The Kremlin’s press secretary has no doubts about foreign funding of Russian NGOs

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Interfax – April 15, 2013) Presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov has said that the information about the foreign funding of non-governmental organizations (NGO) in Russia recently disclosed by President Vladimir Putin is reliable. “There is not the slightest reason to doubt the reliability of the said figures,” Peskov said on a Sunday night current events show on Russia 1 channel. […]

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Putin Is ‘Master of Compromise,’ Spokesman Says

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 15, 2013) Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Sunday described Vladimir Putin as a “fierce” defender of Russia’s national interests but also a “master of compromise” while commenting on everything from the opposition movement to escalating tensions with the U.S. Peskov’s comments, made on the state-owned Rossia 1 television channel on Sunday night, come amid […]

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Interview: ‘Democratic Development Survives Bad Laws And Repression’

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – April 12, 2013) The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is a private foundation based in Washington, D.C., that provides grants and other support to organizations around the world that promote democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. The NED’s senior director for Europe, Rodger Potocki, recently visited RFE/RL’s broadcast center in Prague and spoke with […]

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Putin Has More Free Speech Than All Media

Duma Session file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Michael Bohm – April 12, 2013) Michael Bohm is opinion page editor of The Moscow Times. State Duma Deputy Alexei Mitrofanov, who heads the Duma committee regulating the media, came up with a new idea two weeks ago to fight the Kremlin’s battle against “insulting speech” aimed at politicians: increase the fines against media outlets […]

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Amid Paranoia, Moscow Increasingly Cracks Down on Human Rights Groups

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

(Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 10, Issue 68 – Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Pavel Felgenhauer – April 11, 2013) Since last March, Russian and international human rights organizations­ – including such prominent ones as Memorial, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Transparency International and others­ – have been harassed by Russian law enforcement and tax authorities, had their premises searched all […]

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Investigator Bastrykin and the search for enemies

Alexandr Bastrykin file photo

(opendemocracy.net – Richard Sakwa – April 10, 2013) Richard Sakwa is professor of Russian and European politics at the University of Kent, England. Among his books are Putin: Russia’s Choice (Routledge, 2nd edition, 2007) and Russian Politics and Society (Routledge, 4th edition, 2008) Alexandr Bastrykin, head of Russia’s influential Investigative Committee, is one of the most powerful individuals in the […]

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Russian Cabinet Member to Repatriate Assets as Restrictions Loom

Igor Shuvalov file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas & Scott Rose – April 12, 2013) Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov and his wife, the second-biggest earners among families of Cabinet members, plan to move their assets under Russian jurisdiction to comply with new restrictions. Shuvalov and his wife Olga are planning to shift their foreign holdings, Alexander Machevsky, a spokesman […]

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Kremlin advises officials to start closing foreign accounts, including those in CIS

Map of Western CIS/FSU and European Environs

(Interfax – MOSCOW, April 11, 2013) Russian state officials, reporting their income and expenses exceeding joint income of their families for three years, will have to declare foreign bank accounts and securities kept not only in foreign banks but in banks of the Customs Union and the CIS as well, aide of the Russian State Presidential Legal Directorate, Valentin Mikhailov, […]

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Just Russia Chairman Signals Shift Toward Kremlin

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Winning – April 12, 2013) Russian society is disillusioned with the wayward anti-Kremlin protest movement, and the center-left Just Russia party will not pander to self-proclaimed opposition leaders, the party’s chairman said Thursday. “An atmosphere of disillusionment predominates in society today, not only disillusionment with the ruling regime but also with the so-called protest […]

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What drives ‘nationalization’ of Russia’s elite?

Hands Opening Envelope Containing Cash

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Georgy Bovt, special to RBTH – April 12, 2013) Georgy Bovt is a prominent Russian columnist and political expert.   The Russian anti-corruption campaign gains momentum. Will the Russian public be in favor of even stronger measures? Russia’s anti-corruption campaign looks like an attempt to “nationalize” the state elite by increasing their stakes […]

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The System: Shifting the Tectonic Plates

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

(opendemocracy.net – Sergei Guriev – April 11, 2013) Sergei Guriev is a Morgan Stanley Professor of Economics and a Rector at the New Economic School (NES) in Moscow. Russia’s Byzantine system of government has long been a rich subject for study. Could it change? Might it suddenly have to? Possibly, but there are so many vested interests and the upheaval […]

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‘Foreign Agent’ Election Watchdog Told to Vacate Office

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(RIA Novosti, MOSCOW, April 12, 2013) ­ Russian election watchdog Golos (Vote, or Voice) has been given notice to vacate its office in Moscow with no explanation, the non-governmental organization’s deputy director Grigory Melkonyants told RIA Novosti on Friday. “Our rental contract is still valid, but the new lessor has informed us they are breaking the contract ahead of its […]

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Lavrov: Magnitsky act ‘Russophobia’ product

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

(Interfax – MOSCOW, April 11, 2013) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has branded the U.S. Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act as a manifestation of “the Russophobia that is traditionally present” in U.S. Congress. One of the architects of the Magnitsky act was Hermitage Capital investment fund chief executive William Browder, who “illegally hoarded a large fortune in the […]

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Kremlin Backs Law Protecting Religious Sentiment – Spokesman

Russian Duma Building

(RIA Novosti – ULAN-UDE, April 11, 2013) ­ The Kremlin favors the idea of adopting a law protecting the religious feelings of Russian citizens, the Russian presidential spokesman said Thursday. Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, passed the bill in the first reading on Tuesday. “The Kremlin supports the idea of the law, and the wording of the […]

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Dozens in ‘Risk Group’ over Moscow Riots Case – Opposition

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(RIA Novosti – Alexey Eremenko – MOSCOW, April 11, 2013) ­ The list of suspects in the controversial investigation into last year’s riots at an anti-Kremlin rally in Moscow is much longer than previously announced, an opposition website said on Thursday. The Investigative Committee currently has 86 suspects in addition to the 26 people already arrested, charged or convicted over […]

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Corrupt officials may inflate social discontent on purpose – expert

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

(Interfax – MOSCOW, April 10, 2103) Corrupt businessmen and officials may take advantage of social discontent for resisting anti-corruption efforts of the authorities, National Anti-Corruption Committee Chairman, member of the Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights Kirill Kabanov told a Wednesday press conference in Moscow. “I think there are fears that certain negative processes may […]

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Russia Needs Radical Reforms but Those Could Again Destroy the Country, Many Russians Think

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, April 11, 2013 – http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/04/window-on-eurasia-russia-needs-radical.html) Mikhail Gorbachev’s call for a new perestroika has sparked a discussion which rests on the idea that “if the medicine (perestroika) would kill the cancer patient (Russia in its current state), then it is necessary to put up with the cancer as long as possible,” according to […]

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Big Changes Afoot – But Only After Sochi

File Photo of Sochi Olympics Banner Near Highway in Warm Weather with Vehicle and Cyclicsts Nearby

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – April 11, 2013) The number 303 stood Wednesday on a digital clock on Manezh Square that counts down the days to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and President Vladimir Putin is watching it closely as the government races to make the final preparations for the Games. But that clock may be counting down […]

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Russian money laundering: how does it work?

Hands Opening Envelope Containing Cash

(opendemocracy.net – April 8, 2013 – Pavel Usanov) Pavel Usanov is head of the Hayek Institute for Economy and Law in St. Petersburg and Reader at the Higher School of Economics. Cyprus’s monetary crisis has drawn international attention to the island’s role as a tax haven and money laundry for Russia’s rich. Meanwhile, Putin has announced a crackdown at home […]

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Putin’s Commitment to ‘Stability above Everything’ Promises Anything But, Moscow Experts Say

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 9, 2013 – http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/04/window-on-eurasia-putins-commitment-to.html) A report by the Inter-Regional Association of Young Political Scientists notes that Vladimir Putin has changed his language to reflect is “commitment to stability above everything else,” a conclusion that one Moscow commentator suggests fails to capture just how dangerous Putin’s position is for Russia as a […]

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Corruption Should Carry Same Penalty as Treason – Watchdog

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

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, April 10, 2013) ­ The punishment for those found guilty of corruption should be as severe as for treason, Kirill Kabanov, head of Russia’s National Anti-Corruption Committee independent watchdog said on Wednesday. “We believe the penalty for corrupt activities should be equal to that in place for treason,” said Kabanov, who is also director of the […]

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Life expectancy in Moscow surpasses certain EU states – health dept

File Photo of Crowd of Russians

(Interfax – MOSCOW, April 9, 2013) Mortality rates in Moscow have declined by practically every parameter thanks to the modernization of city healthcare in 2011-2012, city health department head Georgy Golukhov said at a city government meeting on Tuesday. “The death rate from external causes decreased by 25% in the reporting period; the death rate from respiratory disorders went down […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin Q&A only] Press statement and answers to journalists’ questions following Russian-Dutch talks

Vladimir Putin file photo

(Kremlin.ru – April 8, 2013 – Amsterdam) QUESTION: If you don’t mind, I will depart somewhat from the issues of the Russian-Dutch relations. Today, as you must know, we have received the sad news of Margaret Thatcher’s death. Can you tell us your opinion of the former Prime Minister’s contribution to building modern Europe and strengthening European security? VLADIMIR PUTIN: […]

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Medvedev to Face Angry Duma Next Week

Dmitry Medvedev file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 10, 2013) Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will face withering criticism and calls to fire at least one minister when he delivers his first address on the work of his Cabinet to the State Duma next week. Medvedev is scheduled to speak in the Duma on April 17, and he also will meet with the […]

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Duma Approves ‘Blasphemy Bill’ in First Reading

Duma Session file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Winning – April 10, 2013) The State Duma on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed in a first reading a contentious bill that would radically toughen penalties for those who offend believers’ feelings or desecrate relics and places of worship. Supporters of the legislation say it aims to safeguard traditional Russian values, which they say are under […]

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Criminal penalty for hurt believer feelings unhelpful to Church – Communists

File Photo of Russian Orthodox Cathedral with Man in Religious Garb in Foreground

(Interfax – MOSCOW, April 9, 2013) The draft law that introduces criminal penalties for hurting the feelings of the believers and desecrating holy places is an anti-Church document, which will cause an outbreak of militant atheism, the Russian Communist Party parliamentary group believes. “This criminal penalty will not add to the Church’s authority. This is an anti-Church law,” Communist Party […]

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Zhukovsky’s Grassroots Revolution

Map of Russia

(RFE/RL – Brian Whitmore – rferl.org – April 9, 2013) The Zhukovsky Peoples’ Council this week set up task forces to address a series of issues, including the environment, housing, urban renewal, transportation, and youth affairs. It all seems pretty banal at first glance, except for one small detail. The 15-member council was chosen in a free and fair vote […]

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Coming clean: As Navalny’s trial looms, it’s time for a reality check

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – April 8, 2013 – Anna Arutunyan) Anna Arutunyan is an editor and correspondent at themoscownews.com Coming back from a monthlong break, I’ve seen a flurry of activity. There’s an anti-corruption drive that’s either meant to curb capital flight or get a better grip on State Duma deputies, the court date for Alexei Navalny’s embezzlement trial […]

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The Kind of Russian Nationalism Putin Needs and the Kind He Doesn’t

Map of Russia

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, April 9, 2013 – http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/04/window-on-eurasia-kind-of-russian.html) There are many kinds of Russian nationalism on offer today, a Russian Communist Party commentator says, but a major divide now lies between the kinds of Russian nationalism that President Vladimir Putin wants to promote and use and other kinds of Russian nationalism that he views as […]

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Putin’s Central Bank Pick Avoids Kuroda-Style Revolution

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas & Scott Rose – April 10, 2013) Elvira Nabiullina is declining to follow in the footsteps of Mark Carney and Haruhiko Kuroda and become an agent of change at Russia’s central bank. Nabiullina, backed by lawmakers to become the first woman to head a Group of Eight monetary authority in June, pledged continuity yesterday […]

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Putin vows to do his best to create favorable business climate in Russia

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Speaking with Flag Behind Him and Microphones in Front

(Interfax – AMSTERDAM, April 8, 2013) Russian authorities will continue to make effort to improve investment climate in the country. “We will do our best to create favorable business environment,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with Russian and Dutch businessmen in Amsterdam on Monday. “We are doing our best to improve business climate in Russia. Probably, there […]

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Anti-Semitism quite uncommon in Russia – report

File Photo of Torah Scrolls

(Interfax – MOSCOW. April 6, 2013) Authors of a research on the level of anti-Semitism in Russia in 2011-2012 concluded that animosity toward Jewish people in the country is fairly uncommon, although they mentioned worrying manifestations of it among some nationalists, Muslims and government officials. “The level of crimes motivated by anti-Semitism continued to be relatively low in 2011-2012. Five […]

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NGOs Slam Putin’s $1Bln Foreign-Funding Estimate

Vladimir Putin file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – April 9, 2013) NGO representatives on Monday questioned the validity of President Vladimir Putin’s comment to German television that NGOs in Russia had received about $1 billion from abroad since the “foreign agent” law was adopted in 2012. In the interview broadcast Friday, Putin said there were 654 active NGOs in Russia […]

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Income declarations of Putin, his administration to be released in April – Peskov

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

(Interfax – MOSCOW. April 9, 2013) Income declarations of Russian President Vladimir Putin and officials of his administration will be released in mid April in line with previous plans. “Formally (in accordance with the president’s decrees from April 2) we don’t have to do it in April. But income declarations have already been submitted to the administration and nothing prevents […]

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Oligarchs’ offspring: Going solo

Empty Boardroom

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Marina Maximova, special to RBTH – April 8, 2013) Many do not follow in their parents’ footsteps, setting up their own businesses instead. The children of Russia’s billionaires do not all choose to take up their parents’ wealth and business empires. In fact, many have started to make names for themselves with separate […]

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Protest Movement Inspires a Flood of Anti-Kremlin Art

Moscow Protest file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Oleg Sukhov – April 8, 2013) “Do you dare come to the square where the regiments are waiting … between the Senate and Synod?” These lines, though written by Russian poet Alexander Galich in 1968 about the Decembrist revolt of 1825 on St. Petersburg’s Senatskaya Ploshchad, express the spirit of the art inspired by Russia’s […]

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Info on foreign funding received by Russian NGOs is overestimated – Alekseyeva

Lyudmila Alekseyeva file photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW. April 8, 2013) Lyudmila Alekseyeva, the elder human rights activist in Russia and the head of the Moscow Helsinki group, believes the figures given in reports on foreign funding received by NGOs in Russia are overestimated. “This is being done to show that these organizations allegedly have money to burn. Everyone influences public opinion in the way […]

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NGO Inspections Aim to Control Foreign Funding – Putin

Vladimir Putin file photo

(RIA Novosti, HANOVER, April 8, 2013) The recent wave of inspections of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Russia is not aimed at restricting their activity but rather at controlling their foreign funding, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “All our actions are not designed to shut down or ban [the operation of NGOs in […]

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Poll shows improvement in perceptions about Russian ministers’ work

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

(Interfax – April 5, 2013) Russians have shown a more positive attitude towards the work of the country’s ministers for the last few months, a survey by the pro-Kremlin All-Russia Public Opinion Research Centre (VTsIOM) has found, the Interfax news agency reported on 5 April. The poll is available on the VTsIOM website, at http://wciom.ru/index.php?id=459&uid=113822 Respondents were asked to assess […]

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Russian officials should have to invest in Russian securities – central banker

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Interfax – MOSCOW. April 4, 2013) All Russian government officials should be obligated to invest their money in the securities of Russian issuers, deputy Central Bank chairman Sergei Shvetsov said. “Today a large number of officials disclose their assets, and we see vehicles, dachas and land there, we very rarely see mutual funds, Russian securities. The presence of securities in […]

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Russian state property agency to publish 2014-2016 privatization plan in May

Empty Boardroom

(Interfax – MOSCOW. April 4, 2013) Russian federal state property agency Rosimushchestvo will publish the privatization plan for 2014-2016 in May, the head of the agency, Deputy Economic Development Minister Olga Dergunova, said at the Russian Exchange Forum in Moscow on Thursday. “We are currently at the stage of forming the 2014-2016 privatization plan. The information will be published on […]

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Ethnic nationalism threatens Russia’s unity

Map of Russia

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Sergei Markedonov, special to RBTH – April 5, 2013) Sergei Markedonov is a visiting fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C. The country’s authorities should undertake drastic reform of the nationalities policy. “The nationalities issue” remains a priority for Russia’s social and political development. In the 1990s-early 2000s, the […]

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Putin’s Russia at a Crossroads Politically and Economically

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

(Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 10, Issue 63 – Pavel Felgenhauer – Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – April 4, 2013) The Russian government, the expert community in Moscow and the national economic elite are actively discussing the economic future of the nation and possible drastic financial policy changes as the economy slumps into potentially long-term stagflation, which may fundamentally destabilize the […]

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Blogger Navalny floats presidential ambitions ahead of trial

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Anna Arutunyan – April 5, 2013) Oppositionist blogger Alexei Navalny has revealed he wants to be president, with a trial less than two weeks away that could jail him for up to 10 years on embezzlement charges. “I want to become president,” Navalny said in an interview with the independent Dozhd TV late Thursday evening. […]

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Offshore Investigation Threatens to Embarrass Kremlin

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 5, 2013) A leak of details about offshore bank accounts belonging to Russian businesspeople and the wife of First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov threatens to embarrass President Vladimir Putin, who has vowed to crack down on the use of tax havens. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a network of 160 journalists around […]

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Kudrin meets with Putin, shares views on pressing issues

Alexei Kudrin file photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW. April 4, 2013) Alexei Kudrin, chairman of the Civil Initiatives Committee and former finance minister, said that he sometimes meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “There are meetings with the president. But I’m not ready to discuss their contents,” Kudrin told reporters on Thursday. Kudrin said that he shared his position at such meetings. “I express my […]

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Need for public agreement has ripened in Russia, expert report finds

Map of Russia

(Interfax – Moscow, April 4, 2013) For the first time in Russian history, the current situation in the country is such that it requires concluding a public agreement that entails a diffusion of power, an analytical report prepared by the Centre of Political Technologies foundation, commissioned by the Civic Initiatives Committee (CIC), has found. “A ‘super-presidential’ republic should be replaced […]

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Russians disapprove of bureaucrats’ wealth

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Olga Doronina, special to RBTH – April 5, 2013) Opinion polls show that a majority of Russians are increasingly intolerant of the wealth of government officials ­ riches which they see as connected to the embezzlement of public funds. Russians are increasingly intolerant of wealth among state officials and parliamentarians. Ordinary people not […]

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Erasing Russia’s Potholes

Moscow Traffic file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – April 5, 2013)  The official Russian set of technical standards, GOST, has finally solved one of Russia’s two biggest problems: bad roads. In 2011, the Rosstandart national standardization body redefined the definition of a pothole as having a width of at least 1.5 meters and a depth of 7 centimeters. At the time, Rosstandart defended its […]

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