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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Separatism Doesn’t Threaten Russia But Will If Kremlin Fails to Listen to Regions, Yarulin Says

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 30, 2020) The most important lesson of the Khabarovsk protests is that separatism doesn’t threaten Russia now but could if the central government continues to try to make all the decisions, consolidate all the power and wealth, and ignore the aspirations of Russians in the regions, Ildus Yarulin says. The director […]

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Anti-Centralism Now Embraced by Both Russian and Non-Russian Radical Oppositions, Sidorov Says

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 3, 2020) Russian nationalists have always been more divided than most analysts have suggested, with some committed imperialists, others devoted to a small Russia, and still others believing that their best course forward is in the elaboration of a civic national identity that would allow them to retain the loyalty of […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s electoral testing ground; Welcome to Novosibirsk, where multiple opposition parties are battling for real power and setting the stage for Russia’s nationwide elections” – Meduza

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

“In … Novosibirsk[,] … not one but two opposition groups are building … a serious challenge to the ruling party. … [T]he Communist Party (KPRF) … part of … the systemic opposition … recognized by the Russian government and permitted to hold elected seats across the country. … currently controls Novosibirsk City Hall[;] Communist Mayor Anatoly Lokot … push[ing] for […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Moscow’s Watcom shopping index almost back to normal as shoppers return to Moscow’s malls” – bne Intellinews

File Photo of Cash Register with Drawer Open and Hands of Cashier

“Moscow’s Watcom shopping index has regained almost all the ground lost from a lockdown on the capital earlier this year” “[The] Watcom shopping index [tracking foot traffic at Moscow’s leading malls] has recovered almost all … ground lost during the [spring] lockdown …. [Moscow’s] infection rate … has fallen …. [T]he epidemic is far from over in Russia …. A […]

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Degtyarov First of New Generation of Regional Leaders in Putin System, Ivanov Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, Aug. 2 , 2020) Despite the travails of his first days in office, Mikhail Degtyarov, Moscow’s appointee as new head of Khabarovsk Kray, represents the harbinger of a new generation of regional leaders, one very different than their predecessors and likely to have unexpected consequences for both Moscow and the regions, Andrey […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin signs law allowing 3-day voting in elections, referenda” – Interfax

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

MOSCOW. July 31 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law which allows voting in elections and referenda to be held for three consecutive days. The law was published on the official web portal for legal information on Friday. It enters into effect on the day of its publication. In accordance with the law, voting in elections “may […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Fire and Brimstone: The Rise and Fall of Russia’s Coronavirus-Denying Rebel Priest” – Moscow Times

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Samantha Berkhead – July 29, 2020) In a forest outside Yekaterinburg, pilgrims chant and wave banners in their annual midnight procession in honor of Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia and a saint in the Russian Orthodox Church. But this year’s pilgrimage to the spot where the emperor and his family were executed by […]

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VIDEO & EVENT SUMMARY: “The Putin Profile: A Conversation with Dr. Fiona Hill” – Kennan Institute

Redacted File Photo of Fiona Hill, adapted form image at seanmaloney.house.gov

… Putin’s [reign] has lasted over 20 years. … [New] constitutional amendments[] giv[e] him the ability to extend his presidency to 2036 … potentially making him the longest-serving head of state in modern Russian and Soviet history. […]

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Where U.S. Sees Democracy Promotion, Russia Sees Regime Change

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

In the aftermath of the revelation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election … Putin rejected those claims and accused the U.S. of interfering in Russian elections instead […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Nearly Half of Russians Support Anti-Kremlin Protests in Far East – Poll” – Moscow Times

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

Nearly half of Russians say they approve of … anti-Kremlin protests in the Far East … [breaking] out … after the arrest of the Khabarovsk region’s popular governor … and his replacement with a Putin-appointed lawmaker …. People have taken to the streets of Khabarovsk near the Chinese border … 18 days in a row … an unprecedented show of opposition to the Kremlin in the region […]

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EVENT & WEBCAST: “The Putin Profile: A Conversation with Dr. Fiona Hill” – Kennan Institute, Wednesday, July 29

Redacted File Photo of Fiona Hill, adapted form image at seanmaloney.house.gov

… Putin’s presidency has lasted over 20 years. … [H]e further cemented his grip on power with … constitutional amendments[] giving him the ability to extend his presidency to 2036 …. Join us … for a conversation with Dr. Fiona Hill on … Putin, his regime, and how her thinking on Putin has evolved […]

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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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Russians Don’t Believe Kremlin about Coronavirus or the Economy, New Surveys Show

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

Two new surveys show the collapse of public trust in the powers that be …. [T]he level of trust in Russia today is lower than it has been in 15 years […]

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RUSSIALINK: “‘Russia, Wake up’: Far East Protesters Seek to Set Example for Entire Country; Some local Khabarovsk activists and experts, however, wonder if the protest movement can be sustained.” – Moscow Times

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Evan Gershkovich – Khabarovsk, July 27, 2020) As they have for nearly three weeks, the first protesters started to gather at Lenin Square in the city of Khabarovsk in Russia’s Far East at 7 pm on a recent weekday evening. They were soon joined by independent Russian journalists and a small army of YouTube bloggers, […]

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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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JRL NEWSWATCH: “How Russian imperialism could bring down Putin” – The Hill/ Janusz Bugajski

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

“… Putin has based his domestic support on economic growth and restoring the ‘Russian World.’ With the Russian economy in a nosedive, the Kremlin looks increasingly likely to attack a former Soviet neighbor to revive its imperial credentials. … Russia invaded Georgia to divert public attention from the 2008 financial crisis, and … invaded Ukraine to help quash growing protests […]

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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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An Isolated Case? Observers Doubt Far East Unrest Will Spread Across Russia

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

… [Khabarovsk] residents … have been protesting following the … arrest of … popular governor[] Sergei Furgal. After … Putin named a Moscow-based politician with no ties to the Far Eastern region as Furgal’s temporary replacement, the protests took a sharply anti-Moscow turn […]

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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: “Russia races for vaccine as Covid-19 nonchalance spreads” – Financial Times/ Henry Foy

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

“Vladimir Putin suggests country has weathered worst of pandemic, but virus not yet in retreat” “… Having rapidly manufactured a sense of calm to hold … Putin’s vote … grant[ing] him the right to remain in office … 12 years longer than previously[,] the Kremlin … now pin[s] … hopes on a fast-tracked coronavirus vaccine … to stop the virus […]

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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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AUDIO: JRL NEWSWATCH: “What To Do With Toppled Statues? Russia Has A Fallen Monument Park” – NPR/ Lucian Kim

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

“… the city of Moscow designated [a] chaotic collection of statues [as] a sculpture park called Muzeon, also known as the Fallen Monument Park. In Russia, regimes have come and gone over the past century, from the overthrow of the czarist autocracy in 1917 to the collapse of the communist dictatorship in 1991. … Soviet statues abandoned in the Muzeon […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Putin sets new 2030 goals as National Projects scaled back” – bne Intellinews

Kremlin and River

“… Putin has signed a ‘July Decree’ … outlin[ing] … national development goals up to 2030 …. risk[ing] … [failure to] fulfill[] … [his] previous economic platform due to the … COVID-19[] crisis. … [with] deadlines for [the] National Projects spending spree … being pushed from 2024 to 2030. [The new platform] outline[s] five development goals: 1) maintaining the population, […]

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Corruption, No Confidence, Poor Communication: How Governors Behaving Badly Will Impact Russia’s Regional Elections (excerpt)

Russia Regions Map

(PONARS Eurasia Policy Memo – Emily Ferrs – July 2020) Emily Ferris is a Research Fellow, Russia and Eurasia, at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), United Kingdom. [Full text: ponarseurasia.org/memo/corruption-no-confidence-poor-communication-how-governors-behaving-badly] Russia’s regional administrations tend to be overlooked as a toothless part of the system, lacking any real responsibility or power. While Moscow has certainly curbed governors’ autonomy under President […]

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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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RUSSIALINK: “Russia’s Khabarovsk Region Tasted Democracy. Now Voters Feel It Was Ripped Away.” – Moscow Times

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

Protesters told The Moscow Times they will continue rallying until their governor’s murder trial is held in Khabarovsk. (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Evan Gershkovich – July 15, 2020) For as long as Valery Nechayev could remember, the ruling United Russia party had been in charge of his home region of Khabarovsk in Russia’s Far East. And, for a while, […]

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Russian Opposition Must Talk with Siloviki and Attract Them to Its Side, Gallyamov Says

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 15, 2020) Up to now, Russian protests have focused all their attention on Vladimir Putin as if he were the only person who matters; and in the regions, where they have on occasion focused on governors, they have done so because they view the governors as a kind of stand in […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin dismisses Furgal as Khabarovsk Territory governor, appoints LDPR member Degtyaryov” – Interfax

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

KERCH. July 20 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered Mikhail Degtyaryov, a State Duma member representing the Liberal-Democratic Party (LDPR), the position of acting Khabarovsk Territory governor. “We have a job for you, very responsible, very important, of course, one that the country really needs. I’m referring to the region which I would like to offer you to […]

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Do Black Lives Matter in Russia?

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

(PONARS Eurasia Policy Memo – Peter Rutland, Andrei Kazantsev – July 13, 2020) Peter Rutland is Professor of Global Issues and Democratic Thought at Wesleyan University. Andrei Kazantsev is Professor at the Higher School of Economics, Russia. This memorandum reviews Russian state media and civil society responses to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. The varying reactions cast an interesting […]

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Protesters in Khabarovsk Now Talking about Independent Far Eastern Republic of the 1920s

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

… What began as protests against the removal of their governor, Khabarovsk residents have transformed into something more and attracted the attention of others across the Russian Far East …. [B]y talking about a possible restoration of the Far Eastern Republic, they beyond doubt have attracted the attention or and possibly repressive actions by the Russian authorities in the capital […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Medvedev notes importance of simultaneous global coronavirus vaccination” – Interfax

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

MOSCOW. July 14 (Interfax) – Coronavirus vaccinations should be performed simultaneously all over the world, or else it will not be efficient, Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev said. “There’s no fully tested vaccine so far, most countries are working on it, and it’s clear that a vaccine will become available in the near future. I should say that, […]

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Former Russian Finance Minister Says Economy ‘In Stagnation,’ Needs More Government Spending

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

A respected former Russian finance minister said the nation’s economy is stagnating and the government needs to invest more in education and health in order to drive growth […]

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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: “Putin delays $360bn spending plan as Covid-19 batters economy” – Financial Times/ Henry Foy

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

“Volte-face comes shortly after vote that allows Russian president to extend his rule for another 16 years.” “… Putin has delayed his flagship … national investment plan by six years as the coronavirus pandemic pitches Russia into recession and leaves a hole in the federal budget. … Putin unveiled the so-called National Projects two years ago as a much-needed Rbs25.7tn […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Still standing; How Vladimir Putin maintains his support” – Times Literary Supplement (UK)/ Stephen Kotkin

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

“… Putin forced through a plebiscite to zero out … constitutional limits on his rule. … [H]e can run again, in 2024, for two more six-year terms, until 2036, when he will turn eighty-four. …. Putin could have … move[d] Russia onto a stable path of institutional pluralism. Russia’s would-be democrats … Gorbachev and … Yeltsin, started out … popular […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Coronavirus mortality rate way lower in Russia than it is in many other countries, recovery numbers on the rise – Putin” – Interfax

Putin Descending a Staircase

MOSCOW. July 13 (Interfax) – The coronavirus mortality rate is way lower in Russia than it is in European countries with developed public healthcare systems, and the daily increase in new cases remains stable, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “I should say that we are doing fairly well by one of our performance indicators which I view as key, i.e. […]

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RUSSIALINK: “White population should not bear responsibility for distant ancestors’ actions – Russian Orthodox Church” – Interfax

File Photo of Russian Orthodox Church at Kremlin, adapted from defense.gov Image

MOSCOW. July 13 (Interfax) – The Russian Orthodox Church condemns racism, but believes that modern people should not bear responsibility for what their ancestors once did. “Those white people who live on earth now cannot bear responsibility for what their ancestors did a long time ago. Nevertheless, when the state authorities of countries apologize for mistakes made in the past, […]

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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: “Denmark Gives Russia’s Nord Stream 2 Pipeline a Path to Completion” – Wall Street Journal/ Brett Forrest

Gas Flame file photo

“U.S. officials fear the pipeline will give Moscow greater political leverage across Europe.” “Denmark granted unexpectedly swift approval for resuming construction of the Russian-backed Nord Stream 2 pipeline in Danish waters, potentially clearing one of … [its] last hurdles …. The pipeline, once finished and certified, will deliver Russian natural gas to Germany …. U.S. lawmakers and officials fear … […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia able to ensure its security if New START Treaty isn’t extended – Lavrov” – Interfax

Sergei Lavrov file photo

MOSCOW. July 10 (Interfax – Primakov Readings) – Russia will promote the idea of the inadmissibility of a nuclear war at the P5 summit of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday. “We’re particularly concerned by the fact that the Americans have been refusing for the past two years to […]

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“New book: SOVIET JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG – A New History of the International Military Tribunal // Pub. July 2020” – Sarah Payne, Oxford University Press

Nuremberg Trials Courtroom Scene, adapted from image at archives.gov

Subject: New book: SOVIET JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG – A New History of the International Military Tribunal // Pub. July 2020 Date: Tue, 7 Jul 2020 15:05:20 +0000 From: PAYNE, Sarah <Sarah.Payne@oup.com> Amazon: https://amzn.to/3ffJmId Standard Western accounts of The Nuremberg Trials fixate on key figures like Justice Robert H. Jackson, the U.S. chief prosecutor and Supreme Court judge, as well as […]

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VIDEO JRL NEWSWATCH: “Virtual Event: Russian Civil Society in the Time of COVID-19 proceedings” – The Harriman Institute at Columbia University

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

“… Russia’s restrictions of movement and extensive use of surveillance technologies during the coronavirus pandemic have raised concerns about possible damage to civil society and community organizing. Has the coronavirus pandemic disrupted civil society development in Russia, or has this peculiar time drawn more attention to the need for citizen-run efforts to better life in the country?  … [The] panel […]

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How Improved U.S.-Russian Relations Could Weaken Putin’s Case for Remaining in Kremlin Until 2036

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

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – Paul Saunders – July 8, 2020) Paul Saunders is a senior fellow in U.S. foreign policy at the Center for the National Interest. Considering Russian President Vladimir Putin’s stated preferences and Moscow’s reputation for “managing” Russia’s voting, it hardly seems surprising that the Central Election Commission (CEC) claimed an overwhelming level of public support for constitutional […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Here’s why statisticians are calling Putin’s constitutional plebiscite the most fraudulent vote in Russia’s recent history” – Meduza

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

“Researchers who study Russia’s electoral statistics believe … the recent nationwide plebiscite on constitutional amendments is the most dishonest vote the country has seen since the year 2000. … [F]rom a statistical point of view, … official results in many precincts can’t be attributed to fair voting processes. … According to official data from Russia’s Central Election Commission, a little […]

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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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