TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Human Rights Commissioner Tatiana Moskalkova

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Kremlin.ru – May 5, 2017) Tatiana Moskalkova presented to the President the annual report on the human rights situation. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. You are here to present the annual report. Human Rights Commissioner Tatiana Moskalkova: Mr President, in accordance with Federal Constitutional Law, I would like to present the annual report of the Human Rights Commissioner. […]

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Behind the Russian mirror; For Russia’s media, social inequality has never been a hot topic. Meet the people behind a new media organisation trying put injustice on Russia’s political agenda.

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

(opendemocracy.net – Maxim Edwards – April 15, 2017) Maxim Edwards is Commissioning Editor at oDR. He writes on nationalism, migration, minorities and memory, with a focus on post-Soviet countries. His articles have appeared in Al-Jazeera, Al Monitor, Souciant and the Forward among other publications. Read the latest in our ongoing Unlikely Media series. As part of this series, oDR profiles […]

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NEWSWATCH: Re: Attack on Kyiv activist – Jeffrey Burds/ Facebook

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

[Jeffrey Burds reported on Facebook about the stabbing of university student and activist Stas Sergienko in Ukraine. An initial post is embedded below. Further information here: facebook.com/jeffrey.burds?hc_ref=NEWSFEED&fref=nf] “URGENT: I have very sad news to report. This afternoon, 20 April 2017, our friend and outspoken activist in Kyiv, a young university student Stas Sergienko was followed by a ‘Nazi gang’ and stabbed multiple times. Thankfully, Stas survived–after emergency […]

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Russia’s prison service is keeping its abuses under lock and key; Despite signs of early change, the cover-up of torture inside Russia’s prison service demands reform.

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

(opendemocracy.net – Bulat Mukhamedzhanov – March 31, 2017) Bulat Mukhamedzhanov is coordinator for Zona prava, which provides legal and informational support to prisoners and criminal defendants in #Russia. Right now, 17 prison officers are on trial in the southern Russian regions of Krasnodar and Kalmykia – they’re accused of meting out severe beatings to their charges, two of whom died […]

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NEWSLINK: “Where Will Russia’s Protests Lead? The anticorruption wave could give way to greater instability” – The National Interest/Alexander Lukin

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

“March 26 saw widespread protests against corruption in Moscow and several other big Russian cities. The formal cause was the absence of reaction by the authorities to the film He Is Not Dimon to You, produced and distributed online by the Foundation Against Corruption, headed by opposition activist Alexei Navalny. The film accused Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of corruption, showing […]

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More On Russia’s Protests

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore, The Morning Vertical – March 28, 2017) … There is no shortage of commentary on nationwide protests in Russia on March 26. Here’s a sampling: In The Atlantic, Julia Ioffe explains the significance of this past weekend’s protest. Leonid Ragozin has a piece in Bloomberg looking at Navalny’s campaign operation in Siberia and what […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Russian regime’s critics are falling dead, but their discontent can’t be killed” – Washington Post

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

“… #Voronenkov … #Gorokhov … only the latest in the string of violence and death that has trailed those who criticize … #Putin and his regime. Boris #Nemtsov … was assassinated while walking home across a bridge within sight of the #Kremlin walls. Alexander #Litvinenko, a former KGB officer who had become a fierce critic of … Putin … killed in London with radioactive polonium placed […]

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Russia May Shrink Its ‘Foreign Agents’ Registry by Half

Kremlin and River

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 24, 2017) Russia may drastically shrink its registry of “foreign agents” – non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that receive foreign funding and political activities, Russia’s Kommersant newspaper reports. The government will likely remove half of the organizations from the registry following an analysis of the law’s application by a presidential administration working group. More than 50 […]

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Interfax: March 26 rally organizers warned of illegality of staging rallies in city center – Moscow authorities

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

MOSCOW. March 23 (Interfax) – Moscow authorities have considered all the applications filed by organizers for public events to be held in central Moscow on March 26, Vladimir Chernikov, head of the Moscow Department for Regional Security and Combating Corruption, told Interfax on Thursday. “The Department has received five applications from a group of people for public events to be […]

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Interfax: Moscow authorities believe their rejection of Navalny’s requested anti-corruption rally final

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Being Grabbed by Police at Protest

MOSCOW. March 18 (Interfax) – The Moscow authorities do not plan on reconsidering their refusal to approve the anti-corruption march scheduled by opposition activist Alexei Navalny and his supporters in Moscow for March 26, Vladimir Chernikov, the head of the regional security and anti-corruption department for Moscow, said. “This decision is final,” Chernikov said, replying to a relevant question from […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian Opposition Struggles 2 Years After Nemtsov Killing” – AP

Boris Nemtsov file photo

Two years after he was killed near the Kremlin, Boris Nemtsov can still attract crowds of supporters. But his death left in tatters Russia’s opposition movement, which is struggling with infighting and seems unable to rally behind one unifying figure. In the largest Russian opposition protest in months, thousands marched Sunday across Moscow to commemorate Nemtsov’s life, demand a thorough […]

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NEWSLINK: “What Russians think when they hear ‘Putin’s a killer'” – Washington Post/Andrew Roth

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

“… Change may be coming under the Trump administration. The State Department and the White House have been silent this week on two events: the latest sentencing of opposition leader Alexey Navalny for embezzlement, likely ending his 2018 bid for president, and the mysterious, life-threatening illness of Vladimir Kara-Murza, another opposition figure, who, his family believes, has been poisoned twice since 2015. …”

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Sentence in ‘Kirovles case’ deprives Navalny of possibility of running in presidential elections under law on presidential elections in Russia – lawyer

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

MOSCOW. Feb 8 (Interfax) – Under the legislation on presidential elections, opposition politician Alexei Navalny cannot participate in the upcoming election campaign due to his conviction in the Kirovles case,” according to which he has been found guilty of embezzlement, his lawyer Olga Mikhailova told Interfax. “According to the law on [presidential] elections, a person convicted for a grave crime […]

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Support for Death Penalty in Russia Plummets

Kremlin and River

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 8, 2017) The number of Russians who support the death penalty has plummeted by 24 percent over the past 15 years. Just 44 percent of Russians would like to see the return of the death penalty, compared in 68 percent in 2002, a survey by independent pollster the Levada Center revealed on Wednesday. Thirty-two […]

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Double Jeopardy: Why Kremlin Opponent Navalny is Back in Court

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ola Cichowlas – February 3, 2017) Alexei Navalny, the main leader of Russia’s so-called “non-systemic” political opposition, may again become a convicted felon. If that happens, he’d lose the chance to compete in next year’s presidential race, when Vladimir Putin will likely seek a fourth term in office. This week, as Navalny endures a retrial […]

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Inclusive education exists in Russia, but only in theory

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

In Russia, inclusive education needs additional support. Children with special educational needs are often lucky to get any education – or any work afterwards. (opendemocracy.net – Tatyana Dvornikova – January 25, 2017) Tatyana Dvornikova is a Moscow-based journalist. She works with Colta, Kommersant and Radio Mel. Russia ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2012, […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia investment and political stories go their separate ways” – bne/Intellinews/Ben Aris

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

“There are two Russias at the moment. The first is the evil “Putin’s Russia” that kills journalists, bombs civilians and invades other countries. Then there is “bull Russia”, where investors have been making fat profits ….”

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NEWSWATCH: “Soviet dissident had thousands of child abuse images, UK court told; Vladimir Bukovsky downloaded indecent images and films over 15-year period, Cambridge crown court hears” – The Guardian (UK)/Luke Harding

File Photo of British Parliament Building, Big Ben, Thames, adapted from image at loc.gov

“… Bukovsky, 73, is charged with 10 counts of making and possessing indecent photos and one count of possessing an indecent computer-generated graphic. He denies all charges. * * * Bukovsky has been a longstanding opponent of Soviet and Russian power. He began his struggle against the Soviet regime in the early 1960s. Soviet authorities eventually kicked him out of […]

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Russia may take asymmetric measures against U.S. in response to ‘Magnitsky list’ expansion – Russian MP Slutsky

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

MOSCOW. Jan 10 (Interfax) – Moscow may asymmetrically react to Washington’s decision to expand the ‘Magnitsky list’ – similarly to Russia’s response to the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the United States, Russian State Duma International Affairs Committee Chairman Leonid Slutsky said. “I would like to remind you that Russia has a law on measures of response to the Magnitsky […]

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RIA Novosti: Putin orders check on prison conditions

Russian Jail File Photo Showing Outer Wall, Windows, Barbed Wire

(RIA Novosti – January 3, 2017) President Vladimir Putin has ordered the nation’s prosecutor-general to investigate the observance of the law inside Russia’s prison system, state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reported on 3 January, citing a statement on the Kremlin website. “The prosecutor-general is to conduct a check on the conformity by the Federal Penal Service of implementation of legislation […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Why has a Moscow restaurant been named after Stalin’s secret service?”

Moscow Night Lights Satellite Image

“In December 2016, a restaurant in central Moscow changed its name to NKVD, an abbreviation closely associated with the bloody period of Stalin’s Terror of the 1930s. Human rights activists are outraged, Stalin supporters are rejoicing, while experts point out that the proprietors have just come up with a cynical way of making money through provocation.”

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Putin’s Authoritarianism Simply a Response to Archaic Localism of 1990s, Russian Analyst Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, December 28, 2016) Pavel Pryanikov, the editor of the Tolkovatel portal, argues that the current upsurge in authoritarianism in Russia is a response to the archaic localism separate from the state that emerged after the collapse of Soviet power in 1991, the latest turn of a cycle described by Russian philosopher Aleksandr […]

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Kremlin Official Admits Problems With Foreign Agent Law

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 7, 2016) First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Sergei Kiriyenko told members of Russia’s Human Rights Council that while the controversial Foreign Agents law on NGOs cannot be repealed, it could be improved. Kiriyenko admitted the law was problematic during a conversation with members of the council held on Dec. 6, which lasted […]

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Putin presents state awards for achievements in human rights, charity

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

MOSCOW. Dec 8 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin handed over state awards for outstanding achievements in the field of charity and human rights activities for the first time in the Kremlin on Thursday. In September 2015, the president signed a decree establishing the award in the field of charitable and human rights activities in Russia from January 1, 2016. […]

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Human rights council to continue attempts to improve law on foreign-agent NGOs – Fedotov

Mikhail Fedotov file photo

MOSCOW. Dec 8 (Interfax) – The Russian presidential Council for human rights will be seeking changes to the law on foreign-agent nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) until it becomes workable, the Council’s chairman Mikhail Fedotov said. “We did not promise that we’d quit our attempts to improve it. We will continue these attempts until it becomes a normal, a quite workable law,” […]

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Navalny blames authorities for using criminal proceeding to bar him from elections

Alexei Navalny file photo

KIROV. Dec 5 (Interfax) – Opposition activist Alexei Navalny believes that the authorities are trying to use criminal proceedings as a way to bar him from nomination in elections. “They want to deprive me of the electoral right. If this process begins, I will again be deprived of the electoral right for three years,” Navalny said at the Kirov Leninsky […]

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NEWSLINK New York Times: “In Meeting, Putin Vows to Protect Artistic Freedom in Russia”

Russian Jail File Photo Showing Outer Wall, Windows, Barbed Wire

“President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, in a meeting with film directors and artists, vowed on Friday to protect artistic freedom in the country but also said a court was right to give one director a 20-year prison term. …”

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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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