In Russia’s media, censorship is silent; A new survey of 100 Russian journalists reveals their perceptions of professional challenges, objectivity and freedom.

Satellite Dishes

(opendemocracy.net – Nataliya Rostova – November 23, 2016) Nataliya Rostova is a visiting scholar at the Kennan Institute and author of the GorbyMedia project. The idea of conducting a survey of Russian journalists came to me after seeing something similar in New York magazine, which earlier this year polled 113 people working in the US media on the problems and […]

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Memorial publishes on its site list of almost 40,000 NKVD officials from 1935-1941

Joseph Stalin file photo

MOSCOW. Nov 24 (Interfax) – A database of almost 40,000 NKVD officials of the ‘Great Terror’ era was published on the website of the Memorial society, the organization told Interfax. “Access to A. N. Zhukov’s directory ‘Personnel of the State Security Bodies of the USSR. 1935-1939’ has been opened on the Memorial website,” Yan Rachinsky, co-chairman of the human rights […]

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Following Supreme Court Presidium’s verdict Navalny regains right to be elected until new trial concludes

Alexei Navalny file photo

MOSCOW. Nov 16 (Interfax) – The Russian Supreme Court Presidium’s decision to reverse the sentence in the Kirovles case against opposition activist Alexei Navalny and businessman Pyotr Ofitserov restored Navalny’s right to stand for election. “Alexei has a right to participate in elections at any level right now,” Navalny’s spokesperson Kira Yarmysh told Interfax on Wednesday. However, if a guilty […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian Opposition Leader Navalny’s Case Sent for Retrial” – AP

Alexei Navalny file photo

Russia’s Supreme Court on Wednesday scrapped a criminal conviction and sent the case of opposition leader Alexei Navalny for retrial, opening the door for his potential run for office.  … convicted in 2013 of embezzling timber …. Following unsuccessful appeals in Russia, Navalny, a trained lawyer, turned to the European Court of Human Rights which ruled in February that Russia […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Makes U-Turn After Evicting Amnesty From Moscow Office” – Reuters

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

… Amnesty International can return to the Moscow office it was evicted from this week, a Kremlin human rights adviser said on Thursday …. Amnesty has been a vocal critic of Russia over its bombing campaign in Syria and had said it believed the eviction might be part of an official crackdown on civil society groups. … Kremlin officials have […]

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For Russia’s Labor Migrants, a Life on the Edge; In slum settlements on the outskirts of Moscow, foreign workers are adjusting to the realities of Russia’s economic crisis.

Russian Migrant Workers file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Kupfer, Bradley Jardine – November 4, 2016) Not so long ago, the migrant population of Chelobityevo in northern Moscow lived in fear of the police. These were times when uniformed officers would descend on the village unannounced, beating and arresting undocumented workers in their path. Once, migrants were forced to strip naked in freezing […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Cultural figures stand up for artistic freedom in Russia”

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

Prominent figures from Russia’s art world are accusing the state of reintroducing censorship following a series of high-profile scandals in which conservative groups have forced the closure of exhibitions and performances. The state replies that it has the right to influence the contents of an artistic creation if it was commissioned by the government

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Russians Now Killing Doctors as Aggressiveness Spreads throughout Population, Commentator Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 16, 2016) Aggression in Russian society is “changing qualitatively,” Aleksey Tarasov says, with ordinary Russians now regularly attacking and even killing doctors and others whom they would never have lifted a finger against in the past and with an increasing share of Russians accepting this as the new normal. As a […]

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Russians May Care Far Less about Foreign Agent Designations than Kremlin Thinks

Kremlin and River

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 8, 2016) Vladimir Putin clearly expects that Russians will be put off by and avoid any organization his regime designates as “a foreign agent” because it receives money from abroad. But the experience of the Levada Center, one of the institutions he has classed in this way, suggests that the epithet […]

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Russian Memorial NGO receives “undesirable” funds – ministry

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

(Interfax – October 5, 2016) Russian human rights NGO Memorial has received funds from foreign organisations officially designated as “undesirable”, the Russian Justice Ministry press service has said, as quoted by privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax on 5 October. On the previous day, the ministry included Memorial on the list of “foreign agents” under controversial 2012 amendments to the law […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The murder that killed free media in Russia; A decade after the assassination of Anna Politkovskaya, news organisations increasingly avoid topics that could anger the Kremlin” – The Guardian (UK)/Shaun Walker

File Photo of Mourners with Photo of Anna Politkovskaya

 … In the decade since [Anna] Politkovskaya’s death, the space for independent journalism in Russia has narrowed …. Since 2006, the Committee to Protect Journalists has recorded 20 journalists’ killings, while Freedom House has counted 63 violent attacks on reporters. But for the most part, the threat of closure keeps publications in line and encourages self-censorship. … news sources have […]

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Most Russians Say They Want to Live in a Democracy But Don’t Support Democratic Values, Survey Finds

Russia Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 3, 2016) A majority of Russians – 57 percent – say they want to live in a democratic state, according to a new survey conducted by Germany’s Friedrich-Nauman Foundation; but an equal or even larger number of them support government actions that undermine any chance of Russia becoming a liberal democracy. […]

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Russia’s Abortion Debate Is Back

Ultrasound and Photo of Prenatal Child file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ola Cichowlas – September 29, 2016) Abortion rights are on the minds of citizens and officials across Europe this week. In Ireland, protesters marched through the streets of Dublin in the thousands demanding their government hold a referendum to repeal restrictive abortion laws. The same week, the Polish parliament shocked Europe by voting through a […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Implicated in Shooting Down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Over Ukraine” – New York Times

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

A Dutch-led investigation has concluded that the powerful surface-to-air missile system … used to shoot down a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine two years ago, killing all 298 on board, was trucked in from Russia at the request of Russian-backed separatists and returned to Russia the same night. … largely confirm[ing] the already widely documented Russian government role not only […]

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Interfax: Kremlin criticises media’s take of “Yarovaya laws”

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

(Interfax – September 26, 2016) The Kremlin has criticised media coverage of the so-called “Yarovaya package” of anti-terrorist laws, accusing journalists of being too emotional in their reporting and exaggerating the laws’ provisions, privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax reported on 26 September. “All of these themes are being reflected in the media within a very lively discussion. Much of it […]

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Kremlinology: an intervention; Protests and strikes across Russia show that the country’s “silent majority” is becoming louder. But are pundits even listening?

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

(opendemocracy.net – Sean Guillory – September 13, 2016) Sean Guillory lives in Pittsburgh. He hosts the SRB podcast, a weekly podcast on Eurasian politics, history and culture, and blogs for seansrussiablog.org. You can follow him on Twitter @seansrussiablog. Writings on contemporary Russia are mostly variations on the same subject: Vladimir Putin; his rise to and iron grip on power. Western […]

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Russian Opposition Just as Moscow-Centric as Russian Regime, Shtepa Says

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, September 13, 2016) Russian opposition figures who took part in recent discussions in Tallinn and Vilnius said many “just words” about how totally predictable the upcoming elections in Russia will be, Vadim Shtepa says. But they were also totally predictable in focusing “almost exclusively” on Moscow and how Muscovites will react. Participants […]

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Russian Security Services Forced to Reveal Home Searches

Stylized Artist's Depiction of Shadowy Figures in Dark Coats and Dark Hats, One Carrying a Briefcase

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – September 7, 2016) Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) must now inform home owners and residents if their property is searched by government agents. The FSB must notify residents 24 hours after the search has taken place, according to a new decree signed on Aug. 12. Contact can be made by post, email or fax, telephone, […]

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The terror against Ukraine’s journalists is fueled by political elites

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

The inaction of law-enforcement institutions and unrestricted hate speech by top officials is enabling further violence against Ukrainian journalists. (opendemocracy.net – Maxim Eristavi – September 6, 2016) Maxim Eristavi is a Ukrainian journalist, writer and civil rights advocate. He is a co-founder of Hromadske International, foreign news desk for the region’s biggest independent broadcaster. Watching a video of journalists running […]

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In Putin’s ‘Corporate Fascist State,’ Ideological Labels like ‘Liberal’ are Irrelevant, Inozemtsev Says

Vladimir Putin

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 22) It is a profound mistake to discuss Kremlin politics in terms of liberal, conservative or any of the other ideological labels, Vladislav Inozemtsev says, because in “the corporate state of a fascist type” that Putin has established, individuals even just below the supreme leader are “cogs” in a machine who […]

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Angry Farmers Stage Tractor March on Moscow

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Howard Amos – August 22, 2016) Several hundred farmers from southern Russia complained of intense police harassment Monday as they entered the second day of a drive towards Moscow they are staging to raise awareness about the problem of local corruption. In the space of 24 hours, their convoy of tractors and cars was stopped […]

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Putin’s Latest Personnel Changes Make a Stable Long-Term Dictatorship More Likely, Pastukhov Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 15, 2016) The retirement of Sergey Ivanov as head of the Presidential administration, whatever the proximate causes, “symbolizes a change in eras of the Putin administration,” from one of a kind of collective leadership to a one-man dictatorship that is likely to last a long time, according to Vladimir Pastukhov. Ivanov’s […]

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Detention of PARNAS party members in Russia’s Tatarstan “absolutely stupid” on part of local law enforcement agencies – Russian Central Elections Commission head

File Photo of Mosque in Kazan and other Landmarks

MOSCOW. Aug 16 (Interfax) – The detention of PARNAS party members in Tatarstan is a sign of the local law enforcement agencies’ lawlessness, Russian Central Elections Commission (CEC) Chairperson Ella Pamfilova said. “This is outrageous. The mildest words here are: it’s absolutely stupid. This is direct connivance with the law enforcement agencies; the Tatarstan authorities have never been notable for […]

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On Russian studies [and Re: “Opportunities and Constraints of Authoritarian Modernisation: Russian Policy Reforms in the 2000s”]

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

Subject: On Russian studies Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2016 From: Brian D Taylor <bdtaylor@maxwell.syr.edu> Thanks again for all you do with JRL. It’s a very valuable resource. I would like to say, though, that “real Russian studies” are not particularly rare. If you ask social scientists who study Russia, they could point you to many detailed analyses of practically every […]

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In Ukraine, not only heroes deserve justice; A Ukrainian blogger sentenced for his scandalous views on the conflict in the Donbas has just been released. Whatever his shortcomings, Ruslan Kotsaba deserved our solidarity.

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

(OpenDemocracy – opendemocracy.net – Maxim Edwards and Thomas Rowley – July 17, 2016) Maxim Edwards is Commissioning Editor at oDR. Tom Rowley is Lead Editor at oDR. He is currently finishing a PhD on Soviet dissent at the University of Cambridge. Last Thursday, Ruslan Kotsaba addressed journalists in a west Ukrainian courthouse, tears running down his face. “This is a […]

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Russian ‘Gun-For-Hire’ Rinat Akhmetshin Lurks In Shadows Of Washington’s Lobbying World

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Mike Eckel – WASHINGTON – July 17, 2016) The hoots and jeers began the minute the movie ended and the lights went up on the seventh floor of the Newseum, a Washington museum dedicated to the free press. The film was a semifictionalized look at the story of Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian lawyer who helped uncover […]

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Helping Russia’s broken women to get back on their feet

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

Dozens of crisis centers operate in Russia to help women caught up in desperate situations and left without help from their families. Some of them have nowhere to live, while others are trying to get away from their alcoholic, wife-beating husbands. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – OLEG SKRIPNIK, SPECIAL TO RBTH – July 14, 2016) There are three […]

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NEWSLINK RBTH: “Russia’s strict new anti-terror laws: What is the debate about? A new package of “anti-terrorist” laws adopted by the State Duma on the last day of the legislative season has the potential to affect many areas of the lives of ordinary Russians. What do lawmakers hope to achieve with the new legislation and why has it been criticized?”

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VIDEO & TRANSCRIPT: The Baltics Remember, Russia Forgets

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

(RFE/RL – The Daily Vertical: Brian Whitmore – June 15, 2016) [Video further below] Seventy-five years ago this week, an ethnic cleansing campaign began. Seventy-five years ago this week, tens of thousands of people were uprooted from their homes, from their lives, and from their families. Seventy-five years ago this week — when the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were […]

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Grant policy should counterbalance ‘foreign agents’ – Russian human rights ombudsman

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

MOSCOW. June 9 (Interfax) – Russian human rights ombudsman Tatyana Moskalkova called for the streamlining of grant policies in Russia to support socially-oriented organizations. “[It is necessary] to change or improve grant policies, it is significantly important for counterbalancing these developments which resulted in so-called ‘foreign agents’,” she said at an Open Tribune meeting on issues of civil society development […]

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Jailed for a repost: The definition of extremism in Russia gets ever looser

Kremlin and River

Russia has seen a dramatic rise in criminal prosecutions on charges of internet extremism over the last few months. Yet most of these cases concern not the creation of extremist content but retweeting, liking or reposting it. RBTH found out more. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH – June 7, 2016) On Feb. 20, Yekaterina Vologzhenova, […]

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Five Foreign Organizations Declared ‘Undesirable’ in Russia This Year

Yury Chaika file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – June 9, 2016) Five foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been labelled “undesirable” by the Kremlin in the past year, the Vedomosti newspaper reported Wednesday. Russia’s Prosecutor General Yury Chaika told the State Duma that investigations into the NGOs are continuing with the help of the Foreign Ministry. The investigations seek to establish if the NGOs […]

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RBTH: The Georgian on their mind: Why Russians still approve of Stalin

Joseph Stalin file photo

Public opinion surveys show that today support for Stalin in Russia is the highest it has been since the fall of the Soviet Union. More than half of Russians believe that he played a positive role in the history of the country and the Communist Party is even planning to use the image of the Soviet leader in the next […]

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Many Fear Real Elections Will Bring Fascism to Russia But Their Absence Helps It Rise, Piontkovsky Says

Arm and Torso of Person in Brown Sweater Placing Paper Ballot into Ballot Box

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 21, 2016) Both before the 1917 revolution and since 1991, Russian liberals and their foreign backers have often feared that genuine elections, ones in which the outcome was not determined by those in power who supposedly were committed to reform might lead either to a return to communism or the rise […]

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‘I Will Never Return To Donetsk’ — Conflict Reduces One Woman’s Life To Rubble

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

Former Donetsk resident Nadia Zaslavska spoke to Dmitry Volchek from RFE/RL’s Russian Service about why the conflict in eastern Ukraine drove her from the city even though she had spent many happy years living there. (RFE/RL – rferl.org – May 24, 2016) I was born in the Dnipropetrovsk region but I spent more than 30 years in Donetsk. I built […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Former U.S. diplomat criticizes Canada’s ‘weakness’ on Russia” [Michael McFaul] – The Globe and Mail (Canada)

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

… Obama’s former ambassador to Russia says Canada is showing a ‘sign of weakness’ by not pushing ahead with a promised U.S.-style Magnitsky Act that would punish Russians deemed to be human-rights violators with visa bans and asset freezes. … McFaul, who served as the U.S. envoy to Moscow from 2012 to 2014 and before that was … Obama’s special […]

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Russian Charities to Be Exempt From ‘Foreign Agent’ Label

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 18, 2016) Charities are no longer to be classified as “foreign agents” if they receive money from abroad, according to a new amendment approved by the Russian State Duma. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in areas such as art and culture will also be exempt from the “foreign agent” label, the Interfax news agency reported […]

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Eurovision meets its Waterloo as Russia-Ukraine rivalry takes center stage

Joseph Stalin file photo

While Russian officials lost no time in lashing out over Ukraine’s Eurovision victory with a song about the Stalinist deportations of the Crimean Tatars, the results of the public vote suggest that Russia-Ukrainian enmity doesn’t extend to the general public. But the overtly political nature of the winning song may mark a watershed for the competition. (Russia Beyond the Headlines […]

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Ukrainian blogger gets long sentence for expressing contentious views

Ukraine Map and Flag

(Human Rights in Ukraine – khpg.org – Halya Coynash – May 13, 2016) Ruslan Kotsaba, a controversial Ivano-Frankivsk journalist and blogger, has been sentenced to three and a half years’ imprisonment. The Ivano-Frankivsk City Court found the journalist, who has been in detention for 14 months guilty of obstructing the legitimate activities of the Ukrainian Armed Forces over a video […]

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Jailed for Protesting Against the Kremlin – Life 4 Years After Bolotnaya

Russian Riot Police file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Eva Hartog – May 13, 2016) The Bolotnoye protest followed disputed parliamentary elections that saw the ruling United Russia secure a narrow parliamentary majority and Putin return to the presidency. The lights went out without so much as a flicker in the Moscow apartment shared by Andrei Barabanov, his mother and girlfriend one evening in […]

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‘All Its Members Faced Jail’: Alekseyeva Recalls Birth Of Russia’s Oldest Rights Group

Lyudmila Alekseyeva file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Claire Bigg, Yelena Polyakovskaya – May 12, 2016) Few activists today can speak firsthand about the creation of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Russia’s oldest operating human rights organization, 40 years ago. Lyudmila Alekseyeva is one of them. At 88, she is Russia’s best-known human rights activist and among the last Soviet-era dissidents still active in the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “As Russians Struggle to Pay Bills, Debt Collectors Mimic the Mob” – New York Times

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

They have stripped and sexually abused a woman, severely burned a toddler by firebombing a house and broken a woman’s pinkie as a warning. Gang members, bandits, mobsters? … These are debt collectors, a peculiarly Russian variety … flourishing amid the country’s economic turmoil. … With unpaid debts mushrooming, collection has turned into something of a blood sport reminiscent of […]

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NEWSLINK Russia Direct/Marina Obrazkova: “Making sense of Russia’s strange new choice to defend human rights. The appointment of new human rights ombudswoman Tatyana Moskalkova has provoked a mixed reaction within Russian society in part because she is a former law enforcement official and a conservative politician who supported a series of controversial laws”

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Alarm bells ring as chief Maidan crimes investigator threatened with criminal charges

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(Human Rights in Ukraine – khpg.org – Halya Coynash – April 21, 2016) Civic activists and Euromaidan victims’ lawyers have sounded the alarm about a major offensive against Serhiy Horbatyuk and his special investigative department which has been described as the “last bastion within the Prosecutor General’s Office really doing anything to investigate Euromaidan-related crimes”.  Several criminal investigations have been […]

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Russia’s in the red: As Russia’s personal debt crisis spirals out of control, collectors are turning to violence to ensure people pay on time. These stories aren’t for the fainthearted.

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

(opendemocracy.net – Sean Guillory – April 14, 2016) Sean Guillory lives in Pittsburgh, where he hosts the SRB podcast, a weekly podcast on Eurasian politics, history and culture, and blogs at seansrussiablog.org. You can follow him on Twitter @seansrussiablog. At this point, I should be numb to Russian horror stories. But several days ago, the following story struck a chord, […]

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Putin calls free press enemy of frauds, bribers, not administration

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

ST. PETERSBURG. April 7 (Interfax) – The free press can be an enemy only for frauds and bribers, not the administration as such, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “The free press can only be an enemy for frauds, bribers and criminals, but there can be no such situation for the administration as such, which is serving people,” Putin said at […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Three Rules of Kremlin Power” – New York Times/Maxim Trudolyubov

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

… Stalin and … Putin … are very different leaders living in very different times. I just cannot help noticing that they seem to follow the same playbook for being a successful autocrat. … Rule No. 1 calls for attributing all victories to oneself — regardless of who or what contributed to the perceived success. … Rule No. 2: Failures […]

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NEWSWATCH Kyiv Post: “Protester who tore up Poroshenko’s photo gets 4.5 years in jail”

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

A court in Vinnytsia, a city 270 kilometers southwest from Kyiv, sentenced local activist Yuriy Pavlenko to 4.5 years in prison for hooliganism with a use of a weapon. Pavlenko denies the charges, saying that he is being punished for publicly tearing up the portrait of Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko during a protest action. … activists protested to stop the […]

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Constitutional Crisis in Russia and How to Resolve It

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

(Institute of Modern Russia – imrussia.org – March 28, 2016) [Full report here imrussia.org/en/news/2540-constitutional-crisis-in-russia-and-how-to-resolve-it] Today, there is every indication that Russia is facing an anti-constitutional coup. Power is being concentrated in the hands of unconstitutional authorities who have replaced constitutional institutions. It isn’t clear who Russia is governed by, let alone who controls its people. What are the specifics of […]

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