Russia Demands Apology From Bloomberg Over Report About Putin’s Low Ratings

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

… The report on Bloomberg noted that only 27 percent of respondents in the poll, published on April 27, named Putin when asked to name a politician they they most trust. […]

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‘Rage Is Brewing’: Navalny Warns Of Public Anger Over Russia’s COVID-19 Response

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

Russian citizens are expressing greater protest sentiment as the spread of the coronavirus and the state’s fight against it has left many people dissatisfied, including doctors and small-business owners, said one of the nation’s most influential opposition activists. […]

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2020, Intended to Be Putin’s Triumph, Becoming Instead His Waterloo, Shevtsova Says

Putin Descending a Staircase

This year was supposed to be the Kremlin’s “year of triumph,” one in which the life rule of Vladimir Putin would be confirmed, but instead, Liliya Shevtsova says, 2020 is rapidly becoming his Waterloo, a time at which both he and his system have sailed into disaster. […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Economy Suffers Double Hit From Oil Slump and Coronavirus” – Wall Street Journal/ Thomas Grove, Georgi Kantchev

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

“As infections grow, Russia finds a shortfall in oil revenue hurts its ability to offer the kind of emergency support provided in the West.” “… [Russia’s] slump … began … when coronavirus lockdowns in China and elsewhere pushed oil prices lower. … Putin’s hesitance in joining … big producers to curtail output compounded the problem, driving oil to its lowest […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin Wants Russia to Get Back to Normal. New Outbreaks Show It May Be Too Early.” – Moscow Times

Russia Regions Map

Budget deficits are driving regions to lift quarantine restrictions. But poor data could be hiding a second coronavirus wave. (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Evan Gershkovich – May 21, 2020) Before 136 employees of the distribution center for the popular Krasnoe & Beloe discount liquor chain in central Russia’s Sverdlovsk region tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday, the region […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s GDP shrinks by 20% in April, but government maintains a triple surplus” – bne Intellinews

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“… Russia’s nominal GDP shrank … 28%, of which two-thirds was due to the nation-wide lockdown … another third … due to … oil prices, the Ministry of Finance said …. The real contraction of the economy in April could be 20%, according to the Ministry …. [T]he government has reported … surplus[es] [for] the trade balance, currency account and […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Anatomy of lies; Russia’s covid-19 outbreak is far worse than the Kremlin admits” – The Economist

Kremlin and River

“Like its Soviet predecessor, Vladimir Putin’s system is steeped in falsehoods.” “… official numbers reveal less about covid-19 than they do about Russia’s political system … like its Soviet predecessor, … saturated with lies. Russian elections throw up similarly strange graphics. Many Russian athletes … took performance-enhancing drugs … their cheating … covered up … with official connivance. … [One […]

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Global Cities Versus Russian Rustbelt Realities

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

… According to Kudrin, Moscow and St. Petersburg are Russia’s only “global cities” and the rest of Russia’s cities are “barely noticeable on the map of the world.” …

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RUSSIALINK: “As the Coronavirus Contagion Grows in Russia, Putin’s Strongman Image Weakens” – Moscow Times

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

With an economic crisis heaving into view, the Russian president ‘looks like an old, sick wolf.’ (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Evan Gershkovich – May 14, 2020) If you were taking your cues from Russia’s longtime leader Vladimir Putin this week, you would have been left thinking that the country’s worst struggles with the coronavirus pandemic were over. “Starting tomorrow, […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia Is a ‘Distinct Civilization,’ Putin Says” – Moscow Times

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 18, 2020) Russia is a distinct civilization that must be protected through genetics and other advanced technologies, President Vladimir Putin said in an interview that aired Sunday. Putin told state television that “it would be impossible to secure the future of our civilization” without artificial intelligence, genetics and unmanned vehicles, as well as hypersonic […]

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Russia Was Falling Apart ‘Everywhere’ When He Came to Power, Putin Says

File Photo of Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 12, 2020) Vladimir Putin rose to the presidency because he restarted the Chechen war and argued that only by fighting and suppressing Chechnya could Russia retain its territorial integrity, but now he is suggesting that he feared Russia in 2000 was at risk of disintegration not just in the North Caucasus […]

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Kto-Kogo: Putin vs. COVID-19

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

“… the situation could evolve in a bleaker direction, eroding Putin’s authority and enticing elites to consider alternatives, such as blocking Putin’s bid for reelection in 2024. But, for the past twenty years, Putin has been a skillful and a lucky leader. That has kept him at the top of the system. This year will tell whether his skill or his luck – or both – have run out.”

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Poll: Majority of Young Russians Distrust NATO, Don’t Consider Russia a European Country

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – Thomas Schaffner, Angelina Flood – May 5, 2020) A majority of young Russians distrust NATO more than any other organization and disagree that Russia is a European country, according to a recent poll conducted by Russia’s independent Levada Center and Germany’s Friedrich Ebert Foundation. These organizations’ research on the opinions of Russia’s “Generation Z” (aged […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “As coronavirus hits record numbers in Russia, this is a dangerous moment for Putin” – CNN/ Nathan Hodge

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

“Russia hit a grim milestone … officially recording the highest number of coronavirus cases the country has seen in a 24-hour period, with 10,633 people testing positive. … [T]he economic pain is worsening … Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on state television … ‘I don’t recall anything like this,’ … adding that plummeting global oil prices — a primary source […]

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Russia To Adjust Spending On Putin’s ‘National Projects’ As Economy Hit By Coronavirus

Kremlin and River

(Article text ©2020 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – May 3, 2020 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-to-adjust-spending-on-putin-s-national-projects-as-economy-hit-by-coronavirus/30590575.html) Russia may alter spending plans for a series of national goals promoted by President Vladimir Putin two years ago as the spread of the coronavirus slashes budget revenues. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on May 3 that the […]

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First Russian Opposition Online Meeting Attracts Widespread Interest and 4800 Participants

File Image of Laptop Computer, Tables and Mobile Device, adapted from image at energy.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 30, 2020) The “No!” campaign organized on YouTube a virtual protest action against the amendments to the constitution and the failure of the Kremlin to act to help the population during the pandemic. It attracted only 4800 participants but far more likes and visits, observers said. This virtual protest (youtube.com/watch?v=gYDkz-tjn7E), which […]

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Poll Finds Russians’ Trust In Putin Dips To Lowest Point In 14 Years

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

A survey by Russia’s main state-funded pollster shows that trust in Russian President Vladimir Putin fell in March to its lowest in 14 years. The poll … by … VTsIOM … showed those who chose Putin when asked to name a politician whom they trust[] dropped to 28.3 percent ….

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Censorship row threatens Russia’s top business newspaper; Journalists at Vedomosti in open revolt against new editor” – Financial Times/ Max Seddon

File Photo of Empty Chair and Desk with Computer, adapted from image at osha.gov

“A row over censorship has plunged Russia’s top business newspaper into a crisis that could either see it fall under the Kremlin’s control or torpedo a deal to sell it, leaving it on the verge of bankruptcy. Staff at Vedomosti are in open revolt against new acting editor Andrei Shmarov … they say he banned writing about taboo topics for […]

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Russia’s Energy Czar, Disliked And Feared, Catches Blame As Oil Prices Collapse, Venezuela Deals Crumble

File Photo of Rosneft and Russian Flags Next to Rosneft Banner

March was the cruelest month for one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s longest-serving and most hawkish confidants[,] Igor Sechin … head of state oil company Rosneft …

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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: “4 in 5 Young Russians Are Apolitical: Poll” – Moscow Times

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 30, 2020) More than 80% of young Russians have no interest in politics, according to a new survey on Generation Z’s values published by the Vedomosti business daily Thursday. Russian authorities have targeted the country’s youth with several initiatives, including a ban on minors attending protests, funding for military and patriotic education and a […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Kremlin Using Virus Outbreak to Push Through Putin’s Reforms: Proekt” – Moscow Times

Kremlin and River

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 29, 2020) The Kremlin is attempting to take advantage of Russia’s coronavirus outbreak to maintain President Vladimir Putin’s popularity and ensure that the public votes for his constitutional reforms, the Proekt investigative outlet reported Wednesday, citing unnamed federal officials. The reforms would potentially allow Putin, 67, to extend his 20-year rule into 2036. Putin […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s economic woes will clip Vladimir Putin’s wings; Pandemic combined with collapsing oil prices spells real hardship” – Financial Times

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

“… Putin’s … oil price war with Saudi Arabia … was disastrously timed. … days before the coronavirus pandemic began forcing economies around the world into lockdown, cutting crude demand. Russia then succumbed to the virus itself. … [Putin] had to cancel a referendum to approve constitutional changes …. The IMF forecasts Russian [GDP] could contract by 5.5 per cent […]

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Putin has Serious Problems But Likely Doesn’t Face the Threat Now to His Power Some Suggest

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 24, 2020) Like the leaders of all personalist regimes that have built their authority by de-institutionalizing their states, Vladimir Putin is in important ways trapped by the system that he has created. He has to constantly be seen as the demiurge; and when he doesn’t appear for a time, that alone […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The Coronavirus Could Imperil Putin’s Presidency” – Wall Street Journal/ Leon Aron

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

Russia entered the crisis with a stagnant economy, and its oil-price war with the Saudis isn’t helping. “… the pandemic could hardly have come at a worse time …. Russia entered the crisis in a weakened state. Its longest stagnation in modern history …. 12%[] were below the subsistence minimum …. Most of the impoverished were working. … Rosstat, reported […]

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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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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Easter in Russia: Between Church and State, a New Divide Has Risen” – NYU Jordan Center/ Kathryn David

File Photo of Russian Orthodox Cathedral with Man in Religious Garb in Foreground

“… The enormous variances in how priests chose to observe Easter this year in Russia hints at the broader context that frames the divide between those following church-related COVID restrictions and those ignoring them: the complex relationship between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian state. While many commentators have remarked on the tight partnership between the church and state in […]

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Pandemic has Changed Russians, But Can It Change Russia?

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 17, Issue 54 –  Paul Goble – April 21, 2020) The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has changed Russians more fundamentally than any past revolution. In particular, the government’s response and the changes in day-to-day life for the average Russian has destroyed traditional widespread faith in society that Russia’s authorities are omnipotent while […]

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The Devil and Mr. Putin

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

Subject: The Devil and Mr. Putin Date: Tue, 21 Apr 2020 From: Norman Pereira <9ngop6@gmail.com> The Devil and Mr. Putin By Norman Pereira Professor Emeritus, Department of History, Dalhousie University The post-Soviet era presents new challenges for the student of Russian history. It is not difficult to find fault with the USSR over the course of its seventy plus years’ […]

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Lenin At 150: Even Without COVID-19, Russia Was Set To Snub The Soviet Union’s Founder

Lenin Mausoleum on Red Square, Kremlin Walls

(Article text ©2020 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Sergei Medvedev, Robert Coalson – MOSCOW, April 21, 2020 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/lenin-at-150-even-without-covid-19-russia-was-set-to-snub-the-soviet-union-s-founder/30568383.html) When the 100th anniversary of Vladimir Lenin’s birth rolled around in 1970, the Soviet Union pulled out all the stops to mark the occasion. Commemorative stamps were printed; coins were minted; medals […]

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‘While Russians Maintain Social Distancing, Putin Keeps Political Distancing’ — from Problems, People and Elites, Pastukhov Says

Putin at Desk

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 17, 2020) For the first time, it is extremely difficult to locate the exact position of Vladimir Putin on the political map of Russia, Vladimir Pastukhov says, and consequently, Russians and others concerned about Russia are focusing on those whose positions they can see more clearly. But the University College of […]

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Russians See Putin as More of a Champion of the Oligarchs, Polls Show

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

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – Angelina Flood, Simon Saradzhyan – April 15, 2020) Angelina Flood is the assistant editor for Russia Matters. Simon Saradzhyan is the founding director of Russia Matters. Russians have come to think that President Vladimir Putin represents the interests of oligarchs above everyone else, according to the latest Levada Center poll. Thirty-eight percent of respondents in […]

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RUSSIALINK: “In 4th Coronavirus Address, Putin Calls for Stronger Business Support” – Moscow Times

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 15, 2020) President Vladimir Putin announced a new package of measures to support Russia’s businesses hit by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic Wednesday. In the Russian president’s fourth televised statement in as many weeks about the coronavirus pandemic, he promised direct financial support to businesses hit hardest by the nationwide lockdown, including […]

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As Economic Crisis Deepens, More Russians Say Putin Defends the Interests of the Oligarchs than Say He Supports Those of the Siloviki

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 12, 2020) Something remarkable has happened: For the first time since he became president, more Russians say that Vladimir Putin works to defend the interests of the oligarchs than the number who say he defends the positions of the siloviki, according to a Levada Center poll reported by Vedomosti. The percentage […]

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Referendum on Russian Constitutional Amendments Raises Ever More Questions

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 10, 2020) Because of the pandemic, the Kremlin has delayed its plans for a constitutional amendment referendum from April 22 to some as yet unspecified date in the future, a delay that has not calmed but rather intensified discussions about it, both political and technical, Yuliya Krivonosova says. The Moscow journalist […]

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RUSSIALINK: “How Do Moscow’s Coronavirus Lockdown Passes Work?” – Moscow Times

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 13, 2020) Moscow is tightening its lockdown with digital passes this week as the Russian capital’s coronavirus count surpassed 10,000 cases and officials warned of a continued influx of patients. Here’s an overview of what the citywide pass system means for Muscovites’ everyday life: When does it start? Digital passes will become mandatory this […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “What Happens if Putin Gets Coronavirus? Who take over the Russian Government? What is the line of succession?” – The National Interest/ Charlie Gao

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

“… While many countries have a clear ‘line of succession’ …. [f]or Russia, this line of succession is not clear beyond the first step, which is the prime minister assuming the duties of the president. But recent measures in response to COVID may provide some level of insight …. Most leaders in Russia are still out and about, making statements […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Coronavirus Upends Putin’s Political Agenda in Russia” – AP

Kremlin and River

“… A nationwide vote on April 22 was supposed to finalize sweeping constitutional reforms that would allow [Putin] to stay in power until 2036 …. But after the coronavirus spread in Russia, that plebiscite had to be postponed – an action so abrupt that billboards promoting it already had been erected in Moscow and other big cities. Now under threat […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Confusing COVID-19 Response” – Foreign Policy Research Institute/ Fabrice Deprez

Kremlin and River

“The Moscow lockdown … is an unprecedented event in Russia’s post-Soviet history, as are the similar measures introduced across the country to slow the spread of COVID-19. Yet, the way that Russia has responded to the outbreak so far has followed an unusual pattern: early, swift action was followed by several weeks of uneasy lethargy, and then, as the number […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Moscow’s Coronavirus Crisis Still in ‘Foothills’ Far From Peak, Warns Mayor” – Reuters

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

“The mayor of Moscow warned the coronavirus outbreak was only in the ‘foothills’ of its development in the Russian capital … that a serious test lay ahead as new infections nationwide shot up …. even as Moscow and many other regions … [were in] their second week … of lockdown …. In the bustling capital of more than 12.5 million […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin Plans $14 Billion Stimulus as Pressure Mounts for Spending” – Bloomberg/ Eugenia Pismennaya, Anna Andrianova

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“… Putin’s government … [reportedly] will roll out about 1 trillion rubles ($13.5 billion) of new spending …. Some of the money will … subsidiz[e] salaries of workers idled by isolation measures to fight the coronavirus …. The stimulus will be funded by increased borrowing, not Russia’s $165 billion rainy-day fund …. The central bank estimated that a government order […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Law and order under lockdown; How the coronavirus quarantine is making it even harder to find justice in Russia’s courts” – Meduza/ Liliya Yapparova, Maxim Solopov, Translation by Kevin Rothrock

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

“… in an effort to curb … coronavirus, Russia’s Supreme Court imposed a moratorium on all hearings across the nation’s judicial system except for particularly ‘urgent cases.’ Individual judges get to decide what qualifies as urgent … sources in the justice system tell Meduza that they worry Russia’s COVID-19 containment measures are making it even harder … to get a […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Washing his hands of it; As covid-19 spreads, Vladimir Putin is invisible; Russia’s indispensable leader is strangely absent from the fight against the pandemic” – The Economist

Putin at Desk

“For … past 20 years Russians have been told they could not survive without … Putin. … The public was also told over the past few months that the threat of the new coronavirus was greatly exaggerated, that the Americans had invented it to harm China, and that Russia was well protected. Now, Moscow and many other cities are in […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Five Patterns of the Putin Regime” – Institute of Modern Russia/ Olga Khvostunova

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

“On March 26, IMR launched the “Russia under Putin” project, which includes a timeline of the country’s key political developments over the last 20 years. This factual digest serves not only to refresh one’s memory but also to retrace the Putin regime’s evolution and its modus operandi. IMR’s Olga Khvostunova highlights the key patterns of this regime and explains what […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Kremlin says not planning state of emergency over Covid-19” – Interfax

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

(Interfax – April 1, 2020) Russia is not planning to declare a state of emergency over the outbreak of the Covid-19 coronavirus, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said. “No, this is not being discussed,” Interfax news agency quoted Peskov saying on 1 April, though it was later reported that President Putin had issued an order giving the government the right […]

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The Putin Constitution

Kremlin and River

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – William E. Pomeranz, Deputy Director of the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute – March 30, 2020) In the end, it was all a big show. Putin unleashed constitutional reform in his January 15, 2020, state of the nation address with a hint of institutional change and a theoretical path forward to a post-Putin era. He formally […]

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RUSSIALINK: “‘The Government Doesn’t Believe in Small Businesses. The Feeling’s Mutual.'” – Moscow Times

Cash, Calculator, Pen

Russia’s Entrepreneurs Scramble For a Lifeline. Coronavirus has hit Russia’s smallest businesses hard. Putin’s support package could be too little, too late. (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jake Cordell – March 26, 2020) Last week, Alla Komissarova sent a letter to her landlords, asking them to show a little flexibility towards the rent due for her two Moscow chocolate workshops […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “‘They need to quarantine Moscow’; How small businesses in Russia’s capital are scrambling to stay afloat as coronavirus clobbers the economy” – Meduza

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

“… The news website RBC estimates that shutting down for a single day costs the average shopping and entertainment center in Moscow and the surrounding region roughly 60-155 million rubles (between $775,800 and $2 million). Fitness clubs … will lose as much as 300,000 rubles ($3,900) a day, while coffee shops in the city center will lose 100,000-200,000 rubles ($1,290-$2,585) […]

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Contagious Solidarity: As Russia Faces Growing COVID-19 Crisis, Independent Activists Gear Up To Help

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

(Article text ©2020 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Lyubov Chizhova, Aleksandr Litoi, Robert Coalson – ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, March 25, 2020 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/contagious-solidarity-as-russia-faces-growing-covid-19-crisis-independent-activists-gear-up-to-help/30509363.html) Aleksandra Krylenkova is a human rights activist with a long track record. In recent months, she has been campaigning in support of the defendants in the so-called Network […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Coronavirus Forces Putin to Delay Vote That Could Keep Him in Power” – Wall Street Journal/ Ann M. Simmons

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

Referendum originally planned for April is final hurdle to allowing Russia’s president to potentially stay in office until 2036 “In his first address to the nation since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic … Putin told citizens that an April referendum on changes to the country’s constitution would be postponed to help curb the spread of the illness. The national […]

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