Degradation of Russian Elites Underlies Russia’s Decline, Pastukhov Says

Russia Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 24, 2016) “The thinning out of the Russian ‘cultural stratum’ and, as a result, the degradation of elites who have turned out to be incapable of responding to new historical challenges,” Vladimir Pastukhov says, is the underlying cause of the current decline of the country. All other causes, technological, societal and […]

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A Euro ‘vision’ of discord: The reaction from Russia and Ukraine

Joseph Stalin file photo

Eurovision, Europe’s most popular song contest, has pitted Russia against Ukraine. The winning song and the results of the jury have prompted considerable commentary in both countries, turning an apolitical show into yet another frontline in an ongoing media war. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – OLEG YEGOROV, YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH – May 17, 2016) The Eurovision 2016 winning […]

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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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What to tell our children; The head of RBTH’s English desk tries to put into words what for her is important about the May 9 holiday, the legacy of World War II and what it means to future generations.

Battle of Stalingrad file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – OLGA VLASOVA, RBTH – May 9, 2016) Ever since I became an adult I always spend the morning of May 9 according to the same routine. I wake up early while everyone is still in bed and watch a couple of old Soviet films about how boys and girls lived and died in […]

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NEWSLINK Russia Direct: “What does Victory Day mean for Russia after Ukraine and Syria? Today Russians look at Victory Day through the lens of the war in Ukraine and the Kremlin’s Syria military operation. However, it might bring about three negative implications both for Russia and the world.”

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In the Flesh: Russian Scientists Work to Preserve Lenin’s Corpse

Lenin Mausoleum on Red Square, Kremlin Walls

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – May 5, 2016) He lies in a glass sarcophagus. His eyes are closed, reddish beard and mustache trimmed, and his hands rest calmly on his thighs. Dressed in an austere black suit, Vladimir Lenin, the first Soviet leader, looks, on first impressions, to be sleeping. His image is so lifelike that it […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with members of Legislators’ Council

Tauride Palace file photo - adapted from image © A.Savin, Wikimedia Commons

(Kremlin.ru – April 29, 2016) Vladimir Putin took part in a meeting of the Federal Assembly’s Council of Legislators timed for the Day of Russian Parliamentarianism and the 110th anniversary of Russia’s first State Duma. The meeting at the Tauride Palace is attended by Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko, State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin and speakers of regional parliaments. President […]

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Atomic energy and political power in Russia

Nuclear Plant File Photo

In Russia, the space for environmental activism and advocacy is changing under increasing state pressure. An interview with one of Russia’s leading ecological organisations about the prospects for anti-nuclear activism today. (opendemocracy.net – EDITORS OF OPENDEMOCRACY RUSSIA, VLADIMIR SLIVYAK, NAILYA IBRAGIMOVA – April 25, 2016) In the coming days, much of the coverage of the Chernobyl disaster in Russia is […]

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Why Ukraine is at risk of forgetting the lessons of Chernobyl

Chernobyl File Photo

Thirty years after the explosion at the nuclear power plant in the Ukrainian city of Chernobyl, one Russian expert argues that, by using American fuel in Soviet-built reactors and pushing the power-producing capabilities of its nuclear plants, Ukraine is putting itself at potential risk of another disaster. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ANDREI RETINGER, SPECIAL TO RBTH – […]

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Russians Will Stop Supporting Putin Only When They See His Weakness, Yakovenko Says

Putin Descending a Staircase

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 24, 2016) Given the longstanding servility of the Russian people, Vladimir Putin can be deprived of popular support only by showing how weak he in fact is, according to commentator, something that requires the opposition within Russia to unite and the West to reduce to a minimum any contacts with him. […]

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More Than Half of Russians Want New Soviet State – Poll

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 21, 2016) More than half of Russians would like to see the restoration of the Soviet Union, according to a poll released Tuesday. Although 58 percent of respondents said they would like to see a new socialist system, only 14 percent believed that it was likely to happen, the report by the independent Levada […]

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Interfax: Positive attitude to Lenin in Russia tops 50% – poll

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(Interfax – April 20, 2016) The share of Russian citizens who positively assess the historical role of Vladimir Lenin has grown from 40 percent to 53 percent in the past ten years, the Levada Center told Interfax. The opinion was mostly voiced by pensioners (67 percent), Russians older than 55 (66 percent), people with primary education (59 percent), people with […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Perpetual Geopolitics. Putin Returns to the Historical Pattern.” – Foreign Affairs/Stephen Kotkin

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

For half a millennium, Russian foreign policy has been characterized by soaring ambitions that have exceeded the country’s capabilities. Beginning with … Ivan the Terrible … Russia managed to expand at an average rate of 50 square miles per day for hundreds of years, eventually covering one-sixth of the earth’s landmass. * * *  Throughout, the country has been haunted […]

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How Greed and Incompetence Put Russia’s Heritage at Risk

Novodevichy Convent file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ekaterina Motyakina – April 14, 2016) The Novodevichy convent is a rare glimpse of tranquility in Russia’s bustling capital. Perched on the banks of the Bolshoi Novodevichny Lake, the convent’s golden domes and soaring bell towers have given refuge to Moscow’s needy since the 16th century. When cultural and scientific agency UNESCO designated it a […]

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Russia’s Inability to Deal with Its Past Imperils Its Future, Inozemtsev Says

Balaklava harbour, the cattle pier, Crimea, Ukraine, 1855; adapted from image at loc.gov; Fenton, Roger, 1819-1869, photographer;

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 7, 2016) Russians love to compare themselves and their country with others and especially with the United States and to ask why others have done better than they have, Vladislav Inozemtsev says; but in general, Russians focus on differences in economic, legal or belief systems rather than on the critical problem […]

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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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The Soviet Adventures Of Steve Jobs

Mac Computer file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Carl Schreck – April 1, 2016) In the summer of 1985, a young commercial attache at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow sat down with two representatives of the California computer company Apple who were visiting the heart of the Soviet empire. One was an “older guy,” the attache, Mike Merin, recalls. The other was “this lanky, […]

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Battle in the Archives – Uncovering Russia’s Secret Past

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Hobson – March 24, 2016) The year is 1941, and hundreds of miles from Germany, Nazi armored divisions gather speed along newly-frosted soil. They are almost within striking distance of Moscow, the Soviet capital. Eventually, the charge is halted before the city by a series of bloody, desperate battles. Famously, 28 members of the […]

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NEWSWATCH Newsweek/Damien Sharkov: “Gorbachev wanted to Preserve the Soviet Union”

File Photo of Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan at Table Signing Documents

… Gorbachev told Russian radio RSN that he was among those who voted for the Soviet Union not to be dissolved and instead seek internal reform. ‘I was of the position that the union should be democratised,’ Gorbachev said …. ‘Centralised government was in the way of everything that was going on in each republic. It was necessary to give […]

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Russia Missed Its Chance to Be Like America

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – March 4, 2016) Many Russians feel the U.S. and their country are much alike. Both are vast, they share a sense of adventure, along with underlying lawlessness and violence, and in both, the infrastructure often is an afterthought. So what is keeping Russia from turning into another America — a democratic nation and […]

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Nancy Reagan played important role in improving U.S-USSR relations – Gorbachev

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

MOSCOW. March 7 (Interfax) – Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has expressed grief over the death of former U.S. First Lady Nancy Reagan. “It was with deep sorrow that I learnt the sad news and I can rightfully say: well done, Nancy! She said to Ronald Reagan: when you quit the post of U.S. president, you need to go as […]

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Moscow grateful to U.S. for return of stolen archive documents, expect such cooperation in other areas – foreign ministry

foreign-ministry-200

MOSCOW. March 4 (Interfax) – The Russian Foreign Ministry hails the return from the U.S. of the documents that disappeared from Russian archives, back in 1990s, and hopes that this experience in Russia-U.S. cooperation will be in demand in other areas too. “We are grateful to the American side for the cooperation in the discovery and repatriation to Russia of […]

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Gorbachev: Russia’s savior, or a symbol of the country’s collapse?

File Photo of Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan at Table Signing Documents

On March 2, Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the USSR and the man who began perestroika in the Soviet Union, turns 85. RBTH presents a selection of quotes about the Soviet leader by his contemporaries. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ALEXEY TIMOFEYCHEV, RBTH – March 2, 2016) Hans-Dietrich Genscher, German Foreign Minister, 1974-1992: Mikhail Gorbachev opened a […]

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Keeping Russia’s history safe for the ages: Inside a Moscow archive

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

The Russian State Archive of Ancient Documents in Moscow is the country’s primary repository of manuscripts and records dating back to the Middle Ages and beyond, but the story of the archive itself is not short on interest. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NIKOLAI SHEVCHENKO, SPECIAL TO RBTH – February 23, 2016) [Text with links to sources here […]

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It’s official: Native Americans and Siberians are cousins

Siberian River, Forest, Mountain

After more than a century of speculation, an international group of geneticists has conclusively proven that the Aztecs, Incas, and Iroquois are closely related to the peoples of Altai, the Siberian region that borders China and Mongolia. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – ARAM TER-GHAZARYAN, SPECIAL TO RBTH – rbth.ru – February 23, 2016) Scientists have suspected for a long time […]

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Post-Soviet parliamentarian drama: a view from ‘the gods’ in Kiev

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

The political history of Russia’s neighbours can be described in terms of one long conflict between a presidential authoritarian tendency and democratic parliamentarianism. Parliaments are the key. (opendemocracy.net – Mikhail Minakov – February 22, 2016) Mikhail Minakov is Associate Professor at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and President of the Foundation for Good Politics, Kyiv. He is also director of the Krytyka Institute, […]

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Standing Up for Reason: Russian Academia Fights Pseudoscience

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – February 22, 2016) A young woman named Nikol looks to the camera, wiping away what seem to be tears of happiness. She has reason to be happy, having navigated through to the next round of the Russian television show “Battle of the Psychics.” Somehow, she had managed to select the one car […]

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Jerusalem Post: Ukraine backtracks on Babi Yar plans amid accusations of Holocaust revisionism. Ukrainian gov’t is facing allegations that it’s engaging in historical revisionism following announcement of plans to revamp massacre site to generic symbol rather than emblem of Holocaust.

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia » Read more

Why Germans Supported Hitler to the End and Why Russians May Do the Same with Putin

File Photo of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler Riding in Convertible

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 3, 2016) In a recent book review essay in the New York Review of Books, military historian Max Hastings cites a passage from Nicholas Stargardt’s “The German War” (Basic Books, 2015) to explain why Germans continued to “close ranks around Hitler” even after it became obvious that their country was going […]

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Interfax: Putin says he likes Communist ideas echoing Bible’s

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

(Interfax – January 26, 2016) Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that he still likes the ideas of Communism and that he has not ditched his party member ID card. “You know, just like millions of Soviet citizens – 20-odd million people – I was a member of the USSR Communist Party, and not just a Communist Party member, but […]

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Interfax: Putin entitled to personal opinion about Lenin – spokesman

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

(Interfax – January 21, 2016) The Russian president’s press secretary Dmitriy Peskov has said Putin is entitled to have a personal opinion about Russian Revolution leader Vladimir Lenin, privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax reported on 21 January. Peskov was commenting on a statement made by President Putin, who compared Lenin to a nuclear bomb which had destroyed historical Russia. “The […]

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What do today’s Russians think about Lenin?

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

The leader of the revolution has turned into an ordinary historical figure for younger Russians. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – MARINA OBRAZKOVA, RBTH – January 21, 2016) Today’s generation of Russians have rather mixed feelings when it comes to the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution. The issue of burying Lenin’s body, which is still kept in a mausoleum […]

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Putin on Lenin: Planted atomic bomb under building called Russia

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(Interfax – January 21, 2016) Vladimir Putin has criticized the ideas and actions of the leader of the Russian revolution, Vladimir Lenin, which he thinks led to the ruin of historical Russia. He was responding to the head of the Kurchatov Institute, Mikhail Kovalchuk, who at a meeting of the presidential council for science and education quoted Boris Pasternak’s poem […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Row over Ukrainian city’s new name” – BBC

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

The BBC covers debates in Ukraine over the jettisoning of names recalling Soviet rule, including the effort to rename Kirovohrad as Inhulsk. Since pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in 2014, Ukraine has been removing all public vestiges of Soviet rule, from statues of Lenin to street names honouring other Communist luminaries. A parliamentary committee recently decided that Kirovohrad, which […]

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