NEWSLINK Wilson Quarterly/Theodore Gerber, Jane Zavisca: WHAT 18 FOCUS GROUPS IN THE FORMER USSR TAUGHT US ABOUT AMERICA’S IMAGE PROBLEMS [excerpt]. After talking with dozens of people in Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Kyrgyzstan, two contradictory, prevailing themes emerge about the United States.

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

THE UNITED STATES has a major public relations problem in former Soviet countries. Not only in Russia, but in Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, and even Ukraine, ordinary people see the U.S. as an arrogant, hegemonic superpower that meddles in the affairs of other countries in a cynical pursuit of its own interests – perceptions that dovetail with the Russian government’s official critiques […]

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NEWSLINK Financial Times: Demoralised Ukraine troops start to lose faith in Kiev. Echoes broader ebbing of public support for political leaders

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

On the road into Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine, Vasyl, a Ukrainian army soldier, gestures at fresh roadside craters – the result of shelling by Russian-backed separatists the night before. His men face attacks almost nightly as they guard a checkpoint in this front line suburb of rebel-held Donetsk, he says.

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Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#149 :: Saturday 1 August 2015

Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#149 1 August 2015 A project sponsored through the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs The contents do not necessarily represent the views of IERES or the George Washington University. JRL homepage: russialist.org JRL on Facebook: facebook.com/russialist JRL on Twitter: twitter.com/JohnsonRussiaLi Support JRL: russialist.org/funding.php Support for JRL is provided in part by a […]

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Idiots ‘Useful’ and Otherwise on the Rise in Russia and the West

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(Paul Goble – Staunton, July 31, 2015) Idiotism is on the rise in both Russia and the West, with its spread in Russia having transformed that country from “a land of liars to one of idiots,” according to Vitaly Portnikov, and in the West having become the latest iteration of the “useful idiots” Lenin and the Bolsheviks always viewed as […]

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Average Bribe in Russia Doubles in Rubles, Remains Steady in Dollars

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 31, 2015) The amount of the average bribe in Russia has nearly doubled this year, reaching 208,000 rubles ($3,485 at today’s rate), as the country’s currency has shed value amid Western sanctions and an economic downturn, according to Interior Ministry estimates cited by pro-government Izvestia daily on Friday. This compares to about 109,000 rubles […]

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RBTH: Can Moscow bet on ‘Trump card’ in U.S.?; Obama takes Africa for a tango; Kyrgyzstan casts its lot in with Russia

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Sergey Strokan, Vladimir Mikheev, special to RBTH – July 30, 2015) RBTH presents its weekly analytical program TROIKA REPORT, featuring a look at three of the most high-profile recent developments in international affairs 1. Engaging the West U.S. presidential race: Can Moscow bet on ‘Trump card’? The meteoric rise of eccentric billionaire Donald […]

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Interfax: DPR accuses Ukrainian military of 47 strikes in past 24 hours

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

DONETSK. July 31 (Interfax) – The Ukrainian Armed Forces have violated the ceasefire on 47 occasions in the past 24 hours, the Defense Ministry of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) has said. “Fifty artillery shells with 152mm and 122mm calibers, 51 tank shells and 198 mines with 82mm and 120mm calibers have been fired against the territory of Donbas. […]

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US expands sanctions day after Russia vetoes MH17 UN tribunal

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – bne IntelliNews – July 31, 2015) [DJ: US Department of Treasury press release here http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl0133.aspx] The US Department of Treasury announced on July 30 it would expand the sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian companies, officials and individuals, which “underscores US commitment to maintain the strength of existing sanctions and the unity of the international […]

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Interfax: Russia will respond to sanctions imposed against it using principle of mutuality, but asymmetrical actions are also possible

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

(Interfax – July 31, 2015) Russia will proceed from the principles of mutuality regarding the countries imposing sanctions against it, but it does not rule out an asymmetrical response as well, Russian presidential press officer Dmitry Peskov said on July 31. “In general, the principle of mutuality, no doubt, is a basic principle in this sanctions exchange. At the same […]

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RBTH: Flight MH17: Russia blocks UN resolution on international tribunal

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

Russia has vetoed a UN Security Council draft resolution on the establishment of an international criminal tribunal in connection with the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in July 2014. While countries in favor of the resolution accuse Russia of insulting the families of the 298 victims of the disaster, Russia says the tribunal would have been premature, and questioned […]

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Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#147 :: Friday 31 July 2015

Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#147 Friday 31 July 2015 A project sponsored through the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs The contents do not necessarily represent the views of IERES or the George Washington University. JRL homepage: russialist.org JRL on Facebook: facebook.com/russialist JRL on Twitter: twitter.com/JohnsonRussiaLi Support JRL: russialist.org/funding.php Support for JRL is provided in part by […]

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Interfax: Russia’s ambassador to London explains why Russia-NATO conflict over Ukraine is impossible

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

(Interfax – July 29, 2015) Russia’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom Alexander Yakovenko rules out the possibility of a military conflict between Russia and NATO over the Ukraine crisis. An open letter of Russia’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom Alexander Yakovenko was posted on July 29 on the website of the Russian Embassy. “There are, indeed, attempts to frighten the […]

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Five-part blog: THE WORLD WAR IV SERIES

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

Subject: Five-part blog: THE WORLD WAR IV SERIES Date: Wed, 29 Jul 2015 19:39:46 -0400 From: David Law <davidmurraylaw@gmail.com> I have recently written a five-part blog series on what I call World War IV. I think your readers may be interested in this material. At the very least, it should provoke some reflection. David Law — THE WORLD WAR IV […]

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Mokrushyna podcast [re: Ukraine]

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

Subject: Mokrushyna podcast Date: Sat, 25 Jul 2015 17:25:19 -0400 From: Pietro Shakarian <pashakarian@gmail.com> Here is the link to my latest Reconsidering Russia podcast: https://soundcloud.com/pashakarian/reconsidering-russia-podcast-04-an-interview-with-halyna-mokrushyna Guest: Halyna Mokrushyna on democracy in Ukraine today. Dr. Mokrushyna holds a PhD in linguistics and an MA in communication. She is also currently enrolled in the PhD program in sociology at the University of […]

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New tolls on heavy trucks to raise funds for road repairs in Russia

Moscow Roads

Russia is to introduce a new system for collecting tolls from heavy trucks, with the proceeds – some 50 billion rubles ($896 million) a year – to go toward vital road repairs. Payment will be controlled by special gates set up on major highways. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Anna Kuchma, RBTH – July 28, 2015) Help may […]

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NEWSWATCH The Economist: Russia’s prisons. Putin v Punk Pussy. A brave, brassy singer highlights the plight of Russia’s other inmates.

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

The Economist magazine covers prisoners rights activism by Pussy Riot member Nadia Tolokonnikova. At the last count there were 657,000 Russians behind bars, one of the world’s highest ratios of prisoners to population. … The frequency of deaths in custody amounts to a ‘Russian Ebola’. Tuberculosis is the commonest killer, she says, followed by HIV-AIDS, which may affect 75,000 prisoners. … … prisoners routinely […]

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NEWSWATCH Ukraine Today: Russia greater threat to US than IS terrorism – Breedlove

Philip Breedlove file photo

Ukraine Today covered remarks on threat assessment by both the NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe and the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe has told PBS news that he agrees with the new US Joint Chiefs of Staff Joe Dunford, who said Russia is a bigger threat to US state security […]

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NEWSWATCH AFP: IMF: Ukraine economic picture ‘incredibly encouraging’

International Monetary Fund Logo Over Ukraine Flag

AFP reports on the IMF’s ongoing assessment of Ukrainian political and economic trends. Ukraine’s government is determined to undertake long-needed reforms, making the economic picture in the country very encouraging, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said Wednesday. * * * ‘Ukraine has been an incredibly encouraging situation,’ she said  * * * Lagarde emphasized the gains that are being made, […]

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NEWSWATCH BBC: Russian debtors despair as boom turns to bust

Cash, Calculator, Pen

The BBC covers the Russian economic crisis and the plight of Russians who took on debt during boom times only to face misery and potential disaster now. Millions of Russians took out loans during the economic boom years, but now they face crippling debts and the law is not on their side …. * * * … the Russian United Credit Bureau […]

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Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#146 :: Thursday PM 30 July 2015

Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#146 Thursday PM 30 July 2015 A project sponsored through the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs The contents do not necessarily represent the views of IERES or the George Washington University. JRL homepage: russialist.org JRL on Facebook: facebook.com/russialist JRL on Twitter: twitter.com/JohnsonRussiaLi Support JRL: russialist.org/funding.php Support for JRL is provided in part […]

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Re: Restrictions on Foreign Orgs in the U.S.

U.S. Supreme Court Facade

Subject: Re restrictions on foreign orgs in the U.S. Date: Wed, 29 Jul 2015 14:09:46 -0400 From: Thomas M. Callahan <tom.callahan@yandex.com> There has long been an American statute in place regulating the work of organizations working “in the interests” of foreign powers on American soil. However, it is quite short and, anyway, is a single provision compared to Russia’s extensive […]

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The Russian Theater – What a Season It’s Been

Mayakovsky Theater at Night, file photo; adapted from image from Creative Commons/wikimedia/Shuvaev

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedmam – July 30, 2015) Another theater season bites the dust. And, therefore, wrap it up again we must. For three and twenty years without a break The Moscow Times has listed what is great Or maybe less, But worth a dwell To test our dares And quell our cares. And so, for now, […]

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Interfax: Russian envoy slams NATO for playing “destructive role” in Ukraine crisis

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Interfax – July 29, 2015) NATO’s role in the Ukraine crisis is “utterly destructive”, Russia’s permanent representative at the organization, Aleksandr Grushko, has said, as reported by privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax on 29 July. “NATO’s role in the Ukraine crisis is utterly destructive. NATO does not act like an organization that would conduce to the peaceful settlement of the […]

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Russia is swimming in oil; Russia’s oil industry lacks the infrastructure to avoid spills and leaks; and the environmental consequences are horrific

Oil Wells File Photo

(opendemocracy.net – July 28, 2015) Georgy Borodyansky is an Omsk-based correspondent for Novaya Gazeta. Russian oil giant Rosneft has dumped on us northerners once again. It’s unlikely that anyone apart from the locals would have heard about the pipeline which burst on the outskirts of Nefteyugansk if not for photos of the aftermath on social media. The pictures were taken […]

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Russia’s Book Industry Wanes as Russians Stop Reading

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

  (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anastasia Bazenkova – July 30, 2015) More Russian bookshops are facing closure every year, shaking the publishing industry and threatening writing as a profession. Bookselling, never the most profitable retail business, is struggling to stay afloat thanks to expensive shop rental rates and decreasing interest from customers. In Moscow, considered the most well-read city […]

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Economic Crisis, Uncertainty about the Future Pushing Russian Birthrate Down

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

(Paul Goble – Staunton, July 30, 2015) The Russian statistics agency reported yesterday that the birthrate in the Russian Federation had fallen to 12.6 children per 1000 population, lower than it has been at any point in the last three years and, according to experts, a reflection of both underlying demographic trends and current uncertainties about the future among Russians. […]

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Ruble Fall Stokes Russian Holidaymaker Woes

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Howard Amos – July 30, 2015) Alexandra Khomenok booked a European holiday earlier this month, but her plans hit a stumbling block this week as the ruble took an abrupt plunge, scraping four-month lows. While the 27-year-old PR manager has already bought tickets for herself and her husband to fly to Italy in September, they […]

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Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#145 :: Thursday AM 30 July 2015

Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#145 Thursday AM 30 July 2015 A project sponsored through the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs The contents do not necessarily represent the views of IERES or the George Washington University. JRL homepage: russialist.org JRL on Facebook: facebook.com/russialist JRL on Twitter: twitter.com/JohnsonRussiaLi Support JRL: russialist.org/funding.php Support for JRL is provided in part […]

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Unlike Putin, Russian People Think that a Malaysian Plane Tribunal Would Hold Ukraine Responsible, Gudkov Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 29, 2015) The Russian government is totally opposed to the creation of an international tribunal to investigate the downing of the Malaysian airliner a year ago and will likely veto a proposal for such a venue at a meeting of the UN Security Council today. But a recent poll shows about […]

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Ukrainian refugees in Russia receive a mixed welcome; Many people took refuge in Russia after fleeing eastern Ukraine last summer. Their experiences are far from uniform

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(opendemocracy.net – Dmitry Okrest – July 28, 2015) Dmitry Okrest is a former staff writer with The New Times and currently works as an independent journalist. While the West thinks Russia is fighting a war with Ukraine, and Moscow calls the conflict a ‘civil war’, civilians continue to flee the combat zone in eastern Ukraine. Last summer, many people made […]

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Moscow, Kiev Grapple With Historic Ties to Prince Vladimir

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – July 29, 2015) Tuesday marked the passage of a millennium since the death of Vladimir the Great. As both Kiev and Moscow honored the occasion with high-profile celebrations, leaders of each took advantage of the opportunity to emphasize the strength of their own countries’ ties to the medieval ruler. Prince Vladimir is […]

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Ukraine Again Relies on Foreigners for Leadership Help

Mikheil Saakashvili file photo

(Voice of America – Oleksiy Kuzmenko – July 24, 2015) As Ukraine is struggling to reform and survive during war, it is relying on a cohort of accomplished foreigners for leadership. For example, foreign-born ministers are negotiating a way out of Ukraine’s debt burden, and former statesmen from Georgia are at the forefront of Ukraine’s fight against corruption. Ukraine has […]

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Putin Hurts a Think Tank by Not Banning It

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – July 28, 2015) Russian President Vladimir Putin is nothing if not cunning when it comes to dealing with his adversaries. When he signed a law allowing the government to ban any nongovernmental organization deemed “undesirable,” it was clear some foreign NGOs would suffer. What was less obvious — though, in hindsight, inevitable — […]

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RBTH: How effective is Russian drive to combat ISIS recruiters?

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

People in both Russian diplomatic circles and the security forces have been describing Islamic State (ISIS) as a “real threat” for a long time now. On Aug. 1 a hotline will start working in Russia for those whose friends or family members have joined ISIS. With experts warning that ISIS cannot be defeated with force alone, RBTH found out what […]

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Architects Clash Over Vladimir Monument

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 29, 2015) On Monday evening, Rustam Rakhmatullin, the coordinator of the social movement Archnadzor, brought together eminent architects and architecture experts to discuss the proposals to erect a 24-meter monument to Vladimir the Great in the capital. Also present was Yury Nikiforov, a representative of the Russian Society of War History, which has started […]

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Russian Defense Industry Revenues Soar Despite Western Sanctions

Russian Soldiers Marching

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – July 29, 2015) The Russian government bought defense equipment worth almost 2 trillion rubles ($33.2 billion) in 2014, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in April. Russia’s major defense industry enterprises shrugged off Western sanctions and a Russian economic slowdown to grow their revenues rapidly in 2014, according to a new global ranking. […]

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Interfax: Kremlin: Prohibition of NGOs’ operations in Russia does not mean restriction of access to democratic values

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Interfax – July 29, 2015) The inclusion of one or several non-governmental organizations (NGO) in a list of those whose operations on Russian territory are undesirable does not restrict access of Russian citizens to democratic values, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “It would be absolutely wrong to say that, with the prohibition of this or that organization, Russian citizens would […]

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To Escape Putinism, Russia Must Expunge Muscovy as Germany Did Prussia, Sklyarov Says

Moscow Night Lights Satellite Image

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 29, 2105) Many commentators suggest that the way to move beyond the Putin regime involves economic growth, de-militarization, and re-entering the international community, but “these are all second-order tasks” that pale in comparison with what is the most important one, according to Andrey Sklyarov. The historian says that the central task […]

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Crimea Is Now Putin’s Problem Child; Russian security services are cracking down on alleged corruption in the newly annexed peninsula

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Carol Matlack – July 24, 2015) President Vladimir Putin likened Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea to a family welcoming home a long-lost relative. Now the family is showing signs of strain. Russia’s federal security service, the FSB, has opened criminal investigations of three high-ranking Crimean government officials, accusing them of graft and other misdeeds. Four regional […]

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Ukraine is ripe for the shock doctrine; Like many states in crisis before it, Ukraine serves as a perfect opportunity for neoliberal transformation.

International Monetary Fund Logo Over Ukraine Flag

(opendemocracy.net – Sean Guillory – July 27, 2015) Sean Guillory is a UCIS/REES postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pittsburgh. He hosts the podcast New Books in Russian and Eurasian Studies and received his PhD in History at UCLA. Follow him on Twitter @seansrussiablog While a crisis of faith, of sorts, has resounded in western discourse on the economic effectiveness […]

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U.S. embassy in Moscow concerned about NED’s designation as ‘undesirable organization’ in Russia

File Photo of U.S. Embassy Moscow, with Russian Foreign Ministry Building in Distance

(Interfax – July 28, 2015) The U.S. Embassy in Moscow is concerned about the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office’s decision to designate the U.S. nonprofit organization National Endowment for Democracy (NED) an undesirable foreign organization in Russian territory. “We are deeply concerned about the effect of the so-called law on undesirable organizations,” U.S. embassy spokesperson Will Stevens told Interfax when asked […]

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Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#144 :: Wednesday 29 July 2015

Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#144 Wednesday 29 July 2015 A project sponsored through the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs The contents do not necessarily represent the views of IERES or the George Washington University. JRL homepage: russialist.org JRL on Facebook: facebook.com/russialist JRL on Twitter: twitter.com/JohnsonRussiaLi Support JRL: russialist.org/funding.php Support for JRL is provided in part by […]

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Classes Aimed at Raising a New Generation of Russian Businessmen

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexandra Tyan – July 28, 2015) The newly renovated VDNKh park in northern Moscow is investing in the future with the Young Investor School, which will open at Pavilion 14 early next month. Starting on Aug. 6, every Thursday and Friday, children between the ages of 8-14 can learn about the career of investment banking […]

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Pension Age for Russian Officials to Be Raised

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 28, 2015) Russia’s Labor Ministry plans to raise the retirement pension age for state officials to 65 from 60, according to a statement published Monday, as the government scrambles to cut spending amid a recession. The Labor Ministry said it had drawn up legal amendments that would bar officials from receiving retirement pay before […]

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Interfax : Russian patriarch appeals to Putin, Poroshenko over Ukraine conflict

Patriarch Kirill file photo

(Interfax – July 27, 2015) Patriarch of Moscow and All-Russia Kirill has written letters to the presidents of Russia and Ukraine expressing deep concern over events in eastern Ukraine, privately-owned Interfax news agency reported on 27 July. “Reaching the peace agreements in Minsk put the escalation of the conflict on hold and inspired hope for a full ceasefire between the […]

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Interfax: Putin hopes Russia will be able to promote dialogue with Europe and U.S. on Ukraine issue

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

(Interfax – July 28, 2015) Russian President Vladimir Putin is hopeful that his country will be able to further promote dialogue with Europe and the United States concerning the fight against radical Islamism and other problems, including the Ukrainian issue. “I see today that the situation has changed. Europe and the U.S. have realized the real threat coming from the […]

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Navalny’s Opposition Coalition Stymied in Siberia

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – July 28, 2015) Efforts to inject some of Russia’s almost invariably pro-Kremlin regional and municipal legislatures with opposition-minded lawmakers ended in failure in Novosibirsk on Monday. Opposition firebrand Alexei Navalny’s Party of Progress, Parnas and several other opposition parties formed a coalition aimed at providing a platform to like-minded candidates in various […]

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Putin Scheduled to Address UN General Assembly

UN Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – July 28, 2015) Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend this year’s United Nations General Assembly in September, according to a provisional list of speakers released by the UN. Putin plans to address the gathering of the world’s heads of states and governments on its opening day, Sept. 28, according to the list […]

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Ukraine War Risks Reigniting as OSCE Warns of Troop Buildup

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Kateryna Choursina, Aliaksandr Kudrytski – July 28, 2015) The battle readiness of Ukraine’s military and the rebels it’s fighting in the country’s east is at its highest level since a February truce, monitors warned, a situation that risks tipping the conflict back into war. After more than a year of fighting, sides are fortifying positions and […]

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New Russian Naval Doctrine Enshrines Confrontation With NATO

Russian Naval Vessel file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – July 28, 2015) President Vladimir Putin on Sunday approved amendments to Russia’s naval doctrine that prioritize the development of Russian positions in strategic seas around the world, according to the Kremlin website. The updated doctrine takes advantage of a huge injection of funds into Russia’s naval strength to shift the emphasis of […]

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