Thousands Protest In Moscow Against Plan To Raze Soviet-Era Housing

Moscow Aerial View Satellite Image File Photo, adapted from image at jpl.nasa.gov

(RFE/RL – Tom Balmforth – May 14, 2017 – ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc. Article also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-moscow-protests-demolition-krushchev-era-housing/28487244.html) MOSCOW — Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Moscow to protest the proposed demolitions of Soviet-era housing blocks in the Russian capital. The May 14 protest, held on a wide central Moscow street named after Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, marked […]

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Russia’s eco-activists: not out of the woods yet; It’s Russia’s Year of Ecology. But as these activists tell us, campaigning on environmental and urban issues is far from a walk in the park.

Gorky Park file photo

(opendemocracy.net – EDITORS OF OPENDEMOCRACY – May 4, 2017) Across Russia, from Kaliningrad to Makhachkala, people have been taking to the streets to save parks, historic buildings and reservoirs. Residents of high-rise developments take the initiative to clean up their buildings. Mothers plant flowers in children’s playgrounds and fight for the right to bring their children’s pushchairs into cafes. The […]

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NEWSLINK: “Dirty Jobs: Being a Governor in Russia is Proving Tough” – BearMarketBrief/ Fabrice Deprez

Russia Regions Map

“It’s a rough time to be a regional governor in Russia. Since last year, arrests and resignations of local leaders have piled up and accelerated in the last few weeks, with five governors gone since February. Described by some as a way for the Kremlin to prepare the presidential elections, whether by pumping ‘new blood’ into Russia’s political system or […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Joint meeting of the State Council and the Commission for Monitoring Targeted Socioeconomic Development Indicators

Russia Regions Map

(Kremlin.ru – May 4, 2017) Vladimir Putin chaired a joint meeting of the State Council and the Commission for Monitoring Targeted Socioeconomic Development Indicators in the Kremlin. The agenda focused on three main sets of issues: Provision of state and municipal services through the network of multifunctional centres, independent evaluation of social sector service quality, and relocating people from dilapidated […]

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‘Russia is the Only Country Dying Out in Peacetime,’ Villager Responds to Medvedev

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 19, 2017) After Dmitry Medvedev can’t answer whether there will be work for villagers, one of their number observes that “Russia is the only country dying out in peacetime, where residents of rural areas and small towns are joining the ranks of the poor … and where 70 percent of the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Four Warning Signs Of Instability In Russia” – Forbes.com/George Friedman

Russia Regions Map

“Russia has four areas of instability: the distribution and prevalence of wage arrears, pressure on its banking system, low-level social and economic unrest, and government purges. … Russia’s economy is highly regionalized. More than a fifth of Russia’s wealth comes from Moscow and its surrounding areas. The central government keeps the Russian Federation together by redistributing wealth to the interior. […]

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Moscow Unlikely to Achieve Life Expectancy Gains It had Projected, Health Ministry Admits

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 26, 2016) The Russian health ministry has changed its target figures on reducing mortality rates and extending life expectancy by 2020, a reflection experts say of the fact that the Russian government no longer expects to be able to improve the health of the population as much as it did. Ministry […]

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Another Fatal Flaw in Russia’s Company Towns: Business More Powerful than the State

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 14, 2016) Russia’s 300-plus urban centers known as “monogorods” or “company towns” where the vast majority of the population have been the subject of episodic discussions typically triggered when the chief firm closes down, the population is impoverished, and protests arise. Then, these places where more than ten percent of the […]

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Putin’s War At Home

Russia Regions Map

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – December 28, 2016) As Vladimir Putin basks in his victories abroad, problems are piling up at home. Rustam Minnikhanov, the leader of oil-rich Tatarstan, has denounced a recent Kremlin decision to take more of his republic’s tax revenues, calling it “stupidity” and comparing it to Josef Stalin’s liquidation of the kulaks. Minnikhanov’s broadside […]

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Russians’ Incomplete Transition from Rural to Urban Life behind Many of Russia’s Problems, Vishnevsky Says

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 6, 2016) During the 20th century, large numbers of #Russians moved from villages to the cities, but as of now, many of them have not completed the psychological transition from rural to urban life; and that has given rise to marginal groups who represent a threat to the country, according to […]

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Ya Heart Vladimir: A Visit to the Regions

Russia Map

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – September 22, 2016 – Mary Elizabeth Malinkin) Giant, Cyrillic block letters spelling “Ya Heart Vladimir” (“I Love Vladimir”) now illuminate Cathedral Square in downtown Vladimir, Russia. The cheery, familiar slogan brought a smile to my face – da, ya lyublyu Vladimir. In early August I traveled back to the ancient city (just how ancient remains […]

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Russia: the tinderbox in the struggle for a safe climate

Arctic Satellite Image and Map

Russia is at the forefront of the global climate change struggle. We ignore it at our peril. (opendemocracy.net – Daniel Voskoboynik – September 20, 2016) Daniel Voskoboynik is a journalist and campaigner covering human rights, ecology and migration. The Russian region of Yamal rarely makes global headlines. Despite being larger than France, its remote location bordering the Arctic Circle holds […]

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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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NEWSWATCH: “In the ‘lungs of Moscow’ forest, Russia’s civil activists make their mark; Runaway housing developments have been going up around Moscow, threatening the ‘lungs’ of the city – the ring forest around the capital. But locals have been fighting back against the project – with success.” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

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

A diverse band of urban activists, communicating largely through social media, are combating plans to build an enormous high-rise housing development amid the forested ring around the capital  …. The protesters who make up the Mortongrad Nyet! coalition have no shared ideology, and certainly aren’t interested in criticizing the Kremlin. Yet they are redefining the limits of Russian civil society […]

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Governor Belykh’s Arrest Has Russian Elite on Edge

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Mikhail Fishman – June 30, 2016) For the last decade, regional governors in Russia are usually appointed apparatchiks, with faces unrecognizable outside their home territory. There are some exceptions to the rule, like Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of the republic of Chechnya. Another rare exception was Nikita Belykh, the governor of the Kirov region, a […]

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Russia Might Not Be a Failed State But It is a Failed Country, Shtepa Says

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Staunton, June 14, 2016) The fact that Russians devote so little attention to their independence day even as they devote so much to Victory Day, Vadim Shtepa says, highlights a fundamental reality: Russia may not be a failed state according to the classic definitions, but it is a failed country, one that has not been able to […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Chechnya: Russia’s Islamic State? Troubled republic in secular Russia has been thoroughly ‘Islamized’ by staunch Putin ally” – Wall Street Journal/YAROSLAV TROFIMOV

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

In theory, Chechnya – though overwhelmingly Muslim – is an integral part of the secular Russian Federation, governed by the same laws as Moscow. In practice, however, this North Caucasus republic of 1.4 million people, ravaged by two wars of secession, lives under very different rules. Under strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, a former rebel who has become a fervent ally of […]

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Media Coverage of Governors More about Their Management of the Media than about Anything Else, New Study Says

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 12, 2016) Those who follow the media in Russia’s regions know that some governors are routinely attacked by media in their federal subjects while others are never criticized, and they often conclude that this is an important indicator of how well the governors are doing in running their oblasts, krays or […]

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Moscow’s Chief Architect Envisions the City’s Future

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Lena Vanina – April 29, 2016) [Photos here themoscowtimes.com/business/article/moscows-chief-architect-envisions-the-citys-future/567455.html] For many years, Triumfalnaya Ploshchad was a nondescript square across from Moscow’s beating heart. It was an occasional meeting point for anti-regime protesters, a space to get across to reach somewhere else. Today, however, it is an example of modern design, a beautifully lit Scandinavian oasis […]

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Outrage and outsourcing in Russian healthcare

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

The doctor is out. Hunger strikes, mistreatment of patients and general desperation are beginning to seem like a feature – as opposed to a bug – of Russia’s healthcare system. (opendemocracy.net – Artur Asafyev – April 28, 2016) Artur Asafyev is a freelance correspondent for Radio Svoboda and Novaya Gazeta in Ufa, Bashkortostan. He has worked as a journalist since […]

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Russia’s regions: federalism and its discontents

Russia Regions Map

Creating the appearance of stability is the Russian political elite’s primary goal. Yet colonial-like rule over the country’s regions, combined with a lack of civic activity, harms the Kremlin’s legitimacy on the ground. (opendemocracy.net – Badma Byurchiev – April 21, 2016) Badma Byurchiev was born in Kalmykia in 1973, and has worked as a journalist since 2003. He currently works […]

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The pitchforks are coming; Farm workers in the depths of southern Russia are hardly a protest constituency, but corruption and corporate raids have pushed them to the brink. They may even take their grievances to Moscow – by tractor.

Russia Regions Map

(opendemocracy.net – Svetlana Bolotnikova – April 7, 2016) Svetlana Bolotnikova is a Russian journalist and correspondent for KavPolit, an online publication specialising in political developments in the Caucasus. Aleksei Volchenko, 37, is a farmer in Kalininsky district, in the Kuban area of southern Russia. There are no large cities or towns here, just stanitsy, Cossack villages. Residents either work their […]

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The ordinary, yet exceptional people of Russia’s provinces; A significant part of Russia remains unknown to many of its citizens – mainstream media have no interest in the provinces. This photoblog captures a provincial life otherwise left behind.

Russia Regions Map

(opendemocracy.net – Vladimir Itkin – March 3, 2016) Vladimir Itkin is a journalist and literary critic from Novosibirsk, Russia. [Photos here opendemocracy.net/od-russia/vladimir-itkin/ordinary-yet-exceptional-people-of-russia-s-provinces] In 2009, Valery Klamm, a photographer from Novosibirsk, launched a photo project about elusive provincial Russia. This photoblog, called “Birthmarks on the map” (Rodinki na karte) [http://rodinkinakarte.ru/], quickly became popular for introducing poorly-known people and places. The idea […]

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NEWSLINK TASS: “Russian blogger stands trial on charges of insulting believers’ religious feelings”

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

Why did Kadyrov publish ‘revelatory’ report about himself?

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

The head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov has chosen to make public himself a report that accuses him of creating a quasi-Islamic state within Russia and not obeying Russian laws. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH – February 26, 2016) The head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has chosen to publish a report called “A National Security Threat” […]

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‘Putin’s Children’ – Life, Crime, Terror on the Edge of Russia

Russia Map

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Oliver Carroll – February 26, 2016) The driver’s voice teeters between depression and aggression. “What kinduva life do yoo call this?!” he shouts. “Weerrall peepul … peeeeepul, for sheeettin sake! … Fook, Ruussia, yoo make me want to cry!” We veer from side to side of the snow-covered track. Outside, the mercury pushes twenty under, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Muslims in Russia See Putin’s Antiterrorism Efforts at Home as Backfiring. North Caucasus residents say crackdown often leads to new recruits for Islamic State.” – Wall Street Journal

Map of Area Spanning Portions of Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, highlighting military engagements against ISIL

The Wall Street Journal covers concerns that Russian government policies will fuel more terrorist recruits for the so-called Islamic State. President Vladimir Putin justifies his military action in Syria in part as a way to head off the terrorist threat at home, especially here in the mostly Muslim north Caucasus. But residents say the government’s often heavy-handed measures are instead […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting of the Russian Popular Front’s (ONF) interregional forum

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Speaking At All-Russia Popular Front Gathering

(Kremlin.ru – Stavropol – January 25, 2016) Vladimir Putin took part in a plenary session of the Russian Popular Front public movement’s interregional forum. The Russian Popular Front’s first interregional forum addressed specific issues the regions face in their work to implement presidential executive orders of May 2012 and instructions issued following ONF meetings. More than 600 people took part […]

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In Forgotten Karelian Village, Frustration With Moscow Runs High

Russia Regions Map

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Sergei Khazov-Cassia – December 19, 2015) VEGARUS, Russia — The stream bounces gaily on its bed of pebbles as it passes through this tiny village in Russia’s republic of Karelia, some 70 kilometers from the Finnish border. Up until 1939, the pristine, wooded area was part of Finland. Today, despite its proximity to one of Europe’s […]

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‘Traditional Family’ Said Making a Comeback in Russia– But It’s Mostly Rural and Muslim

Couple in Hospital with Newborn

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 18, 2015) The “traditional” family that Vladimir Putin and Russian nationalist want in which couples marry early and have three or four children is in fact becoming more numerous in the Russian Federation, but that comeback may not please everyone because most such families are either in villages or in traditionally […]

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Yekaterinburg: Russia’s Next Capital of Culture

Yekaterinburg file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Galina Stolyarova – October 20, 2015) If you ask the average person what comes to mind when they think of Yekaterinburg, they’ll probably say that it’s a highly polluted industrial city and the site where the Romanov family was executed. But the truth is quite different. This town in the Urals has established itself as […]

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The opposition’s last mandate

Russia Regions Map

Deputies of the Pskov regional assembly are attempting to remove a colleague from their ranks-opposition lawmaker and journalist Lev Shlosberg (opendemocracy.net – Svetlana Prokopyeva – September 23, 2015) Svetlana Prokopyeva is a journalist from Pskov, Russia and former editor in chief of Pskovskaya Guberniya. When the regional assembly of Russia’s north-western Pskov region convenes on 24 September, it promises to […]

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A Loyal Governor Feels Putin’s Wrath

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – September 21, 2015) Russia has never seen a corruption case like this. The successful governor of the Komi Republic, who was faultlessly loyal to President Vladimir Putin, has been accused of leading a criminal organization that allegedly included a number of his region’s top officials. As cheap oil forces Russians to tighten their […]

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Poll: Most Russians do not want to live in Moscow

Russia Regions Map

According to a poll conducted by the All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM), only 13 percent of Russians would like their children to live in Moscow. The most popular option among those polled (23 percent) would be to live in a small town. According to another poll, the Siberian city of Tyumen rates highly among Russian urban areas. (Russia Beyond […]

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Russia’s Regional Elections Marred by Pressure on Observers, Fraud

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – September 14, 2015) Multiple violations were registered by independent elections watchdogs during Sunday’s regional elections across Russia, and in the most drastic development, the office of an observers’ organization was raided by police who said they had reason to believe it was a murder scene. The Central Elections Commission (CEC) said it […]

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Lack of Manifestos Points to Political Complacency in Russian Regions – Experts

Russia Regions Map

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – September 4, 2015) Only five acting governors taking part in elections in 21 Russian regions next week have published electoral manifestos, the Petersburg Politics think tank said in a report published Thursday. The lack of manifestos attests to a deficit of clear vision among potential heads of Russian regions – as well […]

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Running for Office in Siberia: Part IV: History, Perspective and the Components of a Modern Campaign

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

Subject: Running for Office in Siberia: Part IV: History, Perspective and the Components of a Modern Campaign Date: Fri, 28 Aug 2015 From: Sarah Lindemann-Komarova <echosiberia@gmail.com> Running for Office in Siberia A series on the District #35 Election for Novosibirsk City Council By Sarah Lindemann-Komarova [Founder, Siberian Civic Initiatives Support Center 1995 – 2014. Helped to establish this as the […]

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Running for Office in Siberia

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

Subject: Running for Office in Siberia Part III Date: Fri, 21 Aug 2015 From: Sarah Lindemann-Komarova <echosiberia@gmail.com> Running for Office in Siberia A series on the District #35 Election for Novosibirsk City Council: Part III: Becoming an Official Independent Candidate By Sarah Lindemann-Komarova [Founder, Siberian Civic Initiatives Support Center 1995 – 2014. Helped to establish this as the hub for […]

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VIDEO: Conversation: Russia’s Perfect Economic Storm

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Stratfor.com – August 11, 2015) Video Transcript: Ben Sheen: Hello and thank you for joining us. My name is Ben Sheen, I’m a managing editor here at Stratfor, and with me today is Stratfor’s senior Eurasia analyst, Lauren Goodrich, who will be talking to me about the state of the Russian economy. So Lauren, Russia is struggling at the moment. […]

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NEWSWATCH New York Times: Kazan, a Russian Cultural Hub, Finds It’s Good at Sports

Kazan file photo

The New York Times covers Russian efforts to turn Kazan into a center for sporting events. A cultural hub for 1,000 years, the city has spent the decade since its 2005 millennium celebration reinventing itself as the cynosure of Russian sports. Since 2007, the city has hosted world and European competitions in field hockey, ice hockey, fencing, boxing, bandy and […]

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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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Locusts, Spiders, Snakes Plague Russian Regions

Tarantula file photo, adapted from image at usgs.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – June 30, 2015) Several Russian regions have been plagued recently by locusts, spiders and snakes, media reports and government officials said Monday. Locusts have destroyed large swaths of crops in the republic of Bashkortostan and the Orenburg region, prompting the authorities to declare a state of emergency, Channel One reported. An aircraft was scrambled to […]

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NEWSLINK The Guardian: Is the ‘Moscow experiment’ over?

Moscow Night Lights Satellite Image

The plan was to create a new type of city that answered the needs of Moscow’s creative middle classes. But did the exit of Sergei Kapkov, the culture minister who ushered in these changes, also signal the end of the city’s urban revival?

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Putin Faces New Kind of Parade of Sovereignties in Degraded Russian Regions

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 27, 2015) Russian governors, “even the most loyal” to the Kremlin, as a result of the intensification of the economic crisis, find themselves between a rock and a hard place and are beginning to complain about Moscow’s failure to articulate an anti-crisis strategy which takes the interests of their regions into […]

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New website offers three centuries’ worth of historical statistics on Russia

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Interfax – April 27, 2015) A new electronic archive has been launched, making it possible to trace the social and economic development of Russia’s regions over the past three centuries. The Electronic Repository for Russian Historical Statistics [https://ristat.org/] was proposed and created by Gijs Kessler from the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam and Andrei Markevich from the New […]

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Why Foreign Investment in Russia’s Regions is Falling

Russia Regions Map

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anastasia Bazenkova – April 28, 2015) Ninety-five percent of Russian regions are unattractive to foreign investors, a study released last week in Moscow found, in a sign that investment is likely to remain sluggish after Russia emerges from a deep recession. Only a few regions are managing to create favorable investment conditions for foreigners, according […]

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Experts: Putin’s New Ethnic Affairs Agency Aims to Thwart Political Threats

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – April 2, 2015) President Vladimir Putin’s recent decision to launch a government agency charged with maintaining interethnic and interfaith harmony in Russia is a bid to prevent foreign powers and internal opposition factions from seeking to exploit a weak spot in Russia’s power structure, analysts told The Moscow Times. Since the collapse of the […]

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