Russia moving away from totalitarianism but destination dim – minister

Kremlin and St. Basil's

MOSCOW. March 25 (Interfax) – Russia is moving away from its totalitarian past but it is unclear what kind of political system it is heading for, the justice minister has argued. “It needs to be realized that we are getting through an inevitable period of transition from a totalitarian society to another form of society. At the moment, it’s hard […]

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Russian lawmakers are richer than ministers – poll

Duma Session file photo

MOSCOW. March 26 (Interfax) – Recent polls indicate that in the opinion of Russian citizens, lawmakers are the wealthiest of civil servants, and they proposed setting an income limit for those seeking civil service. Fifty-five percent of respondents said deputies of the State Duma and the Federation Council are the richest among civil servants, and 52% said government executives are, […]

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Foreign companies operating in Russia saw little changes in the business environment in 2012

Empty Boardroom

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – March 25, 2013) The survey conducted by the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) together with Fleishman-Hillard Vanguard shows that 44% of respondents noticed the improvement of the business environment (34% considers the improvement minor) versus 55% in 2011, RBC daily reported. The improvement in the quality of tax administration is accompanied by […]

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Berezovsky And Putin — The Real Tandem Of Putinism?

Boris Berezovsky file photo

(RFE/RL – www.rferl.org – Robert Coalson – March 24, 2013) Boris Berezovsky ­ who was found dead of as yet undetermined causes in his London home on March 23 ­ was a key figure among those who brought Vladimir Putin to power in 1999. And although Berezovsky was driven into exile by the end of 2000, over the years he […]

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NEWSLINK: Russian Prosecutor General’s Office to continue its legal actions to bring Berezovsky’s criminally acquired assets back to Russia

Boris Berezovsky file photo

[Russian Prosecutor General’s Office to continue its legal actions to bring Berezovsky’s criminally acquired assets back to Russia – ITAR-TASS – March 25, 2013 – http://www.itar-tass.com/en/c32/686220.html] ITAR-TASS reports on Russian efforts to seize assets of exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, recently found dead under undetermined circumstances in Britain, where he had been granted political asylum. The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office […]

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NEWSLINK: Exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky died in Britain

Boris Berezovsky file photo

[Exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky died in Britain – ITAR-TASS – March 25, 2013 – http://www.itar-tass.com/en/c142/686021.html] ITAR-TASS covers the death of exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky in Britain: Boris Berezovsky, an exiled oligarch and one of the main figures on the Russian political scene of Boris Yeltsin’s epoch, was found dead at his mansion in the town Ascot in the English […]

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Berezovsky dreamt of being buried near Moscow region church where he was baptized – newspaper

Boris Berezovsky file photo

(Interfax – March 25, 2013) Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky, who has died in London, wanted to be buried near a Moscow region church where he was baptized, Former Secretary of Russia’s Security Council, Ivan Rybkin, said. “He told me – there is a cemetery in the Moscow region’s Tarasovka near an ancient brick church, where he was baptized after the […]

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NEWSLINK: No radiation at Berezovsky home, no sign of outside role in death

Boris Berezovsky file photo

[No radiation at Berezovsky home, no sign of outside role in death – Reuters – Olivia Harris – March 25, 2013 – click here for full article] Reuters covers the death in Britain of exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky.  The post-mortem still awaits completion, and Berezovsky had been the target of multiple assassination attempts.  But there has been no announcement […]

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Berezovsky, Putin and an Absence of Respect

Boris Berezovsky file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Bratersky and Natalya Krainova – March 25, 2013) Boris Berezovsky would probably heap all of his ill fortunes at the feet of Vladimir Putin, the man whom he helped make Russia’s president but then spent the rest of his life trying to topple. Still, the relationship between Putin and Berezovsky, who was found dead […]

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Russians’ greatest worry is corruption; only 4 percent worried about rights – poll

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

(Interfax – March 21, 2013) Over the past three years, the Russians have become less concerned about inflation, unemployment and economic crisis in the country and significantly more concerned about growing corruption, social inequality and uncontrolled immigration, Russian Interfax news agency reported on 21 March, citing an opinion poll carried out by the Levada Centre in February. According to the […]

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Far East Plan Approved by Cabinet, Despite Siluanov’s Opposition

Siberian Natural Scenery, with River, Trees, Hills

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anatoly Medetsky – March 22, 2013) The Cabinet on Thursday backed a plan to invigorate the economy of the Far East, and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the government would later this month formally ask the parliament to slash taxes for new business projects in the region. Plans to develop the remote and sparsely populated […]

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Former ‘Provocateur’ Blames Police for Bolotnaya Clashes

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Yekaterina Kravtsova – March 22, 2013) A man professing to be a former government operative has said that police officials, including the former interior minister, were involved in organizing clashes at an opposition rally last year, allegations that members of the Kremlin human rights council say could be trustworthy. The online television channel Politvestnik posted […]

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Russian rights council asks Prosecutor’s Office to explain mass checks of NGOs

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Interfax – Moscow, March 21, 2013) Members of the Presidential Human Rights Council (HRC) have appealed to Prosecutor-General Yuriy Chayka with regard to complaints from NGOs from a number of regions in the country about mass checks by the oversight body. “The last few days have seen an unending flood of reports from the heads of NGOs in Krasnodar, Perm […]

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Trial of Dead Lawyer Magnitsky Begins in Moscow

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

MOSCOW, March 22 (RIA Novosti) – The unprecedented posthumous trial of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky for tax evasion began on Friday as investigators denied he was arrested for uncovering major corruption by state officials. This is believed to be the first time a dead person has been prosecuted in either Russian or Soviet history. Magnistky, who worked for the British-based […]

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Wheel of Fortune: The Battle for Oil and Power in Russia

Oil Well file photo

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Mackensie Knorr – February 19, 2013) Meeting Report As Russia’s Soviet-era oil legacy gradually runs down, the Russian oil industry will face new challenges and higher costs. “This will result in a lower flow of revenue to the Russian government at a time when the Russian state budget has become more dependent on oil than […]

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Political Satire Returns to Russian TV

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – www.rbth.ru – Dmitry Romendik, special to RBTH – March 21, 2013) In recent years, all Russian political satires have gradually shifted to the Internet, though experts say Russian TV audiences want to see more. “Yes, Mr. President,” a new political sitcom on one of Russia’s main television channels, generated immediate interest in the mass media. […]

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Contraction of Russia’s Smaller Cities Creating Serious Social, Economic and Political Problems

Map of Russia

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, March 21, 2013 – http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/03/window-on-eurasia-contraction-of.html) The death of Russian villages is already an old if very sad story, but that country’s economic decline is now leading to the contraction of the population of many small and mid-sized cities, a development that has received little attention but that entails enormous social, economic and […]

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Medvedev Says Russia’s Democracy Needs 100 Years to Develop

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 21, 2013) Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the success of democracy in Russia can be evaluated only 100 years from now, according to a transcript of an interview with Western media published Thursday. In an interview with European journalists on Wednesday evening that focused mostly on the financial crisis in Cyprus, the prime minister […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Dmitry Medvedev’s interview with European media

Dmitry Medvedev file photo

(Government.ru – March 21, 2013) Transcript: Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon everyone. I’m at your disposal. Let’s get to work. Question (as translated): The first question is about Cyprus. You and President Putin have criticised the EU decisions. Don’t you think that the EU may be displeased with this and that the recent events may undermine trust between Russia and the […]

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Human rights ombudsman Lukin to continue seeking reversal of Pussy Riot sentence

Vladimir Lukin file photo

(Interfax – March 21, 2013) Russian human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin said he will continue insisting that the court reverse the conviction of members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot. “No doubt, the case will go higher and will reach the Supreme Court. We have worded our position and it is unchanged,” Lukin told Interfax on Thursday. It was reported […]

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Bright Days for Putin’s Dark Knight

Igor Sechin file photo

(Institute of Modern Russia – imrussia.org – Donald Jensen – March 19, 2013) Despite rumors of his waning influence, Rosneft chief Igor Sechin remains one of the most powerful members of Russia’s ruling establishment. Donald N. Jensen, Resident Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, discusses Sechin’s latest “string of triumphs.” […]

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Putin Nominates Economic Aide as Head of Central Bank

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

MOSCOW, March 20 (RIA Novosti) ­ President Vladimir Putin has submitted to the State Duma the candidacy of his economic advisor, Elvira Nabiullina, for the head of Russia’s Central Bank, the Kremlin said on Wednesday. Putin first proposed Nabiullina’s candidacy on March 12 at a meeting with incumbent Central Bank chief Sergei Ignatyev, who has served three successive terms and […]

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Does Putin Need His Parliament?

Duma Session file photo

(opendemocracy.net – Dmitri Travin – March 19, 2013) Dmitri Travin is Research Director at the European University in St. Petersburg’s Centre of Modernization Studies Russia’s ruling party, ‘United Russia’, is significantly weaker than previously. Does Putin still need ‘his’ party or is it now more of a millstone round his neck? The economy is stagnant and the electoral system is […]

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Russians don’t want return to monarchy, see no contender for throne – poll

File Image of Czar Alexander II

MOSCOW. March 20 (Interfax) – Over a quarter of Russians have nothing against the restoration of monarchy in the country but cannot name a person who could become the tsar now, a poll has indicated. In a choice between two forms of government – monarchy and republic – 11% of Russians opt for the former. Moscow and St. Petersburg have […]

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Russia’s youth demands change, not revolution

File Photo of U.S. Diplomat Teaching Class to Russian Students

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Svetlana Smetanina, special to RBTH – March 19, 2013) Sociologists paint a mixed picture of the current generation of young Russians. Sociological studies have shown that the current generation of young Russians is critical of the authorities and skeptical of the opposition. In addition, young people are becoming increasingly interested in charity work […]

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Medvedev’s $30bn giveaway

Map of Barents Sea and Polar Environs

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – March 19, 2013) The big dollop of egg on Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s face since it emerged a strip of water in the Barents Sea ceded by the then-president to Norway contains more than $30bn worth of oil and gas spells trouble for the already weakened premier. Russia and Norway had been negotiating […]

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Vladimir The Weak

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

(RFE/RL – rferl.org  Brian Whitmore – March 18, 2013) Vladimir Putin clearly likes to keep an eye on his enemies. Perhaps he should be taking a closer look at his friends. Consider, for example, Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov. The KGB veteran and was widely considered the odds-on favorite to be Putin’s successor back in 2007 until he was […]

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Is Russia Too Big to Be Democratic?

Map of Russia

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, March 19, 2013 – http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/03/window-on-eurasia-is-russia-too-big-to.html) Russia’s enormous size is the first thing that strikes observers, a leading Moscow geographer says, but he points out that the implications of its size have varied over time and argues that while size matters, there is no reason to believe that its size necessarily precludes freedom […]

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Experts Raise Eyebrows on New Central Bank Chief

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Marina Maximova, special to RBTH – March 18, 2013) The appointment of new Central Bank chief Elvira Nabiulina sparked debates about the future of Russia’s monetary policy and banking system. While some experts are sceptical about Nabiullina’s competence others remain optimistic. After Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed Russia’s former economic minister Elvira Nabiullina […]

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Deputies Seek Probe Into Gudkov For ‘Supporting U.S.’

File Photo of Gennady Gudkov

MOSCOW, March 15 (RIA Novosti) ­ Deputies from the Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, accused their opposition-supporting colleague Dmitry Gudkov on Friday of supporting the United States against Russia, and have appealed to the its ethics commission to investigate his conduct. The deputies claim Gudkov, one of few dissenting voices left in the State Duma, gave a speech at […]

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Russia’s Rogozin Lashes Out at Corrupt Officials

Dmitry Rogozin file photo

MOSCOW, March 15 (RIA Novosti) – Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees the country’s military-industrial complex, called on Friday for harsher punishments for corrupt officials who “betray the motherland” by siphoning funds from defense projects. “These crimes must be punished in the harshest possible manner,” Rogozin told a meeting of officials from the Russian Federal Service for Defense […]

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Kremlin Slams Embarrassing Report that Claims United Russia Lost Duma Elections

Russian Duma Building

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris – March 14, 2013) The Kremlin said on March 13 that the author of a report that claims the ruling United Russia party actually lost the 2011 elections to the Communist Part of the Russian Federation thanks to fraud needs psychiatric help is surprising and extremely embarrassing. The report is embarrassing as […]

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No Reason For Early Dissolution of State Duma – MP

Duma Session file photo

MOSCOW. March 15 (Interfax) – The chairman of the State Duma Constitutional Legislation and State Development Committee, Vladimir Pligin, has said he sees no reason to dissolve the current State Duma before its term in office expires. “There are no grounds to dissolve the current State Duma, which was elected in accordance with laws and the constitution. That is why […]

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New Central Bank Chief likely to Focus on Growth

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Tim Wall, RBTH – March 15, 2013) Elvira Nabiullina will probably increase Kremlin control over the regulator, but have to balance conflicting demands for looser monetary policy and lower inflation. While President Vladimir Putin’s nomination of Elvira Nabiullina, a former economy minister, as Russia’s new Central Bank chief, has been hailed as a […]

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Nabiullina Likely to Pursue Dovish Policy, Yield to Political Pressure

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Howard Amos – March 14, 2013) Asked to end speculation about the identity of the next chairman of Russia’s Central Bank, President Vladimir Putin promised an “unexpected” candidate who would be well received. When it did come, the announcement that presidential adviser and former Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina would fill the post was a […]

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Russian Presidential Rights Council Calls for Denationalization of TV Channels

File Photo of Russian Television Studio

(Interfax – Moscow, 13 March 2013) The Presidential Council for Human Rights has called for a reform to denationalize federal TV channels in the next few years because it believes that the level of the authorities’ influence on their information policy is blocking the formation of an appropriate picture of modern Russian society. “The Council considers it necessary to recommend […]

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Kremlin Rebuffs Report Questioning Duma Vote

Duma Session file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Winning – March 14, 2013) Senior government officials on Wednesday rejected as pure fantasy a leaked report that cast doubt on the ruling United Russia party’s victory in the 2011 State Duma elections, saying its author should seek psychiatric help. The report, written by Stepan Sulakshin, director of the Governance and Problem Analysis Center, […]

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Without an Inspiring Project, Russia Will Disintegrate, Moscow Scholar Says

Map of Russia

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, March 14, 2013 – http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/03/window-on-eurasia-without-inspiring.html) Unless Russia’s “ruling class” comes up with a sufficiently grandiose project capable to inspire the population and give it a new “passionate impulse,” there is little chance that the country will remain “a unified state,” according to a scholar at the Presidential Academy of Economics and State […]

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Kickbacks Still ‘Dwarf’ Top Officials’ Salaries, Despite Raises

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Nikolaus von Twickel – March 14, 2013) The salaries of top state employees have doubled since December, but such remunerations remain minute compared with unlawful kickbacks to the echelons of power, an anti-corruption expert said Wednesday. Higher pay amounts to buying loyalty from bureaucrats, but state salaries can hardly act as an efficient tool against […]

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Siluanov Predicts Start of Major Privatizations in H2

Anton Siluanov file photo

GORKI. March 12 (Interfax) – Russia’s first major privatizations will begin in the second half of this year, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said. “We have not considered the timing, but I think that in any event the start will be in the second half,” Siluanov responded when asked when the first major privatizations would begin during a meeting conducted […]

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Kremlin Embarks on Personnel Intervention at Central Bank

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

MOSCOW. March 13 (Interfax) – One of the most suspenseful appointment decisions of the past year has come to an unexpected expected conclusion. On one hand, Kremlin adviser Elvira Nabiullina only recently emerged as a potential candidate to replace Sergei Ignatyev as chairman of the Central Bank of Russia (CBR). On the other, after President Vladimir Putin said that he […]

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Accusations of Plagiarism Become a Political Weapon

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Natalya Krainova – March 13, 2013) Members of the political opposition often accuse state officials of grandiose misdeeds, such as falsifying election results, stealing millions from state coffers, or even ordering the killings of their adversaries. Lately, they have begun accusing pro-Kremlin officials of a far less sinister offense, one more often leveled at schoolchildren […]

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Russia’s Regions Go Back to the Streets to Protest

Map of Russia

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Olga Doronina, special to RBTH – March 12, 2013) While Moscow’s street politicians take a breather, experts observe a rise of social activity in the Russian regions. In contrast to the capital, the demands of the Russian hinterland are social rather than political. In its monthly analytical ranking of social and political stability […]

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Local Heroes in Russia

Moscow Traffic file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Julia Reed in Moscow – March 13, 2013) The political demonstrations that started in December 2011 caught the headlines, but a Russian revolution to oust President Vladimir Putin failed to appear and the broad protest movement is petering out. However, those protests have given birth to the beginnings of a real civil society and […]

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Elections Commission Chief Slams Report Claiming 2011 Duma Elections were Rigged

Russian Duma Building

(Interfax – March 13, 2013) Russian Central Elections Commission (CEC) Chairman Vladimir Churov has criticized a report issued by a think-tank claiming that the 2011 elections to the State Duma were rigged and that the Communist Party actually garnered more votes in them than the United Russia party. A number of media outlets on Wednesday published conclusions from a report […]

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Russia Remains in Last Place for Public Trust

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Irina Filatova – March 13, 2013) The level of trust in government officials and business executives remains dramatically low in Russia, with most residents saying they are more inclined to rely on their colleagues and independent experts, a research company said Tuesday. Only 5 percent of Russians believe that any government official tends to tell […]

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Kremlin Probing State Companies Over Corruption

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 12, 2013) President Vladimir Putin has instructed major state companies to unofficially provide tax and financial authorities with information about their deals monthly in an effort to probe corruption. The Federal Tax Service and Federal Financial Monitoring Service receive the information in order to check whether corporate management is affiliated with any businesses, a […]

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At Putin’s Order, FSB Now Using Social Networks to Target Opposition

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, March 12, 2013 – http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/03/window-on-eurasia-at-putins-order-fsb.html) At the direction of President Vladimir Putin, the FSB is not only monitoring social networks but using one of their features to create problems for those opponents of the regime who use them by posting statements on their sites and then invoking the appearance of those materials […]

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The Magnitsky Money: From Russia … And Then What?

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Robert Coalson, Richard Solash – March 11, 2013) What if $230 million went missing and no one wanted to get it back? That is the puzzling question posed by Russia’s years of unwillingness to investigate the well-documented fraud claims made by lawyer and auditor Sergei Magnitsky. At least half a dozen European Union countries, plus Switzerland, […]

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Scandal Hits Duma Anti-Graft Chief

Russian Duma Building

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jonathan Earle – March 12, 2013) Irina Yarovaya, head of the State Duma’s powerful Anti-Corruption and Security Committee, on Monday became the latest United Russia deputy to face embarrassing allegations of ethics violations with the publication of a report accusing her of de facto owning a multimillion-dollar apartment. Despite declared earnings of 2.9 million rubles […]

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