JRL NEWSWATCH: “Chat Group Becomes Target of Moscow’s Wrath as Security Crackdown Widens” – New York Times/ Andrew Higgins

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

“The group started out as an online discussion of hobbies, schoolwork and sometimes politics. But then it was infiltrated by an informer for Russia’s all-powerful security services.” “… [T]he chat group … was joined by a new member who promoted unusually strident views … and pushed to turn the online chatter into a political movement …. [He] gave his name […]

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Separatism Doesn’t Threaten Russia But Will If Kremlin Fails to Listen to Regions, Yarulin Says

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 30, 2020) The most important lesson of the Khabarovsk protests is that separatism doesn’t threaten Russia now but could if the central government continues to try to make all the decisions, consolidate all the power and wealth, and ignore the aspirations of Russians in the regions, Ildus Yarulin says. The director […]

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Anti-Centralism Now Embraced by Both Russian and Non-Russian Radical Oppositions, Sidorov Says

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 3, 2020) Russian nationalists have always been more divided than most analysts have suggested, with some committed imperialists, others devoted to a small Russia, and still others believing that their best course forward is in the elaboration of a civic national identity that would allow them to retain the loyalty of […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s electoral testing ground; Welcome to Novosibirsk, where multiple opposition parties are battling for real power and setting the stage for Russia’s nationwide elections” – Meduza

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

“In … Novosibirsk[,] … not one but two opposition groups are building … a serious challenge to the ruling party. … [T]he Communist Party (KPRF) … part of … the systemic opposition … recognized by the Russian government and permitted to hold elected seats across the country. … currently controls Novosibirsk City Hall[;] Communist Mayor Anatoly Lokot … push[ing] for […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Moscow’s Watcom shopping index almost back to normal as shoppers return to Moscow’s malls” – bne Intellinews

File Photo of Cash Register with Drawer Open and Hands of Cashier

“Moscow’s Watcom shopping index has regained almost all the ground lost from a lockdown on the capital earlier this year” “[The] Watcom shopping index [tracking foot traffic at Moscow’s leading malls] has recovered almost all … ground lost during the [spring] lockdown …. [Moscow’s] infection rate … has fallen …. [T]he epidemic is far from over in Russia …. A […]

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Degtyarov First of New Generation of Regional Leaders in Putin System, Ivanov Says

Far Eastern Russia and Environs, with Khabarovsk Pinpointed, adapted from image at cdc.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, Aug. 2 , 2020) Despite the travails of his first days in office, Mikhail Degtyarov, Moscow’s appointee as new head of Khabarovsk Kray, represents the harbinger of a new generation of regional leaders, one very different than their predecessors and likely to have unexpected consequences for both Moscow and the regions, Andrey […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin signs law allowing 3-day voting in elections, referenda” – Interfax

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

MOSCOW. July 31 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law which allows voting in elections and referenda to be held for three consecutive days. The law was published on the official web portal for legal information on Friday. It enters into effect on the day of its publication. In accordance with the law, voting in elections “may […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Fire and Brimstone: The Rise and Fall of Russia’s Coronavirus-Denying Rebel Priest” – Moscow Times

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Samantha Berkhead – July 29, 2020) In a forest outside Yekaterinburg, pilgrims chant and wave banners in their annual midnight procession in honor of Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia and a saint in the Russian Orthodox Church. But this year’s pilgrimage to the spot where the emperor and his family were executed by […]

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VIDEO & EVENT SUMMARY: “The Putin Profile: A Conversation with Dr. Fiona Hill” – Kennan Institute

Redacted File Photo of Fiona Hill, adapted form image at seanmaloney.house.gov

… Putin’s [reign] has lasted over 20 years. … [New] constitutional amendments[] giv[e] him the ability to extend his presidency to 2036 … potentially making him the longest-serving head of state in modern Russian and Soviet history. […]

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Where U.S. Sees Democracy Promotion, Russia Sees Regime Change

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

In the aftermath of the revelation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election … Putin rejected those claims and accused the U.S. of interfering in Russian elections instead […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Nearly Half of Russians Support Anti-Kremlin Protests in Far East – Poll” – Moscow Times

Far Eastern Russia and Environs, with Khabarovsk Pinpointed, adapted from image at cdc.gov

Nearly half of Russians say they approve of … anti-Kremlin protests in the Far East … [breaking] out … after the arrest of the Khabarovsk region’s popular governor … and his replacement with a Putin-appointed lawmaker …. People have taken to the streets of Khabarovsk near the Chinese border … 18 days in a row … an unprecedented show of opposition to the Kremlin in the region […]

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EVENT & WEBCAST: “The Putin Profile: A Conversation with Dr. Fiona Hill” – Kennan Institute, Wednesday, July 29

Redacted File Photo of Fiona Hill, adapted form image at seanmaloney.house.gov

… Putin’s presidency has lasted over 20 years. … [H]e further cemented his grip on power with … constitutional amendments[] giving him the ability to extend his presidency to 2036 …. Join us … for a conversation with Dr. Fiona Hill on … Putin, his regime, and how her thinking on Putin has evolved […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “In Russia’s Far East, a New Face of Resistance to Putin’s Reign” – New York Times/ Anton Troianovski

Far Eastern Russia and Environs, with Khabarovsk Pinpointed, adapted from image at cdc.gov

“As the protests swell in the city of Khabarovsk, 4,000 miles from Moscow, residents who had never before found a public outlet for anger are becoming activists.” “… [P]rotests in Khabarovsk reached well into the tens of thousands … establishing this distant city – some 4,000 miles from Moscow – as the site of the biggest popular challenge to … […]

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Russians Don’t Believe Kremlin about Coronavirus or the Economy, New Surveys Show

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

Two new surveys show the collapse of public trust in the powers that be …. [T]he level of trust in Russia today is lower than it has been in 15 years […]

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RUSSIALINK: “‘Russia, Wake up’: Far East Protesters Seek to Set Example for Entire Country; Some local Khabarovsk activists and experts, however, wonder if the protest movement can be sustained.” – Moscow Times

Far Eastern Russia and Environs, with Khabarovsk Pinpointed, adapted from image at cdc.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Evan Gershkovich – Khabarovsk, July 27, 2020) As they have for nearly three weeks, the first protesters started to gather at Lenin Square in the city of Khabarovsk in Russia’s Far East at 7 pm on a recent weekday evening. They were soon joined by independent Russian journalists and a small army of YouTube bloggers, […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Man of steel; ‘Novaya Gazeta’ reports on the backroom business schemes that maybe ruined a Russian governor” – Meduza

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“… [T]here’s a convoluted story of cutthroat competition for a steelworks. … Sergey Furgal, until recently … duly elected governor of Khabarovsk, is now suspected of involvement in four murders committed in 2004 and 2005. While many observers have assumed openly that the allegations are plausible, given the rough and tumble of the Far East’s business world at the time, […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “How Russian imperialism could bring down Putin” – The Hill/ Janusz Bugajski

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

“… Putin has based his domestic support on economic growth and restoring the ‘Russian World.’ With the Russian economy in a nosedive, the Kremlin looks increasingly likely to attack a former Soviet neighbor to revive its imperial credentials. … Russia invaded Georgia to divert public attention from the 2008 financial crisis, and … invaded Ukraine to help quash growing protests […]

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VIDEOS & ARTICLE: Navalny’s Greatest Hits: FBK’s Best Corruption Exposés During Its Nine-Year History

… During its nine years of existence, the FBK has been instrumental in exposing corruption in Russia, producing dozens of detailed investigative videos on oligarchs, government officials, executives at state-owned companies, and their friends and relatives […]

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An Isolated Case? Observers Doubt Far East Unrest Will Spread Across Russia

Far Eastern Russia and Environs, with Khabarovsk Pinpointed, adapted from image at cdc.gov

… [Khabarovsk] residents … have been protesting following the … arrest of … popular governor[] Sergei Furgal. After … Putin named a Moscow-based politician with no ties to the Far Eastern region as Furgal’s temporary replacement, the protests took a sharply anti-Moscow turn […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia races for vaccine as Covid-19 nonchalance spreads” – Financial Times/ Henry Foy

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

“Vladimir Putin suggests country has weathered worst of pandemic, but virus not yet in retreat” “… Having rapidly manufactured a sense of calm to hold … Putin’s vote … grant[ing] him the right to remain in office … 12 years longer than previously[,] the Kremlin … now pin[s] … hopes on a fast-tracked coronavirus vaccine … to stop the virus […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “How is Putin able to remove popularly elected governors?” – Meduza

Russia Regions Map

“… Putin and … Medvedev (… [as] president) have dismissed … 11 governors prior to Furgal. Article 19 of the federal law ‘On the general principles of organization of legislative (representative) and executive bodies of state power’ gives the head of state this right. … in particular situations … [for] inadequate performance of duties and loss of confidence. While the […]

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AUDIO: JRL NEWSWATCH: “What To Do With Toppled Statues? Russia Has A Fallen Monument Park” – NPR/ Lucian Kim

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

“… the city of Moscow designated [a] chaotic collection of statues [as] a sculpture park called Muzeon, also known as the Fallen Monument Park. In Russia, regimes have come and gone over the past century, from the overthrow of the czarist autocracy in 1917 to the collapse of the communist dictatorship in 1991. … Soviet statues abandoned in the Muzeon […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Putin sets new 2030 goals as National Projects scaled back” – bne Intellinews

Kremlin and River

“… Putin has signed a ‘July Decree’ … outlin[ing] … national development goals up to 2030 …. risk[ing] … [failure to] fulfill[] … [his] previous economic platform due to the … COVID-19[] crisis. … [with] deadlines for [the] National Projects spending spree … being pushed from 2024 to 2030. [The new platform] outline[s] five development goals: 1) maintaining the population, […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia’s Khabarovsk Region Tasted Democracy. Now Voters Feel It Was Ripped Away.” – Moscow Times

Far Eastern Russia and Environs, with Khabarovsk Pinpointed, adapted from image at cdc.gov

Protesters told The Moscow Times they will continue rallying until their governor’s murder trial is held in Khabarovsk. (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Evan Gershkovich – July 15, 2020) For as long as Valery Nechayev could remember, the ruling United Russia party had been in charge of his home region of Khabarovsk in Russia’s Far East. And, for a while, […]

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Russian Opposition Must Talk with Siloviki and Attract Them to Its Side, Gallyamov Says

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 15, 2020) Up to now, Russian protests have focused all their attention on Vladimir Putin as if he were the only person who matters; and in the regions, where they have on occasion focused on governors, they have done so because they view the governors as a kind of stand in […]

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Protesters in Khabarovsk Now Talking about Independent Far Eastern Republic of the 1920s

Far Eastern Russia and Environs, with Khabarovsk Pinpointed, adapted from image at cdc.gov

… What began as protests against the removal of their governor, Khabarovsk residents have transformed into something more and attracted the attention of others across the Russian Far East …. [B]y talking about a possible restoration of the Far Eastern Republic, they beyond doubt have attracted the attention or and possibly repressive actions by the Russian authorities in the capital […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Medvedev notes importance of simultaneous global coronavirus vaccination” – Interfax

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

MOSCOW. July 14 (Interfax) – Coronavirus vaccinations should be performed simultaneously all over the world, or else it will not be efficient, Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev said. “There’s no fully tested vaccine so far, most countries are working on it, and it’s clear that a vaccine will become available in the near future. I should say that, […]

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Former Russian Finance Minister Says Economy ‘In Stagnation,’ Needs More Government Spending

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

A respected former Russian finance minister said the nation’s economy is stagnating and the government needs to invest more in education and health in order to drive growth […]

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Protesters In Russia’s Far East Demand Release Of Regional Governor Charged With Murders

File Photos of Law Books and Gavel, adapted from image at fjc.gov

Demonstrators have continued to peacefully protest in Russia’s Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk, demanding the release of the region’s governor Sergei Furgal of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin delays $360bn spending plan as Covid-19 batters economy” – Financial Times/ Henry Foy

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

“Volte-face comes shortly after vote that allows Russian president to extend his rule for another 16 years.” “… Putin has delayed his flagship … national investment plan by six years as the coronavirus pandemic pitches Russia into recession and leaves a hole in the federal budget. … Putin unveiled the so-called National Projects two years ago as a much-needed Rbs25.7tn […]

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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: “Coronavirus mortality rate way lower in Russia than it is in many other countries, recovery numbers on the rise – Putin” – Interfax

Putin Descending a Staircase

MOSCOW. July 13 (Interfax) – The coronavirus mortality rate is way lower in Russia than it is in European countries with developed public healthcare systems, and the daily increase in new cases remains stable, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “I should say that we are doing fairly well by one of our performance indicators which I view as key, i.e. […]

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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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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s ‘Little Green Men’ In Voting Booths” – Kennan Institute/ Sergey Parkhomenko

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

… independent research and polls show that to make sure the Kremlin could trumpet the longed-for support of 50 percent of the Russian electorate, Putin and his cronies still needed large-scale ballot manipulations during the day and astronomical fraud during the vote count at night […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russian Authorities Are Targeting Journalists, Historians and Activists. The Rest of Us Could Be Next” – Moscow Times/ Ilya Klishin

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

What’s going on? Nobody knows, but this time it really is scary […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Here’s why statisticians are calling Putin’s constitutional plebiscite the most fraudulent vote in Russia’s recent history” – Meduza

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

“Researchers who study Russia’s electoral statistics believe … the recent nationwide plebiscite on constitutional amendments is the most dishonest vote the country has seen since the year 2000. … [F]rom a statistical point of view, … official results in many precincts can’t be attributed to fair voting processes. … According to official data from Russia’s Central Election Commission, a little […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Evidence of massive ballot stuffing emerges in Russia’s referendum on constitutional changes” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

“Evidence of massive ballot stuffing emerged in a mathematician[‘s] … statistical study of … the referendum on constitutional changes that would allow … Putin to remain in office until 2036. As bne IntelliNews reported before the vote …. Russian statistician Sergey Shpilkin … made a name for himself … highlighting vote rigging in past elections in Russia … studying … […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Parade’s end; A phoney referendum shows Putin’s legitimacy is fading” – The Economist

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

“A proposal to extend his rule passes, buried in a huge package of feel-good measures.” “… [Following voter-luring with offers of prizes and pressures from employers, some of the week-long voting utilized cardboard boxes and other voting was online, creating opportunities to rig the vote.] … [N]ot a proper referendum[,] [i]t had no precedent or legal basis. … did not […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin gets Russians’ mandate to reset power – expert” – Interfax

Kremlin and River

MOSCOW. July 2 (Interfax) – The results of the nationwide vote on changes to the Fundamental Law reflect a high level of public trust in Russian President Vladimir Putin, the head of the Foundation for Civil Society Development with close links to the Kremlin, Konstantin Kostin, said. “Many experts are talking about total support by Russian citizens for the constitutional […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The Theatrical Method in Putin’s Vote Madness” – New York Times/ Andrew Higgins

Kremlin and River

“The outcome in Russia’s constitutional ‘referendum’ is preordained, but an elaborate spectacle of public affirmation is vital to the leader’s legitimacy.’ “Russia’s seven-day national plebiscite … to keep … Putin in power until at least 2036, delivered the expected verdict …. Less clear … was why … Putin even needed voters to approve … constitutional amendments that, already ratified by […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin a Step Away From Goal as Constitutional Vote Nears End” – AP

Kremlin and River

“… Putin is just a step away from completing his main political project of the year – constitutional changes that would allow him to extend his rule until 2036. … For the first time in Russia, polls were open for a week to help reduce crowds and to bolster turnout amid the coronavirus pandemic. Putin is all but guaranteed to […]

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Russians Increasingly Angry that They Live in Poverty in a Country So Rich in Natural Resources

Oil Well file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 28, 2020) The pandemic and associated economic crisis have exacerbated widespread anger among Russians that they live in poverty despite the enormous natural wealth of their country and its sale earlier abroad for more than six trillion US dollars. Had even a small part of that money gone to the people, […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Q&A: What Does the Russia Vote Mean for Putin?” – Wall Street Journal/ Georgi Kantchev

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

“The result of [the] vote isn’t in much doubt, but the outcome could mean far-reaching changes for Russia as he lays plans to prolong his reign.” “Russians are casting … ballots in a [referendum] vote … expected to pave the way for … Putin … to remain … until 2036. … [T]he parliament and … highest court have already approved […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Coronavirus Crisis Strains Russia’s Soviet-Era Regional Health System” – Wall Street Journal/ Ann M. Simmons

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

“Doctors, equipment and basic supplies run short as cases climb; some facilities lack running water.” “… The episode at Karabanovo hospital offers a glimpse into the dysfunction and inefficiency that plagues Russia’s health-care system as the country fights the new coronavirus … the world’s third-highest caseload after the U.S. and Brazil. Many front-line medical workers in Russia say their safety […]

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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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Russia and the West

Satellite

From: David C. Speedie <davidcspeedie@gmail.com> Date: Sun, Jun 28, 2020 Subject: Russia and the West To: <letters.editor@ft.com> (Financial Times) Philip Stephens [“Russia cannot afford a war with the west”, 26 June] contains some home truths about Russia under Vladimir Putin, but comes significantly short of the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. To focus on but a few illustrations: […]

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Overall Turnout At 9.2 Percent On First Day Of Russia’s Weeklong Constitutional Vote

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

Russia’s Central Electoral Commision … says overall turnout was about 9 percent on the first day of a weeklong vote for constitutional amendments that could pave the way for an extension of … Putin’s rule by 12 years. … [J]ournalists and opposition figures already are complaining about irregularities […]

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