Syria: Does the path to peace run through Geneva?

Syria Map

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Andrei Ilyashenko, special to RBTH – May 21, 2013) The campaign to resolve the Syrian crisis has entered a new phase. However, if the upcoming international conference, dubbed Geneva-2, focuses entirely on increasing the pressure on President Bashar al-Assad, there will be a long way to go before peace is achieved in the […]

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Duma speaker says time for Council of Europe to stop monitoring Russia

File Photo of Council of Europe Headquarters Building with Flags in Front

(Interfax – May 21, 2013) State Duma speaker Sergey Naryshkin has said that at a session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in the next autumn he is intending to raise an issue of abandoning the monitoring of Russia by the Council of Europe. Naryshkin said this at a meeting with Council of Europe Secretary-General Thorbjoern […]

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Kremlin Grapples With Series of PR Disasters

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – May 22, 2013)  Rainbow flags were flown at half mast to mark President Vladimir Putin’s visit last month to Amsterdam, widely known as a city of open minds that take pride in enjoying free love. Thousands of brightly dressed Dutch activists gathered outside the Amstelhof, the site of Putin’s dinner with Queen […]

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Masha Gessen Considers Leaving Russia

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 22, 2013) One of Russia’s most internationally renowned journalists, Masha Gessen, has said that she will probably move to New York to join her son, who is studying in the U.S. Gessen, 46, moved with her family to the U.S. in 1981, returning to Moscow to establish a career as a journalist covering Russia […]

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Nikiforov Says State’s Weight Is Behind IT

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Guennadi Moukine – May 22, 2013) The role of the government is to provide infrastructure and facilitate technological development and innovation, Communications and Press Minister Nikolai Nikiforov told business representatives at the Leaders’ Club forum on Tuesday. Information technology is important for the Russian economy, Nikiforov said. It accounts for 4.6 percent of the nation’s […]

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Most Russians support non-intervention of church in state affairs – poll

Russian Orthodox Believers Holding Candles at Cathedral at Christmas

(Interfax – Moscow, May 21, 2013) Most Russians (57%) think that state should not interfere in church affairs and vice versa, poll conducted by the Levada Center showed. At the same time, 30% respondents said they thought state and church should participate actively in each others’ affairs and 14% failed to answer. When asked who is to punish people insulting […]

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Russian human rights activist, MPs criticize anti-blasphemy bill

Duma Session file photo

(Interfax – Moscow, May 21, 2013) The head of Russia’s oldest human rights organization, the Moscow Helsinki Group, Lyudmila Alekseyeva, has said that the draft bill on the protection of believers’ feelings passed by the State Duma in the second reading (today) violates human rights and contravenes the Constitution, despite softening amendments. “This is yet another repressive bill,” Alekseyeva told […]

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Dvorkovich Upbeat on His, and Russia’s, Future

Arkady Dvorkovich file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Bratersky – May 22, 2013) In an attempt to squash media reports and assure investors, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said Tuesday that he had no plans to leave government and intended to help guide the country’s economic course at least until the next presidential election in 2018. Dvorkovich, speaking at a news conference […]

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Russian PM Medvedev Says Against Cabinet Reshuffle

File Photo of Dmitry Medvedev with United Russia Logos Behind Him

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, May 22, 2012) Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said he was not ready to part with any of the current ministers, but dismissals are possible in connection with the recently introduced law banning officials from keeping their money in foreign banks. “The government is a team. I have proposed their [ministers’] candidacies to the president and […]

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Russian premier gives wide ranging interview to pro-Kremlin tabloid

Dmitry Medvedev file photo

(Interfax – May 21, 2013) Russian Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev has given a wide ranging interview to the pro-Kremlin tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda to mark the anniversary of the formation of the current government, privately-owned Interfax news agency reported on 21 May. The interview is to be published in the newspaper’s 22 May edition. The topics highlighted by Interfax were: – […]

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Poll shows little appetite for protests in Russia

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Interfax – May 21, 2013) The protest mood in Russia is low, Interfax news agency reported on 21 May, citing a poll conducted by independent Russian pollster Levada Centre. According to the poll results published on the Levada Centre website on the same day (http://www.levada.ru/21-05-2013/gotovnost-uchastvovat-v-protestakh), 68 per cent of respondents said mass protests against falling living standards or in support […]

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Brezhnev Beats Lenin as Russia’s Favorite 20th Century Ruler

File Photo of Richard Nixon sitting with Leonid Brezhnev, with Third Person Standing and Leaning between Them

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, May 22, 2013) ­ Russians view Leonid Brezhnev as the most positive of all Soviet and Russian leaders in the 20th century, but Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin were close behind in an opinion poll released on Wednesday. Brezhnev, who ruled the Soviet Union from 1964-1982, was viewed positively by 56 percent of respondents in the […]

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Shoigu Kicks Serdyukov Reform Into Long Grass

File Photo of Russian Military Conscripts Boarding Train with Gear

(Eurasia Daily Monitor – Eurasia Daily Monitor – Volume 10, Issue 96 – Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Roger McDermott – May 21, 2013) Six months after his appointment as Russia’s defense minister, Army-General Sergei Shoigu has initiated a number of policy reversals in key areas of his predecessor’s Armed Forces reform. Some of these changes were small measures, however […]

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Russian Church Will Never Accept Gay Marriages, Patriarch Says

Patriarch Kirill file photo

(RIA Novosti – Moscow, May 21, 2013) The Russian Orthodox Church will never recognize same-sex marriages, even though it respects people’s free choice even if it is sinful, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said on Tuesday (21 May) at a meeting with the secretary-general of the Council of Europe, Thorbjoern Jagland. “If people choose such a way of […]

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Russia won’t break up Gazprom

Russian Gas Facility file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – May 21, 2013) The Russian government has no plans to break up the state-owned gas monopoly Gazprom, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich told the state-owned paper Rossiiskaya Gazeta on May 20. Speculation has been mounting that the state will break the inefficient behemoth up in its quest to make Russias biggest tax payer more […]

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Russian pundits dismiss first day of Public TV as ‘dull’, ‘old-fashioned’

File Photo of Russian Television Studio

(Interfax – May 20, 2013) The first day of broadcast of the Russian Public TV (OTR), which was launched on 19 May, has received extensive feedback from pundits and journalists. The channel’s vague prospects and the coverage of non-topical issues have become the main points of criticism. “The project envisages the appearance of a discussion platform. But to make it […]

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Russia’s new ‘Public TV’ channel has a Soviet feel

File Photo of Russian Television Studio

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Yulia Ponomareva, RBTH – May 20, 2013) You may have never watched Soviet television in the 1980s, but if you’re curious and would like to get a flavor, tune in to the newly launched Public TV channel. Across the political spectrum, commentators agree that many of the Russian government’s initiatives over the past […]

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Russia Urges EU to Avoid Ideology-Based Remarks on NGO Law

EU Map

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, May 21, 2013) The Russian Foreign Ministry on Monday urged the European Union to abstain from “ideology-based” remarks on the issue of non-governmental organizations in Russia. The statement, posted on the ministry’s website, was made in the wake of the May 17 meeting between the Foreign Ministry’s Special Representative for Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule […]

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Kremlin Faces Barbs From All Sides on Human Rights

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jonathan Earle – May 21, 2013) Russia is facing a renewed barrage of international criticism, led by the European Union, over its human rights record in connection with an ongoing clampdown on non-governmental organizations and a State Duma proposal to ban so-called “homosexual propaganda.” The EU on Friday expressed growing concerns about the situation, including […]

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Russians say Internet does more good than harm – poll

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Interfax – May 21, 2013) The Internet audience in Russia has been growing year on year and most of users believe the worldwide web has nothing but advantages, the Russian Public Opinion Study Center (VTsIOM) said after having polled 1,600 respondents in 42 regions of the country on March 30-31. At present 65 percent browse the Internet daily, weekly or […]

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Two Thirds of Russians are Internet Users – Survey

File Photo of Little Russian Girl at Laptop Next to Globe

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, May 21, 2013) A total of 59 percent of Russians use Internet, up three percentage points since last year, according to the results of a survey published on Monday by an independent pollster, Levada Center. The figure was only five percent when Levada Center first polled Russians on the issue in 2001. The percentage varies greatly […]

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Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu Russia’s most popular politician – survey

Sergei Shoigu file photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW, May 20, 2013) Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is the most popular and one of the most influential members of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s government, a survey among prominent figures in the media and politics suggests. First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are the others in the top troika on a 28-name […]

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JRL E-Mail Newsletter Table of Contents :: Johnson’s Russia List :: 2013-#91 :: 21 May 2013

Map of Russia

[check back for updates, including more links; links also posted to facebook and twitter] Johnson’s Russia List :: 2013-#91 :: 21 May 2013 E-Mail: davidjohnson@starpower.net A project of the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs: www.ieres.org JRL homepage: www.russialist.org JRL on Facebook: www.facebook.com/russialist JRL on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JohnsonRussiaLi Support […]

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JRL E-Mail Newsletter Table of Contents :: Johnson’s Russia List :: 2013-#90 :: 20 May 2013

Map of Russia

Johnson’s Russia List :: 2013-#90 :: 20 May 2013 E-Mail: davidjohnson@starpower.net A project of the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs: www.ieres.org JRL homepage: www.russialist.org JRL on Facebook: www.facebook.com/russialist JRL on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JohnsonRussiaLi Support JRL: http://russialist.org/funding.php POLITICS 1. Forbes.com: Mark Adomanis, Russia’s Internet Use Is Exploding. 2. ITAR-TASS: […]

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Russian chief prosecutor says corruption threatens national security

Cropped File Photo of Two Men in Business Suits Shaking Hands and Passing Cash

(Interfax – May 17, 2013) Corruption in Russia is a threat to national security, and cooperation with international organizations must be stepped up to fight it, Russian Prosecutor-General Yuriy Chayka said on 17 May. He was speaking at a meeting with a delegation from the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) in Moscow, as reported by Russian […]

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Deputy Prime Minister responds to criticism toward Russia’s government

Arkady Dvorkovich file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Elena Shipilova, RBTH – May 20, 2013) Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich talks to RBTH about the country’s current economic problems, investment climate, energy sector and upcoming St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Arkady Dvorkovich, speaks to Russia Beyond The Headlines about the problems of the Russian economy, access […]

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United Russia Conference Lauds Results of Party’s Work

File Photo of Dmitry Medvedev with United Russia Logos Behind Him

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Natalya Krainova – May 20, 2013) The ruling United Russia party kicked off a massive two-day forum with members from regional branches in Moscow on Friday, where it lauded its social and infrastructure projects, some three months before September regional and municipal elections. Raising the forum’s profile, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who chairs the party, […]

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Former Finance Minister argues that NGO law restricts civil society in Russia

Alexei Kudrin file photo

(Interfax – May 20, 2013) Former Russian Finance Minister and head of the Fund for Civil Initiatives Alexei Kudrin has said that the law on NGOs as foreign agents does not promote civil society in Russia. “The law on NGOs as foreign agents that the Duma has passed is a clear restriction of civil society,” he said at the Open […]

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Government strong to withstand pressure – Dvorkovich

Arkady Dvorkovich file photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW, May 19, 2013) Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich has highly appraised the government’s performance in its first year and said interaction between the Cabinet and the Kremlin administration was efficient enough. “I think a large amount of work has been done over the year and results have been achieved in some areas, although not in all,” Dvorkovich […]

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Interfax: Three-fourths of Russians insist government should ban public display of homosexuality – poll

Map of Russia

(Interfax – MOSCOW, May 17, 2013) Homophobia is rather common in Russian society and attitudes toward the LGBT community have been changing slowly throughout the past year, sociologists said. The same as a year ago, three-fourths of Russians brand gays and lesbians as morally loose (43%) or mentally deficient persons (35%). Only 12% acknowledge homosexuality’s right to existence, the Levada […]

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Moscow News: No more rainbows: anti-gay sentiment rises in Russia

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Kristen Blyth – May 20, 2013) “Homosexuality is not a perversion. Perversion is hockey on grass and ballet on ice!” reads one picket sign, held aloft by a middle-aged man. “Against all forms of discrimination,” proclaims another, held by a young woman. “My gender is my choice,” says a third. The scene was Moscow Pride. […]

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Medvedev blasts moves that may discourage private enterprise

File Photo of Dmitry Medvedev with United Russia Logos Behind Him

(Interfax – MOSCOW, May 18, 2013) Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has lashed out against legal initiatives that may discourage private enterprise. “It is a completely unacceptable situation that, as a result of some decisions, the total number of those who see entrepreneurial activities as their future occupation should decline,” Medvedev said at a meeting of the leadership of the ruling […]

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Countries to Jointly Fight Tax Evasion

File Photo of Man Placing Stack of Large Bills into Inside Pocket of Suitcoat

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Guennadi Moukine – May 20, 2013) Greater cooperation between tax authorities from 45 countries, including more extensive information sharing to help catch evaders, was the result of an international conference in Moscow that was hosted by the Federal Taxation Service and ended on Friday. “The message to tax evaders and those who facilitate tax evasion […]

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At 20, Russia’s Gazprom Struggles To Stay Dominant

Russian Gas Facility file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW – May 20, 2013) Russia’s biggest company turned 20 this year. But at Gazprom, there appears to be little cause for celebration. The state-controlled natural gas monopoly, which was established as a publicly traded corporation in 1993, recently announced that its net profits fell by 11 percent last year and its valuation […]

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Senior Russian military official highlights positive cooperation with NATO

File Photo of Official at Podium in Front of Large NATO-Russia Council Signage

(Interfax – May 17, 2013) Russia and NATO are boosting their cooperation in a number of areas, however Russia still has concerns about US and NATO European missile defence plans, Russian Deputy Chief of General Staff Col-Gen Aleksandr Postnikov-Streltsov has said. Interfax news agency carried the comments that Postnikov-Streltsov made after a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council (RNC) in Brussels […]

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Libya catastrophe sets precedent for new type of intervention by force – Russian Constitutional Court Head

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

(Interfax – ST. PETERSBURG, May 17, 2013) The state catastrophe in Libya shows that lawful methods of resolving the issue have been substituted for use of force and this creates chaos in most parts of Africa, Russian Constitutional Court Chairman Valery Zorkin said. “Researchers and experts acknowledge a very dangerous destruction of the international legal system, more and more frequent […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Medvedev] Report on the Government’s performance in 2012 (continued)

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Government.ru – April 17, 2013) [completion of transcript/earlier part in JRL#73] Dmitry Medvedev’s speech: Regional, municipal governance I have already said that the standard of regional managerial teams is a key ingredient of success. You know as well as I do the regions that every year report considerable growth of GRP while not having oil or gas resources. That deserves […]

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JRL E-Mail Newsletter Table of Contents :: Johnson’s Russia List :: 2013-#89 :: 17 May 2013

Map of Russia

Johnson’s Russia List :: 2013-#89 :: 17 May 2013 E-Mail: davidjohnson@starpower.net A project of the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs: www.ieres.org JRL homepage: www.russialist.org JRL on Facebook: www.facebook.com/russialist JRL on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JohnsonRussiaLi Support JRL: http://russialist.org/funding.php POLITICS 1. ITAR-TASS: Some 200 mln roubles spent to build helicopter pad […]

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Russia Should Become Neither European nor Asian but American, Moscow Commentator Says

World Map Showing Continents, Greens, Browns, Ice

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, May 16, 2013) In thinking about Russia’s future, most of the country’s opposition figures remain trapped in the old debate about whether Russia is fundamentally European or really Asiatic, but, one Moscow commentator argues, it is time to recognize that “the successful Russia of the future” can and must be a country […]

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Russians don’t like idea of bringing monarchy back – poll

Romanov Family Photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW, May 16, 2013) A poll conducted by the Levada Center shows that the majority of Russians are confident that Russia does not need a monarchy and Russia’s last emperor Nicholas II was not the best leader. The 145th anniversary of the birth of Russia’s last Emperor Nicholas II will be marked on May 19. The study shows […]

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Is this the end for Russian NGOs?

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Julia Reed in Moscow – May 17, 2013) In an April 5 interview to the German channel ARD, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that in the four months after the July law on non-government organisations (NGOs) that brands those that accept donations from aboard as “foreign agents” has been adopted, 654 Russian NGOs received […]

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Medvedev Vows to Revamp Legal System

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Yekaterina Kravtsova – May 16, 2013) The Russian government will take a number of steps to make the country’s legal system suitable for new entrepreneurs by making the rules of doing business simple and clear, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at the International Legal Forum in St. Petersburg on Wednesday. “We’re aiming to enter the […]

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Putin’s Patriotism: Duma May Make Criticism of WWII Illegal

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Yekaterina Kravtsova – May 17, 2013) Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series on state initiatives to promote patriotism. The State Duma has ordered an evaluation of a comment made by opposition politician Leonid Gozman in which he compared a Soviet intelligence agency to Adolf Hitler’s SS on the grounds that the comment […]

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NGO Checks In Russia To Become More Organized And ‘Systematic’ – Minister

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(RIA Novosti – St Petersburg, May 16, 2013) Inspections of non-commercial organizations in Russia will continue but they will become more balanced and systematic, Justice Minister Aleksandr Konovalov has said. “Over the last year, legislation on NCOs has been seriously renewed. These inspections had not been carried out for a long time. Now, somehow too many were planned and inspected, […]

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‘Blasphemy Bill’ Signals Return to 18th-Century Morals, Activists Say

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

(Moscow Times – thesmoscowtimes.com – Alexander Winning – May 17, 2013) Rights activists on Thursday ridiculed the notion that Russia is a secular state, saying draft legislation seeking tougher penalties for offending believers’ feelings shows the country is returning to 18th-century morals. “Officials and religious leaders are leading us back to Peter the Great’s times,” Viktor Bondarenko, founder of rights […]

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60% of Russians wish to bar children from social networks – poll

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Interfax – MOSCOW, May 16, 2013) Some 57% of Russians polled by the Superjob.ru portal support the idea of banning children younger than 13 from social networks. Another 17% expressed their support but said the age limit should be higher (49% stand for 16 years and 21% for 18). Fourteen percent were against and 12% could not answer the question. […]

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Russians Not Ready To Sponsor First Public Service TV Channel – Poll

File Photo of Russian Television Studio

(RIA Novosti – May 16, 2013) Russian Public TV (OTR) programme director Stanislav Arkhipov has said that the television channel, which is set to launch on 19 May, will concentrate on news but will try to avoid emphasis on “know-it-all Moscow”, Russian RIA Novosti news agency reported on 16 May. According to the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM), 50 per cent […]

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Judicial probe needed into activities of Stalin’s security agencies – rights group

File Photo of Prison in Russia with Wall, Barbed Wire, Guard Tower

(Interfax – MOSCOW, May 16, 2013) A leading Russian human rights group has called for a judicial inquiry into the activities of Stalin-era security services after a high-profile public figure accused a Soviet counterintelligence service that existed during World War II of methods similar to those of Nazi Germany’s security agencies. Leonid Gozman, head of humanitarian projects at state corporation […]

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Russian Economic Ministry expects economic growth slowdown to reverse in Q2

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Interfax – MOSCOW, May 16, 2013) The current trend of slowed economic growth in Russia might be reversed this quarter, according to the Russian Economic Development Ministry. “We anticipate that there will be a turning point in negative trends already in the second quarter and that economic growth will surpass 3% in the second half of the year,” Economic Development […]

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Russia yet to reverse income inequality trend – Rosstat head

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Interfax – BRYANSK, May 16, 2013) 3.4% GDP growth in Russia is good, but there is still income inequality that proves the Russian economy has some flaws, Rosstat head Alexander Surinov told a press conference in Bryansk. “GDP growth rates have shrunk but there is still 3.4% growth. I have been in the statistics business for a long time. 3% […]

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