JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia Cuts Dollar Holdings From $119 Billion Wealth Fund Amid Sanctions” – Bloomberg

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“Russia said it will eliminate the dollar from its oil fund [the National Wellbeing Fund] to reduce vulnerability to Western sanctions …. The wealth fund currently holds 35% of its liquid assets in dollars, … about $41.5 billion, with the same amount in euros and the rest spread across yuan, gold, yen and pounds. After the change, the fund’s assets […]

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Belarus Could Become a Normal European Country with Far Less Difficulty than Ukraine, Inozemtsev Says

(Paul Goble – Window On Eurasia – Staunton, May 31, 2021) Once Alyaksandr Lukashenka is ousted from power, Belarus would find it far easier to become a normal European country than Ukraine seeking the same thing has, Vladislav Inozemtsev says, something that restrains Moscow from seeking his ouster precisely because it would give the West such an enormous opportunity. The […]

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RUSSIALINK: “The 2021 Russian National Bestseller Award Goes to Alexander Pelevin; His winning novel “Pokrov-17″ is a dystopian mystery” – Moscow Times

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

… The new Russian literary reality, as seen through the National Bestseller lens, is a world of drug addicts, volunteers, online messengers, and Russia’s trademark never-ending search of justice […]

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Middle Class in Russia Plays Very Different Role than in Western Countries, Gontmakher Says

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Paul Goble – Window On Eurasia – Staunton, May 29, 2021) The roughly ten percent of Russians who are middle class not only by virtue of incomes but by level of savings, education, and rank in the economy play a very different role than do the much larger middle classes in more developed Western countries, Yevgeny Gontmakher says. Middle classes, […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russian elite hope Biden summit will boost foreign ties” – Financial Times

File Photo of Joe Biden at Podium in Front of U.S. and State Department Flags, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

“Better western relations are high on the wishlist at annual St. Petersburg forum, the country’s answer to Davos.” “… Biden and Putin will meet in Geneva … June 16 … at a summit pitched at ‘normalising’ relations between the west and Moscow. Ties have steadily eroded … the past seven years because of allegations of Russian election meddling, tit-for-tat sanctions […]

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Russian Bill Barring Navalny Associates From Running In Elections Passed

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Marching on Street with Others in Background; adapted from image at commons.wikimedia.org with credit to Evgeny Feldman, subject to Creative Commons license; original image at commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FEV_1795_(cropped1).jpg, with license information at creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en and creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode

… The measure appears to be a thinly veiled attempt at neutralizing Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), which the authorities are seeking to have declared an “extremist” group ahead of parliamentary elections […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Patrushev: Russia ready to use force to suppress unfriendly activities by other countries” – Interfax

Nikolai Patrushev file photo, adapted from image at defense.gov

MOSCOW. May 31 (Interfax) – Russia may use force if need be in response to unfriendly activities by other countries, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said. “The new edition of the National Security Strategy emphasizes that Russia seeks greater predictability, trust and security in the international arena. At the same time, it says that it is lawful to take […]

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Five Former Moscow Police Officers Jailed Over 2019 Arrest Of Journalist Golunov

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

A Russian court has sentenced five former police officers to several years in prison for the 2019 arrest of investigative journalist Ivan Golunov on trumped-up drug charges. … The journalist suffered bruises, cuts, a concussion, and a broken rib […]

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‘Green Shift’ Occurring across Russian Political Spectrum, Shaburov Says

Russia Regions Map

Most parties … participating in the upcoming Duma and regional legislative assembly elections are now including environmentalists in their list of candidates […]

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AUDIO: JRL NEWSWATCH: “What Russia Stands To Gain By Backing Belarus [Fiona Hill interview]” – NPR

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“A growing number of European countries are blocking access to Belarusian airlines. … after Belarus intercepted a commercial flight and removed and arrested Roman Protasevich, an opposition journalist who was on board. … While Western democracies try to sanction Belarus, Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, seems to support Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. … Fiona Hill … spoke to NPR’s All Things […]

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RUSSIALINK: “World Bank Urges Russia to Adopt Guaranteed Minimum Income to Slash Poverty” – Moscow Times

World Bank Building

Russia spends $30 billion on social welfare, but only 10% goes to the extremely poor. (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 26, 2021) The World Bank has recommended Russia overhaul its welfare state if it wants to slash poverty as the economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S.-headquartered organization said Russia should adopt a “guaranteed minimum income” — a […]

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In Memoriam: Professor R.W. (Bob) Davies 1925-2021

Lit Candle with Reflection and Dark Background

From: On Behalf Of Michael Berry Sent: 16 April 2021 18:32 Subject: Professor R.W. (Bob) Davies 1925-2021 I am sorry to have to report that Professor R.W. (Bob) Davies the eminent economic historian of the USSR and director of CREES at the University of Birmingham for many years died earlier this week. His knowledge and wisdom will be missed by […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Biggest Navy Exercise in a Generation Will Include 25,000 Personnel Across 17 Time Zones” – Military.com

File Photo of Portions of U.S. Navy Carrier Groups Lincoln and Stennis in Mediterranean, adapted from defense.gov image relating to defense.gov video

“Tens of thousands of sailors and Marines will participate in the biggest U.S. naval exercise in a generation to test how the services will fight across vast distances as they prepare for possible conflict with China or Russia. Aircraft carriers, submarines, planes, unmanned vessels, and about 25,000 personnel will participate in Large Scale Exercise 2021 … [beginning] late summer. … […]

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Putin’s Aggressiveness Uniting West against Russia and Powering Its Search for Modus Vivendi with China, Shevtsova Says

File Photo of G7 Leaders at Summit, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

Putin’s aggressively anti-Western posture is helping the West to recover its lost self-discipline and unity […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russian Congress Seeking Inspiration From Medieval History Is Quashed by Authorities” – Moscow Times

Russia Regions Map

The crackdown is being seen as a sign that the Kremlin is playing closer attention to local power structures ahead of fall elections […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russian Military Seeks to Outmuscle U.S. in Arctic” – Wall Street Journal

File Photo of Polar Bear on Snow with Bare Ground in the Background, adapted from image at nasa.gov with photo credit to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Eric Regehr

“For Moscow it is the last geopolitical battleground where it holds the advantage over Washington and Beijing” “… [N]ew and refurbished bases [are] meant to service the Kremlin’s ambitions in the resource-rich Arctic. … combined to form a new military district … under … the Northern Fleet, Russia’s foremost Arctic naval force[] … [with fleet] headquarters … on the Kola […]

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Russian Lawmakers Take Step Toward Ban Of Navalny Supporters From All Elected Posts

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Marching on Street with Others in Background; adapted from image at commons.wikimedia.org with credit to Evgeny Feldman, subject to Creative Commons license; original image at commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FEV_1795_(cropped1).jpg, with license information at creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en and creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode

… The measure appears aimed at neutralizing the foundation of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, which Russian authorities are seeking to have declared “extremist” ahead of parliamentary elections […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia Wants to Exempt State Media From ‘Foreign Agent’ Scrutiny” – Moscow Times

Satellite Dishes

… Russia’s Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media submitted a draft bill … requiring only commercial, and not state media, to be subjected to financial audits […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Arctic-Superpower Jostling Heats Up as Russia Takes on Key Role” – Bloomberg

File Photo of Arctic Fox Running Across Snow, adapted from image at USGS.gov, with photo credit to Mike Lockart and USGS

“Russia’s Sergei Lavrov claimed this week that ‘this is our land and our waters’ as NATO allies boost military activity” “… Russian and U.S. diplomats … [signal] rising tensions between [powers] racing to seize Arctic resources …. Arctic Council [participants] weren’t due to discuss security. But … Russia’s … Sergei Lavrov declared … the Arctic ‘is our land and our […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Google Files First Lawsuit Against Russia’s Internet Censor” – Moscow Times

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

… The company filed a lawsuit April 23 against Roskomnadzor in the Moscow Arbitration Court […]

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Image of Sakharov, Once the Conscience of the Nation, an Increasingly Blurred Figure for Russians, Lev Gudkov Says

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

The month marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Academician Andrey Sakharov who developed the hydrogen bomb … then became the leading spokesman for humanism and democracy against the Soviet regime […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s harsh condemnation of Israel – What does it mean for the future?” – Jerusalem Post

Jerusalem At Night, adapted from image at cia.gov

“Though such tough language directed at Israel has not been heard since the days of the Soviet Union, it is still very premature to declare Russia returning to its Middle East policies of the Cold War.” “… [H]ostilities between Israel and Hamas [have] produced a number of new developments, … tactical and strategic …. Russia’s harsh condemnation of Israel’s actions […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s weather goes crazy” – bne Intellinews

Cartoon Sun and Thermometer, adapted from cdc.gov

“In May it was hotter on the coast of the Arctic Circle than in the Mediterranean. Russia is heating up three times faster than the rest of the world.” “…. And Moscow has just reported its warmest days in May ever … while the rest of Europe was suffering from a cold snap that has seen gas prices … for […]

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After Seven Years Of Conflict, Ukraine’s Frontline City Is ‘Just Tired’ Of The Fighting

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

… The prospect of an invasion, unimaginable for most Europeans, has for the past seven years hung like a specter over this industrial port city located just 100 kilometers from Russian territory […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “China’s top diplomat heads to Russia as ties reach ‘best level in history’” – Financial Times

File Photo of Beijing Temple, adapted from image at lbl.gov

“Beijing and Moscow sense an opportunity in the face of fading U.S. influence and Covid fallout.” “China’s leading diplomat [Yang Jiechi, head of China’s central committee for foreign affairs,] will travel to Russia … for security talks, the latest sign of deepening [Sino-Russian] ties …. Xi Jinping and … Putin … [recently had a] video-link launch of a nuclear energy […]

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Russians Evenly Split on Whether Attacking Ukraine would Help or Hurt Putin, Lev Gudkov Says

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

The head of the Levada Center … says that 43 to 44 percent of Russians think another invasion would boost Putin’s ratings, but 40 percent say that it would have precisely the opposite effect and spark mass dissatisfaction and protests […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Navalny Fights to Stay in Public Eye in Putin Standoff” – Wall Street Journal

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Marching on Street with Others in Background; adapted from image at commons.wikimedia.org with credit to Evgeny Feldman, subject to Creative Commons license; original image at commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FEV_1795_(cropped1).jpg, with license information at creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en and creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode

“Imprisoned dissident’s supporters are looking for new ways to maintain his visibility and, they say, keep him alive.” “… Russian authorities are moving to have [Navalny’s] political movement, including his anticorruption foundation, declared an extremist organization, putting it on a par with terrorist groups such as al Qaeda or violent religious cults. The move would choke off funding and provide […]

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Did The West Promise Moscow That NATO Would Not Expand? Well, It’s Complicated.

NATO Meeting File Photo

… And so, more than two decades after NATO’s original 16-member Cold War composition was first enlarged to take in three former Warsaw Pact states, and with Putin poised to potentially stay in office into the 2030s, the past is very much present […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Navalny Has ‘Recovered’ After Hunger Strike — Prisons Chief” – Moscow Times

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Marching on Street with Others in Background; adapted from image at commons.wikimedia.org with credit to Evgeny Feldman, subject to Creative Commons license; original image at commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FEV_1795_(cropped1).jpg, with license information at creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en and creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 20, 2021) Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has recovered after he ended a 24-day hunger strike last month demanding adequate medical treatment, a top aide and the head of Russia’s prison service said Thursday. Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s best known domestic critic, is serving two-and-a-half years in a penal colony outside Moscow on old […]

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Russia Closes In on Eurovision Trophy With Manizha’s Qualifier

File Image of Musical Instruments and Sheet Music, adapted from image at nih.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 19, 2021) Russia is one step closer to bringing home its second ever Eurovision song contest trophy after Tajik-born singer-songwriter Manizha Sangin qualified for the finals late Tuesday. Manizha’s feminist anthem “Russian Woman” was among the 10 semi-final qualifiers, which also included Ukrainian folk-dance act Go_A, who have secured their place in this weekend’s […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Top Russian court rules in favour of single-person protests” – Interfax

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

(Interfax – May 19, 2021) Russia’s Constitutional Court has ruled that a series of daily single-person protests do not require official authorisation, upholding the complaint of a woman facing administrative charges for holding such demonstrations. The court on 19 May ruled unconstitutional the view that such a series of single protests can be regarded as a single public event that […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin denies militarization of Russian economy, says ‘everyone trying to nibble will be kicked in teeth'” – Interfax

Kremlin and River

MOSCOW. May 20 (Interfax) – The Russian economy is not being militarized, however, anyone trying to encroach on its territory will receive a harsh response, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “The same thing has happened now and always: as soon as Russia gets stronger, a pretext is found to limit its development. As one of our emperors once said, ‘Everyone […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Arctic rivalry heats up among the great powers” – Financial Times

File Photo of Polar Bear on Snow with Bare Ground in the Background, adapted from image at nasa.gov with photo credit to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Eric Regehr

“Friction in other parts of the globe as well as climate change are fueling tensions in the high north.” “… [N]ew or updated [arctic] strategies … have appeared … from Canada, China, the EU, France, Germany, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden and the UK[,] [as well as] the U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Department of Defense, Department for Homeland Security, […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia’s Economy Almost Hits Pre-Coronavirus Levels; GDP was down just 1% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to last year” – Moscow Times

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

Russia’s economy shrank by 1% in the first quarter of 2021, the Rosstat statistics agency estimated […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “In Russia, Alexei Navalny’s Allies Fight to Stay Afloat” – Wall Street Journal/ Ann M. Simmons

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Marching on Street with Others in Background; adapted from image at commons.wikimedia.org with credit to Evgeny Feldman, subject to Creative Commons license; original image at commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FEV_1795_(cropped1).jpg, with license information at creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en and creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode

“With the Kremlin critic jailed and key aides exiled or under house arrest, his supporters are struggling to launch a coherent challenge to President Vladimir Putin.” “Russian authorities are tightening the screws on Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s opposition network, threatening the survival of his political movement as he languishes in jail. His key aides are under house arrest or in […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Time for jaw-to-jaw with Moscow” – The Hill/ E. Wayne Merry

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

“… Through mutual expulsions of diplomatic staff and other measures, Russia and America are not just in as bad shape for dialogue as in the worst days of the Cold War … but in even worse shape. … This is madness, and … dangerous. … Diplomacy … is the vital business of managing international disputes so they do not produce […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Bullying Russia yearns to be treated as a great power; Vladimir Putin generates suspense in world affairs like some geopolitical Alfred Hitchcock” – Financial Times

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

“… As Russia’s chief decision maker, Putin’s personal moods obviously matter. However, more important is the logic of the Russian system of power, with its demand for … great power status. According to this logic, Russia cannot be ignored and must be a member of the global concert of powers. It believes macho bullying is the entry ticket …. Despite […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Myths and misconceptions in the debate on Russia: How they affect Western policy, and what can be done” – Chatham House

Globe Highlighting NATO Members

“This report deconstructs 16 of the most prevalent myths and misconceptions … shap[ing] … Western thinking on Russia. … explain[ing] their detrimental impact on … policy …. Western positions need critical re-examination to ensure more rational and effective responses to Russian actions. … [C]ontrary to wishful thinking … there is little prospect of Russia becoming a more constructive and cooperative […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Harvesting of whales, dolphins to be banned in Russia – Mishustin” – Interfax

File Photo of Dolphins Swimming and Leaping, adapted from image at noaa.gov

MOSCOW. May 13 (Interfax) – The Russian government is planning to ban the harvesting of whales and dolphins for industrial and coastal fishing purposes, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said. “We are planning additional regulations, this time for individual and coastal fishing purposes. First of all, this will apply to whales and dolphins. The new bill will ban their harvesting. […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russians’ Views of Navalny Protests Increasingly Negative – Poll” – Moscow Times

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

… Young people and new media readers were more likely to view the protests positively, while older age groups and television viewers held more negative attitudes […]

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