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

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

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

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RUSSIALINK: “‘The Master and Margarita’ Named Most Popular Russian Prison Read” – Moscow Times

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 30, 2020) “The Master and Margarita,” Mikhail Bulgakov’s classic Soviet tale of when the Devil went down to Moscow, has been ranked the most popular book among Russian prisoners, the state-run TASS news agency reported Thursday. Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” ranked second, followed by “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas in […]

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

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

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

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

Cash, Calculator, Pen

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

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

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

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Nine photos; Russia put a historian on trial twice for supposedly abusing his foster daughter sexually. Here’s how Yuri Dmitriev became a ‘political prisoner.'” – Meduza

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

“On July 22, the Petrozavodsk City Court convicted historian Yuri Dmitriev of committing violent sexual acts against his underage foster daughter and sentenced him to three and a half years in prison. Because of time already served in pretrial detention, Dmitriev should go free in November 2020. This was his second trial. In April 2018, the same court acquitted him […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “A Wave of Sexual Harassment Claims Is Rocking Russia’s Independent Media” – Moscow Times/ Evan Gershkovich

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

“Novaya Gazeta has blazed a trail by instituting a sexual harassment policy after taking internal accusations of misconduct seriously. Some independent outlets are following suit.” “As her shift at Russia’s investigative Novaya Gazeta newspaper was coming to an end on a late Monday afternoon last January, Elizaveta Kirpanova stopped by a senior reporter’s office to catch up. Kirpanova, a 23-year-old […]

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

Russia Regions Map

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

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Kremlin Critic Navalny Announces Closure Of His Anti-Corruption Foundation

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

Russian opposition politician and outspoken Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny has announced the closure of his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) after using it for almost a decade to reveal wrongdoing by the Russian authorities[…]

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

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

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

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “How Putin pushed aside the oligarchs and made Russia his own” – Washington Post/ Anders Åslund

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

In her deeply researched new book, Catherine Belton tells a dark tale of … Putin’s rise to power and … 20 years as [Russian] leader …. ‘Putin’s People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took On the West‘ […]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

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

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

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

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

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

Kremlin and River

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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RUSSIALINK: “Court finds stage director Serebrennikov, other Studio Seven case defendants but Apfelbaum guilty of fraud” – Interfax

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

The Moscow Meshchansky District Court has found stage director Kirill Serebrennikov and other defendants in the Studio Seven case [except] Sofia Apfelbaum guilty of fraud […]

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Russia’s Constitutional Amendments Keep Several Futures Open for Putin

Kremlin and River

“… If adopted, the main change will be to allow Putin to stay in power after the end of his second consecutive — and fourth total — mandate, possibly up to 2036, when he is going to be 84 years old. […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Suing Russia’s president; An ‘ultra-Putinist’ ex-governor has made history with a lawsuit challenging his dismissal. Here’s his story.” – Meduza

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

“Mikhail Ignatiev … lost his job as the head of Chuvashia in January … after two scandals: … he advocated ‘wiping out’ bloggers and journalists who praise Western countries … then … humiliated a fireman by forcing him to jump for the keys to a new fire engine. Ignatiev is now … the first public official in Russia to contest […]

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Khodorkovsky Marks the Spot: Russia’s Turning Point From Economic Freedom to State Control

File Photo of Judge and Clerk in Russian Court, with Russian Flag Behind Bench

… Khodorkovsky was not the first oligarch harassed by Putin, but this was indeed a turning point. Khodorkovsky was the richest man in Russia at that point precisely because he cleaned up his oil company’s corporate governance. […]

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Is totalitarianism on the rise in the East? We should distinguish between Orban’s rightfully penalized measures of ruling by decree and less stringent regulations meant to curb the unruliness of a class which has placed itself above the law.

Eurasia Map

(opendemocracy.net – Lucian Tion – May 25, 2020) Lucian Tion graduated with a doctorate from the National University of Singapore, and has been a journalist and theatre/film director for over a decade. HIs cultural politics pieces have been published in Senses of Cinema, Apparatus, New Eastern Europe, Baricada, Revista 22. Apart from film, he is passionate about socio-political and cultural […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “As Pandemic Grips Russia, an Age-Old Bane Returns: Drinking” – New York Times/ Anton Troianovski

Man in Silhoette with Bottle of Alcohol and Head in Hand

The widespread, false belief that alcohol will protect drinkers from the coronavirus is helping drive a spike in liquor sales and domestic violence. “… Across the world, the coronavirus pandemic has sparked fears of increased alcohol abuse …. In Russia, two weeks into a nationwide partial lockdown, those fears are becoming reality … evidence mounts that a spike in alcohol […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Is Moscow’s Virus Lockdown Order Legal?” – Moscow Times

Sergei Sobyanin file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 30, 2020) Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin’s announcement of an indefinite citywide quarantine to limit the spread of the coronavirus has prompted debates over whether his strict measures are legal. Sobyanin imposed restrictions on movement starting Monday and said that authorities will enforce the new self-isolation rules through “smart monitoring” and a system of special […]

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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: “Russia Overturns First Jehovah’s Witnesses Convictions” – Moscow Times

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 26, 2020) A Russian court has overturned the convictions of six Jehovah’s Witnesses accused of extremism, marking the first instance of the group’s worshippers having their verdicts overturned in Russia, the group announced Wednesday. The court in Penza, some 550 kilometers southeast of Moscow, handed five adherents suspended two-year prison sentences in December. The […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Wealth and Power Transfer as Russia’s Central Political Problem” – Kennan Institute/ Maxim Trudolyubov

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Maxim Trudolyubov – March 6, 2020) 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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RUSSIALINK: “Putin backs idea of vesting Russian Constitutional Court with right to assess possible enforcement of int’l court rulings” – Interfax

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

MOSCOW. Feb 26 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that he fully agrees with a proposal of experts to enshrine in the Russian Constitution a clause vesting the Russian Constitutional Court with the right to evaluate the possibility of enforcing the decisions of international legal institutions in Russia. “I fully agree with you; you are right. This is […]

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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: “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: “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: “Russia divided over goals of constitutional reform – Levada Center” – Interfax

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

MOSCOW. Jan 31 (Interfax) – The number of Russians who view the pending constitutional amendments as Vladimir Putin’s way of securing his stay in power is practically equal to the number of those who see them as an attempt to improve public governance, the Levada Analytical Center said in a statement seen by Interfax. Forty-seven percent of the respondents polled […]

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Putin Calls For Review Of Case Of Opposition Activist Kotov

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

(Article text ©2020 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Jan. 25, 2020 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/putin-calls-for-review-of-case-of-opposition-activist-kotov/30396635.html) Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the Prosecutor-General’s Office to review the legality of the sentencing of an opposition activist imprisoned for repeatedly taking part in unauthorized rallies, the Kremlin said. Konstantin Kotov was sentenced to four years […]

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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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RUSSIALINK: “Priority of Russian law over international can be affirmed without amendments to Chapter 1 of Constitution – expert” – Interfax

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

MOSCOW. Jan 17 (Interfax) – The constitutional amendment proposed by the president regarding the priority of Russian law over international law can be introduced without changing Chapters One and Two of the Constitution, Taliya Khabriyeva, the director of the Institute of Legislation and Comparative Law Under the Government of the Russian Federation, who co-chairs a working group tasked with drafting […]

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Moscow’s Record Wave of Bomb Hoaxes Continues Into 2020

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 14, 2020) More than 50,000 Muscovites have been evacuated in 2020 so far in the latest wave of bomb threats after more than 1 million evacuations last year, Interfax reported Tuesday. The New Year’s holidays provided a brief respite from the bomb hoaxes which have intermittently plagued Russia since late 2017. A record 1.1 […]

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Plagiarism Rife In Russian Science? Hundreds Of Academic Articles Retracted In Unprecedented Move

File Photo of Test Tubes with Algae Displaying Different Colors, Part of U.S. Energy-Related Research; from nrel.gov

(Article text ©2020 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Tony Wesolowsky – January 9, 2020 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/plagiarism-rife-in-russian-science-hundreds-of-academic-articles-retracted-in-unprecedented-move/30368770.html) Ghostwritten papers. Research reprinted elsewhere under a different name. Plagiarism. For years it’s been an open secret that all is not well in the world of academic writing in Russia. A committee appointed by the […]

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Navalny ‘Completely Pessimistic’ About Western Curbs on Russian Corruption

(Voice of America – voanews.com – Danila Galperovich, Pete Cobus – December 31, 2019) After one suspected chemical poisoning, two arrests, 40 days in jail and multiple police raids on his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) offices nationwide, it’s safe to say Russia’s most prominent opposition figure has had a rough year. But for Alexei Navalny, 2019 wasn’t without at least one […]

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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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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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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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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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RUSSIALINK: “Russia’s Domestic Violence Problem Is ‘Exaggerated,’ Justice Ministry Says” – Moscow Times

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Nov. 19, 2019) The Russian government doesn’t see domestic violence as a “serious problem” and believes that its scale is exaggerated, the country’s Justice Ministry said in an official response to Europe’s human rights court obtained by the Kommersant business daily. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) this summer had asked Russia to respond […]

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RUSSIALINK: “‘Where Is Our Land?’: Challenges for Indigenous Groups in the Russian Arctic” – Kennan Institute/ Arbakhan K. Magomedov

Map of Arctic Highlighting Permafrost, adapted from image at nasa.gov

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Arbakhan Magomedov – Nov. 14, 2019) Arbakhan Magomedov is visiting professor at the Russian State University for the Humanities. (RSUH). His fieldwork in the Far North was done as part of the project “Rising Voices of Northern Indigenous People in the Context of Growing Pressure of Russian Nationalism,” for which he received financial support through […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin urges Interior Ministry employees to thwart toughly any attempts to split Russian society” – Interfax

Kremlin and River

MOSCOW. Nov 10 (Interfax) – Employees of the Russian Interior Ministry must counter resolutely the corruption and other crimes, fight strongly terrorism and extremism, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a festive concert on the occasion of the Day of the Employee of the Russian Internal Affairs Bodies on Sunday. “Today, the bodies of internal affairs, each of their employees […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Supreme Court decision on movement For Human Rights shows authorities are not ready for criticism, compromise – HRW” – Interfax

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

MOSCOW. Nov 1 (Interfax) – The Russian Supreme Court’s decision on the liquidation of the movement For Human Rights led by Lev Ponomaryov indicates the flaws of the Russian judicial system and the position of the Russian authorities, which are not ready to take criticism and achieve compromises, Tanya Lokshina, associate director for Human Rights Watch’s Europe and Central Asia […]

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