Siluanov names three structural areas for state budget spending in 2018-2020

Anton Siluanov file photo

MOSCOW. Sept 18 (Interfax) – The social sphere, defense and support for the national economy are the main areas of Russian federal budget spending in 2018-2020, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said. “The bulk of spending is stipulated for allocation to the social sphere – this is 36.4% – and defense – 29%. We are fulfilling the plan for arms and […]

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NEWSWATCH: “A Problem Much Bigger Than Putin” – New York Times/ Mikhail Khodorkovsky

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

“More than 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the attempt to build a democracy in its place, Russia has once again become an authoritarian state. The same inability to build democratic institutions plagued the leaders of the February Revolution of 1917, which led to the Bolsheviks gaining power later that year. … Still burdened by a ‘besieged […]

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Russia’s Local and Gubernatorial Elections, the Reactions

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – September 11, 2017) On Sunday, 82 Russian regions held elections for different levels of government. The elections traditionally attract little interest. But this year the vote was widely seen as a bell-weather for mayoral elections in Moscow and presidential elections next year. In the sixteen regions which held gubernatorial elections, United Russia won every seat. […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia’s CBR gets tough on banks, demands they reveal owners’ identities” – bne Intellinews

Central Bank of Russia file photo

“The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) will demand that all of Russia’s banks fully disclose the identities of their owners from the start of 2018, Kommersant daily reported on September 11 citing the draft order prepared by the regulator. …”

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NEWSLINK: “Greasing the public’s hands: how oil and gas taxes financed the Kremlin’s social contract” – Bear Market Blog/ Miranda Lupion

Gas Flame file photo

“This past month, Russian news outlet RBC published a detailed report breaking down the revenue sources that funded the Kremlin’s 2016 federal budget. While the headline, “50 Companies Furnished Half of the Russian Budget’s Tax Revenue,” may come as no surprise to those familiar with the country’s business landscape, the fine print is worth a double take. In 2016, revenue […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russian President Vladimir Putin expected to be nominated as a presidential candidate in November” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

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

“Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to be nominated as a presidential candidate in November. The procedure for nominating the current president as a candidate for a new term will be held in two stages, Kommersant reports, citing sources in the Kremlin where closed meetings on the upcoming presidential elections in 2018 have been held. …”

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Putin at] Meeting with Government members” – KremlinRu

Putin Descending a Staircase

(Kremlin.ru – September 11, 2017) Vladimir Putin held a meeting with Government members, to discuss current economic situation in the country, prospects for banking sector development, ways to increase the minimum wage, and other pressing issues. Particular attention was paid to improving the quality and transparency of housing and utility services rendered to citizens. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Medvedev at] Moscow Financial Forum” – Government.ru

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Government.ru – September 8, 2017) Dmitry Medvedev addressed a plenary session of the Moscow Financial Forum titled Financial System of the 21st Century Competitive Economy: Challenges and Solutions. The Moscow Financial Forum is a platform for professional discussions aimed to build up effective solutions in the sphere of financial policy and enhance the competitiveness of the Russian economy. MFF 2017 […]

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Russia to deprive U.S. diplomats of most privileges

File Photo of U.S. Embassy Moscow, with Russian Foreign Ministry Building in Distance

(Pravda.ru – September 11, 2017) Russia will have to reduce the number of US diplomats by another 155 people to achieve full parity, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. However, according to diplomatic sources, other options are being considered as well. For example, Russia may restrict the number of points, through which US diplomats will be able to enter the […]

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NEWSLINK: “Why Gorbachev likes Putin more than you might expect; When democratic reforms faltered, Russians – including Gorbachev – hungered for authoritarians” – Washington Post/ William Taubman

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

“Mikhail Gorbachev and Vladimir Putin would seem to be polar opposites. … rejecting Gorbachev’s legacy has provided Putin with the main planks of his political platform. ….”

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Know Your Enemy: Russian War Games Expected To Yield Valuable Insight For Western Watchers

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – September 10, 2017 – also appeared at https://www.rferl.org/a/zapad-war-games-valuable-insight-western-observers-russia-belarus/28727052.html) When thousands of Russian troops wheeled and maneuvered through the steppes of southern Siberia two years ago, as part of massive military exercises known as Tsentr, Western experts spotted something unusual. Amid Defense Ministry orders for tank brigades, paratrooper battalions, motorized rifle […]

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PONARS Eurasia releases 5 policy e-books to mark 20th Anniversary

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(PONARS Eurasia – ponarseurasia.org – September 7, 2017) PONARS Eurasia is pleased to make available five thematic policy memo volumes to mark the program’s 20th Anniversary! Europe’s Eurasian Challenge http://www.ponarseurasia.org/perspectives/europes-eurasian-challenge-ebook2017 Navigating Turbulent Regional Waters: Politics in Southern Eurasia http://www.ponarseurasia.org/perspectives/navigating-turbulent-regional-waters-ebook2017 Russian Foreign Policy after Crimea: How to Understand and Address It http://www.ponarseurasia.org/perspectives/russian-foreign-policy-after-crimea-ebook2017 Russia’s New Domestic Scene: Economy, Nationalism, Power, Opposition http://www.ponarseurasia.org/perspectives/russias-new-domestic-scene-ebook2017 […]

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United Democrats win over 260 seats in Moscow municipal assemblies – Gudkov

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

MOSCOW. Sept 11 (Interfax) – Over 260 members of the United Democrats team, which comprised members of the Yabloko, Parnas parties, the Communist Party of Russia and independent candidates, were elected municipal deputies in Moscow according to the results of the September 10 election, the organizer of the coalition, opposition politician Dmitry Gudkov said. “According to the latest data, we […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “Celebrations of Moscow’s 870th anniversary” – KremlinRu

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Kremlin.ru – September 9, 2017) Vladimir Putin congratulated Moscow residents on the city’s 870th anniversary. The President attended a concert in Red Square and congratulated Moscow residents and guests on the 870th anniversary of the city’s founding. Speech at gala concert in Red Square marking Moscow’s 870th anniversary. Russian President Vladimir Putin: Muscovites, visitors to the city, Mr Prime Minister, […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: Vladimir Putin cast his vote during municipal elections in Moscow – KremlinRu

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Kremlin.ru – September 10, 2017) The President visited polling station No. 2151 in Moscow’s Gagarinsky District and cast his vote in elections for deputies of local self-government bodies. On the unified voting day, elections of various levels take place in 82 regions of Russia. People are voting for top officials in a number of Russian Federation’s constituent entities, regional parliament […]

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Business community expects economic reforms in Russia after presidential vote – Gref

Sberbank File Photo

MOSCOW. Sept 7 (Interfax) – The business community expects that Russia may begin extensive economic reforms after next year’s presidential elections and the preparatory stage is now underway, Sberbank of Russia (MOEX: SBER) CEO Herman Gref said in an interview on NTV television. “The expectations of business and, in general, the entire country is that such an extensive reform process, […]

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How Western Election Monitors Help Putin

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

(The Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Fedor Krasheninnikov – September 7, 2017) Fedor Krasheninnikov is a well-known Russian journalist and political analyst. He has been a contributing opinion writer with the business newspaper Vedomosti and the independent online publication Snob.ru. Krasheninnikov also serves as political commentator for the radio station Echo of Moscow. He has organised environmental and political campaigns […]

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Moscow’s Upcoming Municipal Elections Attract Young Candidates

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – September 8, 2017) The number of young candidate nominees in the upcoming Moscow municipal election has hit a record high, news outlet RBC reported Friday. Of the 8,330 candidates reportedly seeking nomination, 3,073 (36.89 percent) are under the age of 35, according to RBC, whose calculations are based upon registered candidate data published on the […]

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NEWSLINK: “Quiz: what kind of Kremlinologist are you? They come in all shapes and sizes.” – OpenDemocracy

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

“Do you want to get paid for pontificating on Putin? Kremlinology might be for you! While it is usually described as the study of Russian politics and policy, Kremlinology has most recently made a comeback as a means of commenting on the Russian president, not to mention the conspiracies he may or may not be involved in. Sounds exciting, doesn’t […]

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Putin sure there will be other candidates in addition to Ksenia Sobchak in Russian presidential election

Ksenia Sobchak file photo

XIAMEN. Sept 5 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin was unaware of television personality Ksenia Sobchak’s plans to run for president before the press conference in Xiamen on Tuesday. “This is the first time I’ve heard of her intention to run for president. I am sure there will be other candidates too,” Putin told reporters after the BRICS summit. As […]

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Interfax: Putin warns U.S. against supplying Ukraine with lethal weapons, which would exacerbate Donbas situation

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

XIAMEN. Sept 5 (Interfax) – The possible delivery of U.S. lethal weapons to Ukraine cannot drastically change the Donbas situation but may increase casualties and trigger the use of military force in other territories, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a press conference on Tuesday, after the BRICS summit in Xiamen. “This [the supply of lethal weapons to Ukraine] is a […]

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Russian Intelligentsia, Loyal Experts, Putin’s Court [excerpt]

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Institute of Modern Russia – Russian media roundup, August 26 – September 1, 2017) [imrussia.org/en/the-rundown/media-must-reads/2841-russian-intelligentsia,-loyal-experts,-putin%E2%80%99s-court] In this week’s roundup, Sergei Medvedev discusses the shortcomings in the Russian intelligentsia; Konstantin Gaaze juxtaposes Putin’s “court” and the country’s “Politburo 2.0” system; Lilia Shevtsova classifies Russian experts and intellectuals who support the current regime; Vasily Zharkov explains the public support for Russia’s aggressive […]

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Serebrennikov says has no way of hiding abroad

Kirill Serebrennikov file photo, adapted from image at osce.usmission.gov

MOSCOW. Sept 4 (Interfax) – Theater producer Kirill Serebrennikov, who is charged with stealing 68 million rubles provided from the budget for the Platforma project, has said he has no way of hiding from investigators. “I have no way of running away or hiding, let alone [doing] anything else at this moment,” Serebrennikov said in the Moscow City Court on […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Putin at] National open lesson Russia Focused on the Future” – KremlinRu

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Podium Gesturing

(kremlin.ru – September 1, 2017) As Russia celebrates the start of the school year and the Day of Knowledge, Vladimir Putin held the national open lesson Russia Focused on the Future. The event took place during a working trip to the Yaroslavl Region. More than 1 million schoolchildren around the country were expected to watch the open lesson online. All […]

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NEWSLINK: “The Cold War’s Tragic Hero; A definitive biography shows a Soviet leader changing his mind. Max Boot reviews ‘Gorbachev’ by William Taubman.”

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

“… Perhaps Russia’s dire straits, with an imploding economy overseen by a corrupt oligarchy, could have been avoided if Mr. Gorbachev had engineered a smoother transition from dictatorship to democracy, from communism to capitalism. But the dissolution of every great empire has been a messy, bloody business. …”

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NEWSLINK: “Little cash for Russia’s new Arctic development program; Ambitions are sky-high, but much hinges on private investments” – The Independent Barents Observer/ Atle Staalesen

Arctic Map

“… The new Russian Arctic program has undergone major revision since the Ministry of Economic Development was commissioned to make a draft. The Ministry first proposed to allocated 209 billion rubles (€3.1 billion) of state cash to program implementation. Later, the sum was reduced to only 12 billion rubles (€177 million). Originally, the program was to cover the period until […]

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Lame-Duck Putinism

Putin at Desk

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org Brian Whitmore – September 1, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/lame-duck-putinism/28709290.html) An association of “patriotic entrepreneurs” is proposing that the Russian central bank issue a new 10,000 ruble banknote featuring Vladimir Putin’s likeness. Now you can read that a couple ways. The simplest, of course, is that it’s nothing more than […]

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NEWSLINK: “Kremlin Leadership Politics: No Longer ‘Bulldogs Fighting Under A Rug?'” – Center for European Policy Analysis/ Donald N. Jensen

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

“The 2017 edition of “Politburo 2.0″ the biannual overview of power in the Kremlin published by Moscow’s Minchenko Consulting Group, came out 23 August at an especially timely moment. First, with presidential elections scheduled for March 2018 and Russia’s Vladimir Putin not yet having formally declared his intention to serve another term, members of the elite are uncertain about their […]

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Russia Offers Emergency Bank Aid to Prevent Otkritie Contagion

Central Bank of Russia file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Jake Rudnitsky, Anna Baraulina – August 30, 2017) Russia’s central bank moved to contain a slow-motion banking crisis, offering support to other lenders after announcing the takeover of the largest institution yet. Bank Otkritie FC, Russia’s biggest private lender a month ago, is the first bank to be taken over by a fund created so that […]

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Kremlin Can Count on Eight Kinds of Defenders of Status Quo, Shevtsova Says

Kremlin and River

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 29, 2017) Every system if it is going to survive needs people who will defend it; and the Putin regime is no different. In fact, in addition to its open propagandists, the Kremlin today has eight different kinds of the defenders of the status quo, according to Moscow analyst Lidiya Shevtsova. […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia’s Catholics react skeptically to Cardinal Parolin’s visit. First visit by a senior Vatican official since 1999 offers some peace, conjecture.” – National Catholic Reporter/ Jonathan Luxmoore

Saint Peter's Basilica

“When Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, ended his official trip to Russia on Aug. 24, news reports were full of praise for the latest expression of closeness between Rome and Moscow. But there are signs that not everyone is satisfied with the aloof tone of the four-day visit — or confident about its benefits for Catholics. … While […]

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Life After Putin?

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

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – August 29, 2017 – rferl.org/a/daily-vertical-transcript-life-after-putin/28703034.html) Is Vladimir Putin about to get his very own banknote? Could be. An association of entrepreneurs has recently proposed that the Russian central bank issue a commemorative 10,000-ruble note featuring Putin’s likeness. Now you can read this a couple ways. The simplest, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia to spend $2.5 bln on Trans-Siberian, Baikal-Amur railroads. Investment is first stage in expanding railroad capacity to increase exports from Far East Russia.” – Asia Times

Russia Map

“Russian [sic] has approved US$2.5 billion to expand and modernize the Trans-Siberian and Baikal-Amur railways as part of a larger rail project to boost economic growth and exports from the country’s Far East region that borders the Pacific Ocean. … Putin has given the green light for the government to allocate money from the National Welfare Fund for this stage of […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russian Society Wants Change – But of What Nature?” – Carnegie Moscow/ Denis Volkov

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

“… In December 2016, 53 percent of Russia’s population said they wanted to see decisive changes. Only a third (35 percent) believed that everything should remain as it is. Questions posed in different formulations indicate that the number of supporters of change could be as high as two-thirds of the population. But what specific changes do people want? …. Among the broader […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Show Trial of a Russian Theater Director; If it is not clear by now, let me say it in no uncertain terms: The #Serebrennikov case is a show trial” – Moscow Times/ John Freedman

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

“The arrest of director Kirill Serebrennikov … created a firestorm of reaction …. Serebrennikov’s arrest is the latest development in an affair that went public in late May. At that time, he was questioned about funds allegedly embezzled from theater projects mounted by an entity called Seventh Studio, an offshoot of the Gogol Center, where Serebrennikov has been artistic director …. […]

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NEWSLINK: “On Free Press in Russia” – Cornell Daily Sun/ Artur Gorokh

Adapted File Photo of TV Set in Russia with Camera, Camerman, Woman on Set in Background

“… When thinking about the issue of free press, we must address two separate issues: firstly, how much effort does it take for a motivated individual to get access to reliable information and diverse opinion; and, secondly, how informed the typically unmotivated population really is. …”

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NEWSLINK: “Russia’s government moves from war budget to election budget” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“The Russian government has moved from a war budget to an election budget as social spending soars and defence spending is cut. With the presidential election now only a year away, which Russian President Vladimir Putin, virtually unopposed, is expected to easily win, the Russian government has changed its budgetary focus and boosted social spending to soften up the electorate. […]

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Putin’s New Favorite Official Plans Ministry of Future to Revamp Economy

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Evgenia Pismennaya, Andrey Biryukov, Ilya Arkhipov – August 25, 2017) The odds were against Maxim Oreshkin. With only three years of government experience when President Vladimir Putin picked him to lead Russia’s Economy Ministry late in 2016, Oreshkin was considered a political lightweight. He got a ministry at risk of being taken over by the more […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia’s surveillance state is giving us a false sense of security The Russian state’s mass expansion of surveillance online and offline is not making citizens any safer.” – OpenDemocracyNet – Damir Gainutdinov

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

“… Human rights defenders moving around the country regularly encounter increased attention from law enforcement agencies — they are detained, searched and questioned about why they’re travelling ….”

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NEWSWATCH: “You’ve Lost Control Again; Black Lists and Total Monitoring: Agora’s New Report on the Surveillance of Russians; A person’s life is utterly transparent to the secret services” – The Russian Reader/ Republic.ru/ Damir Gainutdinov

Stylized Artist's Depiction of Shadowy Figures in Dark Coats and Dark Hats, One Carrying a Briefcase

“The Agora International Human Rights Group has released a report entitled ‘Russia under Surveillance 2017: How the Authorities Are Setting Up a Total System for Monitoring Citizens.’ …. The Russian state has been harvesting an unprecedented amount of information about its citizens …. It maintains a system of black lists … and has been engaged in a relentless assault on internet […]

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NEWSLINK: “Alexei Navalny’s Techno-Populism. Is opposition leader Alexei Navalny a ‘Kremlin project,’ a ‘future tyrant,’ or ‘Russia’s only hope?’ Conversations about Navalny often proceed along these moral lines, though it is Navalny’s practicality-especially in the technological realm-that has been the driving force of his popularity.” – Carnegie Moscow

Alexei Navalny file photo

“… Udaltsov’s release from prison and his subsequent criticism of … Navalny have sparked renewed discussions about what Russia would look like under a Navalny presidency. These conversations often take place along moral lines: ‘Would he be a tyrant?’ and ‘Is he better or worse than Putin?’ are common refrains in Russia today. The source of Navalny’s popularity is no […]

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NEWSLINK: “Putin, Stalin, Orthodoxy, and Russian Traditionalism” – Russian and Eurasian Studies/ Gordon Hahn

Joseph Stalin file photo

“Much Western media and many observers of Russian politics are fond of playing up an ostensible revival of Stalin – his ‘rehabilitation’ as it were – under Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rule. …”

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NEWSLINK: “Looking out Five Years: What Should Washington and Its European Allies Expect From Moscow? Russians have become skeptical about a truly global order. At best, interactions with Western countries will be transactional, based on national interests when those happen to coincide or come close” – Carnegie Moscow Center/ Dmitri Trenin

Globe Highlighting NATO Members

“In the next five years, Russia’s relations with the United States and Europe will be competitive and tense. Russia will not invade NATO territory unprovoked, but incidents along the new front line, stretching from the Arctic to the Baltic to the Black Sea and elsewhere, may occasionally endanger peace between Russia and the United States and its allies. Operating from […]

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Russian ex-deputy minister Aleksashenko detained in airport, released, then case on cultural valuables smuggling opened against him – source

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

MOSCOW. Aug 23 (Interfax) – A criminal case on charges of smuggling of cultural valuables was opened against Sergei Aleksashenko, a former Russian deputy finance minister turned public figure, a source in law enforcement structures told Interfax. “Aleksashenko was detained in a Moscow airport, where several orders of the Soviet era, prohibited to be exported, were seized from him,” the […]

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Russians’ Tolerance for Foreigners at All-Time High

Russian Migrant Workers file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 24, 2017) Negativity towards foreigners in Russia has reached an all-time low, according to the results of a new poll produced Levada Center. Russians who said they’d like to restrict one or more nationalities from the country fell to its lowest level ever at 54 percent, down from 70 percent in 2016, and an […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Corruption Case Puts Sechin in the Spotlight” – Carnegie Moscow Center/ Konstantin Gaaze

Igor Sechin file photo

“The high-profile trial of former Russian economy minister Alexei Ulyukayev is not playing out according to the script that most analysts had expected. The prosecution’s case increasingly relies on the testimony of one man, state oil chief Igor Sechin, making this master of Kremlin intrigue potentially politically vulnerable. The powerful reputation of the official said to be Russia’s second most […]

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Putin’s Inner Circle Set to Lose Influence Ahead of 2018 Elections

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 23, 2017) [Minchenko report here: minchenko.ru/analitika/analitika_74.html] The number of confidants in President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle is set to shrink ahead of 2018 Presidential elections, according to the “Politburo 2.0” report published by the Minchenko Consulting Group on Wednesday. Out of the eight individuals closest to Vladimir Putin, the Minchenko report names three that […]

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If Putin Were Arrested, Russians who Back Him Now would Disown Him Then, Portnikov Says

Putin Descending a Staircase

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 23, 2017) The failure of Russians to see that what is being done to others may soon be done to them and to rise in protest means, Vitaly Portnikov says, that “if tomorrow Putin were to be under arrest at his dacha, it would turn out that 90 percent of those […]

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Putin’s Renationalization Campaign: Fighting Corruption or Forcing Officials’ Loyalty? (excerpt)

Alexei Navalny file photo

(PONARS Eurasia – ponarseurasia.org – Hilary Appel, Wendy Chuyi Sheng – August 18, 2017) Hilary Appel is Podlich Family Professor of Government and George R. Roberts Fellow at Claremont McKenna College. Wendy Chuyi Sheng graduated from Claremont McKenna College in 2017 with degrees in Economics and Government. [Full text here http://www.ponarseurasia.org/memo/putins-renationalization-campaign-fighting-corruption-or-forcing-officials-loyalty] (PONARS Policy Memo) Large street protests returned to Russia […]

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