Moscow Court Overturns Fine for Independent Russian News Outlet RBC

Igor Sechin file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 1, 2017) A Moscow court has overturned the decision to fine independent Russian news outlet RBC for libelling oligarch and Putin ally Igor Sechin. An RBC report published in April 2016 claimed that Sechin, the CEO of Russian oil giant Rosneft, had asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to block the company’s minority stakeholder from […]

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Navalny’s Support Base Grows as Recognition Spreads Across Russia

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 28, 2017) [DJ: An earlier version of this story is titled “Support Plummets for Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny. “Support for opposition politician Alexei Navalny has more than halved over the past six years, a report by independent pollster the Levada Center…”] The number of Russians supporting opposition politician Alexei Navalny has grown as […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian Opposition Struggles 2 Years After Nemtsov Killing” – AP

Boris Nemtsov file photo

Two years after he was killed near the Kremlin, Boris Nemtsov can still attract crowds of supporters. But his death left in tatters Russia’s opposition movement, which is struggling with infighting and seems unable to rally behind one unifying figure. In the largest Russian opposition protest in months, thousands marched Sunday across Moscow to commemorate Nemtsov’s life, demand a thorough […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Northern Fleet service members

File Photo of Deck of Russian Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

(Kremlin.ru – February 23, 2017) Vladimir Putin met with Northern Fleet officers who distinguished themselves in service and combat missions in the Mediterranean, off the coast of the Syrian Arab Republic. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Comrade officers, First of all, today, February 23, I would like to congratulate you on the Defender of the Fatherland Day. I want to […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Four Warning Signs Of Instability In Russia” – Forbes.com/George Friedman

Russia Regions Map

“Russia has four areas of instability: the distribution and prevalence of wage arrears, pressure on its banking system, low-level social and economic unrest, and government purges. … Russia’s economy is highly regionalized. More than a fifth of Russia’s wealth comes from Moscow and its surrounding areas. The central government keeps the Russian Federation together by redistributing wealth to the interior. […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Meeting with CEO of Sberbank German Gref

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

(Kremlin.ru – February 23, 2017) Sberbank CEO and Chairman of the Board German Gref briefed Vladimir Putin on the bank’s 2016 performance results and its current activities, including the prospects for developing mortgage lending, and new financial support mechanisms for the defence industry and agricultural sector businesses. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Gref, concerning the bank’s performance, we know […]

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Russia Eyes Reforms to 13 Percent Flat Income Tax; A new series of reform proposals could tie tax rates to income levels

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Kupfer – February 22, 2017) #Russia has long prided itself on its simple 13 percent flat income #tax rate. But a series of reform proposals could push the country towards a progressive alternative. The Finance Ministry, the Economic Development Ministry and the Center for Strategic Research (CSR) are actively developing reforms for the Russian […]

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Putin Moving to Depoliticize Entire Russian System, Stanovaya Says

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 21, 2017) Vladimir Putin’s installation of technocrats as governors in place of politicians is likely to have an impact on the country’s systemic parties, leading to their de-politicization as well by means of the replacement of the aging politicians who head them now by younger pragmatic functionaries, according to Tatyana Stanovaya. […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Meeting with Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Kremlin.ru – February 21, 2017) Sergei Sobyanin updated the President on Moscow’s socioeconomic development in 2016, the implementation of several large transport projects, including the launch of the Moscow Central Circle (MCC) railway line, and renovation of the housing stock. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Sobyanin, let us talk about Moscow’s performance in 2016 and plans for 2017. Moscow […]

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Putin Orders Demolition of Moscow’s Iconic Post-War Apartment Blocks

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Katie Davies – February 21, 2017) Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the complete demolition of Moscow’s post-war Khrushchevkas: Soviet housing blocks which once offered hope to millions of families after World War II. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced on Tuesday that 1.6 million Muscovites were still living in the buildings, many of which were […]

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Putinism as Gaullism; There are limits of defining a regime by the name of its leader, but Putinism has the echoes of post-war France, and of its president.

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

(opendemocracy.net – Marlene Laruelle – February 21, 2017) Marlene Laruelle is assistant director at the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University. She is also co-director of PONARS Eurasia, and the author of several books on Russian and Central Asian politics and society. The Russian state under Vladimir Putin’s leadership […]

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Interfax: Over 80% of Russians sure army can deter military threat – poll

File Photo of Tanks on Parade

MOSCOW. Feb 20 (Interfax) – Over half of Russians (58%) believe in the existence of a military threat posed by other countries, Levada Center told Interfax, adding that the indicator had notably declined in the past two years from 68% in 2015. Some 34% of 1,600 respondents polled in 137 populated localities in 48 regions on January 20-23 maintained the […]

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Interfax: Moody’s upgrades Russia rating outlook to stable

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW. Feb 20 (Interfax) – Moody’s Investors Service has changed the outlook for Russia’s sovereign ratings to stable from negative. Russia’s issuer rating and the rating for Russian government bonds have been affirmed at Ba1, and the short-term rating has been affirmed at Not Prime, the rating agency said in a press release. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov welcomed Moody’s decision. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “After 100 years, his tsar is in the ascendant. A century after the Russian Revolution, Vladimir Putin is taking inspiration from opposing legacies – imperial authority and Soviet military might – to project his power.” – The Sunday Times (UK)/Robert Service

Romanov Family Photo

“Over the next few months, Russia will be marking the centenary of its revolution, and the country’s president,Vladimir Putin, will be explaining its meaning to his people. … a task … Communist rulers used to undertake on an annual basis. They stood in a grim line in Red Square and took the salute from a parade of troops, Communist Party […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting of Federal Security Service Board

(Kremlin.ru – February 16, 2017) Vladimir Putin took part in an annual expanded meeting of the Federal Security Service (FSB) Board to discuss the FSB’s results for 2016 and the priority tasks for ensuring Russia’s national security. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. These annual FSB Board meetings give us a chance to meet and not only thoroughly analyse […]

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The Suspense Is Now Over For Russia’s Political Elite: Putin Is Running

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowimes.com – Mikhail Fishman – February 16, 2017) Late in 2016, things did not look so rosy for Vladimir Putin. The Russian economy was in decline, the country was isolated on the global stage, and the president was a figure shunned by Western nations. Some commentators even began to entertain the possibility that Putin would use the […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Working meeting with Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin

Kremlin and River

(Kremlin.ru – February 15, 2017) Vladimir Putin had a working meeting with Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin, who briefed the President on the economic situation in Russia in 2016, and the prospects for 2017. Ways to continue reducing inflation this year were also under discussion. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Oreshkin, do you have the final figures or the […]

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The Political Assassination of Michael Flynn

Michael Flynn file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Eli Lake – February 14, 2017) Eli Lake is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the senior national security correspondent for the Daily Beast and covered national security and intelligence for the Washington Times, the New York Sun and UPI. If we are to believe the Trump White House, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn just resigned […]

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NEWSLINK: “New book: Everyday Law in Russia, by Kathryn Hendley” – Cornell University Press

Bookcase file photo, adapted from image at nlm.nih.gov

“Everyday #Law in #Russia challenges the prevailing common wisdom that Russians cannot rely on their law and that Russian courts are hopelessly politicized and corrupt. While acknowledging the persistence of verdicts dictated by the Kremlin in politically charged cases, Kathryn Hendley explores how ordinary Russian citizens experience law. Relying on her own extensive observational research in Russia’s new justice-of-the-peace courts […]

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RUSSIA & UKRAINE – Johnson’s Russia List table of contents :: JRL 2017-31 :: Friday, 10 February 2017

St. Basil's Domes

To inquire about a subscription to the full Johnson’s Russia List e-mail newsletter, e-mail David Johnson at davidjohnson@starpower.net [check back for updates, including more links; links also posted to facebook and twitter] Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2017-#31 Friday, 10 February 2017 A project sponsored through the Institute for European, #Russian and #Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s […]

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Re: The Gathering Storm

Eurasia Map

Subject: The Gathering Storm Date: Fri, 27 Jan 2017 From: David Law <davidmurraylaw@gmail.com> The Gathering Storm By David Law Senior Associate, Security Governance Group; former Head of NATO Policy Planning and Speechwriting Unit With Donald Trump now sworn in as the American President and Commander-in-Chief, here are some thoughts on where the world may be headed. In 1948, Winston Churchill […]

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NEWSLINK: “What Russians think when they hear ‘Putin’s a killer'” – Washington Post/Andrew Roth

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

“… Change may be coming under the Trump administration. The State Department and the White House have been silent this week on two events: the latest sentencing of opposition leader Alexey Navalny for embezzlement, likely ending his 2018 bid for president, and the mysterious, life-threatening illness of Vladimir Kara-Murza, another opposition figure, who, his family believes, has been poisoned twice since 2015. …”

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NEWSWATCH: “With court ruling, Kremlin moves to block political biggest threat: Navalny. The ruling reinstating a guilty verdict for anticorruption blogger Alexei Navalny effectively rules him out of next year’s presidential race. But it may help him remain a viable Kremlin opponent.” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

Kremlin and River

“The legal odyssey of Russia’s best-known opposition leader, anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny, has been mindbogglingly complicated, full of twists and turns. … with a simple and totally predictable political result. … a regional court’s ruling … upheld … Navalny’s embezzlement conviction and handed him a five-year suspended sentence … [making it] almost impossible for him to run against … Putin […]

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Russia Set to Send ‘Bull Terrier’ Ambassador to Washington; Russia appears to be falling back on Soviet-era policy of disarmament as the focal point for relations with the U.S.

Anatoly Antonov and Others Facing U.S. Official with U.S. and Russian Flags on Table

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner, Mikhail Fishman – February 9, 2017) Few watching the Russian Defense Ministry’s Dec. 2, 2015 press conference could have guessed the man speaking was a professional diplomat, let alone a skilled negotiator. “[Turkish President Recep] Erdogan and his family are at the heart of this criminal business. But even if their faces are […]

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Does Putin have a Trump Problem with the Media? Russians Say It is Failing to Report or Understand His Words

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Podium Gesturing

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 9, 2017) Since emerging on the public scene, Donald Trump has lashed out at what he calls “the lying media” for failing to report what he says and choosing instead to distort his message, a pattern that he says explains his preference for trying to reach the American people directly via […]

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How Does Conflict of Interest Translate Into Russian? It Doesn’t.

Yury Chaika file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Irina Skrynnik – February 9, 2017) Russia’s Prosecutor General Yury Chaika gave his first detailed comments on the business owned by his eldest son, Artyom, and his younger son, Igor, in an interview last week. “Don’t you think it’s a delicate situation when a father – meaning you – serves on a high government post […]

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Russian Government Named Biggest Threat to Competitive Economy

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 8, 2017) Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) has named the state the biggest threat to healthy competition in the Russian economy. The agency is now asking President Vladimir Putin to sign a presidential decree reducing the government’s role in key economic sectors over the next two years, the Vedomosti newspaper reported Wednesday. The decree […]

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Sentence in ‘Kirovles case’ deprives Navalny of possibility of running in presidential elections under law on presidential elections in Russia – lawyer

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

MOSCOW. Feb 8 (Interfax) – Under the legislation on presidential elections, opposition politician Alexei Navalny cannot participate in the upcoming election campaign due to his conviction in the Kirovles case,” according to which he has been found guilty of embezzlement, his lawyer Olga Mikhailova told Interfax. “According to the law on [presidential] elections, a person convicted for a grave crime […]

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Support for Death Penalty in Russia Plummets

Kremlin and River

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 8, 2017) The number of Russians who support the death penalty has plummeted by 24 percent over the past 15 years. Just 44 percent of Russians would like to see the return of the death penalty, compared in 68 percent in 2002, a survey by independent pollster the Levada Center revealed on Wednesday. Thirty-two […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Presentation of the 2016 Presidential Prizes in Science and Innovation for Young Scientists

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

(Kremlin.ru – February 8, 2017) Vladimir Putin presented Presidential prizes in Science and Innovation for Young Scientists in the Kremlin on Russian Science Day. The prizes were established in 2008 and are awarded for research results that contribute to advancing natural and technical sciences and the humanities and for creating new equipment and progressive technologies that will boost the knowledge-based […]

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Protests in Russia Increasing in Number but Not Yet Coming Together to Threaten Kremlin

Moscow Protest File Photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 7. 2017) Protest actions are becoming increasingly frequent across the Russian Federation, but they have not assumed the “massive” level of those earlier in this decade and thus do not yet threaten the powers that be, experts say. But they have the potential to do so as the economic situation in […]

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Despite Expectations, the Communist Party of Russia is Not Withering Away, Levada Center Sociologist Says

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 7, 2017) The KPRF is “one of the few parties which has been able over the course of long years to preserve its core electorate” which remains ideologically attached to it and to have a clear organizational structure, Denis Volkov says, features that make it possible to say that “namely the […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Moscow might send a tough new ambassador to Washington”

File Photo of Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., Adapted From Image at loc.gov

The Kremlin wants to appoint a hardliner as Russia’s new ambassador to Washington despite a thaw in relations between the countries. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NIKOLAI SHEVCHENKO, RBTH – February 6, 2017) Moscow is preparing to replace its ambassador to the U.S., and according to media reports the Kremlin is considering a diplomat specializing in military affairs […]

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NEWSLINK: “We can’t let Trump go down Putin’s path; Russia’s experience shows why Americans must act now to safeguard democratic institutions.” – Washington Post/Michael McFaul

File Photo of Barack Obama Sitting at Desk with Mike McFaul Standing Next to Him Facing Him

“Michael McFaul is director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and a Hoover fellow at Stanford University, and a contributing columnist to The Post. He was previously special assistant to President Barack Obama at the National Security Council from 2009 to 2012 and U.S. ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014.”  

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NEWSWATCH: “#Russia’s City of Rebels: St. Petersburg is a place of protest against power — and the only major Russian city in which the opposition still has a voice. Why?” – Der Spiegel/Christian Neef

St. Petersburg Landmark

“… Voter turnout alone shows that #StPetersburg is the place where people rebel against the despotism of #Moscow’s policies. … when there was a vote on the new Russian parliament, less than a third of St. Petersburg residents cast ballots. … only 13 percent of eligible voters … voted for #Putin’s government party. In Chechnya, 91 percent voted for the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “LIFE UNDER ALTERNATIVE FACTS” – The New Yorker/Mikhail Iossel

There was no real cognitive dissonance existing in the minds of most people in the Soviet Union of the nineteen-seventies and eighties. Everyone knew that everything said on the radio or on television, everything (with the exception of weather reports or sports results) was a blatant lie, spoken pro forma …. no one was duped into thinking this was actually […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Joint news conference with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (excerpt re Ukraine)

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Kremlin.ru – February 2, 2017) Question: I have a question about Ukraine. Mr President, your position on the conflict in Donbass is known. I would like you to clarify the following: why did this flare-up occur at this particular moment? Since we are in Hungary, I would like to ask Mr Orban the following question: What do you think about […]

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Double Jeopardy: Why Kremlin Opponent Navalny is Back in Court

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ola Cichowlas – February 3, 2017) Alexei Navalny, the main leader of Russia’s so-called “non-systemic” political opposition, may again become a convicted felon. If that happens, he’d lose the chance to compete in next year’s presidential race, when Vladimir Putin will likely seek a fourth term in office. This week, as Navalny endures a retrial […]

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Russia has not recognized DPR, LPR passports – Peskov

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

MOSCOW. Feb 3 (Interfax) – Russia has not officially recognized the passports of people who live on the territory of the self-proclaimed Donbas republics, there are specific humanitarian actions by the local authorities and companies, Russian presidential press officer Dmitry Peskov said. During a meeting with journalists on Friday, Peskov was asked to comment on a report that the passports […]

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Russians Less Convinced by Political Talk Shows than Audience Figures Suggest, Journalists Say

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 2, 2017) Significant percentages of Russians watch political talk shows which now make up as much as 90 minutes of prime time every night, but that fact does not mean that they are entirely pleased by the structure and content of these shows or are greatly influenced in ways that help […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Vladimir Putin, Mikhail Men, Alexander Novak, Nikolai Nikiforov, Vitaly Mutko at] Meeting with Government members

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

(kremlin.ru – February 1, 2017) Vladimir Putin met with Government members to discuss possibilities for further developing treasury monitoring of budget spending, the situation with co-funded housing development, and a number of other current issues. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon colleagues. Today, we will discuss the results of work and further development for treasury monitoring of budget spending. […]

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Russian Government Starts Free Land Giveaway in Country’s Far East

Siberian River, Forest, Mountain

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 1, 2017) #Russian citizens can now claim a hectare of free land in the country’s remote Far East in a bid to rejuvenate the sparsely-populated region. Free plots of land are on offer in the Kamchatka, Primorye, Khabarovsk, Amur, Magadan and Sakhalin regions, the republic of Sakha, or the Jewish and Chukotka autonomous districts. […]

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Moscow Counting on Russians Passively Accepting Raising Pension Age beyond Male Life Expectancy

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 2, 2016) The Russian government doesn’t have to worry about widespread protests over its reported plans to raise the pension age of Russian males in 2018 to one older than their average life expectancy, a Russian scholar in Yakutsk says. The opposition will complain, but it doesn’t have the votes in […]

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‘Extreme Individualism’ of Russians Makes Cooperation with Others, Even the State, Problematic, Sociologist Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 1, 2017) Russian society today is “extremely individualistic,” Larisa Nikolskaya says, with most people focusing on their own survival rather than any broader goals, a pattern that simultaneously prevents the formation of groups for the promotion of any political cause and makes Russians less willing to sacrifice for the state than […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Index of fear: What are Russians most afraid of?”

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

Most Russians polled are afraid of war and international conflicts, but the number decreased to 14 points in December compared to 23 points in January 2016. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – January 30, 2017) Russians’ main fears remain the threat of war and inflation, while family troubles are the least worry. These findings are the results of a […]

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Meeting between Putin, Russian Security Council members involved exchange of opinions on current state of Russian-U.S. relations – Peskov

Dmitry Peskov file photo adapted from image at kremlin.ru/wikimedia commons

MOSCOW. Jan 27 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday held an operative meeting with permanent members of the Russian Security Council, presidential press officer Dmitry Peskov told Interfax. “The meeting addressed current issues relating to the internal Russian socio-economic agenda,” Peskov said. “It also addressed the outcome of the Astana negotiations, and also the prospects of further efforts […]

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Moscow Unlikely to Achieve Life Expectancy Gains It had Projected, Health Ministry Admits

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 26, 2016) The Russian health ministry has changed its target figures on reducing mortality rates and extending life expectancy by 2020, a reflection experts say of the fact that the Russian government no longer expects to be able to improve the health of the population as much as it did. Ministry […]

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