Putin’s Leaving the Presidency Will Create Problems for Regime Even If He Stays in Power, Focus Groups Suggest

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 20, 2020) In preparing a study on the implications of Vladimir Putin’s leaving office or leaving power altogether, the Center for Political Conjuncture held four focus groups in which people expressed their concerns about those possibilities. Their comments suggest if he leaves the presidency, the regime will face problems even if […]

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Coronavirus in Russia: The Latest News | Feb. 27

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 27, 2020) As the new coronavirus that has killed more than 2,800 people continues to spread around the world, Russia has stepped up measures to tackle the health risk, including closing most entry points along its 4,200-kilometer border with China and temporarily banning Chinese citizens from entering the country. Russia reported its first two […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Golikova calls on Russians not to go abroad without extreme need, says it’s calmer at home” – Interfax

File Photo of Airplane Approaching Runway About to Land

MOSCOW. Feb 26 (Interfax) – Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova has called on Russian citizens not to travel to countries where cases of Covid-19 infection have been registered. “We strongly urge you not to travel to those countries that currently have cases of the new coronavirus infection without extreme need. As you understand, special risks are posed by China […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “U.S. intelligence briefer appears to have overstated assessment of 2020 Russian interference” – CNN/ Jeremy Diamond, Jake Tapper, Zachary Cohen

Vladirmir Putin and Donald Trump Sitting in Chairs with Flags Behind, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

“The U.S. intelligence community’s top election security official …, Shelby Pierson, told lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election with the goal of helping … Trump get reelected. [But while t]he US intelligence community has assessed that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election and has separately assessed that Russia views Trump as […]

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RUSSIALINK: “‘I Created the System’: Kremlin’s Ousted ‘Grey Cardinal’ Surkov, in Quotes” – Moscow Times

Vladislav Surkov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 26, 2020) President Vladimir Putin’s longtime aide Vladislav Surkov has spoken out for the first time since his dismissal last week. Putin formally sacked Surkov seven years after he began supervising the Kremlin’s policy on Ukraine, a period that included the annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of war in the country’s east. Surkov’s […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Kremlin Kicks Off Search for New Lawmakers in Reality Show-Style Contest” – Moscow Times

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 26, 2020) The Kremlin is hosting a nationwide search for candidates to the Russian parliament ahead of next year’s elections, the Vedomosti business daily reported Tuesday. Similar to past contests that sent potential regional leaders jumping off cliffs and diving under tanks, the latest competition is open to Russians aged 21 to 55 and […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Bill on amendments to Russian Constitution may pass 2nd reading in State Duma on March 10 – Krasheninnikov” – Interfax

Russian State Duma Building file photo

MOSCOW. Feb 26 (Interfax) – A proposal will be made to hold the second reading of the bill on amendments to the Russian Constitution in the State Duma on March 10, Pavel Krasheninnikov, co-chair of the working group in charge of amendments to the Constitution, said. “We will suggest holding the second reading on March 10,” Krasheninnikov said at a […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Proposed date for public vote on amendments to Russian Constitution is April 22 – Klishas” – Interfax

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

MOSCOW. Feb 26 (Interfax) – Co-chair of the working group on amendments to the Russian Constitution Andrei Klishas has proposed holding a nationwide vote on changes to the fundamental law on April 22 and making this day a non-working day. “Allow us to propose April 22, 2020 as the date of the nationwide vote,” Klishas said at a meeting between […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Coronavirus in Russia: The Latest News | Feb. 20” – Moscow Times

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 20, 2020) As the new coronavirus that has killed more than 2,000 people continues to spread around the world, Russia has stepped up measures to tackle the health risk, including closing most entry points along its 4,200-kilometer border with China and temporarily banning Chinese citizens from entering the country. Russia reported its first two […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Alexander Galitsky: From Soviet Engineer to Libertarian Investor; The father of the Russian internet tells The Moscow Times he wants to kill all borders and warns that society is falling behind technology.” – Moscow Times

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jake Cordell – February 21, 2020) “If you ask me, I would say ‘kill borders’ – they don’t need to exist at all,” says Alexander Galitsky, pushing his closed notebook to the side as he warms to his topic. “All these borders and all these rules exist only for politicians. We don’t have borders with […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia, Europe need common dream about future – Russian human rights council head” – Interfax

Europe Map

MOSCOW. Feb 20 (Interfax) – Russian presidential human rights council head Valery Fadeyev has said there is no vision of the future in Russia and suggested giving up “hysterical consumption” as part of a transition to “a new type of life” in the 21st century. “It is a big problem: we don’t have a dream, and that means we don’t […]

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RUSSIALINK: “4 in 5 Russians View West as a Friend – Poll” – Moscow Times

File Photo of G7 Leaders and other Officials Around Round Table at the Hague, with Flags

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 18, 2020) Almost 80% of Russians believe that Russia and the West should become friends and partners, according to the results of an independent Levada Center poll published Tuesday. Only 3% of Russian respondents said they see the West as Russia’s enemy, Levada said. Another 16% said they view the West as a rival. […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russian constitutional amendments to clarify Security Council’s role” – Interfax

Russian State Duma Building file photo

MOSCOW. Feb 18 (Interfax) – Russian constitutional amendments proposed for the second reading would put the Security Council in charge of preventing domestic and foreign treats, head of the Russian State Duma Committee for State Building and Legislation Pavel Krasheninnikov said. “It has been proposed that Article 83 clarify the powers of the Security Council led by the president [of […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Kudrin doubts 1.9% economic growth forecast due to coronavirus” – Interfax

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

MOSCOW. Feb 18 (Interfax) – Alexei Kudrin, the chairman of the Russian Accounts Chamber, said he was doubtful about the government’s 1.9% economic growth forecast and that adverse factors like the coronavirus needed to be taken into account. “The measures in fulfillment of the [president’s] address will produce an additional effect on economic growth. Right now I hesitate to say […]

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The Race For Arctic Oil Is Heating Up

Arctic Map

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – February 6, 2020) Despite climate concerns and environmentalist backlash against exploration for oil and gas in pristine sensitive regions of the Arctic, companies continue to explore for hydrocarbon resources in the Arctic Circle, in Russia and Norway in particular. The largest Russian energy companies are looking to explore more Arctic oil and gas resources on […]

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Pompeo’s Visit Lets Post-Soviet States Leverage U.S. Backing Against Russia, China, But Real Support Remains Limited

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – Nikolas Gvosdev – February 7, 2020) With U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to the region, the 2020 round of the Eurasian bazaar is in session. This is where the countries that border Russia attempt to bargain with the United States to obtain passes for their human rights records, to extract military or economic […]

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Despite Putin’s Promises, Many Large Russian Families Feel Abandoned By The State

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 – Irina Fokina, Robert Coalson – SEVERODVINSK, Russia, February 9, 2020 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/despite-putin-s-promises-many-large-russian-families-feel-abandoned-by-the-state/30424839.html) Natalia Golubtsova and her husband, Sergei Kirillov, are raising their six children in a cramped, two-room apartment in a Brezhnev-era building in this city in Russia’s Far North. When their third […]

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How Is Russia Preparing for the Coronavirus?

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jan. 29, 2020) As the coronavirus outbreak spreads around the world and the number of cases rises, Russia has stepped up measures to prevent the deadly virus from crossing its borders. Russia has not had any confirmed cases of the new virus, which has killed 132 people mostly in China and infected more than 6,000 […]

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Why So Few Protests Against Putin’s Constitutional Shake-Up?

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Article text ©2020 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Matthew Luxmoore – Moscow, Jan. 28, 2020 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/why-so-few-protests-against-putin-s-constitutional-shake-up-/30402490.html) When Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a raft of constitutional changes in his state-of-the-nation speech on January 15, immediately fueling mounting suspicion that he was seeking a way to retain power after his current […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “What do Putin’s constitutional changes mean for Russian nuclear launch authority?” – Federation of American Scientists/ Matt Korda

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

“… This shift in power [under the new system proposed by Putin] …  poses a series of complications for Russia’s system of nuclear launch authority. Under Article 87.1 of the Russian Constitution, the President is the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces … the Law On Defence states that the Supreme Commander-in-Chief is the ultimate authority on all nuclear-related matter. […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Surkov still presidential aide de jure – Peskov” – Interfax

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

MOSCOW. Jan 28 (Interfax) – Vladislav Surkov is still de jure a presidential aide, and the adjustment of nuances concerning the distribution of duties between top officials in the presidential office, including those in charge of the relationship with Ukraine, is continuing, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists. “Surkov is still de jure an aide to the Russian president,” Peskov […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia’s Small Businesses Contribute Just 20% of Economy; The importance of SMEs to the Russian economy is falling, despite government targets” – Moscow Times

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 28, 2020) [Text with chart themoscowtimes.com/2020/01/28/russias-small-businesses-contribute-20-percent-russia-economy-a69063] Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) make up just a fifth of Russia’s economy, the national statistics agency Rosstat has assessed. Rosstat also said the contribution of SMEs to Russia’s GDP fell to 20.2% in 2018 from 22% in 2017, the most recently available data. Russia defines SMEs as […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Vladimir Putin’s New Orchestra; The players are being rearranged, but the conductor remains the same” – New York Times/ Ivan Krastev

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

“… The timing and the nature of the constitutional amendments make it clear that … Putin perceives his regime as in crisis and is doubtful about the continued viability of a system of personal rule when he is no longer around. He knows perfectly well that what his apologists trumpet as political stability is in reality … stagnation … that […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Demographics” – BMB Russia

File Photo of Crowd in Russia Including Person Waving Russian Flag with Eagle

“Russia’s population declined for a second year in a row in 2019, Rosstat’s preliminary estimate reveals. An increase in migration failed to make up for the dwindling natural population, which fell by 286,000 in the first 11 months of 2019. On the whole, Russia’s population dropped almost 36,000 … [after a] nearly 100,000-person decline in 2018. Rosstat’s demographic forecast predicts […]

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RUSSIALINK: “The Near-Instant Death of Russia’s Constitution” – Kennan Institute/ Sergey Parkhomenko

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Sergey Parkhomenko – Jan. 23, 2020) Sergey Parkhomenko is a Russian journalist, publisher, and founder of several projects aimed at developing civic activism and promoting liberal values in Russia. This article is an abridged and edited translation of this Russian-language original. As President Vladimir Putin wound up his annual address to the Federal Assembly, many […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Putin remains secretive about his future role” – AP/ Vladimir Isachenkov

Kremlin and River

“… Putin remained tight-lipped about his future role … as he fast-tracks … constitutional changes widely seen as an attempt to maintain his dominance … after … 2024. … Putin, 67, has been in power for more than 20 years, longer than any other Russian or Soviet leader since Josef Stalin, who led from 1924 until his death in 1953. […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Parliament Passes Putin’s Constitutional Plans on First Reading” – Wall Street Journal/ Georgi Kantchev, Thomas Grove

Russian State Duma Building file photo

Proposals could allow Russia’s president to exercise power beyond his 2024 term limit “Russia’s parliament … gave preliminary approval to … Putin’s constitutional overhaul … [which] could allow him to maintain control over the country’s political scene after his term ends in 2024. The Kremlin-controlled State Duma … unanimously passed the constitutional amendments bill in the first of three readings. […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russians See Pollution as a Greater Threat Than Terrorism – Poll” – Moscow Times

File Photo of Smokestacking Spewing Cloud of Discharge

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 23, 2020) [Photo caption in original: Nationwide protests rocked Russia in 2019 over unpopular plans to build landfills in remote parts of the country to take in waste from more populous areas.Sergei Bobylev / TASS] Russians believe that environmental pollution poses a greater threat to humanity than terrorism, according to the results of an […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin Proposes 2020 Summit With Leaders of Russia, France, China, U.S. and UK” – Reuters

UN Building file photo

“… Putin … proposed holding a summit between the leaders of Russia, China, the United States, France and Britain in 2020 to discuss the conflict in Libya and other global problems. Putin, … speaking during a trip to Israel, said Moscow was ready for a “serious conversation” with the permanent members of the UN Security Council, that there was much […]

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How Russian Media Reacted to 4-Year Olympics Ban

Olympic Rings Lit at Night, adapted from image at state.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Dec. 10, 2019) The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Monday hit Russia with a four-year ban from competing or hosting major world sporting events, including the Olympic Games and World Championships. The move comes after WADA’s executive committee unanimously ruled that Moscow had tampered with doping laboratory data. Russian athletes will only be able to […]

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Show Trials in the Information Age

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Maxim Trudolyubov – Dec. 9, 2019) Maxim Trudolyubov is a Senior Fellow at the Kennan Institute and the Editor-at-Large of Vedomosti, an independent Russian daily. Mr. Trudolyubov was the editorial page editor of Vedomosti between 2003 and 2015. He has been a contributing opinion writer for The International New York Times since the fall of […]

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Pentagon Concerned Russia Cultivating Sympathy Among U.S. Troops

Aerial Photo of Pentagon and Environs

(Voice of America – voanews.com – Jeff Seldin – WASHINGTON, Dec. 8, 2019) Russian efforts to weaken the West through a relentless campaign of information warfare may be starting to pay off, cracking a key bastion of the U.S. line of defense: the military. While most Americans still see Moscow as a key U.S. adversary, new polling suggests that view […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Navalny Links $50M Jet to Russian PM Medvedev’s Wife” – Moscow Times

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Dec. 4, 2019) Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s wife jetsets on the government’s dime, prominent Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has said in a new video published ahead of Medvedev’s annual end-of-year interview with reporters from 20 television channels. [https://navalny.com/p/6276/] Medvedev, the subject of Navalny’s viral 2017 investigation into corruption that has been viewed 32.7 million […]

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Why does Russia need a new “foreign agent” law? Russia’s parliament has passed a law that will allow individual citizens to be labelled “foreign agents”. What effect will it have on the country’s most active citizens?

Kremlin and River

(Opendemocracy.net – Ivan Davydov – Dec. 4, 2019) Ivan Davydov is a Russian journalist and writer. His articles can be seen at The New Times, Republic, Inliberty and Gazeta.ru, among other publications. In case you missed it, Russian MPs have spent the past several years debating amendments to media and information legislation which would allow the state to give individual […]

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U.S. Senate Hearing Exposes Partisan Differences Over New Russia Sanctions

American Flag and Partial View of U.S. Capitol Dome, adapted from image at aoc.gov

(Article text ©2019 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Todd Prince – WASHINGTON, Dec. 4, 2019 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/u-s-senate-hearing-exposes-partisan-differences-over-new-russia-sanctions/30306449.html) A hearing in the Senate to discuss U.S. foreign policy towards Russia exposed partisan disagreements over whether to impose new sanctions on a rival power accused of “malign” actions, including interference in foreign elections. […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Zelensky promises Ukrainians cheap loans to start business in attempt to stop people leaving the country” – Interfax

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

KYIV. Dec 3 (Interfax) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has announced a launch of the new state program dubbed ‘Come Back and Stay’. “Dear Ukrainians, I said during my swearing-in ceremony that there are 65 million of us Ukrainians across the globe, and our country badly needs you, your knowledge, your talents and mental values. We very much want you […]

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Reporter’s Notebook: They Do Things Differently in Russia

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

(Voice of America – voanews.com – Jamie Dettmer – Nov. 29, 2019) Everyone overlooks them as they scurry about in their luminescent orange uniforms at all hours of the day and night, armed only with small brushes and the the type of long-handled lobby dustpans a concierge might use in New York or London to tidy up an entrance. Moscow’s […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia’s New ‘Foreign Agent’ Law, Explained” – Moscow Times

Satellite Dishes

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Dec. 2, 2019) Russia has passed legislation that will allow individual journalists and bloggers to be labeled “foreign agents,” a move that critics say will tighten curbs on the media and free speech. At least nine news organizations funded by the U.S. government have been designated “foreign agents” under the original version of the law […]

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Musings II … The “Intelligence Community,” “Russian Interference,” and Due Diligence

DNI Seal and Smaller Seals of Agencies Related to DNI

Did the U.S. “Intelligence Community” judge that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election? (Jackmatlock.com – Jack Matlock – June 29, 2018) Most commentators seem to think so. Every news report I have read of the planned meeting of Presidents Trump and Putin in July refers to “Russian interference” as a fact and asks whether the matter will be discussed. […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russian economy growing stably but is vulnerable – Klepach” – Interfax

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW. Dec 3 (Interfax) – Russia’s economy is growing stably but is very vulnerable, according to VEB.RF head economist Andrei Klepach. “The problem isn’t that we don’t have stable growth, we do, though it’s very vulnerable. If there’s a global recession, that will inevitably have an effect on [Russia’s] economic growth. The problem is that this growth, even if it’s […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Common interests should prevail in Russian-NATO relations – Putin” – Interfax

Globe Highlighting NATO Members

BOCHAROV RUCHEI, Sochi. Dec 3 (Interfax) – Russia stands ready for cooperation with NATO and expects that common security interests will prevail in its dialogue with the alliance, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “London is hosting a NATO summit marking the 70th anniversary of the alliance’s foundation right now, on December 3-4,” Putin said, opening a regular conference on defense […]

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Economics Rather than Politics Reason So Many Young Russians Want to Move Abroad, Volkov Says

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, Nov. 29, 2019) Because until relatively recently Russians could not move abroad freely, the issue of emigration remains very “politicized,” Denis Volkov says, with supporters of the regime calling those who want to leave or do traitors and opponents saying that emigration can be blamed on “the bloody Putin regime.” But while […]

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One In Five Russians ‘Willing To Participate In Political Protests’

Nemtsov March of Mourning

(Article text ©2019 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Dec. 2, 2019 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/one-in-five-russians-willing-to-participate-in-political-protests-/30303179.html) One in five Russians are willing to take part in mass political demonstrations, a new poll shows, in a sign of continued discontent with the country’s leaders after a summer marked by demonstrations. The poll by the Levada […]

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Far From Home: Russia Weighs Law To Allow Convicts To Do Time Closer To Their Families

Russia Regions Map

(Article text ©2019 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Karina Merkuryeva and Robert Coalson – Dec. 1, 2019 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/far-from-home-russia-weighs-law-to-allow-convicts-to-do-time-closer-to-their-families/30301657.html) Zulaikhat Nurmagomedova has only seen her fiancé once in the last two years after he was sentenced to 12 years in prison on drug charges he denies and sent 700 kilometers east […]

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Liberal Democracy isn’t Dead or Defeated but It has a New Opponent, Feudalism 2.0, Gontmakher Says

Kremlin and River

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 27, 2019) When the Berlin Wall fell and the USSR fell apart, it was widely assumed and even stated by Francis Fukuyama that there was “no alternative” to liberal democracy; but the last 30 years have shown that one has emerged, “Feudalism 2.0,” and in Russia first of all, Yevgeny Gontmakher […]

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Russian Duma Approves ‘Foreign Agents’ Bill That Threatens Journalists With Label

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Article text ©2019 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Nov. 21, 2019 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/russian-duma-approves-foreign-agents-bill-threatens-journalists/30284789.html) The Russian parliament’s lower chamber, the State Duma, has approved the final reading of a bill allowing reporters who work for organizations officially listed as foreign agents to be designated as foreign agents themselves. The bill, approved on […]

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Russia’s Born-Again Citizens and Their Discontents

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

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Boris Grozovski- November 21, 2019) Boris Grozovski is a prominent Russian journalist writing about the country’s economy and development. His work has appeared in Forbes Russia, InLiberty, the Moscow Times, the New Times, Vedomosti Daily, penRussia and others. The year 2019 saw numerous signs of Russian society awakening from its post-annexation-of-Crimea slumber. Young people were […]

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AUDIO: JRL NEWSWATCH: “In New Book, Journalist Alleges Russian Links To Mysterious Deaths Abroad” – NPR/ Dave Davies

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

“In 2006, as Russia was preparing to host the G-8 summit in St. Petersburg, its parliament passed a law legalizing extrajudicial killings of accused ‘extremists’ abroad. … [Journalist Helen] Blake maintains that Russia subsequently engaged in an assassination program that targeted exiled Russian oligarchs, security officials and others critical of the Kremlin. … Her new book From Russia with Blood, […]

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Maria Butina’s New Job? Maybe Advocating For Other Russians Held In U.S. Prisons

Stylized Russian and U.S. Flags, 200, 1807-2007

(Article text ©2019 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Mike Eckel – Nov. 19, 2019 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/maria-butina-s-new-job-russians-u-s-prisons/30281107.html) During and after the 15-month prison sentence she served after admitting to working as an unregistered foreign agent, Maria Butina complained about both her sentence — “this is absolutely absurd” — and her treatment in […]

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