against the guilty verdict handed down […]

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New Russian Regulation Says Transgender People Unfit to Drive

Moscow Traffic file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – January 9, 2015) Transgender people may no longer be allowed to drive cars in Russia under new road safety regulations signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. A decree published on the government website earlier this month lists an array of health conditions that can disqualify someone from getting behind the wheel, among […]

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NEWSWATCH: How Putin could lose power

Vladimir Putin

[“How Putin could lose power” – Vox.com – Amanda Taub – January 5, 2015] Vox.com and Amanda Taub talk with NYU Professor Mark Galeotti about possibilities for a Putin transition, especially if the apparatus supporting Putin has a change of attitude: After more than a decade in power, Russian President Vladimir Putin is facing what may be his most turbulent and difficult year […]

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The Federal Migration Service may consider amnesty for illegal migrants

File Photo of Migrant Workers Sleeping Quarters

(Interfax – January 6, 2015) The Federal Migration Service (FMS) does not rule out an amnesty for illegal migrants in 2015. “This issue may actually be considered. A lot will depend on outcomes of the launch of a system of patents for migrants employed by legal entities,” a FMS source told Interfax. FMS head Konstantin Romodanovsky said earlier that migrants […]

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