Russia’s pension impasse — is there a way out?

File Photo of Two Elders Walking Outdoors

(www.opendemocracy.net – Andrei Zaostrovtsev – January 11, 2013) Andrei Zaostrovtsev is lecturer at the M-Centre at the European University, St. Petersburg and professor of the Higher School of Economics One way Vladimir Putin has retained his popularity among Russians has been by increasing retirement pensions and other social benefits, and as a result the state pension fund is deep in […]

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Poll shows Russians know more, largely approve of Investigations Committee

Map of Russia

(Interfax – 14 January) Moscow – According to the poll carried out by the Russian Public Opinion Research Centre (VTsIOM), the Russian Investigations Committee (RIC) is the most effective law-enforcement body in the fight against corruption. The poll was conducted in 38 regions in 146 population centres among 1,600 respondents on 22-24 December. Its results were published on the eve […]

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Back to the Soviet era? A tougher law on registration has alarmed rights activists

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Anna Arutunyan – January 15, 2013) President Vladimir Putin has introduced a bill into the State Duma calling for tougher penalties for Russians and foreigners who violate registration rules, in a bid to “civilize” internal migration. The bill, introduced into the lower house of Parliament last Wednesday, echoed an earlier proposal by Russian lawmakers to […]

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To be or not to be: Buried within the adoption scandal is a bigger and more essential dilemma

File Photo of Russian Orphans with Mr. and Mrs. Dmitry Medvedev

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Anna Arutunyan – January 14, 2013) Anna Arutunyan is the politics editor of The Moscow News “Children are [expletive] sacred,” one protester was overheard telling another at Sunday’s March against Scoundrels. That was one of the reasons that the march, widely expected to continue a trend of dwindling turnout for the spate of mass anti-government […]

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Five Cabinet Ministers Given Poor Grades in Kremlin Survey

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 15, 2013) Five ministers in Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s Cabinet have failed to live up to the expectations of certain Kremlin administration officials, according to a survey conducted by Izvestia. The lowest rating went to five Cabinet members: Far East Development Minister Viktor Ishayev, Education Minister Dmitry Livanov, Regional Development Minister Igor Slyunyayev, Transportation […]

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Russia’s ‘tandem’ govt era over – Primakov

File Photo of Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin with Heads Bowed Over Microphone

MOSCOW. Jan 15 (Interfax) – The “tandem” government era in Russia is over, argued former prime minister Yevgeny Primakov, president of the Mercury Club and a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. “Today Russia has some new characteristics that distinguish it from the previous period. One of them is the end of the tandem era. This does not at […]

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Privatization Destroyed Russia’s Chance for Freedom and Must Be Reversed, Pastukhov Says

Empty Boardroom

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 11, 2013 – http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/01/window-on-eurasia-privatization.html) Staunton, January 11 ­ The Russian people “who 20 years ago dreamed about freedom today are choosing slavery” because they were deceived by the elites about privatization and thus no longer “believe anyone,” according to an analysis by Vladimir Pastukhov, a Russian scholar who now works at […]

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Russia Now Faces ‘Years of Reaction,’ Moscow Commentator Says

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

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 12, 2013 – http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/01/window-on-eurasia-russia-now-faces.html) In the absence of any deep division within the power elites ­ — and there is none evident now ­ — Vladimir Putin’s current turn to repression is completely logical from his point of view and guarantees that the Russian Federation now faces “years of reaction,” however much […]

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Human rights activist believes mass protests have a future in Russia

Lyudmila Alekseyeva file photo

(Interfax – January 14, 2013) Mass opposition protests have become more serious and they have a future, Lyudmila Alekseyeva, the head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, told Interfax on Sunday. The opposition organized a march demanding the dissolution of the State Duma and the reversal of the so-called anti-Magnitsky law, which bans U.S. citizens from adopting Russian children, in central […]

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Russia’s U.S. Adoption Ban Protesters Lament State TV Coverage

Kremlin and St. Basil's

MOSCOW, January 14 (Marc Bennetts, RIA Novosti) ­ Opponents of a Kremlin-approved ban on US nationals adopting Russian children expressed anger on Monday at a state TV program that suggested they were betraying their homeland. “State television is brainwashing people,” said Maria Orlovskaya, who helped promote and organize Sunday’s peaceful protest march in central Moscow against the ban. “The authorities […]

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Russian Orphan Adoption ‘Appeal’ Sparks Furor

Kremlin and St. Basil's

MOSCOW, January 10 (RIA Novosti) ­ A Russian news website has provoked a furor after publishing what it claimed was an appeal from a Russian teenage orphan whose adoption by a US family was prevented by a new law banning adoptions by Americans. The 1obl.ru news portal in the Chelyabinsk region published a story claiming a boy in a local […]

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Putin Playing Regions against the Capital to Maintain Himself in Power, Oreshkin Says

Map of Russia

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 9, 2013 – http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/01/window-on-eurasia-putin-playing-regions.html) Like Nicholas II and Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Putin is putting the regions and their more traditionalist values in play against the emergent civil society in Moscow as part of his effort to keep himself and his allies in office and in control of Russia’s enormous natural wealth, […]

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U.S. to have to reckon with ‘Putin factor’ till 2018 – analyst

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

MOSCOW. Jan 9 (Interfax) – The fact that Foreign Policy magazine has declared Russian President Vladimir Putin last year’s most influential figure in global politics, business and public affairs means “the so-called ‘Putin factor’ will play a significant role in the foreign policy of the United States for the next five years,” a Russian political scientist said. “Foreign Policy is […]

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State Duma to review calls for dissolution

Russian Duma Building

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Evgeniya Chaykovskaya – January 10, 2013) An initiative for the State Duma’s dissolution accumulated more than 100,000 signatures, forcing the lower house of parliament to discuss it. However, the deputies must consider the opinion of 60 million people who supported them during elections, said State Duma Deputy Speaker and Deputy Head of the United Russia […]

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Protests, Political Pressure on Media Behind Rise of ‘New Russian Journalists’

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 8, 2013 – http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/01/window-on-eurasia-protests-political.html) The rise of a new generation of independent journalists in Russia who use technology to report directly to their audience and who are not shy about declaring their interest in promoting civil society is an entirely natural response to the increasing government restrictions on the official media […]

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Russia Takes Pause After Incredible Year of Discoveries and Disappointments

New Year's Eve in Red Square with Crowd and Fireworks

(Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 10, Issue 1 – Pavel K. Baev – Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – January 7, 2013) Early January is a period of partying and hibernation in Russia. Yet, this pause also provides an opportunity to reflect on the incredible ups and downs of the past year. Designated by the Kremlin as a year of return to […]

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Opposition Activist Charged with Coup Plot Sent to Siberia

Leonid Razvozzhayev file photo with hand to ear, as if holding cellphone

MOSCOW, January 9 (Marc Bennetts, RIA Novosti) ­ A leftist activist charged with plotting to overthrow President Vladimir Putin was sent on Wednesday from the central Russia holding cell where he had spent the New Year holidays to Siberia, prison officials said. Left Front activist Leonid Razvozzhayev’s lawyer told RIA Novosti he had not been informed that his client was […]

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Russians to March Against US Adoption Ban

File Photo of Russian Orphans with Mr. and Mrs. Dmitry Medvedev

MOSCOW, January 9 (RIA Novosti) ­ Opponents of a law banning US nationals from adopting Russian children were granted permission on Wednesday to hold a protest march in central Moscow on January 13, officials and rally organizers said. The ban is part of a wider response by Moscow to the Magnitsky Act, a US law that imposes travel bans and […]

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NEWSLINK: Speak up: Moscow introduces ‘Hyde Parks’ for public gatherings

Gorky Park file photo

(Speak up: Moscow introduces ‘Hyde Parks’ for public gatherings – January 7, 2013) Pro-Kremlin Russia Today reports that areas are being designated at two Moscow parks for demonstrations, requiring advance notification to authorities. Click here for full article: http://rt.com/politics/moscow-demonstration-special-parks-484/

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Analyst: Alleged stability apparent source of Putin’s top Foreign Policy rating

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Leaning Towards Barack Hussein Obama With Flags Behind Them

MOSCOW. Jan 4 (Interfax) – A Russian analyst has argued that this year Russian President Vladimir Putin will keep the leading role in global politics attributed to him by Foreign Policy magazine, which declared Putin the world’s most influential political, business and public figure in 2012. “The fact that President Putin is recognized as the most influential person of the […]

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NEWSLINK: Russian patriarch says religion law must not go too far

Patriarch Kirill file photo

(Russian patriarch says religion law must not go too far – Reuters – Alexei Anishchuk – January 6 – click here for full article) In the aftermath of the Pussy Riot prosecution, Reuters covers the Russian Orthodox reaction to Russia’s law on anti-religious offenses: Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church and a long-standing ally of President Vladimir […]

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TRANSCRIPT: News conference of Vladimir Putin

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

(Kremlin.ru –  December 20, 2012) Kremlin.ru December 20, 2012 News conference of Vladimir Putin Moscow Vladimir Putin’s news conference took place at the World Trade Centre on Krasnopresnenskaya Embankment. Over 1,000 Russian and 200 foreign journalists were accredited to cover the news conference. Channel One, Rossiya-1 and Rossiya-24 TV channels and Radio Mayak, Vesti FM and Radio Rossii radio stations […]

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NEWSLINK: USA to reckon with ‘Putin factor’ after magazine power ratin – pundits

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Leaning Towards Barack Hussein Obama With Flags Behind Them

[USA to reckon with ‘Putin factor’ after magazine power rating – pundits – BBC Monitoring/Ekho Moskvy Radio – January 4, 2013 – no open link exists to this product] Ekho Moskvy Radio addresses what it terms Foreign Policy magazine’s move to call Russian President Vladimir Putin the world’s the most powerful person, including the fact that the magazine actually listed […]

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2012 in Review: Russia Turns in on Itself

New Year's Eve in Red Square with Crowd and Fireworks

(Voice of America – Russian Service Crossfire – Donald N. Jensen – January 3, 2013) Russian state has struggled unsuccessfully since 1991 to reconcile ­three disparate, somewhat contradictory sources of legitimacy.  It portrays itself as democratic, but the trashing of the 1990s by the Putin regime deprives the current system of a founding myth.  During the Putin era there have […]

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[Putin] Merry Christmas greetings

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

(Kremlin.ru – January 7, 2013) Vladimir Putin wished Orthodox Christians and all Russian citizens a Merry Christmas. The message reads, in part: “Over the centuries this holiday has brought us the light of faith, hope and love. It unites us around traditional moral values that play a special role in Russian history and are the backbone of our society. Christmas […]

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NEWSLINK: Rich Russians Also Lament New Tax Hikes

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

(Rich Russians Also Lament New Tax Hikes – Forbes – Kenneth Rapoza – January 3, 2013 – click here for full article) Forbes covers Russian tax hikes on the wealthy, largely impacting individuals, sole proprietors and with high-end luxury items such as homes, cars, boats, airplanes and helicopters: Not only rich one percenters in the U.S. are going to see […]

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NEWSLINK: A revolution in space but calmer streets at home; Pundits predict a loss of momentum for the protest movement at home and see little scope for improvement in relations with the West

New Year's Eve in Red Square with Crowd and Fireworks

(A revolution in space but calmer streets at home; Pundits predict a loss of momentum for the protest movement at home and see little scope for improvement in relations with the West – Russia Beyond the Headlines – Artem Zagorodnov – January 4, 2013 – click here for google cache version of article) Russia Beyond the Headlines takes a look […]

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Moscow to keep Lenin Mausoleum for now – Kremlin official

File Photo of Lenin Mausoleum and Red Square Environs

(Interfax – January 1, 2013) The Mausoleum containing Vladimir Lenin’s embalmed body is staying on Moscow’s Red Square for the time being, Interfax news agency quoted Kremlin property management chief Vladimir Kozhin as saying in a 1 January report. “No specific decisions have been taken with respect to the Lenin Mausoleum yet. I am unaware of plans to change anything, […]

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Putin Declares War on Orphans, NGOs and the U.S.

File Photo of Russian Orphans with Mr. and Mrs. Dmitry Medvedev

(Bloomberg editorial – bloomberg.com – January 2, 2013) On New Year’s Day, a law took effect in Russia banning U.S. families from adopting children there. Not only is this use of orphans to score a political point repugnant, it also reflects a worrying defensive and isolationist trend in President Vladimir Putin’s foreign and domestic policies. The adoption ban was rushed […]

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Putin’s New Year’s Address Prompts Speculation About His Health

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 3, 2013) President Vladimir Putin’s New Year’s video address on Monday night ­ – his first such address in four years after returning to the presidency in May ­ – has already become a hit on the Internet. But while some may have been impressed with the president’s warm words, others were more focused […]

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NEWSLINK: You’re a Mean One, Mr. Putin; Was 2012 the year Russia’s president finally lost it? – Anders Åslund

Vladimir Putin file photo

[Foreign Policy – Anders Åslund – December 28, 2012 – http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/12/28/Putin_orphans_Russia_crackdown] Anders Åslund examines the state of Russian politics, characterizing it as marked by repression, anger and a realization of a need for change but lacking a grasp of effective alternatives other than personal flight: … I have not found the mood in the Russian capital so depressed since the […]

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NEWSLINK: Putin’s Artful Jurisprudence

File Photo of Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin

[Putin’s Artful Jurisprudence – The National Interest – William Partlett – January 2, 2012 – http://nationalinterest.org/article/putins-artful-jurisprudence-7882] Writing for The National Interest, William Partlett examines aspects of rule of law issues in post-Soviet Russia within the broader context of Russian political and economic power, including unfolding developments under the Putin regime(s). First recalling some of the events of 1993: AT 8:00 […]

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Russia’s three most important events in 2012

New Year's Eve in Red Square with Crowd and Fireworks

(Pravda.ru – Oleg Artyukov – December 29, 2012) Pravda.Ru asked representatives of parliamentary parties and experts to name three, in their view, main events that took place in Russia’s political life in 2012. It is worth noting that most of our interviewees, regardless of their views and party affiliation, named the same events. Although, of course, there are differences in […]

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NEWSLINK: Ten reasons for Russians to be proud of their country

File Photo of Crowd of Russians

(Ten reasons for Russians to be proud of their country – Russia  Beyond the Headlines/ Russky Repoter – December 31, 2012 – click here for full article) Russia  Beyond the Headlines covers Russky Reporter magazine’s list of 2012 events it argues should stir Russian pride.  They focuses on volunteers first: Volunteers The birth of the volunteer movement is usually traced […]

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YEAR IN REVIEW: Cold war – state and private companies lock horns over Arctic shelf

Polar Map Showing Permafrost Areas, Adapted From NOAA.gov Graphic

MOSCOW. Dec 31 (Interfax) – The standoff between state and private oil companies over access to Russia’s continental shelf over the past year recalled the cold war of the early 1980s. It was also a combination of clashing ideologies and ambitions, coalitions of allies, war on the periphery, scare tactics, a search for compromises and absurdity. As in the cold […]

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[Putin] New Year’s Address to the Nation

New Year's Eve in Red Square with Crowd and Fireworks

(Kremlin.ru – December 31, 2012) Moscow PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Friends, We are saying goodbye to 2012 which becomes history. This was an important year for our country. I would like to sincerely thank you all for your efforts, your work and achievements, your trust and support. In these moments, we are particularly aware of the fleeting of time, […]

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2012: the year the Kremlin lost control of the script

Kremlin Aeriel View file photo

(Peter Pomerantsev – www.opendemocracy.net – December 28, 2012) Peter Pomerantsev is a British TV producer. For many years, he sold British programmes to the Russian TV industry. He now lives in London. Throughout the Putin heyday, Russian political discourse was invented, manipulated and owned by a handful of Kremlin spin doctors. Over the last year, that changed. Though they failed […]

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Putin Implores Cabinet to Act

Kremlin Aeriel View file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anatoly Medetsky – December 28, 2012) President Vladimir Putin on Thursday commanded the Cabinet to make good on his costly campaign promises, in a sign that he may be unhappy about how they are being fulfilled. This is the second time that Putin highlighted his intention to get the Cabinet to keep his word, after […]

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Russian Government Officials to Commute by Helicopter in 2013

File Photo of Russian MI-26 Helicopter in Afghanistan with MI-17 Helicopter In Background

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Irina Filatova – December 28, 2012) President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev are likely to swap their armored limousines for helicopters next year, as the city center will be equipped with several landing pads, head of the presidential affairs office Vladimir Kozhin said Thursday. The pads might appear on the territory of the […]

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Russian NGO head could lose job over new law

Lyudmila Alekseyeva file photo

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Alina Lobzina – December 28, 2012) Ludmila Alexeyeva, a leading Russian human rights advocate, is ready to defend the job she might lose under the newly adopted Russian response to the Magnitsky Act, she told RIA Novosti on Friday. The bill signed by President Vladimir Putin earlier in the day prohibits holders of US passports […]

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Russia’s 2013: Macbeth, or the Comedy of Errors?

New Year's Eve in Red Square with Crowd and Fireworks

(Daniil Kotsyubinsky – www.opendemocracy.net – December 28, 2012) Daniil Kotsyubinsky is Russian historian and journalist based in St. Petersburg 2012 started in a huge upsurge of opposition activity: street protests, marches, arrests and imprisonments. A year later the scene is much calmer. Daniil Kotsyubinsky considers the future for the opposition, and does not find what he sees particularly encouraging The […]

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History Repeated Itself as Farce in 2012

New Year's Eve in Red Square with Crowd and Fireworks

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Roland Oliphant – December 28, 2012) Two hundred years ago this month, the miserable shreds of Napoleon’s Grande Armee shuffled out of Russian territory, thanking their lucky stars they had made it safely home and vowing never, ever to try that again. Those sentiments were shared by survivors of this year’s re-enactment of the Battle […]

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NEWSLINK: In Ex-Soviet States, Russian Spy Tech Still Watches You

FSB Headquarters Building file photo

[In Ex-Soviet States, Russian Spy Tech Still Watches You – wired.com – Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan – December 21, 2012 – http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/12/russias-hand/all/] Wired.com reports on Russian security services spying on citizens, with the Russian legal system deeming citizen activities such as opposition protests to be extremist and a justification for surveillance: On November 12, the Russian Supreme Court okayed […]

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Poor State of Housing Services Could Be Next Rallying Point

File Photo of Water Facet with Drop of Water Coming Out

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Bratersky – December 27, 2012) Calls for honest elections and President Vladimir Putin’s removal might attract the urban middle class to rallies, but it is rusty pipes and the poor state of the utilities sector that might persuade thousands of disgruntled citizens of all classes to march in the streets. The possibility that higher […]

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Most of Russians like Putin’s answers at Dec. 20 press conference – poll

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

(Interfax – December 27, 2012) The Dec. 20 press conference by President Vladimir Putin caught the attention of more than half of Russians. Thirty-four percent watched the press conference live, either fully or partially, and 18% learned the main points from news programs. Forty-eight percent did not follow the presidential press conference, the Russian Public Opinion Study Center (VTsIOM) told […]

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Putin’s Start Points to Authoritarian Rule Through 2018

Vladimir Putin file photo

(Voice of America – James Brooke – December 24, 2012) MOSCOW ­ Vladimir Putin’s six months back in the Kremlin may say a lot about his next six years. In May, angry protests greeted Vladimir Putin’s return to the Kremlin for a third term as president of Russia. On inauguration day, Putin’s motorcade swept through eerily empty streets of Moscow, […]

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Russian-Language Textbooks Stir Controversy

Russian Duma Building

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Patrick Reevell – December 26, 2012) A policeman says in Russian: “I work a lot, sometimes even too much. … Winter or summer, rain or shine, I go from a bank to a store, from a store to a restaurant, from a restaurant to a market, looking for where to take money.” What’s wrong with […]

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Navalny Hit With 3rd Criminal Case

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Moscow TImes – themoscowtimes.com – Yekaterina Kravtsova – December 26, 2012) A third criminal investigation was opened against opposition leader and anti-corruption lawyer Alexei Navalny on Monday, with the Investigative Committee claiming he stole money from a political party in 2007. The committee said in a statement that Allekt, a company headed by Navalny in 2007, had received 100 million […]

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NEWSLINK: Top 10 events in Russian politics in 2012

Map of Russia

Russia Beyond the Headlines sets out its list of top news stories for 2012: 1. The presidential election … 2. Medvedev’s Cabinet … 3. United Russia’s new leader … Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev swapped jobs ­ and not only in public office … 4. Strident new laws … 5. Protest actions …

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NEWSLINK: Vladimir Putin gives big news conference in tough debate with journalists

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

[Vladimir Putin gives big news conference in tough debate with journalists – ITAR-TASS – RUSSIAN PRESS REVIEW – December 21, 2012 – http://www.itar-tass.com/en/c142/606821.html] Itar-Tass covers Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent marathon press conference. Putin reportedly claimed he had not read a recent Duma bill banning U.S. adoptions of Russian orphans, and allowed that the Duma was responding emotionally to the […]

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