NEWSWATCH: “Russia in interesting times: increased risk bad; weaker ruble good” – bne Intellinews/Chris Weafer

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

“… April 6 U.S. sanctions [represent a significant shift] in terms of risk … actual and perceived, for foreign investors and companies …. The … Treasury Department … expanded the risk paramaters … targeting oligarchs and their business interests … previously it was assumed that sanctions expansion would be confined to political targets and individuals considered close to the president […]

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Russians Not Turning on Kremlin Even as Latest US Sanctions Bite

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Voice of America – voanews.com – Jamie Dettmer – April 30, 2018) The latest U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia earlier this month targeting two dozen Kremlin insiders and oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin and their companies are proving more painful than had been expected, say analysts. But they’re doing nothing at this stage in turning ordinary Russians against the Kremlin […]

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Like Soviet one, Putin system can’t be reformed, only destroyed and replaced, Inozemtsev says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – April 27, 2018) One of the many debates that riled Western studies of the Soviet Union concerned whether that system could ever be reformed or would have to be destroyed and then replaced with something else. Some political analysts insisted that of course it could be reformed, while those who came out of […]

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NEWSWATCH VIDEO: “Where does Putin’s support come from? [with Graeme Robertson]” – NYU Jordan Center/Ben Dalton

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

“In 2011 and 2012, Vladimir Putin faced a crisis of popularity. The announcement that he would be taking back the presidency from Dmitry Medvedev, plus blatant fraud in the 2011 legislative elections, sparked the largest protests Russia had seen in decades. … Putin’s approval rating, which had mostly floated in the 70s and up, plunged toward just 60 percent. … […]

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A Military Coup Against Putin Although Unlikely Cannot Now be Excluded, Felgengauer Says

Russian Soldiers Marching

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 28, 2018) Tensions within the Russian political elite are now higher than at any point in years, Pavel Felgengauer says; and as a result, he “does not exclude even a military coup in Russia. This perhaps is an extremely low probability scenario, but one must not exclude it completely.” Felgengauer, one […]

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Notion of a Special Russian Path ‘Irresponsible and Dangerous,’ Liberal Authors Warn in New Book

Kremlin and River

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 29, 2018) Four leading Russian liberals, Aleksandr Obolensky, Dmitry Travin, Gennady Aksyonov, and Viktor Sheynis, warn in a new book that the Kremlin’s promotion of an idea that Russia has “a special path” is an ‘irresponsible and dangerous” dead end that has no basis in reality. The new book, ‘A Special […]

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Generation Putin: Smug, Patriotic and Rebellious; The young Russians who grew up under Vladimir Putin might yet surprise

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 30, 2018) [Text with charts https://themoscowtimes.com/articles/generation-putin-smug-patriotic-and-rebellious-61301] They are the children of the 2000s, the digitally savvy youth who were reared on social media and came of age online. They have also only known life under one president, Vladimir Putin. We might as well call them Generation P. The 1.3 million Russians born in 2000, […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANCRIPT: “Excerpts from Dmitry Medvedev’s interview with the Vesti v Subbotu (News on Saturday) programme” – GovernmentRu

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Government.ru – April 28, 2018) The Prime Minister answered the questions of Sergei Brilyov, the programme’s host. Dmitry Medvedev: In the past six years, the Government has worked in unprecedented conditions, which include unfavourable changes in the global economy and on the hydrocarbons market, as well as sanctions, starting with those imposed on Russia in 2014. All of this taken […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Putin at] Meeting with Council of Legislators” – KremlinRu

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

On the Day of Russian Parliamentarism, Vladimir Putin met with the Federal Assembly’s Council of Legislators. By tradition, the meeting took place at the Tavrichesky (Tauride) Palace. [Excerpt] (Kremlin.ru – April 27, 2018) [Complete text http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/57376] The discussion focused on the implementation of the Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly by representative bodies of state authority, the development of the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Russian pension system’s 2018 deficit will be twice as big as predicted” – Meduza

File Photo of Elders Walking in Russia

“Russia’s Labor Ministry has amended the Pension Fund’s 2018 budget to reflect a deficit that’s more than twice as high as predicted, rising from 106.6 billion rubles ($1.7 billion) to 256.8 billion rubles ($4.1 billion). The Pension Fund is expected to earn just 66.7 billion rubles ($1.1 billion), while spending 83.5 billion rubles ($1.3 billion). Spokespeople for the Pension Fund […]

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Kremlin Spokesman Still Uses Telegram Despite Ban

File Image of Laptop Computer, Tables and Mobile Device, adapted from image at energy.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 26, 2018) Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he still uses the Telegram messaging service despite the state regulator’s efforts to block it from being accessible in the country. Regulator Roskomnadzor began enforcing a court ordered ban on Telegram on April 16 after the messaging app refused to grant the Russian security services access to […]

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Generation P: A Lifetime Under Putin

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 25, 2018) In 2000, when Vladimir Putin first became president, 1.3 million children were born in Russia. This year, as that generation turns 18 and gains the right to vote, Putin was reelected to another six years in power. His victory in March extends his rule over the country until 2024. By then, Generation […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Countering a Kleptocratic Kremlin; We must remember that predatory authoritarianism is not stamped into the Russian DNA” – The American Interest/Larry Diamond

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

“With every passing week we have new evidence of the threat that Vladimir Putin’s kleptocracy poses to our democracy, our national security, and the entire liberal world order. Putin’s regime – something akin to an organized crime ring masquerading as a state – has looted the wealth of Russia, subjugated its people, attacked neighboring former republics of the USSR, annexed […]

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Kudrin sees budget maneuver adding 0.5%-1% to Russian GDP growth

Alexei Kudrin file photo

MOSCOW. April 24 (Interfax) – The so-called budget maneuver, which the Center for Strategic Research (CSR) sees as one of the main conditions for achieving sustainable economic growth and a tangible improvement in Russians’ living standards, will make it possible to achieve additional annual economic growth of 0.5% to 1%, CSR chairman and former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said in […]

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‘Everyone Lost the Russian Presidential Elections’ Except Putin’s Favored Few, Yavlinsky Says

Grigoriy Yavlinskiy file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 21, 2018) In the March 18 elections, Vladimir Putin “received a mandate to change nothing … not in the struggle with corruption, not in health care, and not in education,” Grigory Yavinsky says. Therefore, everyone lost the elections: those who voted for Putin,” those who voted for his opponents left and […]

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Russians Primarily Concerned With Rising Prices – Poll

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 24, 2018) Rising prices remain the primary concern among Russians polled by the independent Levada Center, followed by poverty and unemployment. While Russia’s economy grew 1.5 percent last year after two years of recession, it fell short of a government target of 2 percent. In March, one month before U.S. sanctions were imposed, real […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin to Back $162 Billion Spending Spree for New Term” – Bloomberg

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“… Putin is planning a roughly 10 trillion-ruble ($162 billion) increase in spending on health care, education and infrastructure, hoping to kick-start sputtering economic growth in his new presidential term, according to people familiar with the plans. …. Some of the new spending will be offset with cuts … — the budget already calls for gradual reductions in military spending […]

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Ten Signs Putin and His Russia have Serious Problems

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 21, 2018) Vladimir Putin and his country are in far deeper trouble than the Moscow media he controls or than the Western media which all too often relies on what the Putin outlets say and views his standing and that of his country almost exclusively as a derivative of what the […]

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RUSSIALINK: Interfax: “Duma speaker warns of Russia’s dangerous dependency on U.S. pharmaceutical imports”

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

MOSCOW. April 20 (Interfax) – Russia must take efficient measures to swiftly make available in its market domestically produced medicinal drugs to secure itself from a possible halt of U.S. imports, State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said. “The U.S. has around 50 billion rubles of annual net profit from supplying pharmaceuticals to our country,” Volodin told reporters on Friday after […]

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NEWSLINK: “Permanent Stagnation: Putin’s Invisible Fourth-Term Agenda; The symbolic and real dimensions of Russian politics are in radical contradiction of each other” – Carnegie Moscow/Andrei Kolesnikov

Putin Descending a Staircase

“… Putin’s hopes for a brief honeymoon after Russia’s utterly predictable and boring presidential election were quickly dispelled. While Western observers are captivated by the fallout from the lurid poisoning of a former Russian double agent in the UK, a sweeping wave of new U.S. sanctions, and the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons against its own people, Russians have […]

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RUSSIALINK: “State TV Still Biggest and Most Trusted News Source for Russians – Poll” – Moscow Times

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 18, 2018) A new survey has shown that state-run television maintains its hold on the Russian public’s news consumption habits despite a trend in which young Russians are increasingly getting their news online. Among Russians polled by the independent Levada Center, 85 percent said they watch television for news about Russia and the world. […]

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NEWSLINK: “Autumn of the Oligarchs; Vladimir Putin’s Billionaire Buddies Are Getting Scared, and Not Just of Sanctions” – The Daily Beast/Amy Knight

Kremlin and River

“Some of the oligarchs now face major U.S. sanctions, while others are getting arrested on the Kremlin’s orders. Is Putin’s circle of the shameless rich beginning to crumble?”  

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U.S. Sanctions aren’t Splitting Russian Elites or Dividing Elites and People, ‘Nezavisimaya’ Says

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 10, 2018) The expanded US sanctions regime is based on the same assumption that the West made after the beginning of the economic crisis in Russia four years ago, the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta say, the belief that economic hardship will lead some in the elite to oppose Vladimir Putin and […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Can Russia Afford Its Save-a-Billionaire Relief Program? Russia’s poorest will end up footing the bill” – Moscow Times/ Vedomosti/ Pavel Aptekar, Vladimir Ruvinsky

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“… new sanctions … the West imposed against companies and businesspeople with close Kremlin ties pose a new challenge for the Russian government and economy. Like in 2014, the authorities have already promised support to those targeted …. ‘Supporting those who support you’ might make sense politically, but how much of this … can the Russian economy bear? * * […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Medvedev:] Government report on its performance in 2012-2017” [Excerpt] – GovernmentRu

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Government.ru – March 11, 2018) [Full text government.ru/en/news/32246/] “The Government of the Russian Federation <…> shall submit to the State Duma annual reports on the Government’s performance, including on issues formulated by the State Duma.” (Constitution of the Russian Federation, Article 114, Clause 1, Subclause “a”). Excerpts from the transcript: Dmitry Medvedev: This year, the head of the country’s executive […]

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Russia Faces ‘100 Years Of Solitude’ (Or More), Putin Aide Says

Vladislav Surkov file photo

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – April 10, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/putin-adviser-surkov-says-russia-abandoning-hopes-integrating-with-west-loneliness-isolation-/29155700.html) A veteran adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin says that Russia has abandoned its centuries-long hopes of integrating with the West and is bracing for a new era of geopolitical isolation. In an article for Russia In Global Affairs magazine released on […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Zapret a manger: Russia’s elites face growing sanctions pressure” – Bear Market Brief/Max Hess

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

“[With the Treasury Department’s April 6, 2018, sanctions announcement,] [s]even Russians explicitly labeled oligarchs … their main Russian businesses, and 17 government officials were added to the list of Specifically Designated Nationals (SDN) … [who] have their U.S. assets frozen, while U.S. persons are barred from doing business with them. … a tactical escalation of the U.S. sanctions …. expanded […]

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NEWSWATCH VIDEO: “Putin’s Next Act” – Brookings/ Julia Ioffe, Vladimir Kara-Murza, Angela Stent, Strobe Talbott, Alina Polyakova

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

(Brookings event – April 4, 2018) “… Putin’s third term as Russia’s president was defined by a return to aggressive foreign policy … military interventions in Ukraine and Syria, interference in elections in the United States and Europe … a crackdown on domestic dissent. … as Russia’s economic model and political system seem[] increasingly stagnant …. What might Putin’s fourth […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Vladimir Putin timed Salisbury attack to get election boost, top U.S. intelligence official suggests” – The Daily Telegraph (UK)/Ben Riley-Smith

“… Putin timed the [assassination attempt on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK] to boost his support in the Russian election, one of America’s top intelligence officials has suggested. [Director of National Intelligence] Dan Coats … speaking at a briefing held by the Defence Writers Group, part of George Washington University …. [when a]sked about […]

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In Current Illiberal Cycle, Being an Autocrat like Putin is Fashionable, Albats Says

Putin Descending a Staircase

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 5, 2018) During the 1970s and 1980s, much of the world was in a liberal cycle with ever more countries being democratic and free; but now, it is in an illiberal one with ever more countries become less democratic and less free, according to Yevgeniya Albats, the editor of The New […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Putin at] Meeting of the State Council on promoting competition” – KremlinRu

Russia Regions Map

(Kremlin.ru – April 5, 2018) In the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin chaired a State Council meeting on priority areas of activity of the Russian regions to promote competition in the country. Head of the Republic of Udmurtia Alexander Brechalov, Head of the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service Igor Artemyev, Minister of Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin and Governor of the Ulyanovsk Region Sergei Morozov […]

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Why Ekaterinburg needs a directly elected mayor; One of Russia’s biggest cities is losing the right to elect its mayor. The position may be symbolic, but so is its loss.

Yekaterinburg file photo

(opendemocracy.net – Dmitry Kolezev – April 5, 2018) Dmitry Kolezev is deputy editor of Znak.com. He lives in Ekaterinburg. [opendemocracy.net/od-russia/dmitry-kolezev/why-ekaterinburg-needs-a-directly-elected-mayor] At the beginning of this week, several thousand residents of Ekaterinburg attended a demonstration against plans to cancel elections for the position of city mayor. People held placards bearing democratic slogans. Prominent city residents spoke from the stage, including the […]

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Kremlin’s Political Clans Start Competing Ahead of Possible Reshuffle

Kremlin and River

(Voice of America – voanews.com – Jamie Dettmer – MOSCOW, April 3, 2018) Reelected to a new term, Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to announce his ministerial lineup next month, but there are already signs that his long-time prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, is being reined in amid maneuvering by Moscow’s political clans, say analysts. One of Medvedev’s oligarch allies, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “POLL: Christian Values on Sodomy, Abortion, Surge In Russia – 83% Reject Homosexuality; ‘abortions have decreased eight-fold in Russia over the past 25 years'” – RussianFaith

Ultrasound and Photo of Prenatal Child file photo

“… [Numbers of] Russians … who consider abortion unacceptable ha[ve] tripled over … the past 20 years, from 12% to 35%. The number …  condem[ing] adultery and same-sex relationships … also significantly increased, according … [to the] Levada Center … [A]  late December 2017 [survey] showed that the majority of Russians (68%) condemn extramarital sexual relations, while only 50% condemned […]

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NEWSLINK: “Is Putin a C.I.A. Agent?” – Thomas L. Friedman/New York Times

New York Times Masthead from 1913 adapted from image at loc.gov

“… Because Putin has undertaken so many actions in recent years that contributed to the weakening of Russia’s economy and human capital base that you have to wonder whether he’s secretly on the C.I.A.’s payroll. …”

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NEWSWATCH: “Is it a crime to worship God? According to Russia, yes.” – Washington Post

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

“… Dennis Christensen … of Denmark, has been held [in Russia] in pretrial detention for 11 months … about to be tried on charges of organizing … activities of an ‘extremist organization,’ the Jehovah’s Witnesses. … [potentially] fac[ing] 10 years in prison. … the Russian Supreme Court declared the group ‘extremist’ and banned it from operating [in Russia]; there were […]

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From Tatiana Stanovaya: “Exclusive analysis about Russia; New project dedicated to Russian politics”

View of Kremlin from River, adapted from image at rpolitik.com

Subject: Exclusive analysis about Russia Date: Tue, 3 Apr 2018 From: Tatiana Stanovaya <analysis@rpolitik.com> New project dedicated to Russian politics Dear colleagues, I would like to present you a new issue of analytical Bulletin #2(3)2018 «RUSSIAN POLITICS. Unvarnished and Undiluted». https://rpolitik.com/category/bulletins/ Main headlines: The Kemerovo fire. What impact it will have on the FSB’s growing role? Ziawudin Magomedov and the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian Billionaire Arrest Jolts Stocks, Fuels Cabinet Shake-Up Speculation” – Bloomberg/Ksenia Galouchko, Ilya Arkhipov, Stepan Kravchenko

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

“The arrest of one of Russia’s best-connected billionaires on charges of fraud and embezzlement knocked shares in his companies lower and fueled speculation it could be the harbinger of a shake-up in the cabinet …. [Dagestani-born] Ziyavudin Magomedov was arrested … with his brother … as he prepared to fly to the U.S. … he denied the charges but was […]

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NEWSLINK: “Direct mayoral elections are abolished in Yekaterinburg” – Meduza

Yekaterinburg file photo

“A day after a protest in the capital, legislators in the Sverdlovsk regional parliament adopted a third and final reading of a law that abolishes the direct election of Yekaterinburg’s mayor. … Instead of the popular vote, Yekaterinburg’s mayor will now be selected by city deputies from a list of candidates determined by a ‘competition committee.’ …”

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Central Election Commission Chairperson Ella Pamfilova” – KremlinRu

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

(kremlin.ru – April 3, 2018) Vladimir Putin met with Central Election Commission Chairperson Ella Pamfilova. Central Election Commission Chairperson Ella Pamfilova: Mr President, I would like to congratulate you on your convincing victory at the election and to present your certificate. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much, Ms Pamfilova. I would like to express gratitude to all […]

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Russian sports minister suggests putting WADA in charge of national anti-doping organizations

Olympic Rings Lit at Night, adapted from image at state.gov

MOSCOW. April 2 (Interfax) – Russian anti-doping organizations could become branches of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which in that case would be responsible for their work, Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov said. “WADA is monitoring the work of all national anti-doping organizations and laboratories, and responsibility is borne by the states where these structures are located. The consequences of […]

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NEWSLINK: “Putin’s Grim Reality: Public Fury Over Children’s Deaths in Mall” – New York Times

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

“… Putin traveled to the town of Kemerovo to lay flowers next to a memorial for the at least 64 people, many of them children, who died in the fire on Sunday. Some of them died as they banged on locked exit doors and screamed into cellphones for help from their parents. …”  

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian President Putin promises justice after Siberian shopping mall blaze tragedy” – bne Intellinews

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

“… details emerge of the fire that has killed 64 people, according to the latest official report, including 41 children, making this the worst tragedy of its type in Russia’s history. Twenty people were rescued … about 100 were evacuated. 15 people remain in hospital …. [O]ne of the owners of the mall has been arrested [for] criminal negligence …. […]

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Interfax: Supervisory bodies need reform in wake of Kemerovo tragedy – Matviyenko

Valentina Matviyenko file photo

MOSCOW. March 28 (Interfax) – The Kemerovo tragedy has shown that the system of supervisory and inspection bodies in Russia needs reform, Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said. “We have so many supervisory agencies, inspection agencies in the country, but the situation with the shopping center in Kemerovo showed that this system needs a thorough analysis, a reform, a […]

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Putin Won Because His People Support Him and Would Have Even If Vote had Been Free and Fair, Pastukhov Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, March 25, 2018) On March 18, Vladimir Putin “won something more than elections: he won the battle for ‘the collective unconsciousness’ of the Russian people; and because he did so, Vladimir Pastukhov argues, the Kremlin leader would have won even if the vote had been fully free and fair And that constitutes […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “Meeting with local activists in Kemerovo” – KremlinRu

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

(Kremlin.ru – March 27, 2018) Vladimir Putin met with local activists who expressed low confidence in the shopping mall fire investigation. The group of activists includes family members of those killed and injured in the fire who do not trust the official data regarding the number of victims. The meeting took place in a forensic medical office where the activists […]

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Interfax: Medvedev to meet with all parliamentary factions ahead of government report in State Duma – Volodin

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

MOSCOW. March 27 (Interfax) – Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will have separate meetings with members of all four parliamentary factions ahead of the government report in the State Duma scheduled for April 11, State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said. “On March 28, a meeting with the faction of the [Liberal Democratic Party of Russia] LDPR is planned to take […]

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“Gangster’s paradise: how organised crime took over Russia; Under Vladimir Putin, gangsterism on the streets has given way to kleptocracy in the state” – The Guardian (UK)/Mark Galeotti

“… The challenge posed by Russian organised crime is a formidable one – and not just at home. Across the world, it trafficks drugs and people, arms insurgents and gangsters, and peddles every type of criminal service, from money laundering to computer hacking. For all that, much of the rest of the world remains willing – indeed, often delighted – […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin thanks nation for re-election, promises ‘breakthrough'” – AP

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

“… the Central Election Commission officially declared [Putin] the winner … with nearly 77 percent of the vote … on track to become the nation’s longest-serving leader since … Stalin. … Putin’s most serious rival … Navalny, was barred from the race because of a criminal conviction widely seen as politically motivated. Observers reported numerous incidents of ballot stuffing and […]

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Interfax: Dvorkovich: president to decide income tax rate; difference between 13% and 15% not critical

Arkady Dvorkovich file photo

MOSCOW. March 22 (Interfax) – The difference between the current individual income tax rate, 13%, and the rate now under discussion, 15%, is not dramatic, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said, emphasizing that the president would make a final decision on the rate. “The 13% income tax rate is not a fetish. I don’t think that the difference between 13% […]

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