Back in the USSR: Are Residents of Former Republics Better Off 30 Years Later?

Soviet ICBM in Parade With Soviet Flag Bearing Image of Lenin in Background

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – RM Staff – Dec. 16, 2021) Thirty years ago this month, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics officially ceased to exist. The 15 republics which had made up the Soviet Union were confronted with uncertain paths as they endeavored to establish political structures and reform economic systems. They faced unresolved territorial questions, socio-economic crises and […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia clamps down on historical memory and justice” – Financial Times

Gulag file photo featuring barbed wire across open ceiling, adapted from image at nps.gov

“The threat to liquidate the research group Memorial is an assault on a brave outpost of post-Soviet civil society.” “… Putin’s crackdown on dissent is inextricable from a desire to control Russia’s past. … Memorial has [painstakingly] compiled a database of more than 3m victims of Soviet political repression, mostly … executed, imprisoned, sent to labour camps or exiled during […]

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RUSSIALINK: “In Russia’s South, the Remains of a Greek City Hint at Cosmopolitan Past” – Moscow Times

Image Taken From Space of Black Sea Region, Krasnodar and Environs, adapted from image at nasa.gov

Situated outside the small village of Sennoy, Phanagoria, now one of Russia’s best-resourced and highest-profile digs, shines a light … on the region’s long-lost Ancient Greek heritage […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Lenin would be baffled: Russia’s once-tame Communist Party is becoming an opposition force: The Kremlin and the party’s own leader are worried” – The Economist

Russian State Duma Building file photo

“… many Russian democrats, desperate to get Yeltsin’s successor [Putin] out of the Kremlin, find themselves voting for the Communists. … aware of the irony. … With nearly all forms of politics banned and [] Navalny behind bars, the Communist Party … [has benefited the most from Navalny’s] ‘smart voting’ strategy. … Had … votes been counted honestly in parliamentary […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Archie Brown Is Awarded the Pushkin House Book Prize: ‘The Human Factor: Gorbachev, Reagan and Thatcher and the End of the Cold War'” – Moscow Times

Bookcase file photo, adapted from image at nlm.nih.gov

The 9th Pushkin House Book Prize was awarded to Archie Brown, Emeritus Professor of Politics at the University of Oxford, for “The Human Factor: Gorbachev, Reagan and Thatcher and the End of the Cold War,” published by Oxford University Press.

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RUSSIALINK: “Catherine Belton’s “Putin’s People” is Essential Reading: ‘How the KGB Took Back Russia and then Took on the West.'” – Moscow Times

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Emily Couch – Oct. 17, 2021) The path taken by Catherine Belton’s “Putin’s People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and then Took on the West” is a well-trodden one. For those who have read Masha Gessen’s “The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin,” Ben Judah’s “Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell […]

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RUSSIALINK: “‘The Human Factor’ Shines New Light on Recent History; Author Archie Brown’s book expands our understanding of one of history’s key periods” – Moscow Times

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

How important was the true-believing communist son of Stavropol peasants, the actor son of a Midwestern traveling salesman, or the staid, provincial daughter of a Lincolnshire shopkeeper? […]

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Russian Political Elite Seeks to Retain Post-Stalin Consensus while ‘Correcting Mistakes’ of Soviet Regime, Luzin Says

Kremlin and River

(Paul Goble – Window On Eurasia – Staunton, Sept. 24, 2021) The Russian elite does not have an explicit ideology but it does have a shared set of beliefs that guide its actions, an ideology that has “grown out of political practice rather than from any philosophy,” Pavel Luzin says. But that does not make it any less influential. Indeed, […]

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Russia’s Foreign Military Basing Strategy

File Photo of Deck of Russian Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

(PONARS Eurasia Policy Memo – DMITRY GORENBURG, Senior Research Scientist, CNA – Sept. 20, 2021) In December 2020, news broke that Russia had signed an agreement with Sudan to build a naval base on the Red Sea. Given the refurbishment of its existing base in Syria and rumors of other potential bases abroad being negotiated, on the surface, Russia appears […]

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30 Years After End of Soviet Union, Its Main Lesson for Russia Remains ‘Reform or Else’

Tower and Building Inside Kremlin

Thirty years after the failed August 1991 coup in the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the country four months later, it is hard to avoid asking: What led to the demise of that superpower and are the same factors relevant for its successor, today’s Russia?

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Russians ‘Long Not for the USSR but for a Normal Life Not Dominated by Machines and Money,’ Khotinenko Says

(Paul Goble – Window On Eurasia – Staunton, Aug. 28, 2021) Many think that Russians long for the Soviet system as a whole, Vladimir Khotinenko says; but in fact, they are longing for a normal life, one in which human beings rather than money and machines are in control, as all too many of them are convinced is the case […]

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RUSSIALINK: “‘It Was All for Nothing’: Russia Marks August Coup With Regret, Indifference” – Moscow Times

CIA Map of USSR Administrative Divisions, adapted from image at loc.gov

Thirty years on, The Moscow Times spoke to surviving participants in the events that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the birth of a new Russia. (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Felix Light – Aug. 18, 2021) In the center of Moscow, hidden behind two lanes of heaving traffic on the New Arbat commercial thoroughfare, stands a […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia’s democratic development is the only correct path – Gorbachev” – Interfax

CIA Map of USSR Administrative Divisions, adapted from image at loc.gov

MOSCOW. Aug 18 (Interfax) – Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev blames the organizers of the coup attempt of August 1991 and the signatories to the Belavezha agreements for the collapse of the Soviet Union, calls for defending the principles of democracy, and believes that Russia can develop and solve any problems only on a democratic path. “I believe that the […]

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1996 Russian Elections Made a Putin Inevitable, von Eggert Says

Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin

(Paul Goble – Window On Eurasia – Staunton, June 2, 2021) Twenty-five years ago, Russia had its last presidential election in which the outcome was not ordained. But after Boris Yeltsin’s orchestrated victory, Konstantin von Eggert says, the country entered yet another non-democratic era in which the rise of someone like Vladimir Putin was inevitable. In that sense, the independent […]

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In Memoriam: Professor R.W. (Bob) Davies 1925-2021

Lit Candle with Reflection and Dark Background

From: On Behalf Of Michael Berry Sent: 16 April 2021 18:32 Subject: Professor R.W. (Bob) Davies 1925-2021 I am sorry to have to report that Professor R.W. (Bob) Davies the eminent economic historian of the USSR and director of CREES at the University of Birmingham for many years died earlier this week. His knowledge and wisdom will be missed by […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russian Congress Seeking Inspiration From Medieval History Is Quashed by Authorities” – Moscow Times

Russia Regions Map

The crackdown is being seen as a sign that the Kremlin is playing closer attention to local power structures ahead of fall elections […]

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Image of Sakharov, Once the Conscience of the Nation, an Increasingly Blurred Figure for Russians, Lev Gudkov Says

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

The month marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Academician Andrey Sakharov who developed the hydrogen bomb … then became the leading spokesman for humanism and democracy against the Soviet regime […]

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Did The West Promise Moscow That NATO Would Not Expand? Well, It’s Complicated.

NATO Meeting File Photo

… And so, more than two decades after NATO’s original 16-member Cold War composition was first enlarged to take in three former Warsaw Pact states, and with Putin poised to potentially stay in office into the 2030s, the past is very much present […]

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The Inconvenient Sakharov: His legacy is a moral challenge to the Kremlin, to Western elites and to many of Russia’s oppositionists

Andrei Sakharov file photo, adapted from image at Russian-speaking Community Council facebook event page

Subject: THE INCONVENIENT SAKHAROV Date: Thu, 20 May 2021 From: DDGlinski <DDGlinski@alumni.harvard.edu> THE INCONVENIENT SAKHAROV His legacy is a moral challenge to the Kremlin, to Western elites and to many of Russia’s oppositionists by Dmitri Glinski Dmitri Daniel Glinski, Ph.D., a member of the council of the Democratic Russia Movement in the early 1990s and of Russia’s Constitutional Consultative Assembly […]

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RUSSIALINK: “‘Memories of Moscow’ Brings the Late Soviet Era to Life; Author Harald Lipman was the British Embassy doctor in the 1980s.” – Moscow Times

Bookcase file photo, adapted from image at nlm.nih.gov

… Lipman kept a diary … enough to trigger … memories, often aided by his wife, Nahid. He has compiled them into … “Moscow Memories: Memoirs of a Medical Diplomat,” … describ[ing] the day-to-day life not only of diplomats, but of Soviet citizens […]

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Calls by U.S. for Economic Transition in Russia From Reagan Through Trump

Cash, Calculator, Pen

… Russia’s transition to a market economy is at least partially completed, though estimates point to the state holding between 33 and 46 percent of the economy … concentrated in “strategic” sectors such as energy and banking […]

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Most Russians Can’t or Won’t Rate Lenin but Overwhelmingly Oppose Taking Down Monuments to Him

Lenin Mausoleum on Red Square, Kremlin Walls

(Paul Goble – Window On Eurasia – Staunton – Feb. 17, 2021) In most other former Soviet republics, people favor taking down statues of Lenin or renaming any place or street bearing his name – Ukraine, for example, has completed these tasks (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2021/01/last-lenin-statue-in-ukraine-falls.html). But a new Public Opinion Poll suggests Russians have a very different view. It found that while […]

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AUDIO: Katrina vanden Heuvel: “Steve Cohen’s Anecdote Lecture — December 6, 1983/ via John/ JohnBatchelorShow.com podcast”

Bookcase file photo, adapted from image at nlm.nih.gov

Subject: Steve Cohen’s Anecdote Lecture — December 6, 1983/ via John/ JohnBatchelorShow.com podcast Date: Mon, 23 Nov 2020 From: Katrina vanden Heuvel <kat@thenation.com> Steve Cohen gave an annual anecdote lecture in his Soviet Politics class, first at Princeton starting in 1980, and running through his ten years at NYU — until about 2012 — Here is the 12/6/83 Lecture broken […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Film About Gorbachev and Reagan in Pre-Production; From the team that made ‘The Death of Stalin'” – Moscow Times

File Photo of Reel of Film

The historic 1986 Reykjavik summit between Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan will be the backdrop for a new satirical film […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH VIDEO: “Russia Declassifies Video From 1961 of Largest Hydrogen Bomb Ever Detonated” – Smithsonian Magazine/ Theresa Machemer

File Photo of Tsar Bomba Nuclear Detonation, adapted from image at osd.mil

“The blast was over 3,000 times bigger than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.” “… [D]eclassified Russian footage [features] the 1961 Tsar Bomba hydrogen bomb test …  [of] the largest bomb … detonated on Earth …. a 50-million-ton hydrogen bomb, officially named RDS-220[,] … [set off] late October 1961 … during the height of the Cold War[,] …. 26 feet long […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Still standing; How Vladimir Putin maintains his support” – Times Literary Supplement (UK)/ Stephen Kotkin

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Podium with United Russia Logo, Gesturing

“… Putin forced through a plebiscite to zero out … constitutional limits on his rule. … [H]e can run again, in 2024, for two more six-year terms, until 2036, when he will turn eighty-four. …. Putin could have … move[d] Russia onto a stable path of institutional pluralism. Russia’s would-be democrats … Gorbachev and … Yeltsin, started out … popular […]

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RUSSIALINK: “White population should not bear responsibility for distant ancestors’ actions – Russian Orthodox Church” – Interfax

File Photo of Russian Orthodox Church at Kremlin, adapted from defense.gov Image

MOSCOW. July 13 (Interfax) – The Russian Orthodox Church condemns racism, but believes that modern people should not bear responsibility for what their ancestors once did. “Those white people who live on earth now cannot bear responsibility for what their ancestors did a long time ago. Nevertheless, when the state authorities of countries apologize for mistakes made in the past, […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “How Putin pushed aside the oligarchs and made Russia his own” – Washington Post/ Anders Åslund

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

In her deeply researched new book, Catherine Belton tells a dark tale of … Putin’s rise to power and … 20 years as [Russian] leader …. ‘Putin’s People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took On the West‘ […]

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“New book: SOVIET JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG – A New History of the International Military Tribunal // Pub. July 2020” – Sarah Payne, Oxford University Press

Nuremberg Trials Courtroom Scene, adapted from image at archives.gov

Subject: New book: SOVIET JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG – A New History of the International Military Tribunal // Pub. July 2020 Date: Tue, 7 Jul 2020 15:05:20 +0000 From: PAYNE, Sarah <Sarah.Payne@oup.com> Amazon: https://amzn.to/3ffJmId Standard Western accounts of The Nuremberg Trials fixate on key figures like Justice Robert H. Jackson, the U.S. chief prosecutor and Supreme Court judge, as well as […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Return to Kabul? Russian Policy in Afghanistan” – David G. Lewis/ George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies

Soviet Era Afghan Soldiers with Flag

“… Moscow has publicly supported the current U.S.-Taliban peace talks … [yet] has a very different perspective from the U.S. … influenced by geography and history. Russia’s current strategic posture is informed by a long history of relations with Afghanistan and above all … the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in 1979, a strategic and military failure … still fresh in […]

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Putin Driving Russia to Where the USSR was in 1991, Zyuganov Says

Kremlin and River

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 22, 2020) Gennady Zyuganov, the leader of the KPRF which is the only parliamentary party that has come out against approving the constitutional amendments by referendum, says that Vladimir Putin’s recent actions have been “not simply disappointing but depressing.” In the course of a wide-ranging 3,000-word interview with Anastaya Melnikova of […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Sergei Khrushchev, Son of Former Soviet Premier, Dies at 84” – New York Times/ Katharine Q. Seelye

Brown University Gate, adapted from image at senate.gov

“A rocket scientist in the Soviet Union, he became a U.S. citizen long after the Cold War ended. ‘I’m not a defector,’ he said. ‘I like this country.’” “Sergei N. Khrushchev … former Soviet rocket scientist … son of Nikita S. Khrushchev … died … June 18 at his home …. He was 84. The Rhode Island medical examiner’s office […]

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Kremlin Denies Eyeing Territorial Claims After Putin’s Comments In Documentary

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

The Kremlin has denied it has any territorial claims on former Soviet republics after … Putin appeared to question the redrawn borders of Russia after the breakup of the Soviet Union […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “A History of Chess in Russia” – Chess24

Chess Pieces File Photo

“In the 80 years since Alexander Alekhine became World Chess Champion in 1927 until Vishy Anand took the title from Vladimir Kramnik in 2007, Russian or Soviet players held the title for all but five years – Max Euwe (1935-37) and Bobby Fischer (1972-75) were the only players to disturb the dominance. … FM Andrey Terekhov looks at those years, […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Oldest cousin of Native Americans found in Russia” – Science Magazine/ Michael Price

Map Depicting Beringia Land Bridge Across Bering Strait, adapted from image at nps.gov

“A new study has revealed … a 14,000-year-old tooth belonging to a close cousin of today’s Native Americans … thousands of kilometers from the landmass that once connected Eurasia and the Americas. … suggest[ing] the Siberian ancestors of North America’s Indigenous peoples were more widespread and mobile …. Sometime about 20,000 years ago, people began to cross the eastern tip […]

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VIDEO: JRL NEWSWATCH: “The Death Of Stalin: Unique Propaganda Footage Shows Dictator’s Funeral” – RFE/RL

Joseph Stalin file photo

“Largely unseen footage of the funeral and official mourning following the death of Soviet leader Josef Stalin is featured in a new documentary, State Funeral, by Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa. It’s being shown on Current Time, the Russian-language network led by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA. The mourning events were held at factories, on collective farms, town squares, and in […]

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U.S.-Russia Deconflicting 75 Years Ago: Flares and Friendly Fire at the Elbe

File Photo of American Soldier Meeting Soviet Soldiers in Berlin in 1945, adapted from image at army.mil

… 75 years ago, U.S. and Soviet forces linked up on the Elbe River in Germany at the end of the European phase of World War II. The anniversary prompted current leaders of the U.S. and Russia to transcend … frosty relations … and issue a rare joint declaration ….

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin, Russia’s Man of Action, Is Passive, Even Bored, in the Coronavirus Era” – New York Times/ Andrew Higgins

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

“The pandemic has derailed Vladimir V. Putin’s plans for a big military parade and a referendum extending his rule – and now knocked out his prime minister – as the Russian leader struggles to find his stride.” “This was supposed to be a moment of triumph for … Putin, a celebration of his grand successes … restoring the Russian state […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Pushkin House Announces 2020 Book Prize Short List; Six titles that are all required reading for Russia watchers” – Moscow Times

Bookcase file photo, adapted from image at nlm.nih.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Michele A. Berdy – April 29, 2020) Michele A. Berdy is the Arts Editor and author of “The Russian Word’s Worth,” a collection of her columns. On Tuesday Pushkin House in London announced its short list of nominations for the 2020 Pushkin House Russian Book Prize. The prize has been awarded annually since 2013 to […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Learn All About the Great Patriotic War; A marathon to remember the 75th anniversary of the victory begins April 25” – Moscow Times

File Photo of American Soldier Meeting Soviet Soldiers in Berlin in 1945, adapted from image at army.mil

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 24, 2020) Starting at 4 p.m. on Sat., April 25 until May 9 – Victory Day in Russia – the Russian Ministry of Culture and several other organizations are launching an online marathon to mark the 75 anniversary of the end of the war. On the special site, you can find a tremendous amount […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Made men; The enduring grip of the men-and mindset-of the KGB” – The Economist

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

A meticulous account of Vladimir Putin’s consolidation of power in Russia. “… as [Catherine] Belton shows [in Putin’s People], the continuity between the Soviet agency that nurtured … Putin as a young officer, and the security-based behemoths that bestride today’s Russia lies less in institutions than in mentality. … that believes anybody can be turned; that advantage can be sought […]

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