Like Stalin, Putin hasn’t Changed the Rules of the Game; He’s Destroyed Them, Portnikov Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 28, 2015) The Anschluss of Crimea and the murder of Boris Nemtsov were not continuations of the rules of the game that had existed before, with the first following the 2008 Russian actions in Georgia and the second that of murders like Galina Starovoitova and Anna Politkovskaya, Vitaly Portnikov says. Instead, […]

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Russian ombudsman slams ex-Defence Ministry official’s parole as “elite” justice

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Interfax – August 25, 2015) Russian human rights ombudsman Ella Pamfilova has strongly condemned a court decision to release on parole Yevgeniya Vasilyeva, a key figure in the Oboronservis case, suggesting the move amounted to “elite” justice, privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax reported on 25 August. Earlier on 25 August, a court in Vladimir Region granted Vasilyeva parole after she […]

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Putin’s ‘New People’ are the Black Hundreds of Today, Golts Says

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

(Paul Goble – Windows on Eurasia – Staunton, August 22, 2015) Vladimir Putin’s “new people,” the lumpen who are prepared to take the law into their own hands in the name of advancing the goals of the Kremlin leader that they think are being undermined by the bureaucracy and oligarchs, are the exact equivalent of the Black Hundreds that carried […]

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Turning Opinions of Disability Upside Down

File Photo of Back of Wheelchari with Line of Persons in Business Dress in Background

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jordan Reed – August 25, 2015) This weekend the charitable organization Downside Up, which helps children with Down syndrome and their families, raised money and awareness for the cause with a cycling event through Moscow and Kaluga region. The 20th event of its kind saw 100 participants cycle 100km in Kaluga region on Saturday and […]

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Unlike Stalin’s Show-Trial Victims, Russia’s Political Defendants Don’t Back Down

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

(RFE/RL – Robert Coalson – August 20, 2015) There are, of course, many differences between the infamous show trials of Josef Stalin’s Great Terror and the politically convenient prosecutions of the political adversaries of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Stalin liked to try his victims in huge mass productions on blatantly political charges and then march them off for summary execution […]

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New Policy on Commemorating Victims of Repression At Odds With Actions

Joseph Stalin file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – August 20, 2015) The government announced a new policy this week condemning attempts to justify mass Soviet repression, a move that appears to directly contradict official rhetoric and state actions during the last few years. The move shows a lack of unity in the Kremlin on the ideological front, or even the […]

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NEWSLINK Washington Post: Russia’s summer of intrigue: Political trials take center stage.

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

Ukrainians Will Need a Generation to Overcome Trauma from Russian War, Émigré Psychotherapist Says

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(Paul Goble – Staunton, August 18, 2015) Madlen Rozenblum, an émigré psychotherapist who has been helping Ukrainians with Skype consultations and training sessions, says that Ukrainians are going to need a generation or even more to overcome the traumas inflicted on them by Russian aggression there. While different Ukrainians have experienced the trauma of war differently, she told Novy Region […]

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Dagestan: Living on the front line of Russia’s fight against terror

Map of Russia Highlighting Dagestan

For several years already, Russia’s southernmost republic Dagestan has been the epicenter of terrorist activity in the country, with state law-enforcement agencies and special services engaged in a continuous struggle to identify and neutralize terror cells. However, as RBTH reports, these anti-terrorist units do not always use the most humane methods, which inevitably complicates the lives of local residents. (Russia […]

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NEWSLINK Globe and Mail (Canada): “Russia’s Brief, Shining Moment”

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

Mark MacKinnon visits the unassuming city in the shadow of the Urals where, not long ago and for not very long, free expression was allowed to flourish. In fact, it was encouraged and even financed by the state. Then something happened.

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NEWSLINK Washingtonpost/Lev Golkin: “Eastern Ukraine needs help, not isolation”

Ukraine Air Crash Scene with Uniformed Security Personnel, Flames, Smoke

Twenty-five years ago, my family was stuck in then-Soviet Ukraine. We had nothing, and the West, including the United States, helped us and hundreds of thousands of other refugees even though we were technically “Soviet puppets,” born on the wrong side of the line. Today is a different story. Isolating a region for geopolitical considerations is one thing; withholding life-saving […]

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Georgy Satarov: ‘The Opposition Needs to Put the Authorities in Zugzwang’

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

(Institute of Modern Russia – imrussia.org – August 12, 2015) As part of the Institute of Modern Russia’s ongoing interview series with Russian and Western experts, imrussia.org editor-in-chief Olga Khvostunova sat down with INDEM Foundation president Georgy Satarov to talk about social discontent, the consequences of the law on ”undesirable organizations,” the principle of simplification in Putin’s politics, and the […]

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Kremlin Forms NGO Expert Group

Kremlin and River

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 11, 2015) The Kremlin has announced the creation of an expert group to consider changes to a controversial law that labels NGOs receiving funding from abroad as “foreign agents,” the RBC news agency reported Monday, citing deputy presidential chief of staff Vyacheslav Volodin. The group will work within the presidential administration and will consist […]

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BOOK REVIEW: “We are in power; that is democracy”

Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Chris Weafer in Moscow – August 11, 2015) “Boris Yeltsin was able to have a constitution adopted in a referendum that guaranteed him broad powers and an almost complete lack of checks and balances – the first major step toward the poisoning of Russia’s political institutions and guaranteeing the transition to Vladimir Putin”. That […]

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‘Is your mum a foreign agent?’

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

Russian NGOs, large and small, are facing closure after the blacklisting of their foreign funders. Colta.ru speaks to some of the organisations affected. (opendemocracy.net/Colta.ru – EKATERINA SELIVANOVA, NADEZHDA KONOBEYEVSKAYA, and YAKOV KAPITONOV – August 11, 2015) Ekaterina Selivanova is a Moscow-based journalist. She writes for Colta.ru and The New Times. Nadezhda Konobeyevskaya is an independent journalist, and writes for Novaya […]

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Faced with Any Kremlin Action, Russians Want Explanations Not Change, Kirillova Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 9, 2015) Many analysts in Russia and the West are speculating about whether the burning of food at the Russian border will finally be enough to spark major protests in Russia.  But they are missing the point: faced with any Kremlin action, no matter how absurd and immoral, Russians want explanations […]

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Most Russians Like Soviet Symbols But Lack Knowledge about Soviet Past – and That is Dangerous

dont-talk-soviet-poster

(Paul Goble – Staunton, August 7, 2015) A VTsIOM poll shows that the overwhelming majority of Russians have a positive attitude toward Soviet symbols but that a significant share of them do not know what those symbols stand for, a measure of the extent to which the Soviet past is being rapidly transformed for many of them from a harsh […]

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Moscow Times/VTsIOM/Penn: Six in Ten Russians Would Support Internet Censorship During a Crisis

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – August 4, 2015) Nearly six in 10 Russians would support the government if it decided to pull the plug on Internet access inside the country in a crisis situation, a recent poll indicates. Support for online censorship or cutting off Internet access altogether was the highest among Russians who never or rarely […]

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Human rights activists fear Soros Foundation to leave Russia

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Interfax – August 3, 2015) The Soros Foundation could follow the MacArthur Foundation and National Endowment for Democracy and leave Russia, veteran of the human rights movement and head of the Civil Assistance committee Svetlana Gannushkina said. “I am afraid that the Soros Foundation is leaving Russia,” she said. According to Gannushkina, the probability exists that the Soros Foundation will […]

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Russian Poll Shows Strong Support For Internet Censorship

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – August 3, 2015) A new poll shows that nearly three-fifths of Russians would support “shutting off the Internet” in the event of a national emergency. According to the poll by the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM), 58 percent of Russians would support such a move, while 49 percent support the idea of […]

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US expands sanctions day after Russia vetoes MH17 UN tribunal

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

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – bne IntelliNews – July 31, 2015) [DJ: US Department of Treasury press release here http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl0133.aspx] The US Department of Treasury announced on July 30 it would expand the sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian companies, officials and individuals, which “underscores US commitment to maintain the strength of existing sanctions and the unity of the international […]

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NEWSWATCH The Economist: Russia’s prisons. Putin v Punk Pussy. A brave, brassy singer highlights the plight of Russia’s other inmates.

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

The Economist magazine covers prisoners rights activism by Pussy Riot member Nadia Tolokonnikova. At the last count there were 657,000 Russians behind bars, one of the world’s highest ratios of prisoners to population. … The frequency of deaths in custody amounts to a ‘Russian Ebola’. Tuberculosis is the commonest killer, she says, followed by HIV-AIDS, which may affect 75,000 prisoners. … … prisoners routinely […]

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Ukrainian refugees in Russia receive a mixed welcome; Many people took refuge in Russia after fleeing eastern Ukraine last summer. Their experiences are far from uniform

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(opendemocracy.net – Dmitry Okrest – July 28, 2015) Dmitry Okrest is a former staff writer with The New Times and currently works as an independent journalist. While the West thinks Russia is fighting a war with Ukraine, and Moscow calls the conflict a ‘civil war’, civilians continue to flee the combat zone in eastern Ukraine. Last summer, many people made […]

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Russian human rights activists lodge appeals against law on “foreign agent” NGOs

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

(Interfax – July 22, 2015) A number of Russian human rights advocacy organizations have lodged court appeals against their classification as “foreign agents”, privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax reported on 22 July. Earlier the Russian Justice Ministry released a statement saying it had sent messages to a number of NGOs working in the human rights sector and included on the […]

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MacArthur Foundation to close office in Russia over restrictive new laws

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Anna Sorokina, RBTH, combined report – July 22, 2015) The U.S.-based MacArthur Foundation has announced that it is to cease its work in Russia in connection with new legislation that seeks to limit the activities of foreign organizations seen as a threat to national security. The MacArthur NGO, which receives no funding from […]

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Will the patriotic stop list kill Russia’s NGOs? Since 2012, Russian NGOs receiving funding from abroad have had to register as ‘foreign agents’. A new patriotic ‘stop list’ might shut this funding off forever.

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

(opendemocracy.net – Vyacheslav Kozlov – July 22, 2015) Vyacheslav Kozlov is a journalist for daily newspaper Kommersant. He writes on international relations, nationalism, extremism, narco-politics, the Russian opposition and the problems facing Russia’s NGOs. He has at various times worked for Vremya Novostei, Moskovskiye Novosti and the online publication Gazeta.ru. His work has also appeared in Novaya Gazeta and Lenta.ru. […]

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Human rights NGOs hope to prove they are not foreign agents after Justice Ministry warning

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

(Interfax – July 22, 2015) Leading Russian human rights organizations that have received warnings from the Justice Ministry intend to go to court to seek their removal from the register of NGOS classed as foreign agents. “We disagree with being entered on this register. We will go to court,” Svetlana Gannushkina, the head of the committee Civil Assistance, told Interfax […]

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Interfax: MH17 investigators have yet to establish type of missile – Dutch prosecutors

Ukraine Air Crash Scene with Uniformed Security Personnel, Flames, Smoke

(Interfax – July 17, 2015) An international group of investigators probing the crash of the Malaysian Boeing in eastern Ukraine have yet to find out whether the plane was shot down from the ground or from the air, according to the Dutch prosecutor general’s office. “We are investigating the scenario of the ground-to-air missile that downed MH17 and the other […]

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The Day Putin Became A Pariah

Ukraine Air Crash Scene with Uniformed Security Personnel, Flames, Smoke

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – July 16, 2015) It was the day Moscow’s dreams of empire cost European lives. It was the day the Kremlin lost its last vestiges of credibility. It was the day when it became impossible to continue even pretending that Vladimir Putin’s regime was anything close to respectable. It was the day the mask […]

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UN: At least 5 million Ukrainian citizens in need of humanitarian aid

UN Building file photo

(Interfax – July 10, 2015) At least 5 million Ukrainian citizens are in need of humanitarian aid, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on July 10. And 1.4 million of them are internally displaced persons. According to the information of the UN, the most vulnerable group is people living in the area of the so-called “contact […]

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Russian Presidential Council for Human Rights slams law on “foreign agents”

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

(Interfax – Moscow, July 7, 2015) The Russian Presidential Council for Human Rights insists on the immediate cancellation of the Justice Ministry decision to include Dynasty [Dinastiya] and Liberal Mission foundations in the list of NGOs that are foreign agents and review of the law on NGOs. “Since the first days of the existence of this very approximate and therefore […]

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Federation Council to present ‘patriotic stop-list’ of 12 NGOs to Prosecutor General’s Office, Foreign Ministry

Russia Regions Map

(Interfax – July 7, 2015) The ‘patriotic stop-list’ drawn up by the Federation Council consists of twelve foreign NGOs, Federation Council Chairperson Valentina Matviyenko has said at a press conference. “At our meeting tomorrow we will pass a related appeal to the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Russian Foreign Ministry and will present our patriotic stop-list consisting of twelve foreign […]

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NEWSLINK Euromaidan Press: Putin regime can’t be reformed, only replaced, like its Soviet predecessor, Yakovenko says

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

“Having unleashed the imperial self-consciousness of the population, Yakovenko continues, ‘Putin not only does not want but cannot stop this insanity. He already lacks the powers to stop the war he began in Ukraine, even if he wanted to. He lacks the power to stop the hysteria of hatred in the media.’

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Consumer-Rights Advocate Calls Putin ‘Paranoid’ After ‘Foreign-Agent’ Slur

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, June 24, 2015) A Russian consumer-protection group lambasted by President Vladimir Putin as a “foreign agent” after giving cautionary advice to Russians traveling to annexed Crimea has accused Putin of “paranoia” and called him “badly informed.” Mikhail Anshakov, chairman of the Moscow-based Society for the Protection of Consumer Rights (OZPP), said his […]

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Moscow Edges Closer to First Referendum Since Soviet Collapse

FSB Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – June 23, 2015) Moscow looks set to get its first referendum in post-Soviet times – and one of the burning issues on the ballot will be the restoration of a monument to the founder of the secret police to central Moscow. On June 11, the Moscow election committee approved the Communist Party’s […]

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Interfax: Chechen leader on Nemtsov murder, investments, oil, Ukraine, marriage

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

(Interfax – June 18, 2015) The Kremlin-backed leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has suggested that the murderers of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov should be sought in Ukraine, rather than in Chechnya. He praised his region’s economic potential and oil reserves. Kadyrov also slammed Committee Against Torture Russian human rights organization, accusing them of following the West’s guidelines to Russia’s detriment. […]

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Nearly 90% of Russians Oppose Polygamy, Poll Shows

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jennifer Monaghan – June 3, 2015) Weeks after a Chechen police chief took a 17-year-old local girl as his second bride, a state-run pollster has revealed that 87 percent of Russians stand opposed to the practice of polygamy among the population as a whole. The figure, based on a poll conducted by VTsIOM, represents a […]

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Kremlin Critic Emerges From Coma

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

(RFE/RL – June 2, 2015) Friends and allies of prominent Russian opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza, Jr., who mysteriously fell ill with poisoning symptoms in Moscow, say he has regained consciousness after a weeklong coma. “Vladimir has come out of a coma,” former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky said in a June 2 tweet. Kara-Murza, 33, is a coordinator for Open […]

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Interfax: Probable Nemtsov murder weapon found

Nemtsov March of Mourning

(Interfax – June 3, 2015) The police have found a handgun which probably killed opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, a source familiar with the situation has told Interfax. “The murder weapon has been found and enclosed in materials in the proceeding, examinations are in progress,” he said. The source added that the detectives had found several handguns, each of which was […]

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Russian Constitutional Court says election monitor not “foreign agent”

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

(Interfax – May 27, 2015) Russia’s Constitutional Court has again stated that a non-governmental organization (NGO) does not have to declare itself as a “foreign agent” if it has not used funds sent to its accounts from foreign sources, privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax reported on 27 May. The court made the statement, published on its website, in response to […]

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Russia Could Use Prison Labor For 2018 World Cup

putin-fifa-meeting

(RFE/RL – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, May 25, 2015) A prominent member of parliament for the ruling United Russia party has drafted a bill to allow enterprises to employ thousands of convicts as a cheap workforce to build infrastructure for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The legal amendments reported on May 25 in leading business daily Kommersant create a mechanism […]

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Rights Groups Condemn ‘Dangerous’ Russian Undesirables Law

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, May 26, 2015) Rights groups named as potential targets of a new law allowing the government to brand international organizations “undesirable” and shutter their Russia operations have criticized the legislation, calling it a “dangerous” new weapon in a Kremlin campaign to suppress civil society. Activists expressed concern on May 26 that the […]

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NEWSLINK UNIAN: Ukrainian prisoners in Donbas made slaves in Chechnya, relatives say

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

From 400 to 700 Ukrainians captured in the Donbas conflict zone have been taken to Russia, and many sold into slavery in Chechnya, Ossetia and Adygea, according to an open letter of the relatives of prisoners to the Russian human rights defenders published on the Web site of Open Russia public organization on Wednesday, a Ukrainian news broadcaster has reported. […]

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NEWSLINK Reuters: Russia plans detailed discussion on raising retirement age: document

retirees-500

The Russian government has for the first time said officially it will hold discussions on raising the retirement age, a step whose supporters say is vital because the country’s workforce is shrinking. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/14/us-russia-crisis-pensions-idUSKBN0NZ27R20150514

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Putin Declares War on Russians’ Health

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Marc Champion – May 14, 2015) At what point will Russians begin to question the choices being made by their government? Maybe when those choices start killing them. As Bloomberg’s Ilya Arkhipov and Henry Meyer report, Russia’s health system has suffered a severe reversal as a lower oil price has reduced government revenue and spending. Forced to pick […]

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NEWSLINK Washington Post: Boris Nemtsov’s last act of courage

Nemtsov March of Mourning

IN THE final years of his life, Boris Nemtsov never gave up on politics in Russia, even when many others were discouraged or frightened away from standing up to President Vladimir Putin. Mr. Nemtsov, once in the front ranks of Russia’s post-Soviet reformers, in the last decade and a half became a persistent Putin critic. To some, he was a […]

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