JRL NEWSWATCH: “Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final” – AP

File Image of Soccer Ball, Field, Stadium with Lights, adapted from image at fbi.gov

“… Pussy Riot has claimed responsibility for four people who ran onto the field and disrupted the World Cup final. … [tweeting] that the disruption was a protest.  … four people … charged onto the field in the 52nd minute … in what appeared to be old-fashioned police uniforms … [They] were tackled to the ground by stewards. … ‘Hello […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Patriotism Abounds After Russia Exits World Cup” – Moscow Times

File Image of Soccer Ball, Field, Stadium with Lights, adapted from image at fbi.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daniel Kozin – July 9, 2018) Tears, pride and regret were the dominant emotions after Russia’s dramatic exit from the World Cup on Saturday. In the rollercoaster match against Croatia, the team was on the cusp of progressing to the semifinals of the competition for the first time since 1966 but had its fairytale run […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia’s performance in World Cup – and the country’s history – are raising doping suspicions” – Los Angeles Times/Kevin Baxter

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

“Russia will meet Croatia in the quarterfinals Saturday in Sochi, where it will play in a stadium built to stage the opening and closing ceremonies of those now-discredited Winter Olympics. And though there is no evidence of any wrongdoing with the soccer team, its performance here — including a round of 16 win over Spain, the World Cup champion eight […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin Says World Cup Has Broken Stereotypes About Russia” – Reuters

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

“… Russia’s host nation status had been met with resistance by some in the West … suggest[ing] the tournament could be unsafe and play into the hands of Putin … accused by Washington of conducting ‘malign activities’ around the world. … the month-long tournament … has so far been without major security incidents. Concerns about racism and hooligan violence … […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The real World Cup losers: The Russian people” – Washington Post/Frank A. Guridy, Tinatin Japaridze

Men Sitting Around Long Oval Boardroom Table, File Photo of FIFA Officials Meeting with Vladmir Putin

“… Putin’s bet that the World Cup will produce a win for his government is a big gamble. The global political climate of 2018 is very different than the environment that existed when Russia was awarded the World Cup eight years ago, or even four years ago when Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed the Crimean Peninsula after hosting the 2014 […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Why the World Cup is bigger than Putin; ‘I can write about the genius of French forward Kylian Mbappé, knowing the FT is also covering Russian elite corruption'” – Financial Times/Simon Kuper

File Photo of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler Riding in Convertible

“…  the Russian World Cup isn’t Berlin all over again. First, Putin isn’t as evil and ambitious as Hitler. Second, he’s a much better-known quantity than Nazism was in 1936. Hitler at that point had said disturbing things but few foreigners took him either literally or seriously. He hadn’t lifted a finger against other countries. Many Jews were still living […]

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Team Russia Scores Surprise Goal At 2018 World Cup: National Unity

File Image of Soccer Ball, Field, Stadium with Lights, adapted from image at fbi.gov

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Tony Wesolowsky – July 2, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/team-russia-strikes-unexpected-goal-national-unity/29333415.html) Goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev secured the biggest upset of the 2018 World Cup, and arguably in Russia’s soccer history, with his two massive saves in a penalty shoot-out with Spain on July 1. And the euphoric after-party he has sparked […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Moscow’s Bread and Circus” – Kennan Institute/Maxim Trudolyubov

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

“…. Increasing taxes, raising the retirement age, even starting another war because Russia is doing so well in soccer are the recurring jokes on Moscow’s streets. People compete in creativity in trying to imagine what else the government can do to them while everyone is distracted by the World Cup. One of the jokes is that Putin will now present […]

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Russia’s World Cup Team Bucks Multiethnicity Seen On Swiss, Other Teams

File Image of Soccer Ball, Field, Stadium with Lights, adapted from image at fbi.gov

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Pete Baumgartner – June 30, 2018 – article also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-world-cup-team-no-multiethnicity-swiss/29329228.html) While there is a splash of ethnic diversity on virtually every team playing in soccer’s 2018 Russia World Cup, many cite the Swiss national team for setting the standard for being multicultural. Known affectionally by its fans […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Can we believe what we see at Putin’s World Cup?” – San Diego Union Tribune/Mark Zeigler

Men Sitting Around Long Oval Boardroom Table, File Photo of FIFA Officials Meeting with Vladmir Putin

“… [when] FIFA’s 22-person executive committee awarded both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups … victories by Russia and Qatar … risky bids, were met with immediate speculation of vote bartering and outright bribery. … rumors of a Russian scheme to bribe referees on Spain’s behalf in the 2010 World Cup …. FIFA sent investigators to look into it … […]

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The World Cup in Russia: A Boon for Public Diplomacy; As Richard Arnold explains, hosting the FIFA World Cup has been a PR coup for Russia, mostly living up to official expectations (though with some caveats), and, at least so far, a popular success.

File Image of Soccer Ball, Field, Stadium with Lights, adapted from image at fbi.gov

(PONARS Eurasia – ponarseurasia.org – Richard Arnold – June 26, 2018) Richard Arnold is Associate Professor of Political Science at Muskingum University, where he teaches courses in comparative politics and international relations, including courses on Russian politics and the politics of sport. He is the author of Russian Nationalism and Ethnic Violence: Symbolic Violence, Lynching, Pogrom, and Massacre (2016, Routledge) […]

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NEWSLINK: “Trump catches World Cup fever…but will he watch final with Putin?” – Washington Time/S.A. Miller

Donald Trump

“… The White House is planning a Trump-Putin meeting in Moscow that likely would occur around the same time as the World Cup final July 15. …”

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Why are Russians so stingy with their smiles?” – The Conversation/Samuel Putnam

File Photo of Russian Crowd, with Russian Flag Being Waved

“… In our psychology research, we’ve noticed a striking difference in how often people smile in the United States when compared to Russia. To Americans, it might be easy to assume that this says something about Russians – that they’re an unfriendly, callous people.  … that’s not the case ….  there are two likely explanations …. Different cultures have different […]

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World Cup May Have Helped Russia But It hasn’t Boosted Putin

File Photo of Putin Sitting at Desk, Looking Down, Writing, During Call-In Show, adapted from screenshot of video at kremlin.ru

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 24, 2018) Many commentators in both Russia and the West have suggested that the World Cup has helped Russia to overcome much of the opprobrium it has suffered as a result of its invasion of Ukraine, its meddling in elections in Western countries and in general its disruptive behavior. And it […]

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NEWSLINK: “The World Cup Is Fun. Except for the Russians Being Tortured.” – New York Times/Alexey Kovalev

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

“… Putin has given the Russian security services free rein in the lead-up to the World Cup.  …”

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As World Watches Russia, Opposition Seeks To Score With Pension Protests

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

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Carl Schreck – June 20, 2018) – also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-world-cup-russia-opposition-pension-protests/29306847.html) As World Cup fever mounts in Russia, opponents of a government plan to raise the retirement age find themselves jostling for political position, with a handful of protests announced against the proposed measure set to coincide with soccer’s centerpiece […]

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RUSSIALINK: “A Butterfly on the Football Field” – Moscow Times/Michele A. Berdy

File Image of Soccer Ball, Field, Stadium with Lights, adapted from image at fbi.gov

“In honor of World Cup 2018, I thought I ought to offer the basics of football slang. Here the key word is ‘basics.’ Decades of living next to a stadium – the roar of the crowd, the traffic, the mounted police, the rowdy fans, the loud celebrations, and the tendency to use any courtyard as a public toilet – have […]

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U.S. Warns Of ‘Terrorism’ Risk During World Cup In Russia

File Image of Soccer Ball, Field, Stadium with Lights, adapted from image at fbi.gov

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – June 16, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/us-warns-terrorism-risk-world-cup-venues-stadiums-train-stations-airports-russia/29292547.html) The U.S. State Department is warning that “terrorists” may target World Cup venues in Russia, which is hosting the monthlong soccer tournament, but it did not point to any specific threat. In a travel advisory issued late on June 15, the department […]

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Terror Threat from Russian-Speaking Jihadists Won’t End with World Cup, and the West Should Care

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – Jean-François Ratelle, assistant professor at the University of Ottawa with an academic focus on insurgency in the North Caucasus – June 13, 2018 – russiamatters.org/analysis/terror-threat-russian-speaking-jihadists-wont-end-world-cup-and-west-should-care) As Russia gears up to host the month-long World Cup soccer tournament beginning June 14, security experts — from scholars and analysts to German police — have been warning of possible […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Aging and Inexperienced: Why Russia’s World Cup Squad Is Doomed to Fail; Critics say the team is drawn from the worst generation in the history of Russian football” – Moscow Times/Evan Gershkovich

File Image of Soccer Ball, Field, Stadium with Lights, adapted from image at fbi.gov

“… When the final whistle sounded, jeers and whistles rang out from the stands … filled almost entirely with home supporters.  Going into its first domestic World Cup, Russia has now gone without a win in its last seven matches. … drawing against Turkey … losing to Austria — both of which failed to qualify — in its final two […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “2018 FIFA World Cup opening ceremony; Vladimir Putin took part in the 2018 FIFA World Cup opening ceremony at Luzhniki Stadium” – KremlinRu

Men Sitting Around Long Oval Boardroom Table, File Photo of FIFA Officials Meeting with Vladmir Putin

(Kremlin.ru – June 14, 2018) The ceremony was also attended by FIFA President Gianni Infantino, heads of state and government of Abkhazia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bolivia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Moldova, Panama, Paraguay, Rwanda, South Ossetia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, and Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the […]

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NEWSLINK: “World Cup dream is ‘sportswashing’ Russia’s appalling record” – Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)

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

“In 2010 when this tournament was awarded, no one thought Russia would suddenly become a bastion of human and civil rights, though it’s worth reflecting on all that’s happened since then. There’s not just the annexation of Crimea, the war in Ukraine and the concerns about US election meddling. Or just the controversy surrounding the nerve agent attack on the […]

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NEWSLINK: “Exclusive: U.S. counterspy warns World Cup travelers’ devices could be hacked” – Reuters

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

“The top U.S. counterintelligence official is advising Americans traveling to Russia for football’s World Cup beginning this week that they should not take electronic devices because they are likely to be hacked by criminals or the Russian government. … William Evanina, an FBI agent and the director of the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center, warned World Cup travelers ….”   […]

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NEWSLINK: “Are Russia’s soccer fans dangerous? In the West, many people are wondering if mass brawls among fans will mark the World Cup in Russia” – Deutsche Welle

File Image of Soccer Ball, Field, Stadium with Lights, adapted from image at fbi.gov

“Russian fans have a negative image in Europe, with many remembering the riots in Marseille during the 2016 European Cup.”  

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NEWSLINK: “How Russian Meddling Gave Us This Year’s World Cup; Long before anyone had heard of Christopher Steele or a “p[**] tape,” there was an investigation into FIFA corruption” – New York Times/Ken Bensinger

Men Sitting Around Long Oval Boardroom Table, File Photo of FIFA Officials Meeting with Vladmir Putin

“… In stark contrast to England, Russia appeared profoundly unqualified to host a monthlong tournament expected to draw well over three million spectators. For starters, Russia didn’t have a great soccer tradition; its team hadn’t even qualified to play in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, thanks to an embarrassing loss to Slovenia. More important, it didn’t have adequate stadiums […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “To prepare for soccer’s World Cup, Russia is killing stray dogs. Animal-rights activists are fighting back” – Los Angeles Times/Sabra Ayres

File Photo of Dog at Animal Shelter Jumping Up on Person in Winter Clothing, With Beseeching Look

“… with the FIFA World Cup starting June 14, the issue is again in focus after seven of the 11 host cities issued calls to kill street dogs ahead of the games.  Russia has a problem with strays … Rostov-on-Don, like a majority of Russian cities, conducts an annual culling of the packs …. Government contracts pay as much as […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “World Cup to Have Little Impact on Russia’s Economy: Moody’s” – Reuters

File Image of Soccer Ball, Field, Stadium with Lights, adapted from image at fbi.gov

“The 2018 soccer World Cup will have little lasting impact on the Russian economy … Moody’s Investors Service said …. Russia will host [the tournament] … in 11 cities … having spent billions of dollars on preparations. … Moody’s finding is at variance with an assessment … by former deputy prime minister Arkady Dvorkovich …. [S]ectors expected to benefit most […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia hosts World Cup in heat of battle with West” – AFP

Men Sitting Around Long Oval Boardroom Table, File Photo of FIFA Officials Meeting with Vladmir Putin

  “… Russia was a controversial choice when it was handed the rights to the world’s most watched event in a 2010 vote now tainted by bribery charges. … The years since have seen Moscow clash with the West over everything from Syria and Ukraine to the poisoning of a former Russian double agent in England. Russia was even banned […]

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NEWSLINK: “England fans at World Cup ‘at risk of blackmail from Russian mafia hookers’; There are fears gangsters could threaten to send incriminating pictures to fans’ wives or post them on social media” – The Daily Mirror (UK)/Tom Davidson

File Image of Soccer Ball, Field, Stadium with Lights, adapted from image at fbi.gov

“… ‘It’s not just the Russian government we have to be fearful of when it comes to England fans.  It is also the Russian mafia who we know exploit sex, and use the internet and dating, to offer women in order to blackmail customers.’ …”  

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RUSSIALINK: “Almost 90% of Tickets Sold for the World Cup in Russia” – The Moscow Times

Men Sitting Around Long Oval Boardroom Table, File Photo of FIFA Officials Meeting with Vladmir Putin

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 4, 2018) Almost 90 percent of the tickets to the 2018 FIFA World Cup matches have been sold, chairman of the tournament’s organizing committee Alexey Sorokin said Thursday. Sorokin was speaking at a meeting hosted in Sochi by Russian President Vladimir Putin on the state of preparation for the World Cup, business daily Vedomosti […]

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RUSSIALINK: “At the FIFA World Cup This Summer, Russia Will Be Playing for a Miracle; Russia might be hosting the World Cup, but it won’t lift the trophy” – Moscow Times

File Image of Soccer Ball, Field, Stadium with Lights, adapted from image at fbi.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 1, 2018) On a crisp, cool morning in early November, the Russian national football team trained on the outskirts of Moscow in preparation for friendly matches against Argentina and Spain, two of the favorites to raise the FIFA World Cup trophy in Russia this summer. Spirits were high. Jogging around a dewy field in […]

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NEWSLINK: “If we don’t boycott the World Cup, England fans will almost certainly die in Russia; Here are 13 very good reasons to stay at home” – The Daily Mirror (UK)/Fleet Street Fox

Men Sitting Around Long Oval Boardroom Table, File Photo of FIFA Officials Meeting with Vladmir Putin

“… The Russian state is suspected of involvement in the murder of 14 people in Britain. … more than the Yorkshire Ripper ….  Russian football hooligans are the most organised and ruthless in the world. They injured 130 in Marseille after Euro 2016, including 2 left in comas with life-changing injuries and others who had their Achilles tendons sliced in […]

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Interfax: Russians expect athletes’ success in Olympic Games – poll

Olympic Rings Lit at Night, adapted from image at state.gov

MOSCOW. Feb 12 (Interfax) – Most Russians believe that Russian athletes will be successful in the Olympic Games 2018, and 22% expect the athletes to lead in the final medal count, the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM) said. In a nationwide phone interview of 2,000 respondents on February 2 and 3, 34% said that they think that Russian athletes […]

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Interfax: Global anti-doping system reform needed, IOC president resignation not on agenda – Duma committee head

Russian State Duma Building file photo

MOSCOW. Feb 9 (Interfax) – There needs to be a reform of the global anti-doping system after the Olympic Games, but Russia has no direct influence on the composition of the leadership of international sports organizations, and the issue of International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach’s resignation is not being raised now, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on […]

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Russian Olympians’ Last Ditch Appeals to Compete in the Winter Games, Explained

Olympic Rings Lit at Night, adapted from image at state.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 8, 2018) Although Russia has long been a powerhouse in the Winter Olympics, its flag, anthem and tricolor will be absent from the games kicking off tomorrow in South Korea. After a blanket ban of the Russian Olympic team in December by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over doping allegations, individual athletes have still […]

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Interfax: Putin warns against further politicization of global sports

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

NOVO-OGARYOVO. Jan 31 (Interfax) – Russia hopes that international sports organizations will not turn into government departments in certain countries however powerful these might seem sometimes, President Vladimir Putin said. “Of course, we very much feel for our athletes who could not go to the Olympic Games. We will do everything to support them,” Putin said at a meeting with […]

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Russia’s Channel One Will Broadcast Olympics, Despite Team’s Ban

Olympic Rings Lit at Night, adapted from image at state.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 12, 2017) Russia’s state-run Channel One television channel has announced that it will broadcast the 2018 Winter Game’s despite the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision last week to bar Russia’s team from competing. The IOC decision said that individual Russian athletes could participate in the Olympics in February if they proved to a panel […]

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What do Regular Russians Think of the IOC’s Olympic Doping Ban?

Olympic Rings Lit at Night, adapted from image at state.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 6, 2017) “This is undoubtedly a political decision,” says Igor, 40. In Moscow, news that Russia’s entire Olympic team had been barred from next year’s Winter Games was still sinking in on Wednesday afternoon. In the latest chapter of the Russian doping scandal, the International Olympic Committee’s President Thomas Bach on Tuesday evening announced […]

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NEWSWATCH: “U.S. Soccer Defeat Is a Loss for Russia. In place of a flood of U.S. travelers for next year’s World Cup, a trickle of Panamanians.” – Wall Street Journal

File Image of Soccer Ball, Field, Stadium with Lights, adapted from image at fbi.gov

“… a fresh setback for U.S.-Russia relations: The U.S. men’s soccer team fell to Trinidad and Tobago … and … failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in three decades. For Russia, hosting the quadrennial event in 2018 … missing out on an influx of rich American tourists …. [A past study by two economists suggests] the tourism boost from […]

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Interfax: Tragic events associated with informers in Russia, this institution must not migrate from sports to other spheres – Putin

Olympic Rings Lit at Night, adapted from image at state.gov

KRASNODAR. May 23 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for treating the idea of introducing an institution of informers into Russian sports with extreme caution, recalling that tragic events are associated with this phenomenon in the Russian history. Speaking at the presidential council on physical training and sports on Tuesday, Putin warned against this institution the creation which […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Hopes for Swift End to Track and Field Doping Exile” – AP

Olympic Rings Lit at Night, adapted from image at state.gov

“… Russian track and field exists in limbo, banned since November 2015 as a series of investigations revealed widespread doping and alleged government officials helped to cover it up. … On Monday, track’s world governing body, the IAAF, will hold a council meeting with the stated aim of drawing up a road map for Russia’s return though, in some ways, […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Vladimir Putin, Mikhail Men, Alexander Novak, Nikolai Nikiforov, Vitaly Mutko at] Meeting with Government members

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

(kremlin.ru – February 1, 2017) Vladimir Putin met with Government members to discuss possibilities for further developing treasury monitoring of budget spending, the situation with co-funded housing development, and a number of other current issues. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon colleagues. Today, we will discuss the results of work and further development for treasury monitoring of budget spending. […]

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RBTH: Over 1,000 Russian athletes involved in doping scandal – McLaren report

Olympic Rings Lit at Night, adapted from image at state.gov

In a more detailed version of the report released in July, the head of the independent WADA commission has announced that the international doping scandal implicates over 1,000 Russian athletes, and has repeated accusations of state involvement. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ALEXEY MOSKO, RBTH – December 12, 2016) The publication of the long-awaited second part of the […]

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A Long Jump: Russia Claims Moral Victory From Rio Olympics

Olympic Rings Lit at Night, adapted from image at state.gov

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, August 22, 2016) Russia’s medal haul at the Summer Olympics in Rio was the country’s smallest since the 1912 games in Stockholm, but that did not deter various officials and pundits from spinning the result as a victory for Moscow — or a moral one, at the least. With much of its […]

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