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Analysis & Opinion
22.05.12 Blue-Flame Apocalypse
By Tai Adelaja
Economists from Russia's largest lender are the latest to warn the Kremlin of the disastrous consequences of Gazprom's rigid oil-linked pricing formula incorporated into its long-term contracts. Russia's gas export monopoly stands to lose a significant share of the European market by 2016, with dire consequences for the country’s budget and its main source of income, the economists at Sberbank said in a presentation on Friday.  Read more 
21.05.12 Finding Love In Online Places
By Randianne Leyshon
Valentina was assigned the number 1355, an identification number she was given after joining a “mail-order bride” agency in her hometown of Kharkov, Ukraine. In 2002, Valentina, a widow of 18 years and a mother of two teenage girls, thought: “I like odd numbers. It was lucky. Who knows? Life is life.” Read more 
18.05.12 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Putin Snubs The G8 Summit In Washington
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Russia's new old President Vladimir Putin abruptly cancelled plans to attend this year's G8 summit at Camp David, Maryland, on May 18. Putin informed U.S. President Barack Obama in a telephone conversation last week that he was too busy at home forming Russia's next government, and that he was sending as a stand-in his newly confirmed prime minister and ex-president, Dmitry Medvedev, Barack Obama's co-author of the U.S.-Russian “reset.” Read more 
17.05.12 The Flak Strategy
By Dan Peleschuk
Throughout the former Soviet Union, international competitions are helping to shed light on autocrats’ dirty deeds. For Azerbaijan, the Eurovision song contest it prepares to host later this month has resulted in an uncomfortable spotlight cast on its poor human rights record. In Ukraine, meanwhile, the impending Euro 2012 soccer tournament has become the crux of the European Union’s battle with President Viktor Yanukovich over his imprisonment of opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. So have global, non-political events become the new disciplinary tool for the international community?  Read more 
15.05.12 Occupy Abai!
By Dan Peleschuk
The worldwide “Occupy” movement has finally arrived in Moscow. As President Vladimir Putin settles into office, anti-Kremlin demonstrators are implementing new tactics to test the limits of their protests and the authorities’ tolerance. So far, they’ve succeeded – a central Moscow park has turned into a makeshift campsite and the new home base for the opposition movement. But how long will it last? Read more 
03.05.12 Targeting Promises
By Tai Adelaja
With concerns mounting over Russia's budget shortfalls, the government has been trying to maneuver its way out of some extravagant election campaign promises made by President-elect Vladimir Putin. A major part of the government's effort is directed toward slashing entitlements and cutting social spending while increasing spending on defense and defense-related programs. Read more 
02.05.12 Blowback From Europe
By Andrew Roth
Europe’s frustration with Ukraine’s jailing of the former prime minister is once again spilling over into a diplomatic row. Over the last week a series of European states have begged out of an important Yalta summit set for late May, and talks of a political boycott of the Euro 2012 championships, which are co-hosted by Ukraine this year, have the Ukrainians talking of Europe reviving “Cold War tactics.” Read more 
26.04.12 The Home Stretch
By Dan Peleschuk
Outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has just days left in his presidency. Ahead of the long May holidays and President-elect Vladimir Putin??™s inauguration on May 7, it seems the lame-duck president is still firing parting shots in an attempt to shape his legacy. Though he has offered a number of symbolic gestures ??“ pardoning a wrongly-imprisoned man and taking part in a tough question-and-answer broadcast, among others ??“ experts say there??™s little that can save Medvedev from an inevitable reputation that will follow him out of the Kremlin. Read more 
17.04.12 The Patron State
By Dan Peleschuk
The Patron State By Dan Peleschuk Several months after his election to the presidency of Moldova’s unrecognized breakaway state of Transdnestr, Yevgeny Shevchuk is beginning to settle into the position. Hailed by many as the new reform-minded leader bent on opening up the previously closed neo-Soviet regime, Shevchuk has come out swinging, visiting Moscow and pledging greater cooperation with Moldova. But Russia’s own overtures, especially on the eve of Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency, may leave Shevchuk with little room to maneuver. Read more 
03.04.12 From The Ground Up
By Andrew Roth
In Yaroslavl, a city of more than half a million about 150 miles outside Moscow, an independent candidate for mayor dominated the Kremlin-backed competition in Sunday’s runoff elections, winning 70 percent of the vote. Yevgeny Urlashov, an eight-year veteran of Yaroslavl’s city council, ran on an anticorruption platform with support from a broad spectrum of Russian opposition parties. Read more 
02.04.12 Forever Inked
By Josephine Baldassi
Archeologists have revealed that Russia’s native Siberian and Pazyryk Scythian cultures had ornamented themselves with tattoos and piercings. As Russia’s culture developed throughout the ages, so did body art, which has drastically changed since the days of the Scythians. Despite its historical roots and cultural significance this tradition is often overlooked, but not by those who continue to be forever inked. Read more 
29.03.12 A Promising Farewell
By Dan Peleschuk
As his time in office dwindles, President Dmitry Medvedev seems intent on following up on his proposed reforms and maintaining a dialogue with the non-systemic opposition. Though ostensibly dedicated to the cause of opening up the political system before President-elect Vladimir Putin takes over in May, experts speculate whether Medvedev’s intentions are actually genuine – or whether he’s setting the stage for what’s to come. Read more 
26.03.12 The Human Cost Of Olympic Construction
By Sofia Javed
With two years to go before the 2014 Winter Olympics, construction projects in Sochi are being met with both praise and scrutiny. While Olympics officials are praising the progress of the multibillion-dollar endeavor, human rights activists continue advocating for the proper treatment of the thousands of migrant workers who are needed to create an elaborate Olympic village. Read more 
23.03.12 Will Russia Graduate From The Jackson-Vanik Amendment?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
The United States Senate Finance Committee began hearings last week on abolishing controversial trade restrictions against Russia under the Soviet-era Jackson-Vanik Amendment. American lawmakers will debate granting Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status to Moscow. Will Russia finally be graduated from the Jackson-Vanik Amendment imposed in 1974 on the now non-existent country? Read more 
20.03.12 Jackson-Vanik Trades Places
By Andrew Roth
The clock is ticking for the Jackson-Vanik Amendment of 1974 as Russia prepares to finalize its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) this year. The Barack Obama administration, along with U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, has called for the law to be repealed as a relic of the Cold War. Read more 
16.03.12 Putin Wins The Presidential Election, But How Will He Govern?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
As was widely expected, Vladimir Putin won Russia’s presidential election in the first round, scoring nearly 64 percent of the vote. Although independent Russian and international observers questioned the fairness of the vote, even they don’t dispute Putin’s first round victory, albeit with a much lower actual result (50.7 percent, according to Golos and 53 percent, according to the League of Voters).  Read more 
15.03.12 Cracks In The Wall
By Tai Adelaja
When the combative former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin publicly scolded the Kremlin for overspending in September, he was swiftly shown the door. Yet the warnings of the long-term finance minister may come to haunt the Russian government, which this week reported that Russia's budget deficit grew more than expected. Russia's projected state budget deficit has more than doubled to 245.34 billion rubles ($8.3 billion) or three percent of gross national product, signaling a tough ride ahead for the Kremlin. Read more 
14.03.12 Non-Swing State
By Masha Charnay
Back in 2009, when President Dmitry Medvedev staked out the territory for his modernization program, he made an august promise to see Russia turn from an “archaic” society into a “country of intelligent, free and responsible people.” Two and a half years later, anti-gay legislation continues to close in on Russia’s LGBT community and Medvedev’s vision looks ever more imperiled.  Read more 
13.03.12 Culture Clash On The Bayou
By Andrew Roth
DOM Cultural Center in Moscow played host to a unique concert on March 9: the sounds of traditional Louisiana Zydeco and Cajun music transformed the main ballroom of the storied concert hall into something more like a cowboy bar. American musicians from the southern United States brought their distinctive, homegrown style of music to Moscow as part of a whirlwind tour of Russia, which included cities further off the beaten path such as Nizhny Tagil, Krasnoyarsk and Ekaterinburg. Read more 
12.03.12 Mingling With The Middle Class
By Dan Peleschuk
Serious talk has arisen lately about the protest movement’s loss of momentum throughout the last week. Since President-elect Vladimir Putin’s comfortable victory in the March 4 presidential elections and a series of disappointing rallies, the wind seems to have escaped the opposition’s sails. Yet many ordinary activists and protest participants remain positive, saying they’re ready to stick around for the long haul. Read more 
06.03.12 A Test Of Will
By Andrew Roth
Close to 1,000 opposition protesters held a fountain in the center of Pushkin Square, chanting slogans and ignoring calls from the police to disband, before riot troops roughly broke up the rally on Monday evening. Leaders of the “nonsystemic” opposition, including anti-corruption blogger Alexey Navalny and hundreds of protesters, were dragged away to police minibuses and detained at local police stations for several hours. Read more 
05.03.12 Fanning Discontent
By Tai Adelaja
Forget about Russia’s fiddling middle-class protesters. A real showdown for the Kremlin may yet come from the country’s motorists, who have been growing exponentially in numbers in recent years. Gasoline prices, which have been kept artificially low ahead of the presidential elections, are set to skyrocket, analysts say. With the presidential elections all but over, many industry experts said they see domestic fuel prices increasing significantly this month. Read more 
28.02.12 The World Through Putin’s Eyes
By Andrew Roth
Prime Minister and presidential hopeful Vladimir Putin published his final policy statement – this one on foreign policy – in the Moskovskiye Novosti newspaper on Monday. In the article, Putin reiterated the Kremlin’s goals of protecting national sovereignty against the growing threat of Western interventionism. Putin has strengthened his accusations against the West for meddling in local affairs in both the Arab world and Russia, but he seems to be returning to familiar, safe grounds just days before the presidential elections. Read more 
27.02.12 Bluff And Bluster
By Tai Adelaja
Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov tried on Friday to shrug off the Kremlin's latest threat to push his country out of the Russian gas transit business. Tension in the Russian-Ukrainian gas dispute escalated last week when Russia’s natural gas export monopoly Gazprom said Russia will completely eliminate its reliance on Ukraine to transit its gas to Europe as soon as its planned pipeline projects are completed. Read more 
17.02.12 Selective Muting
By William Beaver
The microblogging service Twitter recently announced that it is open to censoring tweets in specific countries based on a government??™s request. As a result, the tool that opposition groups the world over use to organize protests could become less effective. Read more 
15.02.12 Arab Solidarity
By Nosheen Shakil
Moscow is thousands of kilometers away from Homs, but echoes of the heated battles fought by the government troops against the opposition forces in this Syrian city resonate strongly in Russia??™s snow-bound capital, where hundreds of natives of this Arab country surf the Internet with anxiety and disbelief for news from their home country. Divisions between some members of the Syrian diaspora in Russia seem to run as deep as in Syria, which edges closer to the brink of civil war every day. Read more 
14.02.12 The New New Generation
By Dan Peleschuk
The Kremlin announced its plans for a new youth policy on Tuesday, which will formally shift control of pro-government youth activities from the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs to the presidential administration. The change-up likely reflects the notorious pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi??™s diminishing role and may shed light on the new influence of Kremlin insider Vyacheslav Volodin, who recently replaced longtime chief ideologist Vladislav Surkov as deputy head of the presidential administration. Read more 
13.02.12 Privatization Slowdown
By Tai Adelaja
Major Russian energy companies have been trying to delay or opt out of the government’s ambitious privatization program ahead of an imminent power change in the Kremlin. Russia's outgoing president Dmitry Medvedev ordered more aggressive privatization of state stakes in key companies last June, as he pushed to attract “smart investments” to further his modernization agenda. Read more 
10.02.12 Living Out Of A Suitcase
By Colette Linton
Having a good night’s sleep in Moscow these days is about having deep pockets. With prices skyrocketing and mid-of-the-range travel agencies like Lanta Tour and Capital Tour closing shop, enterprising Russians are inventing new ways to make life more affordable for their less prosperous compatriots. In Moscow, a city known for its expensive and cramped accommodations, hostels and dormitories have lately been springing up as inexpensive lodging alternatives to cheap hotels. Read more 
08.02.12 The Party Is Over
By Eric Sliva
Ballots for municipal elections in Moscow will be missing a familiar name this year. All candidates from United Russia, Russia’s ruling party, have registered themselves as independents rather than under their own party. In doing so, they join Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in distancing themselves from United Russia ahead of the March 4 elections. Read more 
07.02.12 A New Take On Democracy
By Andrew Roth
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin yesterday released his fourth political article in the run-up to the March presidential elections. This time, Putin took on the topic that has drawn the lion’s share of recent criticism leveled at his administration: “Democracy and the Quality of Government.” In the article, Putin returned to the crime scene for Russia’s imperfect democracy today – the turbulent 1990s – but asserted that society has now “matured” enough to open the political arena to criticism from the Internet and to root out corruption. Read more 
02.02.12 Fueling Voters Turnout
By Tai Adelaja
With just one month to go before Russia's presidential elections, presidential contender Vladimir Putin has pledged new subsidies to farmers in a last-ditch effort to woo the country's 30 million rural voters. The groundswell of middle class protesters in recent weeks has already compelled the Russian prime minister to step up his outreach to his rural supporters. Read more 
31.01.12 All The King??™s Men
By Andrew Roth
In a week at the Davos World Economic Forum characterized by misgivings over the European economy, the Russian delegation made waves with a series of speeches that painted a bleak picture of the Russian economy and called for greater political competition. The delegation, which included liberal heavyweights such as First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov and ex-Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, may have been trying to influence Putin??™s potential economic platform as president. But was Davos the right place to do that? Read more 
19.01.12 Revving Up To Speed
By Tai Adelaja
The Russian government has been making subtle efforts to persuade foreign automakers to invest in the country's booming auto industry, even as it plans to slam the door on the industry's tax incentive regime later this year. In an unexpected move, the Ministry of Economic Development said it has decided to extend the limitation period for foreign automakers that have signed on to the country's industry-assembly regime but could not take full advantage of the tax incentive because of the global financial crisis. Read more 
18.01.12 Round And Round
By Eric Sliva
If the opposition has its way, Russians will have two opportunities this year to express their opinions about Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s intention to resume the presidency after a four-year hiatus. With its goal of limiting Putin to less than 50 percent of the vote in the presidential election on March 4, the opposition aims to trigger the first presidential run-off election since 1996, and to send a strong signal of voter dissatisfaction. Read more 
13.01.12 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Time To Attack Iran?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Tensions have been rising between Iran and the West in the standoff over Iran's clandestine pursuit of nuclear weapons. The United States, Britain and Canada pledged in November to ratchet up pressure on Tehran after the International Atomic Energy Agency published a report suggesting that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. Iran has already been subjected to four rounds of UN sanctions because of its refusal to halt controversial nuclear activities.  Read more 
12.01.12 Business Mood Swings
By Tai Adelaja
Russian business people have been gazing into the future, and what they see is a long dark tunnel without a glimmer of light, a new report has found. Among Russian top business executives and entrepreneurs polled for a quarterly report conducted by Grant Thornton late last year, optimism for any kind of business undertaking in Russia has all but evaporated. Read more 
26.12.11 Turning The Page
By Dan Peleschuk
Twenty years ago today, Russia opened a new chapter and lived out its first, post-Soviet day of independence. Yet while most of the successor states regularly mark their anniversaries of independence from the Soviet Union, celebrations of the event – or even recognition of it – in Russia are virtually nowhere to be found. Read more 
22.12.11 Show Me The Money
By Dan Peleschuk
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) handed a victory to families of hostages taken during the 2002 terrorist siege of Moscow’s Dubrovka theater, ordering the Russian government to financially compensate them for the botched rescue operation, in which more than 100 people died. Read more 
20.12.11 Notorious Nemtsov
By Dan Peleschuk
On Monday Russian tabloid portal Life News leaked recordings of private telephone conversations between opposition leader Boris Nemtsov and a handful of other activists, in which Nemtsov viciously derided his fellow opposition leaders and even criticized the peaceful protesters who flocked to Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square two weeks ago.  Read more 
16.12.11 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: From Arab Spring To Russian Winter?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Tens of thousands of ordinary Russians turned up for a rally in downtown Moscow on December 10 to protest against massive vote rigging during the December 4 parliamentary elections. They called for a cancelation of the election results, a new election and for election officials to be fired. Is this the end of Putin’s stability? Is Russia on the brink of a tectonic societal shift? Read more 
14.12.11 Russo-Ukrainian Gas Tango
By Tai Adelaja
Next year promises to be quite a year, but not just for the euro zone's embattled economies. For millions of Ukrainian gas consumers, this may be less of a holly-jolly Christmas season as well. Kiev’s last minute scramble for a breakthrough in its gas price negotiations with Russia was scuttled on Tuesday, in the latest sign that the high gas prices Ukrainians are now paying for Russian gas will hold firm in the New Year. Read more 
13.12.11 The Billion-Dollar Man
By Dan Peleschuk
Billionaire tycoon and occasional political player Mikhail Prokhorov announced his candidacy for the Russian presidency, igniting speculation over whether the move is a Kremlin ploy or an independent maneuver. The timing, particularly, is curious: with the Kremlin’s authority at perhaps its weakest point since the late 1990s, largely thanks to last week’s unprecedented wave of public protests, many are wondering whether real politics are returning to Russia, or if it is the ruling party’s last ditch effort to manage a successful presidential election in March.
 Read more 
08.12.11 In The Eye Of The Storm
By Tai Adelaja
The political rumblings in Moscow may have started to take a toll on the country’s economy, an indication of the tough challenges that will face Russia’s two paramount leaders when they assume office in new roles next year. The spate of opposition demonstrations after December 4 parliamentary elections has forced a state bank to cancel its bond placement, while two Russian mining companies have sought refugee abroad amid fears of political instability. Read more 
07.12.11 Wag The Dog
By Andrew Roth
For the third day in a row, opposition protestors went out on the streets Tuesday night to voice frustrations over allegations of election tampering and ballot stuffing that will give the leading party a slight majority in the coming Parliament. Read more 
06.12.11 Spilling Over
By Andrew Roth
Russian oppositionists spilled onto the streets of the Chistiye Prudi park in Moscow last night by the thousands to protest the results of Sunday’s State Duma Elections amid allegations of massive voter fraud. The liberal demonstration, organized by the banned Solidarnost movement, was the largest that Russia has seen in years. Read more 
05.12.11 A Pyrrhic Victory?
By Tai Adelaja
The less-than-stellar showing by the United Russia Party of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev during Sunday's elections was nothing like the “shellacking” suffered by Democrats in last year's midterm congressional elections. Read more 
01.12.11 Anti-Corruption Vigilante
By Tai Adelaja
Russian business elites have taken their anti-corruption battle to a new level in the latest sign of their frustration at the lack of credible efforts by the Kremlin to deliver on its fight against corruption. Business lobby group Delovaya Rossiya declared on Wednesday that it has set up a “Business against Corruption” center that will serve to counterbalance Russia's notorious bureaucracy and compel government officials and law enforcement agencies to fight corruption in earnest. Read more 
28.11.11 Pre-Holiday Mood Booster
By Tai Adelaja
The end-of-the-year bargain-hunting is still some way off here, but a Russian federal agency seems to be making efforts to boost optimism ahead of the holiday season. The State Statistic Services, or Rosstat, released new figures on Friday indicating that food price inflation in Russia has been consistently lower than in the European Union for the first time. Read more 
24.11.11 Cash Withdrawal Limits
By Tai Adelaja
In a key sign that Russia may soon be faced with a shortage of cash, the country’s Ministry of Finance is pushing for a regulation that could deny Russians the right to withdraw their bank savings as and when they desire. The legislative initiative, which was published on the Finance Ministry’s Web site on Wednesday, came after major domestic banks reported an unprecedented fall-off in bank deposits last month. Read more 
23.11.11 Power Beats Money
By Tai Adelaja
Russia’s ruling United Russia party is benefiting from state resources ahead of upcoming legislative elections to such an extent that no amount of funding for challenging political parties could overcome the governing party’s dominance, opposition leaders and political analysts say. Read more 
21.11.11 The Cyber War Zone
By Nabi Abdullaev
As Russians prepare to vote next month in legislative elections, it is influential individual Internet bloggers who are playing a far stronger role than organized political parties in shaping attitudes toward the options among educated, middle-class voters, analysts say. Read more 
17.11.11 Courting Disaster
By Tai Adelaja
The Russian Parliament is set to rubberstamp the country’s main financial document that many economists say will make life miserable for all Russians after the upcoming national elections. Russia’s draft budget for 2012 to 2014, which enters its second reading in the legislature on Friday, calls for sharp hikes in defense and national security spending while slashing expenditures on health and education, according to a group of economists who analyzed the document. Read more 
16.11.11 Russians Storm Cyber Space
By Tai Adelaja
For the first time Russia has overtaken Germany as the market with the largest online audience in Europe, as ever more Russians access the Internet through mobile devices rather than desktop computers. Roughly 50.8 million Russians were using the Internet in September, some 670,000 Internet users more than in Germany, according to a report released on Tuesday by the Internet research company ComScore. Read more 
15.11.11 Occupy Tskhinvali
By Andrew Roth
Two candidates are in a tight race for the coveted title of president of South Ossetia, the Georgian breakaway republic with a 70,000-plus population recognized by only five countries in the world. Voters on Saturday launched what observers have called a “protest vote,” opting by a small margin for the opposition candidate in lieu of Moscow’s preferred choice. Read more 
14.11.11 Lessons In Migration
By Svetlana Kononova
United Russia deputies have proposed a new draft law in the State Duma that will require migrants coming to work in Russia to prove their knowledge of Russian through a language test or other documents. The law, which was developed by Deputy Speaker of Parliament Oleg Morozov and his colleagues, will make language exams obligatory for all foreigners who want to work in the public sector, housing and communal services and trade. Read more 
10.11.11 Protest Rock
By Dan Peleschuk
The release of famed Russian rock group DDT’s new album arrives during a politically interesting moment in Russia. Known for its anti-establishment stance and poetic, outspoken lyrics, the band kicks off its album “Otherwise” and a world tour in the midst of growing disenchantment with the regime and the likely return to the presidency of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Read more 
07.11.11 Anti-Pro-Choice
By Svetlana Kononova
Following a third reading, the State Duma has approved a draft law “On the Foundations of Healthcare for Russian Citizens,” which will come into force at the beginning of 2012. But medical experts and representatives of human rights organizations warn that the more controversial section of the law, which aims to reduce the number of abortions in Russia, could have serious consequences for Russian women’s health.
 Read more 
02.11.11 What Triggers Capital Flight
By Tai Adelaja
Tuesday’s announcement by Russia's Central Bank that capital flight will double to $70 billion this year is a stark reality check for the Kremlin, which has been making frantic efforts in recent months to improve the country's investment climate. The regulator said it arrived at the new figures after it firmed up a new draft of the country's monetary lending policy for 2012 through 2014. Read more 
01.11.11 Cuddling With The Bear
By Dan Peleschuk
The vote in Kyrgyzstan came about a month after Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin outlined his ambitious plans for a Eurasian Union, a supranational body somewhat akin to the European Union and “poised,” Putin said in his article in Izvestia, introducing the idea, “to become a pole in the modern world.” While Putin has downplayed concerns from observers that he wants to reincarnate the Soviet Union, he has underscored the wide-ranging economic and, eventually, political integration such a union would seek to establish. Read more 
31.10.11 Metropolitan Challenges
By Svetlana Kononova
It has been a year since Sergei Sobyanin was appointed mayor of Moscow, and polls indicate that Muscovites are generally happier with him than they were with his long-serving predecessor Yuri Luzhkov. But expert evaluations of Sobyanin’s first year in office are more mixed. Read more 
27.10.11 Slow Traffic Ahead
By Tai Adelaja
Russia is edging toward stagnation and consequent massive devaluation of its national currency, with the prospect of slipping into a double-dip recession remaining a real possibility, a new report says. There is no "source for decent economic growth in Russia" and the country cannot sustain the four-percent economic growth predicted by the country's Ministry of Economic Development, according to researchers from the Higher School of Economics' Center for Development, who prepared the report. Read more 
24.10.11 A Quiet Separation
By Svetlana Kononova
A popular recruitment portal recently published a strange advertisement: an amateur writer seeks an editor to help him finish his book as he cruises the world on his personal yacht. It turned out, the weekend Hemmingway was, in fact, a Siberian businessman who said he was fed up with his life and had decided to change his lifestyle for good. Read more 
14.10.11 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Putin’s Eurasian Union
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Less than a week after the announcement of his return to the Russian presidency, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin took the time to write an op-ed for the Russian daily Izvestia, in which he called for a Eurasian Union of post-Soviet states. How effective could Putin’s plan for the Eurasian Union be? What obstacles will Moscow have to overcome to achieve this objective, and in what time frame? What about Russian efforts to entice or cajole Ukraine into joining?
 Read more 
13.10.11 A Banker's Building Blocks
By Tai Adelaja
As the Russian financial landscape evolves and competition intensifies, the country’s top lender, Sberbank, has developed niches in non-traditional areas such as real estate development to get the best of both worlds. Dabbling in real estate, analysts say, could help Russia’s oldest bank retain its position as the country’s most trusted financial institution. Read more 
12.10.11 Strengthening Stability
By Tai Adelaja
Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin led a powerful delegation of corporate executives to China on Tuesday, as Russia redoubles efforts to exploit new opportunities in Asia. Experts saw the trip as a sign that Russia is trying to reduce its dependency on sluggish European energy markets and is looking for opportunities in the East to hedge its bets. Read more 
11.10.11 The Artists Are Present
By Andrew Roth
You don’t walk into famed performance artist Marina Abramovich’s new retrospective at Moscow’s trendy Garage Center for Contemporary Art – you squeeze between two naked bodies, one male and one female, and emerge into a collection of Abramovich’s diverse creations from the past 40 years. Read more 
10.10.11 E-Shop ‘Til You Drop
By Svetlana Kononova
One in five Russian Internet users shops online, a recent poll conducted by the Public Opinion Research Foundation (VTsIOM) found. Most online shoppers are well-educated, well-paid and live in one of Russia’s two largest cities – Moscow or St. Petersburg. Read more 
07.10.11 Friends No More
By Dan Peleschuk
Russian oligarchs Boris Berezovsky and Roman Abramovich are facing off in a UK court, where the former is accusing the latter of cheating on the sale of shares in an energy company over a decade ago. As the lawsuit heats up and both sides trade accusations, the affair again draws attention to the very public break-up of a once close and powerful partnership. Read more 
06.10.11 Crumbling Confidence
By Tai Adelaja
Russians have never liked their banks, but with stock markets roiling, the ruble tumbling and the economy hemorrhaging billions of dollars in capital flight, their dislike for banks is turning into a permanent distrust. Public confidence in the credibility of Russian credit institutions is at its "lowest ebb" since 2008, according to a new survey by Romir, a market research firm. Read more 
04.10.11 Jumping On The Bandwagon
By Andrew Roth
Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz announced Sunday that Turkey would not renew a 25-year-old supply agreement for natural gas with Russia, after failing to receive a 20 percent discount on the gas in a renegotiated contract. While Yildiz stated that Turkey’s rigid position on the contracts was not politically motivated, a recent series of raids on Gazprom’s partners in Europe shows that across the board, consumers of Russian gas are pushing back against Gazprom’s dominant position abroad. Read more 
30.09.11 The Plight Of An Oligarch
By Pavel Koshkin
The Kremlin’s decision to oust Russian oligarch and the former leader of the Right Cause party Mikhail Prokhorov from the Presidential Modernization Commission indicates that the Russian authorities still have a firm grip on businessmen and are willing to exact revenge for any hint of political independence on their part. Read more 
29.09.11 Raiders Of The EU
By Dan Peleschuk
The European Commission’s raid on Gazprom and its key European customers on Tuesday sparked concerns about an increase in tension between the EU and Russia. Officials said the anti-trust action was meant to rein in practices that hampered fair competition on the European market, further cementing Gazprom’s image as an opaque energy monopoly. Read more 
27.09.11 (Lame) Duck Hunting
By Dan Peleschuk
While the long-awaited news has finally broken, there remain some unanswered questions about Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s inevitable return to the presidency. Foremost among them: what will happen now to President Dmitry Medvedev? Rumors circulated that the Kremlin’s effort to keep silent on a candidacy announcement was meant to prevent Medvedev from becoming a lame duck, but it seems as though that prospect is all but inevitable. Read more 
26.09.11 Resident Alien
By Svetlana Kononova
Ethnic tension in Russia remains a serious problem, if a recent poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) is anything to go by. It found that 76 percent of Muscovites and 66 percent of residents of the Central Federal District believe that the authorities should limit the number of non-Russians who can enter their districts.  Read more 
23.09.11 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: The Right Cause Party Implodes
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Last week, the liberal Right Cause Party, led by billionaire-cum-politician Mikhail Prokhorov, imploded in a mega scandal that left Prokhorov publicly humiliated and expelled from the party he volunteered to lead less than four months ago. Why did Prokhorov’s party implode? Read more 
20.09.11 Out Of Harmony
By Rosemary Griffin
Unofficial results from Latvia’s parliamentary elections held on September 17 indicate that the Harmony Center Party won 31 of 100 seats – the first time a pro-Russian party has topped the polls in Latvia since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. But experts believe this party is unlikely to form part of a ruling coalition in Latvia, a country battling to maintain tough austerity measures and clampdown on corruption.
 Read more 
19.09.11 Calls For Help
By Svetlana Kononova
Russian crisis hotlines receive millions of calls annually. High suicide rates, violent deaths and domestic abuse create demand for social and psychological support. Such services indeed play a positive role, but in many cases they provide only limited help, and instead reflect the sheer scale of the problem. Experts say the state needs to take drastic action to truly tackle this problem. Read more 
16.09.11 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Is Multiculturalism Bad For Russia?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
President Dmitry Medvedev said last week that ethnic tensions are rising in Russia, but cracking down too hard would undermine stability. Medvedev was addressing the Yaroslavl Global Policy Forum, where he looked into the requirements for a modern state in the age of social and cultural diversity. Read more 
15.09.11 Losing The Cause
By Rosemary Griffin
Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov left the Right Cause party in sensational fashion earlier today, after a coup within the party left him and his supporters isolated. Mid-way through the party’s congress in Moscow, the Head of the party’s Executive Committee Andrei Dunaev led a successful vote to oust Prokhorov from the leadership. Read more 
14.09.11 The Guessing Game
By Tai Adelaja
Carefully crafted statements by Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin have lent fresh momentum to the guessing game as to who might occupy the Kremlin come 2012. Kudrin told the Reuters Russia Investment Summit on Tuesday that he is ready to remain in the government in any role after the 2012 elections to push through economic reforms. Read more 
13.09.11 Teaching It Rich
By Svetlana Kononova
President Dmitry Medvedev has called on Russia’s oligarchs to teach schoolchildren about their personal success stories. “I will call on representatives of big business, mostly people whose wealth starts, for example, at $1 billion, and say they should all start teaching in schools,” he told members of the Presidential Commission for Implementation of Top-Priority National Projects and Demographic Policy.
 Read more 
12.09.11 Russia Rediscovers Africa
By Tai Adelaja
Russia’s Renaissance Group has announced elaborate investment plans in Africa, which could help the company to strengthen its foothold across the continent and impact its potential for economic renaissance. The bank, a pan-emerging markets investment bank, said it would build a 6,400-acre city in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in addition to a $5 billion Tatu City that the company is currently building in Kenya. Read more 
07.09.11 Earn More, Pay More
By Tai Adelaja
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has consented to a government plan to introduce a two-tier payroll tax system starting next year, bringing some closure to a dispute that has pitted the Kremlin against Vladimir Putin's government. Read more 
06.09.11 Fill ‘Er Up
By Andrew Roth
While attention this weekend was focused on a brewing spat over gas contracts between Ukraine and Russia, a different kind of energy crisis took hold at Moscow’s major airports last Friday, when the airports announced that they had the absolute minimum reserves of fuel remaining and may be forced to shut off service if fuel reserves don’t get replenished. Read more 
05.09.11 Dissatisfied Nation
By Svetlana Kononova
Only five percent of Russians do not have any complaints to make about the government, a recent poll conducted by the Levada Center found. Twelve years ago this figure was five times higher. Those who are critical blame authorities for price rises, a drop in real incomes and an inability to guarantee employment and social protection. Read more 
02.09.11 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Lessons From Libya
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
As the world watches the agony of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in Libya, following a stumbling but ultimately successful UN-sanctioned NATO operation to help unseat the dictator, a new round of soul-searching is underway in Moscow. Many experts are now questioning the wisdom of Russia’s Libya policy, warning of imminent losses to Russian business interests in that country. Read more 
31.08.11 Oily Interests
By Tai Adelaja
Russia's largest oil producer Rosneft has turned to U.S. oil major Exxon Mobil for its expertise and technology needs, after earlier attempts to partner with British Petroleum for ambitious deep-sea exploration in the Arctic fell through in May. Under a landmark deal inked on Tuesday, Exxon Mobil and Rosneft pledged to spend $3.2 billion on deep-sea exploration in the area of the Arctic called the Kara Sea, as well as in the deep waters of the Black Sea. Read more 
29.08.11 Politically Blonde
By Svetlana Kononova
Russian blondes have voted to have First Lady Svetlana Medvedeva head the All-Russia Congress of Blondes, which will be held in Sochi on September 23 to 25. “Medvedeva is a paragon of perfect style and high-society glamour. Many eminent beauties envy her finesse and elegance,” the organizers of the event said on their official Web site. Read more 
25.08.11 Speculative Benefits
By Tai Adelaja
Russia says it has recorded an unprecedented increase in capital inflows in the first half of this year, in the latest sign that the Kremlin's efforts to stimulate economic growth and improve the country's investment climate may have started to bear fruit. Between January and June of this year, investors pumped a total of $87.7 billion into the Russian economy, according to the Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat). Read more 
24.08.11 Collateral Damage
By Tai Adelaja
Russia has started to count its economic and political loses in Libya even before the deafening sounds of Kalashnikovs, rocket and grenade launchers began to subside. As Muammar Colonel Gaddafi's 41-year-old iron rule crawls toward an inglorious end, there are ominous signs that things will not be quite the same for Russian businesses in the new Libya. Read more 
22.08.11 Right Turns To Europe
By Svetlana Kononova
Mikhail Prokhorov, a Russian billionaire and the leader of the Right Cause party, has proposed implementing a visa-free travel regime with European countries and replacing the ruble with the euro as a part of his party’s program. Although experts say that these goals don’t seem realistic, at least in the near future, promoting such ideas will help the ambitious politician attract more votes in upcoming State Duma elections in December. Read more 
18.08.11 Burned-Up Patience
By Tai Adelaja
Russian gas giant Gazprom, which for many years held an unbreakable monopoly over gas supplies and price-setting, may be having a change of heart after getting bitten by its own monopolistic practices. The gas monopoly has lately been losing its hold over the price of gas as double-barreled pressure from its EU and Chinese customers mounts, local media reported on Thursday. Read more 
17.08.11 Incredible Moscow
By Tai Adelaja
The 2011 Prices and Earnings report, released by UBS Wealth Management Research on Tuesday, is a welcome break for authorities in Moscow as they struggle to transform the Russian capital into a flourishing commercial and financial hub. In a rare find for a survey on cost increases and rising prices, the Russian capital city was conspicuously absent from the top bracket of the most expensive cities in the world. Read more 
15.08.11 Time To Burn The Books
By Svetlana Kononova
he Russian government has announced plans to abolish the so-called “work books” – official personal documents that trace one’s employment history – in 2012. Recruitment experts support the idea, claiming that work books have long since served their purpose and can easily be replaced with employment contracts. Read more 
12.08.11 Does The United States - Russia “Reset” Need An Upgrade?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Having repaired U.S.-Russian relations after their collapse in the wake of the Russia-Georgian war of August 2008, the much ballyhooed “reset,” launched by President Barack Obama upon taking office in 2009 and later embraced by President Dmitry Medvedev, is losing steam, and according to many seasoned observers of U.S.-Russian relations, could be all but over. Does the “reset” need an upgrade? Read more 
11.08.11 Russia The Teacher
By Pavel Koshkin
Although Russian universities do not rank at the top of ratings of the world’s best colleges, many foreign students from the United States and other countries still come to Russia to get educated. They choose to study in Russia despite the fact that Russian is not the most popular language in the world, the associate director of the Stanford-in-Moscow program at the Russian Academy of National Economy Alexander Abashkin believes. Read more 
10.08.11 Russia In Pixels
By Tai Adelaja
Until now both Google and Yandex seemed unchallengeable in their aggressive push to provide millions of curious Russians with satellite snapshots of places and neighborhoods. But that may be about to change, though the challenge, this time, appears to be coming from a most unexpected quarter: the Federal Agency for Registration, which is the Russian state agency in charge of cadastral mapping. Read more 
09.08.11 Yulia The Martyr
By Andrew Roth
Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who rose to prominence on the tide of the “Orange Revolution,” is once again seeing her star rise. Although voted out of office in 2010, she is now amassing domestic and international support as she battles accusations that she illegally forced through a gas deal with Russia in 2009. Read more 
08.08.11 The Death Of A Journal
By Svetlana Kononova
LiveJournal, the largest and most popular blogging network in Russia, was knocked offline for several days at the end of July due to DDoS attacks, the platform’s owner SUP reported. This is the third attack on LiveJournal since the beginning of the year – an apparent sign that somebody is trying to limit its popularity and impact on public opinion.  Read more 
05.08.11 Will Medvedev Declare His Candidacy Without Putin’s Consent?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
In a sign of sheer desperation in Dmitry Medvedev’s camp, two of his informal advisors have called upon him to openly challenge Vladimir Putin and declare his candidacy at the Yaroslavl Political Forum early next month (with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in attendance to provide Western endorsement). Will Medvedev run for president without Putin’s consent? Read more 
04.08.11 Curbing Extreme Freedoms
By Tai Adelaja
Fears of an imminent clampdown on press freedom ahead of Russia's national elections may yet prove justified, given a sudden announcement on Wednesday of new amendments to the country's Mass Media Law. "We have introduced amendments to the federal law on mass media, and from now on Internet sites may be considered on certain occasions as media," Russia's Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev was quoted by Itar-Tass as telling a meeting of the Inter-ministerial Commission on Fighting Extremism in Khabarovsk on Wednesday. Read more 
03.08.11 Burnishing Investment Credentials
By Tai Adelaja
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev formally launched one of his multi-element investment climate reform programs on Tuesday with the appointment of special envoys to promote regional investments. But rather than seeking new faces, as was widely expected, the president would be relying on high-ranking regional officials to put some shine on the country's tarnished investment climate. Read more 
29.07.11 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Is The West Turning Reckless?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
In a recent column for RIA-Novosti, Fyodor Lukyanov, editor in chief of Russia in Global Affairs Magazine, wrote that continued political gridlock in the EU (over the Greek debt crisis) and in the United States (over raising the national debt ceiling and cutting the budget deficit) are threatening to drag the fragile global economy into a new, deep recession while raising the specter of economic and political chaos across the globe. Read more 
28.07.11 A Nationalist Epidemic
By Justin Lyle
The massacre that shook Norway last week raised some difficult questions about the extreme right in Europe and in Russia. Anders Behring Breivik’s slaughter of teenagers at a political summer camp near Oslo shocked the world, not only by the extraordinary scale and brutality of the act, but because it took place in the famously prosperous and calm country that hosts the Nobel Peace Prize. Read more 
27.07.11 Searchable Secrets
By Tai Adelaja
Russian online shoppers were given new cause for alarm this week, as fresh reports of privacy breaches by popular search engines revealed their vulnerability to identity theft. Informzaschita, a Moscow-based information security services provider, said on Monday that by using Yandex, the Russian equivalent of Google, it was able to access potentially compromising information about Russian online shoppers. Read more 
26.07.11 The Most Vulnerable Citizens
By Pavel Koshkin
The adoption of Russian children by American families remains a thorny issue, but that could be about to change following the introduction of a Russian-American bilateral agreement on adoption, signed last week by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his American counterpart Hillary Clinton. But while experts view this agreement as a step toward preventing child abuse in American adoptive families, problems remain. Read more 
25.07.11 Life In Plastic
By Svetlana Kononova
The Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin has signed a decree on the emission of universal E-cards (UEC) in the Russian capital, thereby launching a country-wide experiment. From January of 2012, E-cards will serve as identity cards and multifunctional payment instruments in Russia. Step by step, they will replace all kinds of other social cards, including pension certificates, student ID cards and medical insurance policies. Read more 
22.07.11 Is “Tandemocracy” Bad For Russia’s Foreign Policy?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
It now appears that the tandem of Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev, while beneficial for Russia’s internal development, may not be such a healthy arrangement for Russian foreign policy after all. Where multiple centers of decision-making may be key drivers for progress in domestic matters, it is always a short-cut to disaster in the conduct of foreign affairs. Read more 
21.07.11 Wanted Alive
By Tai Adelaja
Microsoft Corporation on Monday announced a bounty of $250,000 for any information leading to the arrest of the operators behind the notorious Rustock botnet, believed to have originated in Russia. The Rustock botnet – a network of private computers infected with malicious software and controlled as a group without the owners' knowledge – is believed to be one of the world's biggest zombie networks. Read more 
20.07.11 Going Global With GLONASS
By Tai Adelaja
The Kremlin just can’t wait to dazzle and impress the global community with its GLONASS, a satellite positioning technology which is being touted here as a credible challenge to established U.S. rival GPS. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, who oversees GLONASS development, told reporters on Monday that the home-made system will achieve 100 percent global coverage by 2012, which could bring it closer to its goal of sidelining its archrival, the GPS, as well as the Chinese Beidou Navigation System and the European Union's Galileo.
 Read more 
19.07.11 A New Russian In Town
By Anna Aslanyan
A statue of Yuri Gagarin was unveiled in London on July 14 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first manned space flight. The monument is a copy of the one erected in Lyubertsy, a town just outside of Moscow, where Gagarin trained as a foundry worker. Read more 
18.07.11 The Super Natashas
By Svetlana Kononova
Russian supermodel, philanthropist and millionaire Natalia Vodianova has announced her separation from her husband Justin Portman, a British aristocrat and the half brother of Viscount Portman. The couple, who have three children, are splitting up after nine years of marriage. Read more 
15.07.11 Brotherly Love
By Andrei Zolotov, Jr.
The latest meeting of the top Council of the Moscow-aligned Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) produced little tangible result, but nonetheless stirred deep passions among believers and underscored rising tensions along the spiritual frontier between Orthodox and Western Christianity. Read more 
14.07.11 Touting A Mini-WTO
By Tai Adelaja
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was feeling optimistic and poised for even greater leaps on Tuesday, as he announced the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union, which could integrate the economies of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan by 2013. Read more 
11.07.11 Escalating Aggression
By Svetlana Kononova
Gloomy, cheerless faces, harsh words and rudeness – foreigners who visit Russia for the first time often notice a somewhat tense atmosphere, and local residents’ peculiar communication style. And recent research may lend credence to these stereotypes. Read more 
08.07.11 Why Is Medvedev Moving The Capital Outside Of Moscow?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered the government to move all government agencies and their employees out of Moscow to a designated area in the suburbs (to be determined at a later date) which, together with the city of Moscow, would constitute a new and unique federal district. What does Medvedev hope to achieve by such a move in Russia? Read more 
07.07.11 Trickle Down Politics
By Andrew Roth
Russia is set to considerably ease its visa regime with the United States and members of the Schengen Zone by introducing long-term visas and simplifying the necessary paperwork to receive them. At the same time Russians travelling to the United Kingdom have become incensed in recent days over considerable delays for visas, leaving potential travelers stranded and bearing the costs of cancelled travel plans. Read more 
05.07.11 Advertising Abortion
By Andrew Roth
A bill requiring abortion advertisements to carry health warnings passed the lower house of Russia’s parliament last Friday and seems destined to pass into law without any major hiccups. While Russia’s pro-life movement is seeking to redefine the debate over abortion in the public sphere, its leaders are keeping in mind that in Russia, which has historically had a liberal abortion regime and where more than 1.25 million abortions were performed last year, a legal ban on abortions remains unrealistic. Read more 
04.07.11 A Disappearing Habit
By Svetlana Kononova
Russians may be on the verge of losing their reputation as the world’s most enthusiastic readers, if a recent survey conducted by the Public Opinion Research Foundation (VTsIOM) is anything to go by. According to the survey, 49 percent of respondents have less than one hundred books at home, up 20 percent since 1990. Read more 
01.07.11 Hold Your Applause
By Andrew Roth
Belarus’ latest “silent protest” was roughly quelled on Wednesday evening in Minsk as police detained more than 200 participants in the demonstrations. In Belarus, zero-tolerance, heavy-handed crackdowns on opposition demonstrations are nothing new, but the protests are growing in size and extending beyond Minsk at a pivotal moment for Belarus, when analysts are looking closely for signs that the country’s economic crisis is weaking the current regime’s grip on power. Read more 
30.06.11 A Carrot For The Liberals
By Pavel Koshkin
In an attempt to liberalize the Russian political landscape, President Dmitry Medvedev has indicated that he intends to propose legislation to decrease the passing threshold for the State Duma elections from seven to five percent in the near future, easing the path for opposition parties through Russia’s onerous electoral process. Read more 
29.06.11 Industrial Downturn
By Tai Adelaja
To comprehend why President Dmitry Medvedev’s modernization drive got off to such a slow start, one needs look no
further than the current state of the Russian industry. A large part of the country’s industrial production equipment is obsolete, according to a new study by the Center for Macroeconomic Research (CMR), the research arm of Sberbank. Read more 
28.06.11 Of Nations, Light And Conceptualism
By Elena Rubinova
For years the concept of national pavilions at the Venice Biennale was heavily criticized as outdated and old fashioned. Many were trying to prove that the national model does not reflect the globalization of the modern art world, but Bice Curiger, the artistic director of the 54th Venice Biennale, an art historian and a curator at Zurich Kunsthaus, has managed to breathe new life into the old model. Read more 
27.06.11 An Undiscovered Land
By Svetlana Kononova
Russia is the largest country in the world, stretching 3,000 kilometers from its frozen northern seas to its southern subtropical coast, and 10,000 kilometers from Kaliningrad in the west to the Bering Strait in the east. But despite the huge variety of its scenery and climate, rich historical and cultural heritage, and thousands of amazing places to see, Russia still doesn’t have a reputation as a popular travel destination in the eyes of either foreign or domestic tourists.
 Read more 
24.06.11 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Medvedev’s Blueprint For Change
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
In a speech that many Russian analysts deemed “political,” as reflecting his intention to run for a second presidential term, at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum last week President Dmitry Medvedev unveiled a detailed and realistic blueprint for changing Russia as we know it.
 Read more 
23.06.11 The Russian Paradox
By Tai Adelaja
Russia’s economy is showing signs of strength, but most Russians who have been earning more are getting poorer. Average monthly nominal wages in the country rose 12.5 percent to 22,520 rubles ($803) year-on-year in May, but Russia's stubbornly high inflation eroded most of the gains in people's purchasing power, the Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat) reported on Wednesday.
 Read more 
22.06.11 Privatizing Russia
By Tai Adelaja
The Russian government may soon embark on the country's biggest privatization journey ever, as the Kremlin redoubles efforts to attract foreign investors and accelerate economic growth. The new privatization drive, which may kick off this year, is expected to dwarf the country's previous chaotic offerings, which saw oil and metal assets sold to well-connected oligarchs in the early 1990s. Read more 
21.06.11 Secrets Of The Asian Court
By Pavel Koshkin
The Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization held in Astana on June 15 showed that contrary to its expectations, Russia does not play the leading role in this organization. China has been supplying the organization’s members with extensive loans, thus taking the lead away from Russia. In an attempt to counterbalance China, Russia is seeking to expand the SCO by bringing India into the organization. Read more 
20.06.11 Good School, Bad School
By Svetlana Kononova
Primary and secondary education in Russia is in the spotlight once again after the Russian State Duma approved amendments to the federal law “On Education.” The draft proposes to enact school districting to govern student enrolment beginning on January 1, 2012. Read more 
17.06.11 ESPO Pipe Dreams
By Martyn Larys
Russia’s pro-east oil pipeline strategy may be facing a setback, with many experts expressing concerns that the country is betting on the wrong horse. While diversifying the markets for Russian oil is important to the country’s energy security, questions remain about the viability of the specifically Chinese oriented pipelines, and whether it is profitable for Russia to build it energy cooperation with China under the current economic realities.
 Read more 
16.06.11 Expressing Gratitude
By Tai Adelaja
Russians love to say "thank you" in the most generous way possible, which is why, in recent years, bureaucrats with voracious appetites for money have seen their business grow. Russians paid at least 164 billion rubles ($5.9 billion) in bribes last year on non-business related expenses, including improper gifts to teachers, policemen and others in "everyday" situations, a study commissioned by Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development found.
 Read more 
15.06.11 Lawlessness Unlimited
By Tai Adelaja
Despite the Kremlin’s ongoing efforts to combat legal nihilism, there is little or no evidence on the ground of a change in support for the rule of law in Russia, a new study has found. Russia fared the worst of its BRIC peers (Brazil, India And China) when it came to upholding the principle of separation of powers and the observance of fundamental human rights, according to the Rule of Law Index report released on Monday.
 Read more 
14.06.11 Media Monopoly
By Svetlana Kononova
The Russian State Duma and the Federation Council have approved amendments to the law “On Mass Media,” which will define in greater detail the procedure by which television and radio channels are licensed. It will also give Web sites the right to receive legal status as mass media. Read more 
08.06.11 Innovation Slowdown
By Tai Adelaja
Russia's innovation economy is on a bumpy ride due to corruption, bureaucracy and a lingering Soviet mindset, a new study has found. Current innovation policy places too much emphasis on high technology to the neglect of large parts of the Russian economy, according to a study prepared by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) at the behest of Russia's Ministry of Education and Science. Read more 
31.05.11 Gay Pride Goes Public
By Andrew Roth
For the sixth year running, Moscow police disbanded the annual Moscow gay pride parade held in the Russian capital. There was hope among gay activists that with Moscow under new leadership, the parade might escape the fate it suffered under ex-mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who famously called the parades “satanic” and refused to sanction them. While the crackdown raised awareness of gay rights in Russia through the press, it seems that a successful (violence-free) gay parade in Moscow won’t be seen in the near future. Read more 
30.05.11 Right Turn On Red
By Svetlana Kononova
Mikhail Prokhorov, the third richest man in Russia and the 39th richest man in the world according to Forbes, said he will head the Right Cause party and promised to take it up to second place in terms of representation in the State Duma. But his ambitious plan is questionable: does Russia really have enough voters who support a free-market economy, liberalism and democracy, to try to change the country’s political landscape and compete with United Russia’s monopoly? Read more 
27.05.11 Has Medvedev Become A Lame Duck?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev has been savaged by the Russian and Western media for breaking little new ground and failing to announce his presidential bid during a lackluster press-conference last week. It is true that the event was overhyped by the Kremlin’s press service which sought, strangely enough, to fuel all sorts of wild expectations for the conference, from a presidential bid announcement to the possible firing of Vladimir Putin.  Read more 
26.05.11 Taking The Bait
By Andrew Roth
Violent clashes broke out in Tbilisi last night when Georgian riot police ran off protestors calling for Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s resignation with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons. Nino Burjanadze, who led several thousand protestors on the Tbilisi streets last evening, has marginal popularity in the country, but managed to publicly embarrass Saakashvili by provoking him into a violent crackdown. In the international arena, the overreaction to the protests will embarrass Saakashvili’s Western partners and play into Russia’s running dialogue on his aggressive domestic politics. Read more 
25.05.11 Oligarch Turned Public Servant
By Andrew Roth
While big business will always have an effect on politics, several Russian oligarchs have made waves recently by saying they would temporarily cede management or even divest themselves of their companies and represent Kremlin initiatives in the upcoming elections. The Kremlin drew a clear line in the sand with the Mikhail Khodorkovsky case and scared off many oligarchs from even appearing politically motivated, but this trend may be coming to an end. Read more 
23.05.11 One Right, Many Copies
By Svetlana Kononova
Russians are famous worldwide as a creative people who have produced a myriad of unique works throughout the country's history, from Leo Tolstoy’s 19th century masterpiece “War and Piece” to the Google Search engine, developed by Russian-born computer genius Sergey Brin. More than two million Russians now keep blogs on LiveJournal, acting as writers and producing one-of-a-kind content. Read more 
20.05.11 Putin’s Controversial People’s Front
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
No other political initiative by Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (since the cancellation of popular elections for governors in 2004) has created as much controversy and has had so many observers scratching their heads in bewilderment as his call last week for the formation of an All-Russia Popular Front.  Read more 
19.05.11 No Laughing Matter
By Natasha Doff
The dropping of a play from the program of a drama festival in the Russian regions is not the kind of thing that usually makes the news, even in a country as obsessed with theater as the homeland of Anton Chekhov. Unless, of course, it is about Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and involves him turning into a rat. Read more 
18.05.11 Medvedev’s Business Talk
By Tai Adelaja
n his first ever question-and-answer session on Wednesday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev gave little real-time insight into how he hopes to push through his economic objectives during the remainder of his first term as president. But the president said that despite the Kremlin’s colossal efforts to modernize the country, nothing tangible has been achieved to date. Read more 
13.05.11 Why Is Putin Destroying Just Russia And Forming A People’s Front For United Russia?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
On May 18 United Russia deputies in St. Petersburg City Duma will strip Federation Council Speaker and Leader of the Just Russia Party Sergei Mironov of his mandate and his top government job. This will all but ensure that Just Russia will not cross the seven percent threshold in the 2011 Parliamentary election. What does this say for the future of Russia’s political system and the line-up of national parties? Read more 
11.05.11 The Whistleblower's Kompromat
By Andrew Roth
Alexey Navalny, Russia’s anti-corruption crusader, has been hit with criminal charges accusing him of “misusing the public trust,” and threatening a possible sentence of five years in prison. The political origins of the case against Navalny are indisputable, yet political considerations may eventually turn in Navalny’s favor: will the government be willing to let Navalny be shuttled into prison on trumped-up charges if it senses he could play the role of another Mikhail Khodorkovsky? Read more 
10.05.11 Seeing Red
By Andrew Roth
The 66th anniversary of the Soviet and Allied victory over Hitler’s Germany in the Second World War passed peacefully yesterday in Russia, but in the western Ukrainian city of Lvov, where Soviet victory in the war is just as quickly seen as the beginning of nearly half a century of occupation of Ukraine, local celebrations were marred by violence. Read more 
04.05.11 Kidnapping Russia’s Rich
By Andrew Roth
The tortured body of Viktoria Teslyuk, the16-year-old daughter of leading Lukoil executive Robert Teslyuk was found in the Moscow region this week, after the teenager had been missing for over a month. While attention recently focused on the kidnapping of Ivan Kaspersky, son of billionaire computer programmer Yevgeny Kaspersky, who was safely rescued by security services from his kidnappers late last month, the Teslyuk case stands as a grim reminder of a recent trend of high-profile kidnapping cases in Moscow that do not end so well. Read more 
03.05.11 Customers Of The Future
By Svetlana Kononova
Russian women’s purchasing power is growing rapidly, experts say. And with market researchers predicting that women will be responsible for the majority of purchases made in Russia over the next few decades, it makes sense for companies to develop marketing strategies that target women now.
 Read more 
27.04.11 Foreign Banker Exodus
By Tai Adelaja
Europe's largest bank, HSBC, said on Monday that it would close down its retail banking operations in Russia after two years of trying unsuccessfully to lure Russian customers with its sophisticated Personal Financial Services (PFS). The bank said it would close five retail branches in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and refocus its Russian business on providing global lending services to industrial and corporate clients. Read more 
26.04.11 Playing Doctor
By Andrew Roth
In a speech in front of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, an outspoken Russian pediatrician, Leonid Roshal, said “it’s a shame that in the Ministry of Health and Social Development there is not one clearheaded, experienced public health official.” Read more 
25.04.11 The Games We Play
By Anna Arutiunova
Every Saturday night, a coffee shop in central Moscow turns into a battlefield. Empires are forged and destroyed, terrorists hijack continents, scheming goblins and other vermin roam the streets while billion-dollar business deals are struck under the table.  Read more 
20.04.11 Inflated Expectations
By Tai Adelaja
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin gave an upbeat report on the economic achievements of his government on Wednesday, predicting that Russia would shake off the negative effects of the global economic crisis come 2012, a year earlier than many analysts predicted. Read more 
18.04.11 Containing Funds
By Tom Balmforth
Ukraine is seeking almost ?750 million in funding to seal the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl, that sparked the world’s worst nuclear catastrophe 25 years ago. But the recent disaster at the Fukushima power plant in Japan may make it harder to get the money together.  Read more 
16.04.11
By Tai Adelaja
 Read more 
15.04.11 Has BP Got Ensnared In Russian Politics?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
The New York Times reported last week that the British oil giant BP suffered a major setback last Friday, when “an arbitration tribunal upheld an injunction that indefinitely blocks its share-swap agreement with the state-owned oil company Rosneft.” Read more 
13.04.11 Innovative Russia
By Tai Adelaja
Over the past year, Russia registered across-the-board improvements in information and communications technology development, in a rare sign that multibillion-dollar government modernization efforts may have started to bear fruits. However, an extremely poor regulatory and market environment is still holding the country back from better leveraging information and communication technology in its competitiveness landscape, Global Information Technology said in a new report. Read more 
11.04.11 A Rider In The Storm
By Tai Adelaja
If British Petroleum wants to have a viable business in Russia, it will need to do more than rely on an oligarch-style business template and old-style political patronage, analysts say. The British company will again be making frantic efforts this week to salvage its $16-billion deal with Russia’s Rosneft, after the Stockholm Arbitration Court ruled on Friday that a February 1 injunction blocking the deal should remain in place until further notice. Read more 
08.04.11 Are Medvedev And Putin Forming A Two Party System In Russia?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Last month, three Russian think tanks that claim to advise President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the two presumed presidential candidates in 2012, issued separate reports warning that Russia's highly-centralized and uncompetitive political system has become a major obstacle to further economic progress, and that without sweeping political reform, the country faces possible breakdown or even popular revolt on a par with the early 1990s. Read more 
07.04.11 DDoSvidanie LiveJournal
By Tom Balmforth
Russia’s LiveJournal, the cult online blogging platform for free political discussion, is being sabotaged by hackers trying to impress Kremlin ideologues in the run-up to the election cycle, Russian bloggers claim. As RuNet becomes an increasingly powerful tool for opposition politicians, the Kremlin could be eager to have hackers in its wings who can disable it – or so the theory goes. In fact, other explanations have been aired, but mainstream blogger opinion seems to maintain that the state is behind two weeks of attacks on the uncensored blogging platform widely used by the opposition. Read more 
06.04.11 Banished From The Bank
By Andrew Roth
The head of the Bank of Moscow, who has strong ties to Moscow’s former Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, is said to be seeking political asylum in London after skipping town last week. Andrei Borodin appears to have conclusively lost control over the Bank of Moscow and may not be able to return to Russia in the future without facing criminal prosecution. Is this a case of political repression, of criminal flight, or both? Read more 
04.04.11 Tales Of Antiquity
By Svetlana Kononova
The international antique market is now slowly recovering from the global financial crisis. But market players estimate that in the next few decades, the main volume of sales might move from well-established markets of Western Europe to those of developing countries. One of the most promising antique markets is in Russia. Read more 
01.04.11 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Can The Split In The Tandem Be Dealt With?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
With Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev publicly sparring over the UN resolution on Libya, and the Russian elites agonizing over an emerging rift in the tandem, an ominous question has begun to cloud Russia’s political scene: can the split in the tandem be smoothed over? Or could it drag the country into a situation reminiscent of 1991?
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31.03.11 Kremlin Pro-Business Blueprint
By Tai Adelaja
In a highly symbolic gesture, President Dmitry Medvedev travelled East on Wednesday, to the steel city of Magnitogorsk, in the Ural Mountains. There he delivered what some experts have dubbed the "Ten Commandments of Investing", designed to help keep investors and their money safe in Russia. Read more 
30.03.11 Winged Ambitions
By Tai Adelaja
The Russian Government has pledged to spend “tens of billions of rubles” to revamp and transform two of Moscow’s three international airports, in an effort to make them more attractive for eventual privatization. “We have agreed that Sheremetyevo Airport – 100 percent owned by the government – and Vnukovo Airport – 75 percent owned by the Moscow city administration – will be integrated into one complex,” Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told a meeting on the development of Moscow’s aviation hub on Monday. Read more 
29.03.11 Defending The Faith
By Rosemary Griffin
Alexander Kalistratov, a Jehovah’s Witness from the Siberian city of Gorno-Altaisk, stands accused of inciting religious hatred for distributing religious materials. If he is found guilty when a verdict is delivered on April 14, Kalistratov’s case could have serious implications for Russia’s community of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Read more 
28.03.11 Liberal On Paper
By Tom Balmforth
A liberal bastion for some Russians during the perestroika years of the Soviet Union, the “Moskovskie Novosti” (MN) newspaper brand was reborn on Monday as it published its first Russian language print issue in three years, under the auspices of state-owned RIA Novosti. At a time when newspapers across the world are folding, the MN weekly that petered out in the 2000s and was cut altogether in 2008 has been launched again as a daily. Read more 
25.03.11 "The Worst Cop" Strikes Back
By Andrew Roth
A celebrated Soviet music critic and journalist, Artemy Troitsky, is being sued for defamation of character by a police officer he publicly named “the worst cop in Russia.” The hearings, which began yesterday in Moscow’s Gagarin Court, have renewed attention to law enforcement’s bungling of the investigation into an infamous car crash on Leninsky Prospekt last year, and provided a forum for wider criticism of Russia’s privileged elite by Yuri Shevchuk, the iconic leader of the rock band DDT. Read more 
24.03.11 Last In, Last Out
By Tai Adelaja
The Russian government is set to extend its cash-for-clunkers program for the third time, as domestic carmakers lobby hard to keep the program afloat. The government plans to allocate another five billion rubles ($176 million) to extend the program until December, in addition to the 25 billion rubles ($881.4 million) already spent on the program to date, local media reported on Thursday. Read more 
23.03.11 Dreams Of Going South
By Tai Adelaja
Russia has redoubled its efforts to save the South Stream gas pipeline project from imminent collapse, in anticipation of a new boom in gas consumption in the wake of the Japanese nuclear disaster. A few days after interest in South Stream appeared to have waned, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin travelled to Slovenia where he signed a major energy deal, which aims to clear away financial hurdles to the project. Read more 
22.03.11 Fukushima Jackpot
By Tom Balmforth
The crisis at Japan's nuclear reactor Fukushima Number One is sending powerful aftershocks through the global atomic energy industry, and also to a lesser extent through the energy industry as a whole. What the exact ramifications will be for the atomic energy industry, which had been enjoying a renaissance almost 25 years after the Chernobyl tragedy, is as unclear as the localized impact at ground zero in Japan. Read more 
21.03.11 The Clash Over Libya
By Tom Balmforth
The Russian Foreign Ministry on Sunday condemned air strikes on Libya mandated by a UN resolution, despite the fact that Russia abstained from the vote. Moscow continues to send ambivalent signals on Libya, as it wrestles with conflicting policy priorities, analysts say. Read more 
17.03.11 A Friend In Need
By Andrew Roth and Tom Balmforth
On the outskirts of Natori, a mother and her child stand under an umbrella, looking over a village landscape in which every familiar element has been transformed. Houses have been stripped into uneven piles of wood and wreckage Read more 
15.03.11 “I Revel In What I Have Grown”
Interview by Andrei Zolotov-Jr.
Over the past month there were a series of celebrations in Moscow for the 90th anniversary of one of Russia’s most celebrated teachers – Leonid Milgram. De facto, he built and for more than 40 years, led one of Moscow’s best schools – School number 45. Read more 
14.03.11 A Green Revolution
By Svetlana Kononova
From forest fires and abnormal heat in summer to ice storms in winter, the weather in Russia continues to complicate the lives of its citizens. Ecologists say forest fires are expected again this summer, but despite these alarming trends it seems that only Russia’s small middle class is interested in improving the situation and developing a “green economy.”
 Read more 
11.03.11 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Medvedev The Liberator?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
In a free-wheeling speech last week at an international conference in St. Petersburg marking the 150th anniversary of the abolition of serfdom in Russia by Tzar Alexander II, Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev sought to portray himself as a modern successor to the reformist emperor who went down in history as the liberator. Does Medvedev’s “freedom speech” indicate that he is preparing decisive actions to push through liberal reforms as his political agenda for the second term? Or is it just flowery rhetoric that will not be backed by decisive actions?
 Read more 
09.03.11 Russia’s Street Dwellers
By Svetlana Kononova
The Mayor of the Siberian city of Chita Anatoly Michalev has suggested shooting the homeless in order to solve problems associated with them. “Unfortunately, we don’t have a license to shoot the homeless, and now there are no other ways to get rid of them,” he said, adding that vagrancy should be made into a criminal offence again, as it was in the Soviet Union. Read more 
03.03.11 Kremlin Cribs
By Andrew Roth
“Putin’s palace,” as it has affectionately become known in the Russian press, has been sold for $350 million dollars to a pair of Russian businessmen, the Kommersant daily reported today. The latest news in the case of the lavish country house indicates a move by the previous owners that will shield themselves, as well as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, from the press and controversy surrounding the complex.
 Read more 
01.03.11 Walmart Fails Where Others Succeed
By Rosemary Griffin
Walmart closed its representative office in Moscow yesterday after failing to crack the Russian market. The decision to pull out came after Walmart missed out on deals to acquire two Russian retailers, Kopeika and Lenta, last year. But why did the world’s largest retailer struggle to make an impact in Russia, and have grocers looking to enter the Russian market today already missed the boat?
 Read more 
28.02.11 The Plight Of Kabardino-Balkaria
Comment by Sergei Markedonov
In September of 2008 my friend and colleague Konstantin Kazenin suggested that I write the foreword to his book. It was tellingly titled “Quiet Conflicts in the North Caucasus: Adygeya, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachayevo-Cherkessia.” Two and a half years ago Kazenin, an experienced journalist and political scientist who has spent much time “working in the field,” compared the relatively stable formations in the western part of Russia’s Caucasus with turbulent formations in the eastern part of the region (Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia). Read more 
24.02.11 Lucky Strike
By Andrew Roth
Major oil and gas companies, including British Petroleum, announced that they would be halting production in Libya this week, as the fate of Muammar Gaddafi's regime faces internal unrest and international censure. European prices on oil have risen over $105, a two-year high, and a wave of instability continues to threaten North African regimes and their coveted gas and oil reserves. Read more 
22.02.11 Free Voina!
By Rosemary Griffin
Anarchist Russian art collective Voina was celebrating this week when a St. Petersburg court ruled that group members Oleg Vorotnikov and Leonid Nikolaev should be released on bail. The pair still face stiff penalties if found guilty of charges of hooliganism and inciting hatred against the police, however, leading some in the artistic community to see their prosecution as part of a broader trend of repression.
 Read more 
21.02.11 The Golden Mean
By Svetlana Kononova
Russia is a country of social contrasts. It has the third highest number of millionaires in the world, after the United States and Germany. At the same time, 80 percent of the population still has a monthly income of less than 25,000 rubles ($860), official statistics show.  Read more 
20.02.11 Paying For Promises
By Tai Adelaja
For all his eagerness to reclaim the Kremlin in the first round, winning the election may turn out to be the easy part for presidential hopeful Vladimir Putin. After the March 4 elections, Putin will face an equally challenging task of tempering his campaign promises with fiscal reality on the ground. The hard part, economists say, is paying for his pre-election promises, which experts say could require an extra $200 billion which the Russian government does not have.  Read more 
18.02.11 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Moscow Picking A Territorial Fight With Japan
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Tensions are flaring up between Russia and Japan due to a long-running territorial dispute over the South Kuril Islands. Japan’s Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara flew to Moscow on Friday following provocative statements made on both sides. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov began talks with Maehara by describing the government-sponsored rally in Tokyo on Monday, at which top Japanese officials demanded that Russia return the islands it seized at the end of World War II as "unacceptable." Read more 
17.02.11 A Humble Servant
By Andrew Roth
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin is assuming yet another of his predecessor’s duties as he steps into the role of the head of the ruling United Russia party’s Moscow branch. Sobyanin, who was offered the position on Tuesday by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, accepted it, but did not say whether he will also appear on the party list in the parliamentary elections set for December. Read more 
16.02.11 From The Urals To The Kurils
By Andrew Roth
For the past several weeks, a steady stream of tense rhetoric over the remote South Kuril Islands has put Russian-Japanese relations on center stage in Russia’s mainstream media. Last week Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan called President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to the islands last November an “unforgiveable offense,” and Japanese protestors in Tokyo publicly desecrated a Russian flag. Read more 
15.02.11 Dangerous Appeal
By Tom Balmforth
A Russian opposition leader says he is concerned for the safety of the court aide who alleged yesterday that Judge Viktor Danilkin was forced to find oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev guilty. Natalya Vasilyeva, an aide to judge Danilkin who sentenced the former owner of oil giant Yukos to 14 years in prison, claims that Danilkin was ordered to condemn the pair and was given a pre-written verdict to read out. Read more 
14.02.11 Policing The State
By Svetlana Kononova
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has officially signed the new law “On Police,” which will take effect on March 1. The law had previously been approved by the Russian State Duma. Skeptics say that the new law simply renames the “militsia” into the “police” without actually reforming the law enforcement agencies, which have a very bad reputation in the country. Read more 
11.02.11 The Color Of Egypt’s Revolution
By Andrew Roth
As popular uprisings continue in Tunisia and Egypt, politicians and analysts have become sentimental, dredging up memories of the Color Revolutions and attempting to cull predictions from a decade’s experience of unrest spanning from Eastern Europe to Central Asia. Read more 
10.02.11 My School, Art School
By Elena Rubinova
For the last two weeks of January one of Russia’s secondary schools, located in a residential area in southwestern Moscow, was turned into an exhibition venue showcasing works by 58 young and established artists. The project, called "Residential District. School ?109. Read more 
09.02.11 Russia Is Closed
By Tom Balmforth
In an apparent roundabout turn, possibly done to limit damage to the ties with Britain, Russia’s Foreign Ministry has said that British journalist Luke Harding can return to Russia if he gets his papers in order, despite being barred entry by the secret services.  Read more 
09.02.11 Can’t Beat It? Hack It!
By Dan Peleschuk
A month before the March 4 presidential elections, the heat has been turned up in Russian new media. In recent weeks activists and participants on both sides of the fence have embarked on an all-out character assault through sensationalist reporting, phone tapping and hacking e-mail accounts. The incidents, among other things, reveal that Kremlin supporters are equally eager to utilize new media to discredit the growing opposition movement. Yet observers note that such tactics most often miss the mark.
 Read more 
08.02.11 Palatial Denial
By Tom Balmforth
A top Kremlin official has dismissed speculation in the Russian mass media that the ruling tandem has over two dozen lavish palaces and dachas, and that they have new ones under construction. Sergei Kolesnikov, a disenfranchised former business partner of people close to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, fired up media speculation on the tandem’s extravagant retreats with a December open letter to President Dmitry Medvedev, alleging that his mentor is building a $1 billion palace at Praskoveyevka on the shores of the Black Sea.

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07.02.11 Privatization Bonanza
By Tai Adelaja
Russia's much-vaunted "Second Privatization Program" is set to kick off on Monday with initial public offerings of state-owned assets in the banking sector. The government plans to sell a ten percent stake in VTB Group, the country’s second largest lender, in the first step of a two-stage privatization program. The government could make as much as one trillion rubles ($34 billion) from selling stakes in ten state assets by 2013.  Read more 
04.02.11 Can Moscow Prevail In The War On Domestic Terror?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Moscow was shocked on January 24 by a suicide bombing at the Domodedovo Airport, the city’s largest and busiest airport and a major hub for international airlines. The blast took 36 lives and sent more than a hundred wounded to Moscow’s emergency rooms. What could be the real political implications of the Domodedovo bombing?  Read more 
03.02.11 Sberbank Debuts
By Tai Adelaja
Russia's biggest bank, Sberbank, has reportedly signed an agreement that could see the state-owned bank swallow up Russia’s second largest investment bank, Troika Dialog, as it tries to dabble in the investment banking business. Sberbank has agreed to buy Troika Dialog for $1.25 billion, the Vedomosti business daily reported on Wednesday, citing sources familiar with the deal.  Read more 
02.02.11 An Apposite Response
Comment by Sergei Markedonov
At the end of January 2011, Russia again hit headlines across the world. The reason? A terrorist attack on Russia’s largest transport hub, Domodedovo Airport. But to what extent is the new wave of discussion about the terrorist threat in Russia justified? And if it is, what should be done about the unchecked growth of political violence in the country?

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01.02.11 Treading Egypt’s Shifting Sands
By Tom Balmforth
Russia is facing the quandary of backing either Egypt’s opposition rallies or supporting long-time partner President Hosni Mubarak. But Moscow’s discreet official reaction to unrest is also due to its lack of sway in the situation and its own disquiet about unrest at home, say analysts.
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31.01.11 An Elusive Resilience
Comment by Oksana Antonenko
Last Monday’s bombing at Domodedovo – a major international airport in Moscow – is the latest reminder of Russia’s vulnerability in the face of terrorist threats. Despite recent efforts to target the leaders of militant groups waging terrorist campaigns across Russia and President Dmitry Medvedev’s initiative to address the root causes of violence in the North Caucasus, the scale of the terrorist threat has not diminished.
 Read more 
28.01.11 Are There Lessons To Be Learned For Russia From The Events In Tunisia?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
The last week’s events in Tunisia, during which President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, in power for 23 years, fled from the first popular uprising in an Arab country, have been closely watched in the Arab world. But they have also sparked debate and speculation in Russia on whether there could be lessons from Tunisia for Russia’s ruling tandem and the Russian opposition. Read more 
27.01.11 Ten Reasons To Love Russia
By Tai Adelaja
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev tried to woo world economic leaders in Davos on Wednesday by boasting of significant improvements in economic conditions under his watch. “Major changes have taken place in Russian society and the Russian economy,” Medvedev told delegates at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. Read more 
19.01.11 Skirting The Creed
By Tom Balmforth
The Russian Orthodox official, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, believes that Russia should adhere to a nationwide dress code and that scantily dressed Russian women would be better off binning their mini-skirts and scrubbing off their lipstick. Russian men in cities should also toss aside T-shirts and shorts, unless of course they are tramps who are to be pitied. Read more 
18.01.11 Is The Consumer Nation Retreating?
By Tai Adelaja
Long known for their lack of thriftiness and impulse buying, post-Soviet Russian consumers are showing less inclination to spend, as falling real incomes weigh heavily on consumer confidence, a new Consumer Survey published on Monday by Credit Suisse Research Institute shows.  Read more 
17.01.11 Energy Addiction Relapse
By Graham Stack
For a sober explanation of the strategic alliance between Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft and the multinational energy major BP, announced at a surprise press conference in London on January 14, one can turn to an unlikely quarter – Nikolai Patrushev, the former long-term head of the FSB and now the chairman of Russia's Security Council. Read more 
16.01.11 Kiev’s Gas Dilemma
By Tai Adelaja
Assuming it could, Ukraine would like to turn its back on Russian gas imports and instead opt for coal for its energy requirements, as Kiev's negotiation with Moscow over gas price reduction appeared to be heading nowhere. In the latest sign of Kiev's increasing frustration with Moscow over a controversial 2009 gas contract, Ukrainian Prime Minister Azarov said Friday that considering his country's dire energy situation, developing coal-fired power plants is more profitable than relying on natural gas. Read more 
14.01.11 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: What To Do With Belarus?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
The Belarusian presidential election at the end of last year resulted in a predictable victory for the country’s strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko, who, according to official results, won nearly 80 percent of the vote. What was completely unexpected, however, was the Belarusian government’s harsh crackdown on its political opponents in the aftermath of the vote, resulting in the arrest of more than 1,000 people, including at least six presidential candidates.
 Read more 
13.01.11 Putting The Bout Into Khodorkovsky
By Graham Stack
Lee Wolosky had a great end to 2010. The man who in 2000 launched the international hunt for notorious arms trader, “Merchant of Death” Viktor Bout, saw his target finally extradited to stand trial in the United States, on charges of terrorism and arms trafficking. Bout now faces up to 25 years in jail in the United States.
 Read more 
12.01.11 Cyber Tyranny
By Rose Griffin
Evgeny Morozov is a Belarusian born blogger, journalist and author. He released his first book, the Net Delusion on January 4 this year. In it he challenges the notion that the Internet and associated technologies will fuel the collapse of authoritarian regimes and aid the spread of democracy around the world. Read more 
11.01.11 Mavrodi’s Second Coming
By Tai Adelaja
Russia's top swindler Sergei Mavrodi, who masterminded the country’s most notorious pyramid scheme that bilked millions of Russians out of their life savings in the 1990s, said he would be back in business on Tuesday, with a new financial offering targeted at get-rich-quick investors.  Read more 
28.12.10 Tastes Like Chicken
By Tai Adelaja
The Russian government issued a decree on Monday to formally slash its frozen poultry import quotas by more than 40 percent, ending a long period of squabbling and back-room negotiations involving major meat exporting countries such as the United States.  Read more 
27.12.10 Triumphant Justice, Take Two
By Tom Balmforth
The drawn-out second trial of former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev – seen as a gauge of President Dmitry Medvedev’s commitment to the rule of law – reached its anticipated conclusion on Monday afternoon, while the West enjoyed Christmas. Read more 
24.12.10 Are The Moscow Riots Symptoms Of Larger Political Trouble?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Moscow has seen its worst week of ethnic tensions in decades, culminating in mass rioting by soccer fans and Russian nationalists in central Moscow just yards away from the Red Square. Longstanding tensions between ethnic Russian nationalists and minorities from the North Caucasus had escalated after the fatal shooting of a Moscow soccer fan during a street fight earlier this month with members of an ethnic Caucasus group. Read more 
23.12.10 Litmus Treaty
By Tom Balmforth
Russia and the United States are on the cusp of a major and tangible breakthrough in relations, after the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) was ratified in the U.S. Senate yesterday, with the State Duma poised to reciprocate. Key for both Moscow and Washington, albeit for different reasons, the treaty is a long-coming foreign policy triumph for President Barack Obama. Read more 
21.12.10 Grief Tourism
By Andrew Roth
Chernobyl has had a difficult reception in the tourism business. Taunting slogans, such as “Visit Chernobyl, Ukraine’s Top Nuclear Wasteland,” were ubiquitous on popular news blogs last week. They appeared after an announcement by Ukrainian officials that formal tours would be offered to visitors to the so-called “exclusion zone,” the area that surrounds the site of the Chernobyl power plant, starting in 2011. Read more 
20.12.10 Trust Nobody
By Svetlana Kononova
The Soviet system allowed citizens to shirk their responsibilities in return for dependence on the state. But two decades after the collapse of the system, Russian citizens are reluctant to trust each other, readily willing to cheat each other and skeptical of everyone apart from their closest relatives. Read more 
17.12.10 The Significance Of Khodorkovsky’s Second Trial
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
On December 27 Moscow District Judge Alexander Danilkin will start delivering a verdict in the second trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, two former principal shareholders in the now extinct Yukos Oil Company, once Russia’s largest oil producer.  Read more 
15.12.10 Dead Wood
By Rose Griffin
Environmental activists seem to have finally lost their battle to prevent construction of a controversial highway through the Khimki Forest. A government commission led by Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov confirmed on Tuesday that building will go ahead. The decision is the latest twist in a tale which has seen allegations of corruption spur large-scale protests, as well as attacks on activists and journalists linked to the project. Read more 
14.12.10 Walmart Takes A Breather
By Tai Adelaja
The world’s largest retailer Walmart Stores announced on Monday that it would close down its Moscow office, which opened last year, after failed attempts to enter the booming Russian retail market by clinching attractive acquisition deals. However, the American retailer’s temporary hiatus may be a ploy by the company to buy time to regain its strength and sort out its financial resources, overstretched this year after a number of mergers and acquisition deals, analysts say. Read more 
13.12.10 Fanning Racism
By Tom Balmforth
Over sixty nationalists and football hooligans were arrested on Saturday in clashes with Interior Ministry troops near the Kremlin walls, after thousands gathered on Manezh Square to demand an investigation into the alleged murder of a Spartak FC fan by a migrant from Kabardino-Balkaria. Read more 
10.12.10 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: A New Arms Race?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
In his State of the Nation Address last week Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev warned of what might happen if cooperation between Russia and NATO on missile defense did not succeed. Using language that harked back to the good old days of the Soviet Union, he said that a new nuclear arms race might ensue, and Russia would have to respond militarily to counter NATO’s missile defense capabilities.  Read more 
09.12.10 No Cloak, No Dagger
By Tom Balmforth
An alleged Russian sleeper agent working officially as an aide to a UK member of Parliament was arrested a week ago, but is now being charged with infringing immigration law. The turn of events can only mean there is no hard evidence against her, but her deportation is still being sought, which suggests MI5 still suspects her guilt.  Read more 
07.12.10 Shuvalov’s Bidding
By Tom Balmforth
FIFA President Sepp Blatter got up a lot of noses on Thursday when he unexpectedly handed the 2018 and 2022 Football World Cups to Russia and Qatar, while both nations delighted in what the world’s biggest sporting event could do for them. Read more 
02.12.10 The Art Of War
Interview by Rose Griffin
Russian guerilla art group Voina (War) have caused controversy over the last two years with a number of shocking and often grotesque actions aimed at the Russian establishment. But the group suffered a setback this month, when two members were charged over a protest against the police that took place in St. Petersburg in September. Read more 
30.11.10 An American Nightmare
By Tai Adelaja
The latest release from whistle blowing Web site WikiLeaks has not been the bombshell that many feared it would be in Russia, although some of the exchanges between American diplomats about Russia are unflattering enough to send shivers down the authors’ spines.  Read more 
25.11.10 Street Politics
By Andrew Roth
The dust has settled after government officials wiped over 2,000 carts and kiosks from Moscow’s streets in a whirlwind campaign during the first two weeks of November. Amid concerns over lack of due process, an oversight by the city government has further angered small business owners and organizations: no official order was given by the city government to undertake the massive campaign to close the kiosks. Read more 
24.11.10 Tiger Balm
By Rose Griffin
The St. Petersburg declaration on Tiger Conservation was signed by the heads of 13 tiger range countries (those where tigers have or have had a presence) on Tuesday. Pledging to double the number of wild tigers in the world by 2022, the declaration marked the biggest international effort to save a single species to date. Read more 
23.11.10 Fighting Capital Flight
By Tai Adelaja
Hard-hit by the double whammy of a sudden decline in capital inflow and a recent spike in capital outflow, the Russian Finance Ministry is planning to classify some import-export operations as “money laundering.” According to information posted on its Web site last week, the Finance Ministry is seeking to amend the country’s foreign trade regulations by imposing stricter controls on some aspects of the country’s foreign trade in order to stem soaring capital flight. Read more 
22.11.10 Cold War Hangover
By Svetlana Kononova
Most Russians are not interested in cooperation with such powerful international organizations as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a recent poll conducted by the independent Levada Center found. They believe that the WTO and NATO pursue goals that go against Russia’s interests. Read more 
18.11.10 Arms Secret Dealer
By Tom Balmforth
Alleged arms dealer Viktor Bout pleaded not guilty on Thursday and claimed that the Americans tried to coerce him into making a full confession on his flight from Thailand to New York, as Russia continues to fume over its citizen’s extradition. Moscow claims that Bangkok broke international law by handing over Bout to the Americans, who exerted political pressure on the Thais. Read more 
16.11.10 Futuristic Russia
By Tai Adelaja
The next generation of Russians may one day wake up in a new geopolitical formation, if efforts by state officials and policymakers to redraw the map of Russia are successful. Under a new project that seeks to alter the country's territorial and urban development setup, Russians will no longer live in 83 regions, but in 20 metropolitan areas clustered around major cities, where resources are concentrated, the Vedomosti business daily reported on Tuesday, citing an official document in its possession.
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13.11.10 A Spooky Economy
By Tai Adelaja
According to the Bloomberg Global Poll published on Friday, only ten percent of foreign investors are ready to put their money into the Russian economy. The report, which surveyed 1,030 investors, analysts and traders, found that foreign investors are looking more to emerging markets such as China, Brazil and India than to developed countries for investment opportunities.  Read more 
12.11.10 Will Obama's Electoral Defeat Disrupt The Reset With Russia?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
The Russian political class cringed last Wednesday morning on learning that U.S. President Barack Obama had suffered a humiliating political defeat in the mid-term elections, losing Democrat control in the House and barely hanging onto a razor-thin Democrat majority in the Senate.  Read more 
08.11.10 A Blow To The Head
By Tom Balmforth
A disturbing 90-second video clip depicting Saturday’s brutal assault on Oleg Kashin, a prolific but controversial Russian journalist, has contributed to such public outcry in Russia that the country’s president himself has ordered a swift investigation into the beating. Read more 
03.11.10 Archipelago Electioneering
By Tom Balmforth
President Dmitry Medvedev’s trip to the all-but-forgotten Kuril Islands in the Pacific Ocean, has stirred up a diplomatic debacle between Russia and Japan ahead of a key economic summit involving the two trade partners. It is hard to imagine Medvedev went to 8000 populous island of Kunashir to shore up his electorate, but it is also hard to see his gesture as anything but a provocation to Tokyo. Read more 
02.11.10 Micromanaging Skolkovo
By Tai Adelaja
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer upped the ante for his company's hi-tech rivals in Russia on Monday by spearheading a raft of initiatives designed to further entrench the software giant's foothold in the country. During his one-day stopover in Moscow Ballmer signed a memorandum of understanding with the Skolkovo Fund to establish a research and development center at Skolkovo, which would help shore up President Dmitry Medvedev’s pet project and give a fillip to Russian technology start-ups. Read more 
01.11.10 Meeting Halfway
By Tom Balmforth
Sunday’s more or less peaceful protest in central Moscow on the whole ended well for both the hundreds of moderate oppositionists as well as the hundreds of police sent to contain them. The thorn in the side for both was the radical opposition that staged a parallel, unsanctioned rally on the fringes. Read more 
29.10.10 Is Moscow Losing The War On Terror In The Caucasus?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Last week three armed terrorists stormed the Chechen Republic’s Parliament in Grozny and blew themselves up, just as members of Parliament were gathering for a regular legislative session. Three people died in the attack, which, ironically, coincided with a visit to Grozny by Russia’s Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev, who described the Chechen capital as a safe city. Read more 
28.10.10 On The Source
By Tom Balmforth
A Russian secret services expert on Tuesday warned WikiLeaks that the “right team” of people could simply shut down the whistleblower Web site forever, but denied that WikiLeaks poses a threat to Russia after its founder revealed that Russia is next on its hit list.  Read more 
25.10.10 Memories Of Newsweek
By Svetlana Kononova
Last week the German publishing house Axel Springer announced the closure of Newsweek Russia, a Russian-language magazine which had been licensed from Newsweek since 2004. This is just one of many instances of independent media disappearing in the country, but experts believe that the reasons behind the shutdown were for the most part financial, and not political.
 Read more 
22.10.10 Is Russia Engineering A Regime Change In Minsk?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
The Kremlin’s relations with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, also known as the “last dictator of Europe,” appear to have reached the point of no return. On October 3, president Dmitry Medvedev recorded a video message to the Russian and Belarusian people, in which he made it clear that the Kremlin no longer views Lukashenko as Russia’s strategic partner and for all intents and purposes wants “regime change” in Minsk.  Read more 
21.10.10 Cooking Up A Crisis
By Tai Adelaja
A new banking crisis looms right around the corner in Russia, as domestic banks perpetuate the practice of issuing huge loans only to their core customers and big companies, Moody's international rating agency said in a report on Wednesday. Russian banks have traditionally favored well-heeled corporate clients, such as large industrial groups, in their lending practices, Moody’s analysts said in the report. Read more 
20.10.10 After A Fashion
By Rose Griffin
Moscow has built up a reputation as one of Europe’s most glamorous cities, and boasts a wealth of luxury stores selling the world’s most exclusive brands. Research and consulting firm PMR estimated Russia’s clothing, footwear and accessories (CFA) market to be worth 1.525 billion rubles ($48.1 billion) in 2009. But this spending power and thirst for luxury has yet to translate into demand for home-grown fashion talent.  Read more 
19.10.10 Rebranding Russia
By Tai Adelaja
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made renewed efforts on Monday to persuade foreign investors that Russia has changed and is creating congenial business conditions for those who wish to explore the Russian market and promote their own goods and services.  Read more 
18.10.10 The New Sheriff In Town
By Tom Balmforth
President Dmitry Medvedev’s appointment of Sergei Sobyanin as mayor of Moscow on Friday is one of the final plays in the ouster of Yuri Luzhkov, orchestrated by a Kremlin seeking to get its man into City Hall ahead of two key elections starting late next year.  Read more 
15.10.10 Is Yanukovich Adopting The Putin Model?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
On October 1 Ukraine’s Constitutional Court, in a highly controversial ruling, annulled the constitutional amendments passed in 2004 in the heat of the Orange revolution. The amendments of 2004 (the so-called Public Law 2222) transformed Ukraine into a parliamentary-presidential republic with a strong Parliament and a strong prime minister, while limiting the powers of the president.  Read more 
13.10.10 Same Hammer, Same Anvil
By Tom Balmforth
The new Chairman of the President’s Human Rights Council Mikhail Fedotov yesterday pledged to concentrate on de-Stalinization in his new job, after President Dmitry Medvedev appointed him the surprise successor to Ella Pamfilova, who resigned in July.  Read more 
12.10.10 Farewell, Tobacco
By Svetlana Kononova
The Russian government has approved a national anti-smoking program that prohibits smoking in public places. Moreover, any advertising of tobacco products might be fully banned in the country by 2012. But will these new anti-smoking measures really work in Russia, where nearly one in three people smoke?  Read more 
12.10.10 With Love From California
By Tai Adelaja
President Dmitry Medvedev could benefit from the best sales pitch so far for his flagship innovation project after California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday urged American investors to grab the unique business opportunities that modern Russia presents. In the rare celebrity endorsement of his modernization efforts to date, the former Hollywood star likened Medvedev’s Russia to a gold or diamond mine that is beckoning foreign investors to simply “go in there and get it.”  Read more 
08.10.10 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: A Quid Pro Quo Reset
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
On October 1, Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama reached the final deal on the terms of Russia’s accession to the WTO. A week earlier, on September 20, president Medvedev signed a decree that banned the sale of advanced Russian weaponry, including the S-300 air defense missile systems, to Iran.  Read more 
07.10.10 The Bell Tolls For Batka?
By Tom Balmforth
President Dmitry Medvedev on Sunday fired the latest salvo in Russia’s character assassination of President Alexander Lukashenko, with Belarus’ presidential elections looming in under three months. Despite the swagger in his step after ousting Yuri Luzhkov from his Moscow fiefdom, Medvedev cut more the figure of a disappointed schoolmaster lecturing Lukashenko in Sunday’s video address, filmed in a gloomy Kremlin office. Read more 
05.10.10 Public Offering
By Tai Adelaja
Up to 113 companies from Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and other CIS countries have announced plans for an IPO since January, according to the IPO-tracker report published by The PBN Company on Monday. It seems Russian firms still harbor plans to flood the domestic and international markets with bonds and share placements after a cash drought during the country's first recession in a decade. Read more 
04.10.10 Check, Mate
By Roland Oliphant
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov’s reinstatement as president of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) gives the eccentric Kalmyk president the retirement he has been dreaming of. Former chess world champion Anatoly Karpov, defeated decisively by Ilyumzhinov at the vote in Khanty-Mansiisk, is licking his wounds and considering whether to accept his rival’s gracious offer of the position of vice president. Regardless, he has vowed to continue to fight to restore and transform the chess world. Read more 
01.10.10 Will A Russian DARPA Help Modernize Russia?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
President Dmitry Medvedev said last week that he wants the Defense Ministry to create a unified research agency, similar to the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) created by the U.S. Defense Department in 1958 to ensure American technological superiority in weapons systems. Read more 
30.09.10 Trust But Verify
By Tai Adelaja
Russian state officials have been busy drafting legislation that could pose critical challenges to realizing President Dmitry Medvedev's vision of creating robust institutions that will attract foreign investors to Russia, a Russian newspaper reported on Thursday. But regulators insist the move is motivated by concern for the economy rather than a fear of outsiders. Read more 
29.09.10 Luzhkov – The Legend
By Roland Oliphant
Whether or not Yuri Luzhkov leaves this week or in the coming months, there is no doubt that his departure will mark the end of an era. As the only mayor Moscow has really known since the fall of the Soviet Union – his predecessor Gavriil Popov only served for one year, from June 1991 to June 1992 – Luzkov’s name is synonymous with the modern city.  Read more 
28.09.10 Gone For Good?
By Roland Oliphant
This morning Muscovites woke up to dramatic news: President Dmitry Medvedev had fired Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov with immediate effect. While First Deputy Mayor Vladimir Resin takes the reins of the capital in Luzhkov’s place, Muscovites and political analysts are wondering who is big enough to step into the shoes of one of Russia’s political big beasts.  Read more 
27.09.10 Hotelier Maneuvers
By Svetlana Kononova
The construction of one of the largest hotels in Russia is being planned for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Olympstroy, the state agency responsible for Olympic construction, has reported. Investment in the project will come from the AST Group, which belongs to Telman Ismailov, the former owner of Moscow's Cherkizovsky Market and one of Russia’s most extravagant oligarchs. Read more 
24.09.10 Will Moscow’s Mayor Be Fired?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
The pressure is mounting on President Dmitry Medvedev to fire Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who for reasons known only to himself decided to engage in public polemics with the Kremlin and has even sought to drive a wedge between Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Read more 
23.09.10 Arctic Thaw
By Roland Oliphant
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told this week’s International Arctic Forum in Moscow that the center of Cold War confrontation at the top of the world now exemplifies international cooperation and peaceful partnership. Meanwhile, environmentalists are hoping that he will stand by his pledges to develop the Arctic region sustainably and carefully. Read more 
22.09.10 Membership Blues
By Tom Balmforth
Negotiators for Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) finally returned to the table yesterday after talks were thrown into confusion over a year ago, when Moscow said it would join as part of a Customs Union. Nonetheless, substantial developments in Russia’s tired 17-year-old WTO bid look unlikely, say analysts, and not only because of sticking points such as veto-wielding Georgia’s objection to the bid.  Read more 
21.09.10 Lame-duck Contender
By Tai Adelaja
The Kremlin’s efforts to turn Moscow into an international financial center that can compete head-on against other global financial hubs have once again suffered a set back. International financial services professionals continue to give the project the cold shoulder and consistently rate Moscow’s efforts as an ineffectual campaign at best. Read more 
20.09.10 Greener Pastures
By Svetlana Kononova
Most well educated and wealthy Russians would like to emigrate, a poll conducted by the SuperJob.ru online research center found. Seventy-three percent of respondents said that, given the opportunity, they would prefer to live in a foreign country. Read more 
17.09.10 What Kind Of Democracy Is Russia?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev rebuffed accusations of democratic backsliding last Friday and dismissed concerns that the Russian government was becoming more oppressive, ITAR-TASS reported. "Those who say that we live under a totalitarian system are either being insincere or have a lousy memory," he said at a meeting with political scientists at the Yaroslavl World Political Forum, titled “The Modern State: Standards of Democracy and Criteria of Efficiency.” Read more 
16.09.10 Killing Me Softly
By Tom Balmforth
Microsoft has pledged to provide Russian civil society with free software after Russian law enforcement was alleged to be using a crackdown on software piracy as a pretext for bullying politically out-of-favor NGOs and independent journalists.  Read more 
15.09.10 Medvedev’s Win-Win Diplomacy
By Tai Adelaja
President Dmitry Medvedev headed north to Murmansk on Wednesday to witness a milestone in his continued efforts to achieve geo-political gains following a landmark border deal struck between Russia and Norway, which ended a long-running dispute over their maritime border in the Barents Sea. Read more 
14.09.10 Last Man Standing
By Roland Oliphant
The battle between the Kremlin and Moscow City Hall exploded into the open over the weekend, as federal television channels launched an unprecedented attack on Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov’s good character. Luzhkov come back fighting, promising to sue the television channels that defamed him. Read more 
13.09.10 Private Eye
By Svetlana Kononova
The Tverskoi District Court of Moscow has rejected a defamation suit filed by the pro-Kremlin youth political movement “Nashi” against Ilya Yashin, a leader of the Solidarity opposition group. This development opens a new chapter in the ongoing battle surrounding “kompromat” videos aiming to slander opposition politicians and journalists.  Read more 
10.09.10 Another Attempt To Get Russia Into NATO?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
A new report from a think tank that claims close ties to President Dmitry Medvedev calls for “positive scenarios” in Russia’s relations with NATO, ranging from loose cooperation to full Russian membership of the North Atlantic Alliance.  Read more 
09.09.10 An Ally Lost?
By Roland Oliphant
Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov made a surprise endorsement of the route of the Moscow – St. Petersburg highway through the Khimki forest this week, abandoning an apparent stance of passive opposition. While environmentalists are disappointed at the loss of a potential ally, Kremlin insiders have reportedly hit out at the mayor for trying to drive a wedge between President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Read more 
08.09.10 The Storm Of History
By Andrei Zolotov, Jr.
A storm on Russia’s northwestern Lake Onega began to seriously rock the five-deck riverboat “Kronstadt” last Thursday, just as the boat’s travelling party of some 90 Russia experts from around the world brainstormed whether Russia should move “forward to Asia” or “backward to Europe.”  Read more 
07.09.10 Gained In Translation
By Elena Rubinova
An international congress held in Moscow last week drew over 150 participants from 25 countries, but offered no translation services. Why? Everybody present at this rare gathering had at least two things in common – perfect knowledge of Russian and a genuine love for literature. Read more 
06.09.10 The Day Of Knowledge
By Svetlana Kononova
September 1 has been celebrated as Knowledge Day ever since the Soviet times. The school year traditionally starts in Russia on this day, when 50,000 schools across the country open their doors to millions of pupils. About 200,000 first-graders who started their education last Wednesday will be taught to new standards that entail less project work and fewer creative classes. Read more 
03.09.10 Seeing Trees Behind The Khimki Forest
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
In a move that surprised many in Russia and abroad, President Dmitry Medvedev halted the construction of a federal highway through the ancient oak Khimki forest just outside Moscow, after a prolonged civil campaign by local environmental activists against the road project.  Read more 
02.09.10 Molotovs In Minsk
By Roland Oliphant
Two petrol bombs were hurled into the compound of the Russian Embassy in Minsk on Monday night, destroying a parked car and sparking a panic among the mission’s staff. While the Belarusian Interior Ministry has launched an investigation, Belarusian oppositionists and some close to the Russian government have suggested that it was President Alexander Lukashenko who “sent the boys round” to give the Russians a message. Read more 
01.09.10 Blighty 31
By Tom Balmforth
Russian anti-government protests took place in London for the first time on Tuesday, when dozens of Russian emigres gathered outside the Russian embassy in Western London and chanted for freedom. Back in their homeland, over a hundred Russians were detained in the various country-wide “Strategy 31” rallies. Read more 
31.08.10 Worthy Nickels
By Tai Adelaja
In the quicksand world of Russian business, the high-profile spat between billionaires Vladimir Potanin and Oleg Deripaska – two of Russia’s best known oligarchs – is threatening to invite a state takeover of Norilsk Nickel, at a time when the Kremlin is struggling to reduce the state’s excessive role in the economy.
 Read more 
30.08.10 Childfree At A Price
By Svetlana Kononova
A recent poll conducted by the independent Levada Center found that 73 percent of Russians do not plan to have children in the next two to three years, and 11 percent said that they do not want children at all. At the same time, 20 percent of respondents support the idea of imposing a tax on childlessness. Read more 
27.08.10 Will Police Reform Result In Name Change Only?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev continues his high-profile political campaign to fundamentally reform the Russian police force. In early August the president unveiled his much-anticipated bill to reform the Interior Ministry and proposed to replace its Soviet-era name "militsia" with the tsarist-era "police." Read more 
26.08.10 Troubleshooting Bureaucracy
By Tai Adelaja
Can a foreign investor ever navigate Russia’s labyrinthine business landscape without being caught up in a cobweb of bureaucracy? Well, the Kremlin thinks it has the answer. In a move that is both bold and bullish, the Russian government has granted new powers to the Investment Policy Department of the Ministry of Economic Development to tackle various problems facing business investors, an acknowledgement that doing business in this country can sometimes be nerve-racking if not impossible. Read more 
25.08.10 Twisted Pistol
By Roland Oliphant
The decision by a Thai court to allow the extradition to the United States of suspected arms dealer Victor Bout has raised a storm of protest in Moscow, which has called the decision “unjust” and “political.” That in turn has raised speculation in the Western press that the former Red army translator and air freight tycoon knows things the Russians don’t want made public. Read more 
24.08.10 Autumnal Discontent
By Roland Oliphant
As the blazing summer of 2010 crashes in a premature autumn, politicians are adding up the likely impact at the ballot box in October’s regional elections, with United Russia said to be changing tactics to cope with a popularity deficit.  Read more 
23.08.10 Gone With The Heat
By Svetlana Kononova
The heat wave that hit Russia in mid-June and lasted for more than two months has finally passed. Russians are now enjoying refreshingly chilly weather, while analysts count the economical consequences of the environmental disaster.  Read more 
20.08.10 Will Forest Fires Change Russia’s Climate Policy?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
The unprecedented forest and peat bog fires this summer have caused massive disruption, resulted in more than fifty deaths, and shaved perhaps a whole percentage point off Russia's annual GDP growth this year. But could they also cause a change in attitudes to climate change, both among the Russian public and within the Russian political class? Read more 
19.08.10 Shotgun Philanthropy
By Tai Adelaja
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sought help on Monday from some of the country’s business leaders to rebuild communities destroyed by recent wild fires. But analysts criticize the move as an attempt to shift responsibility and extract funds from businesses whose survival depends on state patronage. Read more 
18.08.10 Rogue Espionage
By Tom Balmforth
A Romanian diplomat on Monday became the latest to be embroiled in the frenzy of spy busts this summer when Russian FSB agents accused him of stealing Russian military secrets relating to the rogue Moldovan region of Transdnestr.  Read more 
17.08.10 An Unlikely Hero
By Roland Oliphant
Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov has been blamed for the brutal suppression of opposition protests, sued into silence anyone who dares to suggest his billionaire construction tycoon wife might have benefitted from his position, and has been roundly condemned for vacationing during Moscow’s recent smog crisis. Read more 
16.08.10 Titular Power Vertical
By Tom Balmforth
At the end of last week Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov announced that he would forfeit his title of “president,” and that the five other North Caucasus presidents would be following suit. Analysts cannot agree on whether the Kremlin is pressuring regional heads to shed another vestige of regional autonomy – their own distinctive titles – to further tighten up its coveted “power vertical.” Read more 
13.08.10 Will The Russian Forest Fires Burn The Russian Government?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
With hundreds of forest and peat bog fires in central Russia raging out of control, a third of the nation’s agricultural output destroyed by a severe drought, and Moscow choking in thick smog, the country is in the midst of a national disaster. The overall number of forest and peat bog fires in Russia in the summer of 2010 has reached over 26,500. Read more 
12.08.10 Mocks Populi
By Tom Balmforth
Russian media this week reported record lows in the ruling tandem’s ratings, as the economic crisis continues to resonate and 2010 is marked by a series of disasters. But although the wildfires have cost Russia an estimated $15 billion and left thousands homeless, it seems that the drop in ratings has actually been exaggerated. Read more 
11.08.10 Scanning For Fraud
By Tai Adelaja
It took yet another instance of some state officials lining their own pockets with state funds for President Dmitry Medvedev to direct his outrage at one of Russia’s perennial problems: an irretrievably corrupt bureaucracy. The president, who was vacationing at the Black Sea resort of Sochi, was seen visibly angry after hearing a report that some unscrupulous regional officials had paid thrice or more for medical equipment that should have cost the taxpayers considerably less.  Read more 
10.08.10 Cop Shop Makeover
By Tom Balmforth
The new draft bill to overhaul Russia’s infamously corrupt police force was posted online for public discussion as planned on Saturday, and has since received thousands of comments. Among the proposals, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev wants to rebrand the police force with its tsarist name – “politsiya,” and abolish its now notorious Soviet name of “militsiya.”  Read more 
09.08.10 Breakaway Assurances
By Tai Adelaja
Two years after Russia fought a five-day war to repel Georgia's assault on Tskhinvali, the Kremlin is still struggling to polish its image as the worthy defender of the weak in the breakaway states of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. President Dmitry Medvedev visited Abkhazia on Sunday, his first visit since the pro-Moscow separatist region gained de-facto independence after the 2008 conflict.  Read more 
06.08.10 Are Attacks On Human Rights Activists In Russia Part Of The Power Struggle In The Kremlin?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Ella Pamfilova, who headed the Presidential Council on Human Rights and the Development of Civil Society, quit her job unexpectedly last Friday without giving a reason for her decision. This comes as a blow to President Medvedev who has made developing civil society and protecting citizens’ rights a major theme of his presidency.  Read more 
05.08.10 Gone With The Heat
By Tai Adelaja
The Russian government on Thursday slapped a temporary ban on the export of grain and related agriculture products as sizzling heat and stifling humidity across Russia continue to destroy crops and jeopardize winter grain planting. "I think it is advisable to introduce a temporary ban on the export from Russia of grain and other agriculture products made from grain," Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told a televised government meeting. Read more 
04.08.10 Heady Summer
By Svetlana Kononova
Summer 2010 has become the hottest on record in modern Russian history. The heat wave gripping western and central Russia since mid-June has changed lives dramatically. Temperatures have regularly topped between 35 and 37 degrees Celsius, highs not recorded for such a protracted period in 130 years. The longest past three-week stint of similar heat was registered in 1936. Read more 
03.08.10 The Fourth Generation Gladiators
By Tai Adelaja
President Dmitry Medvedev’s high-profile drive to cut corruption and create a level playing field for technological development and modernization may face its first test later this month when the government announces the names of the lucky winners of the new Long Term Evolution technology licenses (LTE), better know as Fourth Generation or 4G licenses. Read more 
02.08.10 The Infinite Orchard Of Legacy
By Elena Rubinova
It might be too early to discuss the results of the “Year of Anton Chekhov,” which will run till the end of 2010 in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Russia’s divine playwright, but it’s a good moment to have a look at the results of the ninth Chekhov International Theatre Festival, a two month theatre marathon (May 25 to July 30) which closed Russian capital last weekend. Read more 
30.07.10 Moscow’s Media War With Lukashenko
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Earlier this month Russia’s Gazprom-owned NTV aired a two-part documentary called “The Godfather” in which it compared Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to Hitler and Stalin, and accused him of authoritarianism and ordering the murders of his political opponents – an unprecedented move by Russian state-controlled media. Read more 
29.07.10 Sacred Ties
By Dan Peleschuk
During Patriarch Kirill’s visit to Ukraine – the third in a year – he made sure to characterize it as a simple matter of spirituality. But the increasing frequency of his visits, especially in the midst of Moscow-friendly Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich’s election in February, sends signals that spirituality may not be the only priority on Kirill’s Ukrainian agenda. Read more 
28.07.10 Marching Season
By Roland Oliphant
As the summer heats up, so are Russia’s demonstrators. The opposition in the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, which saw a series of mass demonstrations against the regional governor from January to March, is readying to take to the streets again.  Read more 
27.07.10 Khimki Battlefield
By Roland Oliphant
The eco warriors camped out in the Khimki forest just north of Moscow won a fragile and reversible victory yesterday, when the firm building the controversial Moscow to St. Petersburg highway agreed to halt its forest clearing until the legality of the project had been verified.  Read more 
26.07.10 A Harmful Tradition
By Svetlana Kononova
Russian First Lady Svetlana Medvedeva’s Foundation of Social and Cultural Initiatives held a national “Week against Abortions” from July 8 to 15. The initiative brought together health workers, sociologists, psychologists and religious organizations to raise awareness about the dangers of abortion. Read more 
23.07.10 Could Russia’s Foreign Policy Drive Domestic Modernization?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
The bi-annual gathering of all of Russia’s ambassadors abroad at the Foreign Ministry is usually a dull ritual with pompous speeches and that are quickly and justifiably forgotten. But this year President Dmitry Medvedev showed up to make what the Kommersant daily dubbed a “revolutionary” speech, naming the EU and America as Moscow's key partners and telling the assembled diplomats that their main task is the modernization and democratization of Russia. Read more 
22.07.10 Captivating Borrowers
By Tai Adelaja
Foreign automakers keep strengthening their foothold in the Russian auto market by opening affiliated auto loan banks, in a bid to help more Russians finance the cars of their dreams. In a practice that has become a trend in recent years, the banking arms of major foreign automobile companies, such as BMW, Toyota and Peugeot, have established captive banks that specialize in granting loans for purchases of their own brands of cars, usually on more favorable terms than stand-alone banks.  Read more 
21.07.10 Foul Amusement
By Masha Charnay
Last week the legal case of free speech versus the Russian Orthodox Church came to an end when Moscow’s Tagansky District Court convicted two prominent museum curators of “inciting hatred and denigrating human dignity” by staging a controversial art exhibit. Read more 
20.07.10 Systemic Pressure
By Tai Adelaja
Lately, AFK Sistema, billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov’s holding company, has been busy lobbying for some direct and indirect protectionist measures to shield its struggling GLONASS navigation system from its archrival, the American GPS. Read more 
19.07.10 The Last Of A Dying Breed
By Tom Balmforth
This morning the Kremlin oversaw the rapid appointment of Rustem Khamitov to the Bashkortostan Republic regional presidency, only four days after it finally managed to oust the long-serving, now ex-President Murtaza Rakhimov.  Read more 
16.07.10 How Can Russia Disclaim Responsibility For The Soviet Past?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Russia is about to adopt a universal doctrine to disclaim once and for all any moral, legal or financial responsibility for the policies and actions of the Soviet authorities on the territory of the former Soviet republics and the states of Eastern Europe.  Read more 
15.07.10 Voluntary Repatriation
By Tai Adelaja
Facing a dwindling workforce and an economy in need of some quick fixes, the Kremlin has decided to sweeten the policy plan aimed at encouraging Russian speakers residing abroad to resettle in Russia. A new draft document posted on the Web site of the Regional Development Ministry on Wednesday promises ample benefits, including permanent residence permits and six-month unemployment allowance to former Russian citizens willing to tie their fate with those of other compatriots. Read more 
14.07.10 Grown-Up Country
By Elizabeth Shockman
While official statistics look grim for the volunteer movement in Russia, a closer look reveals some reasons for optimism. Studies and observations show that gone are the days of Soviet-era government-enforced labor, or post-Soviet Western-founded, Western-funded charity organizations. Russia’s volunteers and Russian charity organizations are growing in number, scope, and innovation. Read more 
13.07.10 A Long Way To Go
By Tai Adelaja
Russia continues to make timid efforts to combat corruption even as it threatens to derail President Dmitry Medvedev’s modernization program, and experts say it would take at least a decade before such efforts could yield results. Read more 
12.07.10 The Caucasian Rope Walker
Comment by Sergei Markedonov
Hillary Clinton’s short but intense visit to the Southern Caucasus, which took place on June 4 to 5, was being widely discussed in political and expert circles way before it began. Such substantial interest had serious grounds. Read more 
09.07.10 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Could The Spy Scandal Undo The Reset?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
The most dramatic spy scandal in decades culminated in a Cold-War style exchange of prisoners in Vienna on Friday. The swap of the ten Russian agents arrested in the United States for four Western spies held in Russian prisons has been worked out with the speed and clarity that could only have been achieved with directions from the very top. Read more 
08.07.10 Banking On The Capital
By Tai Adelaja
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pressed ahead on Wednesday with plans to turn Moscow into an international financial hub, by formally creating an ad-hoc group to prepare a launch-pad for this ambitious project. By personally promoting the project, president Medvedev was hoping to capitalize on some of the obvious advantages Russia enjoys over other financial centers, including a large economy, an educated workforce, a liberal tax regime and an advantageous geographic position between Europe and Asia.  Read more 
07.07.10 Sweet Dreams
By Tai Adelaja
Even though Russia’s overheated hotel market took a cold shower from the global economic downturn, the country’s hotel business continues to feel the hazy heat of the recession. Summer-time profitability dipped by a third and industry experts predict that the market will continue its downward trend.  Read more 
06.07.10 Here Today, In Office Tomorrow
By Roland Oliphant
The founder of the Nashi youth group last week handed Prime Minister Vladimir Putin a list of the 25,000 most talented people in Russia. The list will not be published. But it seems the people running Russia in 20 years time probably won’t be the most skilled – they will be the ones with the best friends. Read more 
05.07.10 You’ve Got Mail
By Svetlana Kononova
Russia ranks in third place on the list of countries distributing spam, behind the United States and India, a recent report from the Kaspersky Lab found. Up to 80 percent of spam targeted at Internet users in North America and Europe is generated by a group of around 100 professional spam gangs, a statement from The Spamhaus Project, an international NGO tracking the Internet's spam operations, said. Read more 
02.07.10 June 31
Comment by Alexander Arkhangelsky
There are people for whom any kind of authorities are hostile while any kind of opposition is acceptable, no matter who that opposition is made up of. Eduard Limonov? Fine, let it be Limonov. Is he against the Kremlin? Hooray. All of his “nationalist-communoid” slogans and his Trotskyist essence are forgivable.  Read more 
01.07.10 Expensive Diplomacy
By Tai Adelaja
For a nation just barely wriggling out of the worst economic recession in 15 years, a $1 billion arms sales contract may be a tidbit too tempting to ignore. Yet Moscow said in mid-June that it would freeze the delivery of S-300 air-defense systems to Iran, following a new round of UN sanctions imposed on Tehran on June 9, prompting industry experts to question the wisdom of Moscow’s move. Read more 
30.06.10 BP's Russian Roulette
By Tai Adelaja
Taking brief respite from hurricane Alex and the eerie images of brown pelicans mired in oily mud along the Louisiana coast, BP's CEO Tony Hayward arrived in Moscow on Monday for a two-day face-to-face meeting, meant to reassure Russian officials that his company has got what it takes to weather the storm.  Read more 
29.06.10 High-Tech And Vekselburgers
By Irina Aervitz
Last week’s parade of lighthearted episodes surrounding Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Silicon Valley and Washington DC nearly took on the qualities of entertainment rather than foreign policy. Yet behind all the smiles and burgers, Medvedev had a serious agenda – enlisting American help in his declared goal of turning Russia into an innovation economy. But do the opportunities outweigh the risks? Read more 
28.06.10 Travel Without Borders
By Svetlana Kononova
Members of the European Parliament last week approved a resolution for visa-free travel with Russia, continuing the visa debate from the recent EU Summit in Rostov-on-Don. It does not mean Russians will be able to travel to Europe without visas immediately, but brings the solution of this problem closer at least in the long-term. Read more 
25.06.10 Medvedev Promises Change To Believe In?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
President Dmitry Medvedev, delivering a keynote address at the annual economic forum in his home town of St. Petersburg last week, told the world’s business leaders that Russia has already changed for the better and that it is serious about economic reform to secure a boom in foreign investment to modernize its economy.  Read more 
24.06.10 Caucasian Consensus
By Tom Balmforth
A report and resolution condemning Russian policy in the North Caucasus got unanimous backing at the Parliamentary Assembly for the Council of Europe (PACE) on Tuesday and was even approved by top Russian officials. Read more 
23.06.10 Dangerous Defrosting
Comment by Sergei Markedonov
As Kyrgyzstan plunges into chaos and the threat of a second Afghanistan in Central Asia looms large, the situation in the Greater Caucasus seems less pressing. The Russian attempt to “replace the regime” of Mikhail Saakashvili, expected by many in the West, has not taken place. Neither have the attempts from the West (the United States, NATO) and others to “nudge Georgia into a rematch,” which were expected in Moscow. Read more 
22.06.10 Baiting The Endangered Species
By Tai Adelaja
In an off-the-cuff remark last week, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin hinted at increases in the retirement age for Russians, in what experts now say is another government ploy to test the waters before plunging head-on into potentially complex and controversial pension reforms.  Read more 
21.06.10 A Fertile Land
By Svetlana Kononova
The story of Susan Tollefsen, the British teacher who became a mother at 57 after receiving in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment in Russia, has inspired many childless women from the West, and generated a new breed of tourism in the CIS – “fertility tourism.” Read more 
18.06.10 Russia Is Facing A Post Imperial Crisis In Central Asia That It Can’t Ignore
Comment by Igor Torbakov
The ongoing turmoil in the southern region of Kyrgyzstan – the worst violence to hit the country since independence –underscores the rise of instability in strategically located Central Asia. The Kyrgyz crisis also highlights the difficult choice Russia will have to make: whether it should or should not intervene to help settle the flaring conflict. Read more 
17.06.10 Fighting His Corner
By Tai Adelaja
The spat between Gazprom and Belarus entered a new phase on Tuesday, after President Dmitry Medvedev gave Belarus a stark warning to pay off its gas debt or face the consequences. Belarus responded to the veiled threat two days later with vague promises to pay, Valery Golubev, deputy head of Gazprom, said. Read more 
16.06.10 Kyrgyzstan: A Perfect Storm
By Roland Oliphant
After a week of brutal violence in southern Kyrgyzstan, the official death toll in the southern cities of Jalalabad and Osh stands at 187, but is expected to rise. By Wednesday morning the Kyrgyz Health Ministry said that at least 1,870 had been injured.  Read more 
15.06.10 Moving For Earnings
By Svetlana Kononova
The population of Russia could decrease by 20 million people by 2025, leading to a dramatic reduction in the work force, experts say. This means that the country needs to attract between 15 and 35 million foreigners to compensate for the shortage of local workers. Read more 
11.06.10 Will Medvedev Challenge Putin In 2012?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
With presidential elections in Russia less than two years away, opinion polls show that President Dmitry Medvedev is rapidly catching up with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in popularity. Recent polls show a virtual dead heat between them.  Read more 
10.06.10 Back In Business
By Tai Adelaja
Executive recruiters and employment agencies have reported symptoms of modest improvement in the labor market in May, in the latest sign that the nation has finally crawled out of the recession. Evidence of a healthier labor market is reported by all the major staff recruitment agencies, with some predicting accelerated employment growth in the coming months. Read more 
09.06.10 Manipulating Magnitsky
By Tom Balmforth
Oleg Logunov, a department head at the Prosecutor General’s Office, yesterday claimed that Sergei Magnitsky, who died of heart failure in custody last November, had not filed any official complaints about heart trouble, and that he simply died “suddenly.”  Read more 
08.06.10 Cutting Residents Loose
By Tai Adelaja
Is Russia on the threshold of a second revolution? This is the question on many minds as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the author of “managed democracy” and the “power vertical,” puts his weight behind efforts to remove the last vestiges of “propiska” (a citizen’s permanent registration), the Soviet tool for controlling internal migration. Read more 
07.06.10 Facing The Bulldozer
By Roland Oliphant
Activists have dug themselves in at a building site in central Moscow to stop developers from throwing up a housing and office complex next door to an ancient Church in one of Moscow’s oldest and most picturesque districts. The situation deteriorated into open confrontation on Sunday night, when developers sent security guards in to clear the site and begin work. Read more 
04.06.10 A Ticket To Silicon Valley
Comment by Irina Aervitz
As the global economic recession progresses more countries are turning to innovation and technology in the hopes of boosting their global competitiveness and economic growth. In Russia, President Dmitry Medvedev is promoting the idea of a technology park just outside Moscow as “Russia’s Silicon Valley.” Read more 
03.06.10 The Summit
By Tai Adelaja
They came, they ate and they left. Even before the 25th EU-Russia summit kicked off on Monday, there were ominous signs that it would only achieve modest results. The summit agenda was packed with global issues like the financial and economic crises, climate change and energy security.  Read more 
02.06.10 A Bucket Of Fury
By Roland Oliphant
It's been one of the great public phenomena of 2010. In March this year Muscovites appeared to have finally had enough of the high-ranking officials' use of “migalki” – flashing blue lights that allow drivers to ignore ordinary traffic rules. Read more 
01.06.10 Rocking The Boat
By Tom Balmforth
Pockets of opposition protests across Russia were crushed amid arrests and beatings yesterday, despite Prime Minister Vladimir Putin hinting on Saturday that they should be authorized. In the Russian premier’s videoed meeting with the St. Petersburg intelligentsia over the weekend, Russian rock legend Yuri Shevchuk gave Putin an uncharacteristic grilling over freedoms in Russia and asked whether the rallies planned for May 31 would be authorized for the first time in many attempts. Read more 
31.05.10 On The Road To Sobriety
By Svetlana Kononova
The Russian State Duma has approved a new draft law in its first reading that completely prohibits the consumption of alcohol before driving. The new law, initiated by President Dmitry Medvedev, will replace the recent law that permitted people to drive vehicles as long as their blood alcohol concentration did not exceed 0.03 percent. Read more 
28.05.10 Is The Euro Dead And What Does That Mean For Russia?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
With Greece barely saved from a sovereign default by a massive bailout package from the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other euro-zone member states like Portugal, Spain, Ireland and Italy teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, the euro, this marvel of the European integration, is hanging on for its life. Some observers say its days are already numbered. But how will the downturn be felt in Russia, for which the EU is a key export market?  Read more 
27.05.10 Wooing Business Angels
By Tai Adelaja
Even highly-skilled Kremlin spin doctors would have been hard-pressed to sell a product as nebulous as Russian nanotechnology to American venture capitalists, unless President Dmitry Medvedev pitched it himself. Read more 
26.05.10 Grandmaster Flash
By Roland Oliphant
Anatoly Karpov, chess grandmaster, former world champion and diligently a-political public figure, has found himself on a collision course with the Kremlin over the future of world chess. By standing for the Russian nomination for World Chess Federation (FIDE) president he has challenged the incumbent, President of the Republic of Kalmykia Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, and clashed with his ally, the high-ranking Kremlin aide Arkady Dvorkovich.  Read more 
25.05.10 Graced With Gas
By Irina Aervitz
It has been a year since Gazprom signed an agreement with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) forming a 50/50 joint venture, called the Nigaz Energy Company Ltd. Gazprom committed $2.5 billion of investment to Nigaz.  Read more 
24.05.10 For Local Use Only
By Svetlana Kononova
In the middle of May the first Cyrillic Internet address lines using Russia’s own “.??” domain came online. The first Web sites to go live were http://?????????.?? (president.rf) and http://?????????????.?? (government.rf). The innovation is presently one of the most controversial topics under debate in the Russian online community. Read more 
21.05.10 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Russia’s New Foreign Policy Doctrine
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Last week the Russian Newsweek magazine published a leaked Foreign Ministry document, snappily titled the "Program for Effective Utilization of Foreign Political Factors on a Systematic Basis for Purposes of Long-Term Development of the Russian Federation." Read more 
20.05.10 If You Google Me, I Will Yandex You
By Tai Adelaja
As far as Google and Yandex are concerned, the battle for supremacy in Russia’s online advertising market is a grim struggle for the soul of Mother Russia. Or, one can see it as a game of chess – one shrewd move here, another resolute move there – the aim of which is to drive the opponent into a frenzied stalemate. Read more 
19.05.10 Beseeching The Liberal
By Roland Oliphant
Former Yukos CEO and oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky has thrown down yet another gauntlet to the Russian authorities, challenging them to address what he says is the systemic flouting of a high-profile law introduced by President Dmitry Medvedev a month ago. Read more 
18.05.10 Grappling With Soviet Symbolism
By Andrei Zolotov, Jr.
For many Russians, commemorating our nation’s greatest national sacrifice is a question of measure, detail and interpretation. Although it is impossible in our memories and commemorations of World War II to fully escape Soviet symbolism, Russia dealt pretty well with this latest Victory Day anniversary. Read more 
17.05.10 The Final Say
By Roland Oliphant
The battle over 20th century history returned to the headlines on Monday when the European Court of Human Rights upheld the conviction of a former Soviet partisan for war crimes committed in Latvia during the Second World War.  Read more 
14.05.10 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Medvedev Condemns Stalinism
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Last week President Dmitry Medvedev, in a broad interview to the Izvestia daily, condemned Stalin, Stalinism and the Soviet totalitarian regime that suppressed human rights and inflicted immeasurable suffering upon its own people. In what appeared to be the most damning assessment of the Soviet past by a Russian elected leader, Medvedev said the crimes of wartime dictator Joseph Stalin could never be forgiven. Read more 
13.05.10 The End Of Shady Transactions
By Tai Adelaja
The countdown has begun for the inevitable closure of a multitude of standalone currency exchange offices around the country that have for months ignored the Central Bank’s advice to legalize their operations by meshing institutionally with authorized commercial banks. Read more 
12.05.10 Throwing Down The Gauntlet Of Liberalism
By Tom Balmforth
The web of intrigue in Yevgeny Chichvarkin’s case continued to weave in and out of major Russian news scandals yesterday, as he claimed that his former colleague Boris Levin could be the next to die in jail from inadequate medical attention. Read more 
11.05.10 A Restless War
By Svetlana Kononova
On May 9 Russia celebrated Victory Day with the most impressive military parade on Red Square since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The 65th anniversary celebrations involved over 10,000 personnel, 150 tracked and wheeled military vehicles, as well as 127 aircraft. Read more 
07.05.10 Reincarnation Of A Monster
By Xenia Luchenko
My son recently brought a book home from school, which he said he had been assigned to read over the next two weeks. It was called “The Book to Read on the History of Our Homeland,” and was published in 1991. It has stories about the 17th century Cossack rebel Stepan Razin, a section entitled “How Workers Lived and Fought in Pre-Revolutionary Russia,” and an entire chapter called “The First Decrees of the Soviet Government.” Read more 
06.05.10 Foreigners’ Paradise
By Tai Adelaja
Since the “perestroikan” days of Mikhail Gorbachev, modernizing Russia has become a thankless job. But President Dmitry Medvedev has decided to give it another try, even if it means shrugging off approval ratings and rumor mills.  Read more 
05.05.10 Lethal Leverage
By Tom Balmforth
On Friday April 30 Vera Trifonova, the director of a real estate company, died of heart failure in the poorly equipped medical ward of Moscow region’s Matrosskaya Tishina pretrial detention center. Vladimir Zherebenkov, her lawyer, claims that medical treatment was held back as leverage to make his client confess. Read more 
04.05.10 Love’s Limits
By Tai Adelaja
As Mark Twain once said, familiarity breeds contempt and children. This could well sum up the possible economic and political fallout from the newly forged marriage of convenience between Russia and Ukraine. In the last few weeks, Moscow’s new romance with Kiev has produced cheaper gas deals and a lease extension through 2042 for a Russian naval base in the city of Sevastopol in Ukraine's Crimea. Read more 
30.04.10 Does Russia’s Gas-For-Fleet Swap With Ukraine Make Strategic Sense And Will It Stand?
Comment by Vladimir Frolov
Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev made his first official visit to Ukraine last week to sign a landmark agreement with Ukraine’s new President Viktor Yanukovich to extend the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s lease on the port of Sevastopol for another 25 years in exchange for a significant reduction in natural gas prices for Ukraine.  Read more 
29.04.10 Pressing Fears
By Tom Balmforth
Russia’s “extremely repressive” media environment worsened marginally last year, according to a Freedom House report released this evening, but analysts warn there are already signs that Russia’s rating will slump further in 2010. President Dmitry Medvedev has been making the right sounds about press freedoms, but the reality on the ground is somewhat different. Read more 
28.04.10 Rada Rules
By Roland Oliphant
Amid scenes of chaos, the Ukrainian Parliament yesterday ratified an agreement to extend the Russian navy’s lease on the port of Sevastopol until 2042. In exchange, Russia has promised to provide discounted gas to the tune of up to $40 billion over the next decade. It’s good news for the Ukrainian economy, and a political victory for Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich. Read more 
27.04.10 Southern Comfort
By Tom Balmforth
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s trademarks were on full display on his three-day tour of Europe, as he put in an appearance at the European judo championships in Vienna and caught up with his Italian counterpart and good friend Silvio Berlusconi for some signature macho banter.  Read more 
26.04.10 Counting Connections
By Svetlana Kononova
A few weeks ago the Vedomosti business daily announced that Facebook, one of the largest social networking sites in the world, is planning to open a regional office in Moscow. Although Facebook’s press service did not confirm the information, the report has renewed public interest in the competition between social networking sites in Russia.  Read more 
23.04.10 Russian–Polish Strategic Reconciliation?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
The tragic death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski and nearly 100 others as they flew to a commemoration of the Katyn massacre could not have been more loaded with overtures from Russia and Poland’s troubled past. But an outpouring of sympathy from Russian politicians, media and the general public has prompted talk that the two countries might finally bury the hatchet. Read more 
22.04.10 Winged Desires
By Tai Adelaja
After a debilitating slump that saw many airlines grounded for good, the Russian airline industry is reveling in a first-quarter upswing in passenger traffic, the clearest indication yet that the air travel market is slowly healing as the economy improves. However, it appears that Russia’s air travel market is still underdeveloped, and even after the financial crisis has dealt out its blows there are too many airlines competing for too few passengers. Read more 
21.04.10 Spring Cleaning For The Power Vertical
By Tom Balmforth
When President Dmitry Medvedev came to power two years ago, he made the “war against corruption” a cornerstone of his presidency. Last week he bolstered that campaign with a fresh “National Strategy.” Read more 
20.04.10 Vengeful Borrowers
By Tai Adelaja
In the heady days of a resource-fueled spending spree, Russians loved to buy everything – from kitchen utensils to big-ticket items, like cars – on easy-to-get, no-questions-asked consumer credit. Between 2004 and 2008, the volume of individual borrowing rose 12 times to three trillion rubles ($101.8 billion) or nine percent of GDP.  Read more 
19.04.10 A Profitable Patch
By Svetlana Kononova
Moscow’s General Development Plan to 2025, which is likely to be approved by the Moscow City Duma by the end of April, has become the subject of a heated debate. Experts and members of the public have expressed concerns that it could trample on the rights of property owners, lead to a transportation collapse and accelerate the disappearance of historical and architectural heritage from the Russian capital. Read more 
16.04.10 Is Russia Behind Regime Change In Kyrgyzstan?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
As Kyrgyz democratic opposition forces took control of Kyrgyzstan’s government and the nation’s major cities after days of violent mass protests against the corrupt and repressive rule of President Kurmanbek Bakiev, it became clear that the opposition had strong support coming its way from an unlikely source – Moscow.  Read more 
14.04.10 The Best In The Business
By Tai Adelaja
After a devastating global economic crisis that left many businesses either closed or in limbo, business schools around the country are preparing their students for big changes in the post-crisis financial industry. Read more 
13.04.10 Disciples Of The Russian World
Interview by Elena Rubinova
Cultural institutions such as the Goethe Institute, the British Council and the Centre Culturel Fran?ais fulfill the mission of promoting their nations’ language and culture throughout the world. Russia is currently in the process of building such a network, and the 50th Russian Center opened in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk on April 8.  Read more 
12.04.10 Tragic Reconciliation
By Tom Balmforth
On Monday, Russia stood side by side with Poland as it mourns the deaths of its president and ruling elite in a plane crash on Saturday morning. The Polish delegation was making its way to Katyn to commemorate the massacre of Polish officers by Soviet secret police in 1940. Read more 
09.04.10 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: The Right Response To Terrorism
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
The suicide bombings of Moscow’s metro last week sparked an impassioned public debate about how best to deal with domestic terrorism. While some politicians and commentators called for draconian counter measures, including mass-finger printing and the return of the death penalty, other sections of the press fretted that the government might use the attacks to justify a crack-down on civil liberties. Read more 
08.04.10 The Noose Tightens On Raiders
By Tai Adelaja
After much procrastination, there are serious efforts afoot to combat the biggest scourge of business life in Russia: raiders’ attacks. President Dmitry Medvedev began his presidency on an optimistic note in 2008, promising to take on corporate raiders – criminals who force victims to sign over assets with little or no compensation – but experts and industry executives say there has been little or no perceptible change since he first threw down the gauntlet. Read more 
07.04.10 The Trial
By Tom Balmforth
Imprisoned oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky finally took to the stand Tuesday to open his defense against allegations of embezzlement and money laundering, after a year of hearings for the prosecution. The former Yukos manager’s eight year prison sentence is in its sixth year, but if he is found guilty in this second trial he faces another 22 and a half on the inside. Read more 
06.04.10 The Besieged Behemoth Fights Back
By Tai Adelaja
Ill at ease and at a crossroads, the Russian gas behemoth Gazprom has lately been struggling to redefine itself, after being hit by an economic double whammy of a global oversupply of gas and lower demand projections for gas in the near future. Always known as a company of superlatives, Russia's largest corporation once boasted of becoming the world’s first trillion-dollar energy company by market value, but the global economic downturn struck at the very heart of this plan, teaching Gazporm some lessons in humility.  Read more 
05.04.10 Exploding Hatred
By Svetlana Kononova
Russia has recently banned Adolf Hitler’s autobiographical work “Mein Kampf,” joining a number of countries where the “Nazi Bible” is already forbidden. State prosecutors said that a book that describes the concept of “Lebensraum” and paints the Slavic people as inferior beings has “a militaristic outlook and justifies discrimination and destruction of non-Aryan races, reflecting ideas which, when implemented, started World War II.”  Read more 
01.04.10 Fractured Opposition
By Tom Balmforth
Dozens of opposition demonstrators were arrested in Moscow and St. Petersburg in the “Strategy 31” demonstrations yesterday, but many of the event’s usual mainstays boycotted it, instead laying flowers in memory of the victims of Monday’s suicide bombings. Read more 
31.03.10 Navigating Rumorville
By Roland Oliphant
Doku Umarov, the Chechen rebel leader who in February had threatened to bring “the war to Russian homes,” appeared to have claimed responsibility for Monday’s double suicide bombing of Moscow’s Metro system late Wednesday.  Read more 
30.03.10 Building A Debtor’s Paradise
By Tai Adelaja
After eight years of going back and forth, Russian lawmakers appear poised to reshape the country’s bankruptcy code, so that at-risk individual borrowers can get rid of their debts by declaring bankruptcy.  Read more 
29.03.10 The Martyrs’ Brigade
By Tom Balmforth and Roland Oliphant
Two female suicide bombers detonated explosives on Moscow’s packed, rushed-hour metro on Monday morning, claiming at least 37 lives and injuring 66 more. CNN has reported that Chechen separatists have claimed responsibility for the attacks at the Lubyanka and Park Kultury metro stations in central Moscow, and suspicion has fallen on a crack squad of female suicide bombers from Russia’s troubled North Caucasus.  Read more 
26.03.10 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Russia’s Silicon Valley In Skolkovo
President Dmitry Medvedev said last week that Russia's version of the Silicon Valley would be built in the Moscow region town of Skolkovo. The decision bypasses existing techno parks to build a brand new technology town from scratch, in the hope of attracting young, creative scientists who will produce technologies as groundbreaking as the Internet and cell phones.  Read more 
25.03.10 Nuclear Procrastination
By Roland Oliphant
Russia and the United States are promising for the umpteenth time that that they will sign a replacement Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) “soon.” But they’ve been promising the same thing ever since U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Moscow in July last year, and have constantly postponed deadlines.  Read more 
24.03.10 Whose Russia?
By Roland Oliphant
The leader of a group representing Russia’s Tajik migrant laborers wants the long-running comedy show “Nasha Rasha” to be banned for its “racist” depiction of central Asian guest workers. He has threatened to sue the makers of the show under extremism laws.  Read more 
23.03.10 Perestroika Forgotten
Comment by Graham Stack
Twelve days ago, on March 11, this year’s most significant historical anniversary took place, but one wouldn’t have known it by looking at the papers. The 25th anniversary of Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika, which put an end to the Cold War, was met with deafening silence in the global media. Read more 
22.03.10 Connecting Lonely Hearts
By Svetlana Kononova
When the six-month-long Russian winter just seems like it will never come to an end, when a busy city lifestyle leaves little free time away from work, and when it is sometimes easier to keep in touch with friends thousands of kilometers away than with next-door neighbors, millions of Russians turn to their computers to find love.  Read more 
19.03.10 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Medvedev’s Own Political Party?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev is said to have given his blessing to forming a new political party that would specifically promote his modernization agenda and seek to mobilize public support for Medvedev’s reformist policies in the run-up to the Parliamentary elections of 2011 and the presidential elections of 2012. Read more 
18.03.10 Weaning Nanotech
By Tai Adelaja
All things being equal, the Russian State Nanotechnology Corporation, or “Rusnano,” will become the first state-owned company to be de-nationalized and transformed into a joint-stock company. The company’s officials insist, however, that they have not been caught off-guard by the state-imposed transformation. Read more 
17.03.10 Silicon Russia
By Tai Adelaja
President Dmitry Medvedev must be growing pretty impatient with the habitual state of lull in the country’s high-tech sector. Over the past several weeks, he has stressed on no fewer than three occasions the need to “speed up” work on the construction of a planned high technology park.  Read more 
17.03.10 Crude As Usual
By Tom Balmforth
As Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin arrived in Belarus to address the range of setbacks in Russian-Belarusian relations at a Union State summit, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko unexpectedly jetted off on a tour of South America, leaving his weak prime minister to deal with Putin. Read more 
15.03.10 Selective Justice
By Graham Stack
Newly published memoirs by Lord Browne, the former chief executive officer of British Petroleum, cast new light on the Yukos affair just as Yukos shareholders filed a lawsuit for $50 billion against Russia in the European Court of Human Rights.  Read more 
12.03.10 Triumphant Underground
Comment by Shaun Walker
Russians seem to take the Eurovision Song Contest, scheduled to take place in Oslo in late May of this year, extremely seriously indeed. Eurovision is an annual competition held among active member countries of the European Broadcasting Union, where each member country submits a song to be performed on live television and then casts votes for the other countries' songs.  Read more 
10.03.10 The Return Of The Investor
By Svetlana Kononova
Recent data from the Federal State Statistics Service shows that in 2009, foreign investment in Russia dropped by 21 percent to $82 billion. Also, since last year, direct foreign investment has fallen by 41 percent to $16 billion, the federal service reports.  Read more 
09.03.10 CPR On Mortgages
By Tai Adelaja
The past 18 months have been testy times for young Russians looking to purchase a home they could call their own. But come April, the difficult times may be over, as the government starts paying more serious attention to the idea of using Russian taxpayer money to get at the root of the nation’s mortgage problem: the higher-than-average interest rates that scare off potential borrowers. Read more 
05.03.10 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Ukraine’s New President
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Ukraine has just had a successful presidential election, choosing Viktor Yanukovich, the leader of the Party of the Regions, as its fourth president. He has promised to embrace relations with Europe while simultaneously renewing ties with Russia, but it is not clear how he will achieve this goal.  Read more 
04.03.10 Street Justice
By Roland Oliphant
Last Thursday morning a Mercedes carrying LUKoil Vice president Anatoly Barkov collided with a red Citroen C3, killing two respected doctors, 36-year-old Olga Aleksandrina and 72-year-old Vera Sidelnikova, a prominent gynecologist.  Read more 
03.03.10 The Day Of A Woman
By Svetlana Kononova
March 8 is a very special day for every female in Russia. Men on the streets and on the metro carry bouquets of yellow mimosas and colorful tulips, congratulating their mothers, wives and female colleagues. Restaurants, bars and strip clubs are crammed with inebriated women celebrating their holiday. Read more 
02.03.10 Looking Ahead To Sochi
By Roland Oliphant
After the national debacle in Vancouver, the Russian authorities are taking out all the stops to ensure that the Sochi 2014 games are a success. But why is Sochi so important for the ruling elite, and can it turn around its athletes’ fortunes in time for the home performance?
 Read more 
01.03.10 Treasure Mainland
By Svetlana Kononova
In February, the Swedish furniture firm IKEA fired two executive managers in Russia for involvement in a corruption scandal. The managers, one Swedish and the other Swiss, had “looked the other way” when bribes were given by a subcontractor in order to resolve a power supply issue at the MEGA shopping mall in St. Petersburg.  Read more 
27.02.10 Medvedev’s War On Russia’s Police
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
President Dmitry Medvedev has made sweeping police reform into a crucial element of his political agenda, seeking to transform and rebuild one of the most corrupt and ineffective of Russia’s public institutions. Medvedev has waged a fully-fledged war on corruption in Russia’s Interior Ministry over the past year.  Read more 
26.02.10 Scaling Mount Olympus
By Tom Balmforth
As Vancouver 2010 comes to a close, it will be a worried Russian delegation that is officially handed the Olympic standard in preparation for the Sochi 2014 Winter Games on Sunday. Russians will want to avoid a repeat of this year’s feeble haul of medals on home ground in 2014. Read more 
24.02.10 Facing The Firing Squad
By Roland Oliphant
Russia’s Interior Ministry has never been particularly popular. Visitors to the country have long been warned by their hosts to beware of police shake-downs and bogus document checks. But the ministry had an especially bad 2009.  Read more 
19.02.10 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Should Modernization Be Imposed?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Last week, President Dmitry Medvedev called on the leaders of big business to contribute to the modernization of the economy. Medvedev asked Russia’s business leaders to come up with a list of specific innovation projects involving cutting-edge technologies that would open new markets for Russian-made high-tech products.  Read more 
17.02.10 The Villain Of The Villa
By Roland Oliphant
It has been almost a month since police turned residents out of their homes in the middle of the night and the bulldozers moved in to flatten the “illegal” community of Rechnik in the West of Moscow.  Read more 
16.02.10 Pulp Fiction
By Tom Balmforth
To all appearances, it was victory for Baikal’s jobseekers and bitter defeat for its ecologists, as
officials said the Baikalsk Paper and Pulp Mill would be back on line by the end of February, once again dumping waste into the pristine waters of Lake Baikal. Read more 
15.02.10 Unforgettable Hospitality
By Svetlana Kononova
Are you rich? Do you like adrenaline highs? Would you like to experience something you’ve never done before? Then enjoy special service “Russian style.” Welcome to the overpriced Moscow hotel. Read more 
12.02.10 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Back To The Future
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
The Institute for Contemporary Development, a Russian think tank that claims to speak for President Dmitry Medvedev (he chairs the Institute’s Board of Directors, while his loyal aide Arkady Dvorkovich sits on the Board), released a report last week that paints a picture of Russia’s political future under a successful modernization program launched by Medvedev.  Read more 
09.02.10 Et Tu, Brute?
By Tom Balmforth
As the United States unveiled plans to install missile interceptors in Romania to shield Europe from an alleged Iranian missile threat, Moscow’s suspicions became palpable. A little more than a fortnight ago Washington agreed to deploy Patriot missiles in Poland, only 100 kilometers from Russia’s border at Kaliningrad.  Read more 
08.02.10 The Closest Of Calls
By Roland Oliphant
Last night’s exit polls told a consistent story – Viktor Yanukovich seemed to have won a narrow but clear victory of between three and five percent of the vote. But as the actual votes were counted, the real gap turned out to be much smaller – at the time of writing, Yanukovich has only a less than three percent lead.  Read more 
05.02.10 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: A Year After The US-Russia Reset
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
It has now been a year since the U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden announced a reset in United States-Russia relations, and six months since President Barack Obama’s visit to Moscow. It is time to take stock of whether the much touted reset is working, or whether it is in danger of being gradually set back. Read more 
04.02.10 Somewhere Over The Rainbow
By Roland Oliphant
A think-tank close to President Dmitry Medvedev has released a report recommending a radical overhaul of Russia’s political system, including a return to gubernatorial elections, the disbanding of the Federal Security Service and the Interior Ministry, and Russia’s accession to NATO and the European Union. Read more 
03.02.10 Kaliningrad Rising
By Roland Oliphant
The horror of Kaliningrad is its Baltic temperatures. But that didn’t stop some 10,000 people from showing up for a rally to protest a hike in transportation tax and import duties. Organized by an unlikely alliance of opposition parties ranging from the Communist Party (KPRF) to the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) and the pro-democracy Solidarnost movement, the protest was the largest in Russia in the past ten years.  Read more 
02.02.10 The Russians Are Buying
By Svetlana Kononova
Since the early 1990s, buying property abroad has been a popular way for wealthy Russians to invest money and build bridges to a safe and comfortable life in Western countries. This trend has long been associated with members of high-society such as oligarchs, high-ranking officials and celebrities.  Read more 
01.02.10 Parlez-Vous Francais?
By Elena Rubinova
The year 2010 will have special significance for the relationship between Russia and France. This year has been officially named as the year of Russia in France and the year of France in Russia. Some 400 events dedicated to culture, trade, industry, science and space research, education and sport will take place in both countries.  Read more 
29.01.10 Ukraine’s Presidential Election – Oranges Turned Lemons
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
On January 17 Ukrainian voters delivered a stunning verdict to the five years of the Orange Revolution of 2004 and Victor Yushchenko’s failed presidency by giving a commanding lead in the first round of the presidential election to Viktor Yanukovich, leader of the Party of Regions, and Yushchenko’s opponent in 2004.  Read more 
28.01.10 Catch Me If You Can
By Tom Balmforth
Racist and neo-Nazi attacks in Russia “clearly decreased” in 2009, but the scale of xenophobic violence remains “frightening,” according to a report released yesterday by Russia’s Sova Center.  Read more 
26.01.10 Patriot Games
By Tom Balmforth
As the United States last week agreed to station Patriot missiles in Poland only 100 kilometers from Russian soil in order to bolster Polish air defense, the international community braced itself for a return to hostile U.S.-Russian relations.  Read more 
25.01.10 Money For The Needy?
By Svetlana Kononova
The Russian State Duma has approved a new bill in its first reading that proposes implementing more support for non-governmental organizations. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s initiative could mark the beginning of a thaw in the political climate in Russia. But some critics doubt that the new proposals will really work.  Read more 
22.01.10 Is Putin Sabotaging Medvedev’s Initiatives?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
It has recently been suggested that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin acts as the biggest spoiler of President Dmitry Medvedev’s foreign policy initiatives (see David Kramer, “Putin is Medvedev’s Biggest Spoiler”, Moscow Times, January 13, 2010). Read more 
21.01.10 Hacks VS Coppers
By Tom Balmforth
After a RIA Novosti photographer was yesterday charged with participating in an unsanctioned demonstration that he said he was covering, almost thirty chief editors from Russia’s top media outlets rushed to his support. They appealed the ruling in an open letter to the interior minister, condemning the case as “unjust.” Read more 
20.01.10 A Human Shield
By Roland Oliphant
Dmitry Medvedev’s creation of a new Federal District for the North Caucasus is a sign of how seriously the Kremlin takes the growing violence in the region. His choice of representative – Krasnoyarsk governor Alexander Khloponin – signifies his new strategy: sending in relatively specialist experts with no connection to the local elites, and, above all, delegating the North Caucasian headache to someone else.  Read more 
19.01.10 Rights From Wrongs
By Tom Balmforth
As activists take to the streets of central Moscow to mark the one-year anniversary of the murder of human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Barburova on January 19, there are small signs that the Kremlin is taking human rights more seriously. Read more 
18.01.10 New Junk For Old Junk
Starting March 8, the government will ask Russians who own old foreign-made vehicles to exchange them for a certificate worth 50,000 rubles (approximately $1,700), good for purchasing a new Russian car or a foreign model that is produced domestically. Read more 
15.01.10 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Medvedev’s Pivotal Year
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Two thousand and ten will be a pivotal year for Dmitry Medvedev’s presidency: it ushers in the final lap of his first term in office, when the first tangible results of his presidential agenda need to be put on public display. He can rightly point to some advances. Read more 
14.01.10 Testing The Waters
By Tom Balmforth
The two prime ministers’ meeting in Ankara yesterday resulted in a flurry of promises on energy cooperation between Russia and Turkey, signaling that the countries are getting closer in their partnership. Afterward, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said that Moscow would soon get the go-ahead to build a section of the South Stream gas pipeline on Turkish territory. Read more 
12.01.10 Political Suicide
By Tom Balmforth
The incidence of terrorist attacks in Dagestan has spiked in the new year, with only a month to go until the term of Dagestan’s incumbent president Mukhu Aliyev expires. On January 8 Russia’s top political brass came out with some tough rhetoric, demanding tangible results in the counter-terrorism operation in the North Caucasus.  Read more 
11.01.10 Doom Or Boom For Russian Museums?
By Svetlana Kononova
In December 2009, in the village of Peredelkino, the Bulat Okudzhava Museum, named after a famous Russian poet and singer-songwriter, faced closure due to a lack of funding. In the end, the problem was resolved by the museum’s director Olga Okudzhava, who turned to the Russian Ministry of Culture and other governmental departments for help.  Read more 
29.12.09 Back In Small Business?
By Rose Griffin
The Russian government is implementing a range of anti-crisis measures designed to help the economy. But when can small and medium enterprises (SMEs) expect to reap the benefits of this support? SMEs account for 20 percent of Russia’s GDP, but despite their cry for help, the government has often focused on larger enterprises.  Read more 
28.12.09 The Decade In Trends
By Svetlana Kononova
The current decade that began on January 1, 2000 and that will end in a few days is said by many critics to have been an unexciting time for Russians, a time of stagnation characterized by its dearth of fresh ideas. This point of view, however, is contentious. Read more 
25.12.09 Gaidar’s True Place In Russia’s History
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Yegor Gaidar, the father of Russia’s market reforms, died last week of heart failure at the age of 53. He was, by any measure, one of the most controversial figures in Russian history. For supporters, he saved the country from civil war and put Russia on the path to democracy.  Read more 
24.12.09 The Principle's End Of Year Report
By Tom Balmforth
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s nationally televised roundup of 2009 today managed to touch on all the big themes and events of the year, but the breadth of the interview came at the expense of detail.  Read more 
23.12.09 Monumental PR
By Tom Balmforth
The Russian-Georgian relations were brought back into the spotlight last week when a Soviet memorial to Second World War veterans was demolished in Georgia to make way for a new parliament building.  Read more 
22.12.09 New Year Gas Special
By Graham Stack
Conspiracy theorists rejoice: as Eastern Europe shivers under a sudden bout of extreme cold and heavy snow, they point to “threats” made by Gazprom Head Alexei Miller in early October that in 2009 and 2010 winter would come earlier and colder than usual. Read more 
21.12.09 Global Warning
By Roland Oliphant
“The results were modest,” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said of the climate summit in Copenhagen. And that was putting it kindly. Whatever one’s reading of the past two weeks’ wrangling, it is hard to qualify them as success. For the Komersant daily, it ended in “complete failure.”  Read more 
18.12.09 United States And Russia Heading Toward A New START Treaty
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
The United States and Russia are likely to sign a new strategic nuclear arms reduction treaty perhaps as early as next week, to replace the 18-year-old START I treaty, signed by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1991.  Read more 
17.12.09 From The South Pacific To The South Caucasus
By Roland Oliphant
Nauru, a Pacific island nation of just 11,000 people, this week became the fourth country to recognize the independence of the break-away Georgian provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  Read more 
15.12.09 Educated Exiles
By Svetlana Kononova
Studying abroad has been popular among Russians ever since Peter the Great opened his “window to Europe.” And even though the revolution of 1917 put a stop to the tradition for several long decades, as soon as the Iron Curtain fell, Western schools and universities again began to accept students from Russia and former Soviet republics. Read more 
11.12.09 Russia’s New European Security Pact
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Last week, the Kremlin published its draft of the European Security Treaty, first proposed in June 2008 as President Dmitry Medvedev’s first major foreign policy initiative. Moscow has been criticized for offering few specifics of this proposal, and thus failed to move its European partners toward a meaningful discussion of its initiative.  Read more 
09.12.09 Witness For The Prosecution
By Roland Oliphant
On December 1 the International Court of Justice in the Hague began hearing a legal challenge brought by Serbia against Kosovo’s declaration of independence.  Read more 
08.12.09 Ideologically Quenched Steel
By Svetlana Kononova
Last Friday, the famous Soviet-era sculpture “Worker and Kolkhoz Woman” was returned to its historical pedestal at the All-Russia Exhibition Center in Moscow. A solemn reopening ceremony finished off the five-year-long restoration period. It is expected that the statue won’t need any more restoration work for the next 100 years. Read more 
07.12.09 Alarming Fire
Comment by Andrei Zolotov-Jr.
On this national day of mourning we grieve for those who died in the horrible fire at a nightclub in the city of Perm on Friday night, where the death toll has reached 113 people and growing. Dozens of people remain in critical condition in hospitals around the country after fireworks triggered a fire that quickly engulfed the club decorated with dry bamboo. Read more 
04.12.09 Can “Conservatism” Breed Modernization?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
At its latest congress in St. Petersburg, the United Russia Party proclaimed “Russian conservatism” as its official guiding ideology, while President Dmitry Medvedev urged the party to “modernize” in order to remain relevant to the president’s modernization agenda. Read more 
03.12.09 A Wish List For Santa Putin
According to one analyst, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was like “Father Christmas dishing out presents” during his question-and-answer session on December 3, making a raft of promises and pledges to anxious callers. Reviving Russia’s single-industry cities and combating terrorism were the main topics at the four-hour phone-in session, as Putin tried to calm a nation shaken by the economic crisis and the Nevsky Express bombing last week.  Read more 
02.12.09 An Old Grudge Revived
By Roland Oliphant
The ruling by an ad-hoc arbitration tribunal in the Hague on Monday, stating that Russia is bound by the European Energy Charter Treaty, opened the way for Yukos shareholders to sue the Russian government over the state’s takeover of the once-powerful oil company. Read more 
01.12.09 The Ever-Elusive Million-Dollar Mullet
By Tom Balmforth
British courts on December 1 postponed their decision on extraditing London-based telecoms tycoon, Yevgeny Chichvarkin, to Russia until August next year. Chichvarkin argues he is the victim of trumped-up charges.  Read more 
30.11.09 Blood On The Tracks
By Roland Oliphant
The attack on the Neva Express has traumatized the nation. Coverage of the incident has dominated news coverage for the past three days. President Dmitry Medvedev has issued his own statement of condolences to the families of the injured and killed.  Read more 
26.11.09 Russia’s Stake In Ukrainian Elections
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Last week, Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met his Ukrainian counterpart and candidate in the upcoming presidential election Yulia Timoshenko, ostensibly to discuss gas issues. He ended up giving Timoshenko broad political endorsement as a Ukrainian leader Russia can do business with. Read more 
25.11.09 Backed Into A Corner
By Roland Oliphant
For over two years, Russia has had an $800 million contract with Iran to deliver the S-300 anti-aircraft missile, a particularly fearsome piece of equipment that Iran – and its enemies – believe could tip the balance in defending its nuclear facilities from a potential (probably Israeli) pre-emptive airstrike. Read more 
24.11.09 One Step Back, Two Steps Forward
By Tom Balmforth
On November 19, the likelihood of a gas conflict between Ukraine and Russia at the end of this year appeared to have been significantly reduced after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made a key concession on gas trade at a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Tymoshenko in Yalta.  Read more 
23.11.09 Dead For A Cause
By Roland Oliphant
Anti-Fascists marched in central Moscow on Sunday in memory of Ivan Khutorskoy, a leader of the informal Antifa movement who was murdered last Monday. Khutorskoy’s death came just weeks after the arrest of two alleged neo-Nazis for the murder of lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Natalia Baburova last January. Just how dangerous have Russia’s fascists become, and what happens next?
 Read more 
20.11.09 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: The State Of Medvedev’s Nation
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev delivered another lofty message last week, speaking for a record one hour and forty minutes during his second State of the Nation Address. Medvedev reiterated the scathing analysis of Russia’s problems and the country’s failure to modernize during the past decades, which he first outlined in his “Go Russia!” article published online two months ago.  Read more 
19.11.09 Grafting The Future
By Tom Balmforth
Sponsors of President Dmitry Medvedev’s anti-corruption campaign have little to celebrate a year after its launch, since on November 17 Transparency International (TI) reported next to no improvement in Russia’s endemic corruption problem.  Read more 
18.11.09 Understanding Insurgency
On November 11 President Dmitry Medvedev made his annual State of the Nation Address to the Federation Council. But if a year ago, the head of the Russian state focused on the challenges of foreign policy, this year the central theme of his speech was internal politics. Read more 
18.11.09 Understanding Insurgency
Comment by Sergei Markedonov
On November 11 President Dmitry Medvedev made his annual State of the Nation Address to the Federation Council. But if a year ago, the head of the Russian state focused on the challenges of foreign policy, this year the central theme of his speech was internal politics. Read more 
17.11.09 A Russian To Marry
By Svetlana Kononova
A recent poll has dispelled the stereotype of the Russian mail order bride after finding only a small percentage of Russian women interested in marrying a foreigner. However, dating agencies dispute the claim that the popularity of foreign husbands is falling, and say that the number of Russian women seeking marriage abroad has grown since the financial crisis set in. Read more 
16.11.09 Stalin’s Many Funerals
Comment by Dmitry Babich
Russia’s attitude toward Stalinism is rightly perceived not merely as an internal issue, but as a matter of interest for all the nations that suffered from this evil. However, the United States, the EU countries and the Western community at large have taken a simplified view this problem. Read more 
13.11.09 20 Years After The Fall Of The Berlin Wall
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
World leaders gathered in Berlin this week to praise the fall of the Berlin Wall as the event that united Germany, freed Eastern Europe and ended the Cold War. But seen from the vantage point of the past two decades, have the hopes surrounding the events of 1989 born fruit?  Read more 
12.11.09 More Influential Than Oprah Winfrey?
By Tom Balmforth
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev issued another call for Russia’s modernization in his State of the Nation Address on November 12, but critics say the speech lacked practical substance. Read more 
11.11.09 A Matter Of Principle
By Roland Oliphant
In the summer of 1999 Vadim Chuganov was drafted into the army. In the spring of 2000 he was killed in one of the most disastrous (and celebrated) battles of the second Chechen war.  Read more 
10.11.09 Masked Danger
By Tom Balmforth
A month ahead of schedule, the first phase of the nationwide A/H1N1 vaccination program kicked off in Russia on November 9, amidst “epidemic” levels of flu. As the swine flu panic escalates, so do the prices of anti-viral drugs, both those meant to help cure and prevent infection.  Read more 
09.11.09 Petitioning The Tsar
By Roland Oliphant
A Krasnodar Region police officer made headlines over the weekend when he posted an online video appealing to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to tackle endemic corruption, poor working conditions and abusive superiors in the police. Read more 
06.11.09 Will Russia Bring Back Capital Punishment?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Russia’s Supreme Court has filed a petition with the country’s Constitutional Court asking for a ruling on whether Russia should continue with its self-imposed moratorium on capital punishment. Russia has maintained a moratorium on capital punishment since 1999, when the Constitutional Court ruled that the death penalty should be suspended until trials by an independent jury become available in every region of Russia. Read more 
05.11.09 Electing Autonomy
Comment by Sergei Markedonov
Abkhazia has started preparing for the main political event of 2009 – the presidential elections. November 2 was the deadline to nominate candidates for the main governmental post of this partially-recognized republic.  Read more 
03.11.09 Repudiated Personality
Blog by Andrei Zolotov, Jr.
The Russian President Dmitry Medvedev lambasted Josef Stalin’s regime of terror in his video blog on October 30, distancing himself from the recent efforts some Russians have undertaken to gloss over the crimes committed by the Soviet dictator.  Read more 
02.11.09 Kiss And Make Up
Blog by Andrei Zolotov, Jr.
When David Miliband arrived in Moscow yesterday, his visit was heralded by both sides as an opportunity to “reset” relations. Borrowing a phrase from their relations with the United States, the Russians have heralded the visit as an opportunity to “reset” relations with Britain. But the British seem just a little more standoffish.  Read more 
30.10.09 Will “Modernization” Meet The Fate Of “Perestroika”?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
President Dmitry Medvedev has decided to make “modernization” his platform for re-election in 2012. Medvedev is investing a tremendous amount of political capital in promoting a vision of Russia as an innovation-driven economy, where knowledge, intellect and desire for experimentation create more wealth for ordinary Russians than the hydrocarbon and metal exports that enrich a handful of oligarchs today.  Read more 
29.10.09 So Much For Preventive Care
By Tom Balmforth
Russia’s campaign against the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic relies too heavily on treating sufferers and lacks effective preventive measures to stop the spread, experts said on October 29 at an international AIDS conference held in Moscow. Out of the million people thought to be living with HIV here in Russia, it is estimated that two thirds were infected through drug use. Read more 
28.10.09 In The Name Of Dignity
By Roland Oliphant
The pro-Kremlin youth movement Nashi filed a lawsuit against four European newspapers last Friday, over coverage of the organization’s picketing of Alexander Podrabinek, a human rights activist and journalist who published an attack on the reputation of Soviet war veterans last month. Read more 
27.10.09 Rivals In Conciliation
By Tom Balmforth
As the presidential electoral race kicked off in Ukraine last week, both frontrunners pledged to revive severed ties with Moscow. While Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko promised a new phase of “equal and honorable” relations with the Kremlin in her opening speech on October 24, Party of the Regions leader Viktor Yanukovich said that renewing “a fully-fledged partnership with Russia” was his foreign policy priority. Read more 
26.10.09 Will Work For Paychecks
By Svetlana Kononova
Despite the heavy blow that the recent economic downturn has dealt to Russia’s job market, the latest signs are those of recovery, analysts say. The number of available vacancies is slowly growing, and salaries in some segments of the job market are on the rise.
 Read more 
23.10.09 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: A Stolen Election In Moscow?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Last Sunday, voters went to the polls in 75 out of 83 Russian regions to elect local and regional governments, including the Moscow City Duma, the legislative council of Russia’s largest and richest city of over ten million people. The elections resulted in a major scandal that shook the lethargic political landscape of modern Russia. Read more 
22.10.09 Balancing The Books
By Roland Oliphant
As the nights draw in and Russians turn up their collars against the looming threat of winter, the country’s rulers turn once again to the task of drafting the budget for the coming year. Yesterday the State Duma overwhelmingly approved the first reading of Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin’s federal budget for 2010, effectively signing off on deficit spending funded by the first foreign borrowing in a decade.  Read more 
21.10.09 Flirting With The WTO
By Tom Balmforth
On October 15 in Geneva, delegations from Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan announced their intention to bid to join the World Trade Organization separately, scrapping plans to accede together as a customs union. After Russia proclaimed in June that it would seek WTO membership as part of a customs union, a complicated process which has never been done before, it was widely understood that Moscow had put its accession to the trade club on the backburner. Read more 
20.10.09 An American Dream For Sale
By Irina Aervitz
In the United States, the EB-5 preference immigration program is a way to obtain a green card by investing in the U.S. economy. Plenty of affluent individuals covet permanent residence in the United States enough to relocate their capital and their families, not only from countries with unstable political and economic regimes but also from developed economies like the UK and South Korea.  Read more 
19.10.09 Gone With The Crunch
By Svetlana Kononova
The financial crisis has had a profound impact on Russians’ lifestyle. Previously known as a high-spending hedonist, the average Russian consumer has slashed his spending on luxuries and even on basic items such as food. And although businessmen are seeing green shoots of recovery, analysts warn that the new austerity is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
 Read more 
16.10.09 Does Medvedev Deserve A Nobel Prize?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
It is a pity that President Dmitry Medvedev will not share the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 with U.S. President Barack Obama. He may be no less deserving of it than Obama, possibly for changing the tone and direction of international politics. Are his foreign policy accomplishments on a par with Obama’s? Is he perceived outside of Russia as a transformational world leader?  Read more 
15.10.09 Expectations Management
By Roland Oliphant
It was good to see Hillary Clinton in Moscow this week, if only because she missed out on her president’s supposedly groundbreaking visit in July of this year. But despite warm words on either side, the “reset” of U.S.-Russian relations is struggling to make the transition from rhetoric to action.
 Read more 
14.10.09 Olympic Victims
By Svetlana Kononova
Winning the right to host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi was a triumph for Russia, and in preparation the authorities are pushing ahead with large-scale building projects to create the crown jewel of Russia’s sports complexes. But ecologists and local residents are unhappy with the construction of the Olympic transport infrastructure. Read more 
13.10.09 Another Blow To Russian Democracy
By Roland Oliphant
Sunday’s local elections were one of unmitigated triumph for United Russia. From Moscow, where the ruling party consolidated its already overwhelming representation in the City Duma (going from 29 to 32 of the 35 seats in the assembly), to Derbent, the second-largest city in Dagestan, where the muscular support of the republic’s president helped the embattled incumbent Mayor Felix Kaziakhmedov see off a challenge from former republican Chief Prosecutor Imam Yaraliyev, United Russia reigned supreme.  Read more 
12.10.09 Now, Where Were We?
By Graham Stack
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s last visit to China, when he attended the opening of the Beijing Olympics in August of 2008, went badly wrong when Georgia used the occasion to opportunistically attack South Ossetia, and the resulting war damaged relations between Russia and the West.  Read more 
09.10.09 Is Iran Pushing Russia Closer To The West?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Iran’s disclosure of a secret uranium enrichment facility at Qom, which it had never before revealed to the International Atomic Energy Agency (as it was obligated to do), has clearly forced the Russian leadership into a more cooperative stance with the West on new UN sanctions against Iran. Is President Dmitry Medvedev’s indication that Russia will consider supporting tougher sanctions just a forced gesture to account for Iran’s continued cheating on its NPT obligations, or is it a more far-reaching move toward more sustained engagement with the United States on global issues?
 Read more 
08.10.09 A Palpable Dose Of Art
By Elena Rubinova
On September 24 Jean-Hubert Martin, a prominent French museum director and curator of the third Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, along with Joseph Backstein, its commissioner, officially launched the main exhibition project, entitled “Against exclusion,” in the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture (GCCC). The opening kicked off an event that promises to turn Moscow into a vibrant art scene for more than a month.  Read more 
06.10.09 Wanted: New Ministers For Ingushetia
By Roland Oliphant
In a surprise move yesterday afternoon, the Ingush President Yunnus-bek Yevkurov fired his entire cabinet. He blamed the ministers themselves for ineffectual work, the failure to meet deadlines and endemic corruption. But the Ingush president has been hinting at a reshuffle at least since he returned to work in late August.  Read more 
05.10.09 The Menacing Gas-Scraper
By Svetlana Kononova
St. Petersburg, the hometown of both Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev, has turned into a battleground ever since a positive decision was made on the construction of the Okhta Center. The 396-meter-tall skyscraper, to be owned by Gazprom, has divided the Russian society in two: opponents of the project plan to organize protests while its supporters point to the potential benefits that the new business center could bring.  Read more 
02.10.09 Will Putin And Medvedev Both Run In 2012?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
The Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin launched a fierce presidential battle for 2012 more than two years ahead of schedule, by saying that he and the current President Dmitry Medvedev would “figure it out between ourselves which of us would run in 2012. Read more 
01.10.09 Painting In Shades Of Grey
By Roland Oliphant
The long-awaited European Union commissioned report on the causes of the war on Georgia last year held few surprises. Most of the findings, which were originally due to be released in July, had been leaked well before the report was officially submitted this week. Read more 
30.09.09 Reading East To West
By Rosemary Griffin
The Russian publishing industry has been going through some turbulent times, with one high-profile bankruptcy and fears of more to follow. But despite the growing impact of the financial crisis, it’s not all bad news.  Read more 
29.09.09 In Pursuit Of Honor
Blog by Andrei Zolotov, Jr.
When Oleg Orlov, the director of the human rights group Memorial, publically blamed the Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov for the murder of Natalia Estemirova, he was not voicing a particularly outlandish opinion. Read more 
28.09.09 Europe’s Natural Partner
By Graham Stack
If, as is likely, Germany’s September 27 national elections result in a new governing coalition between incumbent chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the small liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), the planned phase-out of nuclear power in Germany will be slowed indefinitely, ostensibly to reduce dependency on Russian gas. Read more 
25.09.09 A Breakthrough On Missile Defense?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
U.S. President Barack Obama made the inevitable decision last week to cancel George Bush administration’s plans to deploy strategic missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic, which was warmly welcomed by Moscow. But will Obama’s move be enough to truly reload the U.S.-Russian relations? Read more 
24.09.09 False Economic Hopes
By Graham Stack
Rumors of imminent economic growth may be exaggerated by dubious inventory statistics. A chorus of analysts is attributing Russia’s ten percent GDP contraction this year to companies selling inventories rather than producing, and is gung ho about growth restarting as soon as inventories empty. Read more 
23.09.09 Medvedev’s Sober Thoughts
By Svetlana Kononova
President Dmitry Medvedev has launched the first anti-alcohol campaign in Russia since Mikhail Gorbachev’s time. The president’s official Web site, Kremlin.ru, has published a list of measures aimed at decreasing alcohol consumption in Russia, meant to help counter the threat of a national disaster posed by growing alcoholism in the country. Nowadays, this campaign has become one of the most controversial topics under debate in the Russian society. Read more 
22.09.09 Mimicking Democracy
By Dmitry Babich
The Russian president Dmitry Medvedev’s interview to CNN provided one more clue to the most intriguing puzzle in Russian politics in the last two years – to what extent will the Russian president follow through with his pronounced strategy of democratizing the Russian society? Read more 
21.09.09 Ships, Chips And Automobiles
By Graham Stack
As of late, Germany has been opening its doors to Kremlin–linked companies looking for technologies in automotive manufacturing, shipbuilding, and microchip production. But while the current German election campaign entails that any investors promising to save jobs are welcomed, this new openness could also point to an economic, European dimension to the renowned “reset” in Russian-American relations.  Read more 
18.09.09 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Medvedev’s Appeal To The Nation
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
President Dmitry Medvedev went online last week to make a dramatic appeal to the Russian people for their support for his modernization agenda. Medvedev posted a broad-ranging piece in a number of online publications where, in a poignantly emotional style, he outlined his vision for the country’s future. Read more 
17.09.09 Quid Pro Quo?
By Roland Oliphant
With very carefully chosen words, U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday announced his administration’s decision to change U.S. missile defense policy. Instead of building a land-based anti-ICBM system in Central Europe, a sea-and-land-based system designed to counter short and medium-range missiles will be positioned further south, closer to Iran. Read more 
16.09.09 The Theatre Of Discussion
By Albina Kovalyova
Russia holds an important place in the history of world theatre. Great playwrights and theoreticians like Anton Chekhov and Konstantin Stanislavsky have been studied in nearly all corners of the world. Yet despite this great theatrical tradition, little is known about Russia's new and innovative playwrights and directors. Read more 
15.09.09 Thinking Outside The Box
Comment by Ethan Burger
In recent years, the Russian foreign policy establishment has frequently confounded Western observers by what many view as remarkably counter-productive actions. It often seems that the Kremlin regularly pursues myopic policies without regard for their consequences. Read more 
14.09.09 Russians: Addicted To Oil, Addicted To Liquor
By Graham Stack
As the ongoing crisis descended on Russia in the last quarter of 2008, its most blatant manifestation, twinned with the stock market collapse, was the plummeting oil price, falling from a record-breaking $145 to a low point of $35 a barrel. Back then it seemed that collapsing oil prices would trip Russia up as catastrophically as they did in 1998.  Read more 
11.09.09 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: A New War In The Caucasus?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
It has now become hard to deny that there is a relapse of terrorist activity in the Caucasus, particularly in Ingushetia and Dagestan, threatening to unravel the stability and calm that has emerged in this war-ravaged region in the last couple of years. What is the Kremlin to do?  Read more 
24.08.09 Whose Is The Truth?
By Roland Oliphant
The disaster at the Sayano-Sushenskaya hydro-electric plant in Siberia and the near-simultaneous suicide bombing of a police station in the troubled Caucasian republic of Ingushetia last Tuesday brought back memories of the terrible accidents and terrorist attacks that blighted the early years of this decade.  Read more 
19.08.09 The Future Of An Enclave
By Ben Judah
A full year since Russia and Georgia fought a short but violent war over the control of South Ossetia the futures of both South Ossetia and Abkhazia are taking shape. The Abkhaz elites are optimistic about their territory becoming a Russian tourist hub and an oil producer—confident of its long-term viability, Sukhumi is forging discreet ties with Turkey. Read more 
17.08.09 Separated At Birth
Comment by Andreas Umland and Ingmar Bredies
The last few years’ developments in the former Soviet Union fascinated the specialist and puzzled the layman: why have Europe’s two largest countries, Ukraine and Russia, developed in such different ways? Despite these nations’ similar Eastern Slavic Orthodox cultures and intertwined histories, Russia has returned to authoritarianism, while Ukraine is still on the bumpy road toward democracy.  Read more 
13.08.09 Central Asia Carpe Diem
Comment by Oksana Antonenko
As the United States and Russia make the opening of the Northern Supply Route through Central Asia into Afghanistan into a symbol of the “reset” in bilateral relations, Central Asian states are keen to take advantage of the newly availably opportunity to assert their interests.  Read more 
10.08.09 Reflecting On The Tragedy
By Dmitry Babich
As Russia commemorates the first anniversary of its short-lived war with Georgia, the press, the expert community and politicians are all asking the same questions: what were the war’s real casualties? Was the war inevitable? Could Russia, Georgia and the international community have behaved differently, and thus avoided the tragedy?  Read more 
27.07.09 Skype Out
By Roland Oliphant
One of Russia’s most powerful business lobbies has sparked controversy with a call for the government to introduce regulations for Voice over Internet (VoIP) telephony services like Skype. The industrialists, representing Russia’s primary telecoms companies, say they stand to lose business to unfair competition.  Read more 
20.07.09 Between Siloviki And Civiliki
By Graham Stack
When they first met, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev played up the common legal background he shares with U.S. President Barack Obama. And despite question marks over the veracity of Medvedev’s claim to have studied a “legal reference work” authored by Obama, the influence of the Russian president’s legal schooling is palpable, in his public statements, policies, and above all his appointments.  Read more 
14.07.09 What Will Become Of Them?
By Albina Kovalyova
One of Moscow’s most active markets has been shut down in a bid to fight its criminal trade. But despite an understandable motive, the move has left tens of thousands of people unemployed – a staggering 100,000, according to the organization for federal Russian migrants. Read more 
13.07.09 On The Muddy Banks Of Seliger
By Roland Oliphant
This year the annual youth camp at Lake Seliger was organized by the state, and thrown open to non-Nashi participants. It did not live up to the lurid expectations of its critics, and at its best was everything it was meant to be -a learning experience, a forum for new ideas and a networking and, yes, an educational opportunity for Russia??s brightest young things.  Read more 
09.07.09 The Fifteen Year Joke
Comment by Dmitry Babich
In 1994, a little-known collective farm manager ran for the Belarusian presidency. His reactionary Soviet-style platform and flamboyant populism caused the Russian government at the time to dismiss him as a Zhirinovsky-like joker.  Read more 
08.07.09 Indifferent Or Confused?
By Albina Kovalyova
Many hoped that the long-awaited visit of U.S. President Barack Obama to Russia would be a good opportunity to renew U.S.-Russian relations. But despite the pressure on both countries’ leaders to come to an agreement over the important matters of Iran, Afghanistan and nuclear weapons, the meeting of the heads of state has not caused much excitement among the Russian public. Read more 
07.07.09 Missing A Friend
Comment by Andrei Zolotov-Jr.
As the world watched U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Moscow, intended to start a new page in U.S.-Russian relations, just several blocks away from the Kremlin, in the Christ the Savior Cathedral, a memorial service commemorated on Thursday Paul Klebnikov – a U.S. journalist of Russian descent who was shot in Moscow five years ago. Read more 
22.06.09 On Foreign Territory
By Katya Kumkova
At the annual shareholders’ meeting in Fayetville, Arkansas, the chief executive officer of WalMart, the world’s largest retail chain, announced that the store will expand into Russia in the near future. After years of waffling, the superstore actually seems to be getting closer to taking action. Last January, WalMart joined the Russian Association of Retail Companies. Read more 
18.06.09 Nostalgia For A Soviet Treat
By Dmitry Babich
Moscow has become notorious in recent years for its “restaurant craze” — the abundance of all sorts of eateries on every corner of the 13-million-strong metropolis. In Vladimir Putin’s eight “fat years” the upscale section of the business grew, as fancy “thematic” restaurants (serving ethnic or simply high-quality meals) squeezed out the more democratic versions of the old Russian public catering — the ones serving pelmeni (dumplings) or blini (pancakes).  Read more 
17.06.09 Flying First Class
By Sergei Balashov
Best known for its bombers and fighter jets, Russian aircraft producer Sukhoi has decided to assume a completely new image with its brand new line of commercial aircraft, meant to give Russia a strong presence on the global market.  Read more 
28.05.09 Will Internet Kill The Television Star?
By Albina Kovalyova
Russia has increasingly embraced the Internet over the past several years. The country has several hugely popular social networking sites of its own, and recently Internet users have been lured into globally popular sites such as Myspace and Facebook. Read more 
22.05.09 No Doubt Allowed
By Roland Oliphant
It is the latest strike in Russia’s ongoing historical wars with its neighbors, and comes hard on the heels of a proposed law to criminalize the questioning of the Soviet Union’s victory in the Second World War. The move has sparked fierce debate amongst historians, some of whom see it as a necessary response to the increasing politicization of history by Russia’s neighbors.  Read more 
21.05.09 Every Banker For Himself
By Sergei Balashov
Russia is reversing its much-criticized anti-crisis strategy of generous hand outs to troubled banks and businesses. Having acknowledged that this policy produced mixed results at best, and was counter productive at worst, the government finally seems to have recognized the need to tighten its belt and refrain from providing lucrative financial support to either banks or the real sector.  Read more 
20.05.09 Does The Country Need Your Records?
By Albina Kovalyova
Russia, like many Western countries, has public awareness advertising campaigns aimed at the wholesome improvement of society. Dating back to the Soviet times, these “social ads,” as they are called in Russia, have included themes from army conscription to promoting big families. Read more 
06.05.09 The Conspiracy That Never Was
By Sergei Balashov
With Russia and Georgia accusing each other of threatening troop buildups, Abkhazia and South Ossetia signing border patrol agreements with Russia and NATO military exercises in Georgia provoking outrage in Moscow, a Gordian knot of tensions has been tightening around the Caucasus recently. Now Georgia has accused Russia of backing a military coup, and NATO and Russia are embroiled in a tit-for-tat diplomatic row. But none of these rows seem to be backed by substance.
 Read more 
04.05.09 Will There Be A Second Crimean War?
Comment by Andreas Umland
Following the West’s failure to stand up to Russia over its effective annexation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in 2008, nationalist sentiment in Russia remains as strong as ever and qualms about using force beyond Russia’s borders have been dispelled.  Read more 
21.04.09 Carrots For A Donkey That Isn’t Hungry
By Roland Oliphant
Belarus, that benighted country dubbed Europe’s last dictatorship and shrouded in the secrecy provided by the continent’s most draconian visa laws, has been invited to attend an EU Eastern Partnership summit. This is a turnaround in EU’s policy, and a tacit admission that Brussels’ previous strategy of isolation and sanctions has not brought about the democratic changes it was meant to. But Alexander Lukashenko’s notoriously autocratic regime shows no sign of taking the bait.  Read more 
16.04.09 Taxing The Victim
By Shaun Walker
The North Ossetian town of Beslan is in the news again, and as usual, it doesn’t make for pleasant reading. After all the trials and tribulations that the town has endured, this time it’s a strange and tasteless tax claim that is at stake. Meanwhile, demands for a full enquiry into the tragic events of September 2004 continue to be ignored.
 Read more 
15.04.09 Whipping Them Into Shape
By Roland Oliphant
Alexander Lebedev went first. Following an appeal by another candidate, the Sochi District Court on Monday found that his candidacy was illegal. On the same day, Andrei Bogdanov, another liberal candidate, stepped down. On Tuesday, the same court that ruled against Lebedev also barred the Just Russia candidate from the race. If the Sochi elections started out as a circus, it seems that the ring-master is now imposing some order.  Read more 
14.04.09 Moldova: Worse Than A Revolution
By Dmitry Babich
The riots in Moldova, which until recently seemed to be the most democratic country in the Community of Independent States (CIS), a loose alliance of post-Soviet states united mostly by specific post-communist political traditions, puzzled a lot of Russian commentators. Even those who are usually ready to answer any question, interpreting any event in the former Soviet Union as a result of the continued rivalry between Russia and its erstwhile Western enemies, were at a loss to explain the events in Chisinau, where a crowd of angry youths seized the buildings of the parliament and the president’s residence, only to ransack and surrender them in a few hours.  Read more 
09.04.09 Tbilisi Takes To The Streets
By Shaun Walker
The post-Soviet protest compass for April had been pointed firmly at Georgia for a long while, with today’s opposition protests planned some time ago. The mood in Tbilisi was said to be tense, with many people expecting a rerun of the November 7, 2007 protests that were dispersed by riot police and proved the first crack in the image of Mikheil Saakashvili as a Westernising democrat in Brussels and Washington.  Read more 
08.04.09 Carving Up A Pie In The Sky
By Sergei Balashov
A gas deal between Russia and Ukraine was struck almost three months ago, but the gas rows between the two countries continue. The agreement itself is still being debated in Ukraine, since many think of it as a rip off and a failure of behalf of Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko’s government. Now it is Russia’s turn to express discontent, after Ukraine signed a pipeline modernization declaration with the European Union at a bilateral summit in Brussels at the end of March.  Read more 
02.04.09 The Precarious Body Of The UN
By Sergei Balashov
The United Nation’s recent failure to efficiently regulate international issues has put the future of this organization in question. Widespread calls have been made for this body to be replaced altogether. But following the changes in the American leadership, the UN entered into a period of revival, and tensions within the organization itself escalated.  Read more 
01.04.09 Anything But Oil?
By Sergei Balashov
Dmitry Medvedev has been busy gearing up for the G20 summit in London, set to mark the next litmus test of his almost year-long presidency. As part of this preparation, he sat down with the BBC last weekend to discuss a wide variety of issues.  Read more 
30.03.09 The Long Road To Russia
By Dmitry Babich
The Russian government has announced its intention to cut the financing of the state-run program meant to help “compatriots” (mostly foreign citizens of Russian origin) resettle in Russia by 75 percent. The program, conceived in 2006 and launched in 2007, was aimed at bringing 300,000 new settlers to the 12 most depopulated regions of Russia, mostly in Siberia and the Far East, during the next three years.  Read more 
27.03.09 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Moscow’s Plan To Save The World
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
On March 16 Russia unveiled its plans for sweeping global financial reforms designed to weaken the American dominance and overhaul the "obsolescent" world economic order of the past. In a six-page document addressed to the upcoming G20 summit in London, the Kremlin said that the current global economic downturn was the result of a "collapse of the existing financial system," due to poor management and basic inadequacy. Read more 
26.03.09 The Presidents’ First Date
By Sergei Balashov
The much anticipated leadership changes in Russia and in the United States have begun bearing the first fruit. Both presidents have unequivocally stated that they would seek a new start in bilateral relations, and previous tensions have eased. Read more 
25.03.09 Ukraine: A Trustworthy Ally?
Comment by Dmitry Babich
The negative reaction from Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to the recently signed deal between the EU and the Ukraine on the modernization of the latter’s natural gas pipeline system was perceived as a sign of success in Kiev and in several other East European capitals. Read more 
24.03.09 A Black And White War
Comment by Shaun Walker
Even though some eight months have passed since Russia’s war with Georgia over the breakaway republic of South Ossetia in August of last year, both parties are still feeling its consequences, and remain very sensitive to interpretations of these events that appear in the media. Read more 
23.03.09 Casting For The Russian Film
By Dmitry Babich
Nikita Mikhalkov, a charismatic film director and an outspoken Vladimir Putin loyalist, appears to be winning the fight for control over the Union of Cinematographers of Russia, one of the few remaining influential artistic guilds in the country. Mikhalkov has been the chairman of the Union since 1997.  Read more 
19.03.09 Fighting Off The Scum
By Sergei Balashov
The second trial of jailed oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky has barely begun, but the ways in which it differs from the first case are already becoming obvious. These differences are not limited to the scale of the allegedly crimes and the new jail terms the former oil tycoon and his business partner Platon Lebedev are facing. Read more 
17.03.09 Elections: An Olympic Sport
By Roland Oliphant
Two very different cities, Murmansk in the frozen north, and Sochi, the Black Sea spa town known as the “southern capital” of Russia, have become the focus of different but not unrelated political storms. United Russia unexpectedly lost Murmansk. And the election for the new mayor of Sochi, the host of the 2014 Olympic Games, is attracting an increasingly colorful range of candidates.
 Read more 
13.03.09 Is Khodorkovsky A Present-Day Sakharov?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Last week, the Russian authorities initiated new legal action against Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his partner Platon Lebedev, former co-owners of the YUKOS oil company now serving eight-year prison sentences on financial fraud and tax evasion charges. Read more 
11.03.09 Oligarchs Bite The Dust
By Sergei Balashov
While some form of state support for floundering businesses is still technically possible, the government has recently made it clear that it would not go far in helping the super rich. Handing out loans to help refinance debts has been part of the state’s anti-crisis agenda, but the government now says that it does not intend to throw a lifeline to the oligarchs at the expense of further depleting the national foreign currency reserves.

 Read more 
03.03.09 Laws Made To Be Broken
Comment by Shaun Walker
When taking the presidential office, Dmitry Medvedev brought with him a promise to instil respect for the rule of law. But the law is often bizarre, draconian, and serves no clear purpose. “Legal Nihilism” will be difficult to root out as long as both private citizens and government officials alike find it easier to solicit and bribe their way around the law, than uphold and abide by it.
 Read more 
02.03.09 Russia’s Investment Forecast: Mostly Cloudy
Comment by Irina Aervitz
Critics of the state policy claim that the Russian government does not seem to have a clear understanding of the current economic crisis and its consequences, or worse—it is in a state of denial that there is any serious crisis in Russia, which means that there is no coherent anti-crisis strategy. Read more 
25.02.09 Bye-Bye Bling
By Albina Kovalyova
Although the financial crisis has left many unemployed and facing difficult times, doing away with the glamorization of the Russian society may be a good thing. The mushrooming of fashion boutiques, ubiquitous cosmetic shops and the myriad of expensive cars on the streets did create an illusion of a country matching the Western consumerism, but have not done much for the nation’s culture. Read more 
24.02.09 Glamour In Crisis
By Svetlana Kolchik
As Russia’s economy continues struggling, advertising expenses top most companies’ cost-cutting lists. But the advertisers’ tightening their belts seems to be compromising an entire industry that lives off luxurious product commercials – the myriad of local glossy magazine editions.  Read more 
20.02.09 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: For Real Or For Show?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Various signals indicate that Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev is seeking to establish a more open style of governing and explaining policy decisions to the Russian people. He is also demonstrating his willingness to engage the regime’s critics directly, and to ensure that the critics’ views are adequately represented at the tables of government. Why is Medvedev trying to establish a more open and democratic style of governance? Read more 
17.02.09 Harvesting Discontent
By Sergei Balashov
Russia’s worn out dissenters may soon give way to an emerging force that is likely to take center stage amid growing discontent, since the general public is getting too few answers from both the state and the opposition. Labor unions are likely to find the most support among the electorate, since many have lost their jobs and have been struggling since the start of the crisis. Read more 
16.02.09 Apathy Rules
Comment by Shaun Walker
As the economic crisis takes a toll on most of Russia’s industries, the lives of many people who live and work in small towns that support these industries take a turn for the worse. Theoretically, these would be the first places to look for social unrest, as more workers lose their jobs with no other employers to turn to. But in Russia, this is not the case.
 Read more 
13.02.09 Labor In Limbo
By Roland Oliphant
A report released Tuesday by Human Rights Watch details the dangers and abuses faced by immigrant construction workers in Russia on a day to day basis. The findings – that migrant laborers are victims of human trafficking, are often forced to work without being paid by unscrupulous employers, and receive abuse rather than support from the police – will surprise few. Read more 
12.02.09 Time And Money
By Dmitry Babich
How long will Russia’s famous stabilization fund, the third largest in the world, be able to prop up the country’s economy, reeling from the crisis since September? The answer to this question has a direct relation to Russians’ consumer and business confidence, since the state and its enormous coffers are seen by both the population and business leaders as the main guarantor of economic stability. Read more 
11.02.09 A Big Mouth With Little Legs
By Roland Oliphant
Human rights groups have been calling for years for the EU to take a tougher line with Russia over human rights. In October 2007 Human Rights Watch criticized “the absence of sustained and consistent EU engagement on human rights at the highest levels as Russia’s rights record steadily deteriorated.” Read more 
09.02.09 Boozing Pilots And Bad PR
Comment by Shaun Walker
Allegations last week that an Aeroflot pilot had attempted to fly a flight to New York while blind drunk proved good fun for the Western media, but showed how badly some Russian companies handle their PR.

 Read more 
06.02.09 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: A Looming Battle For The Arctic?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Russia, the United States and NATO are exchanging messages that indicate their readiness to engage in a serious political and military competition in the Arctic. The opening up of Arctic sea routes threatens to complicate relations between countries with competing claims to Arctic territory, as once inaccessible areas become ripe for exploration for oil and natural gas. Read more 
05.02.09 The Pipeline Duel
By Sergei Balashov
At last week’s Nabucco summit, the European Union took decisive steps by pledging the firmest possible political support for the project, in order to disperse any doubts that its intention to build a pipeline whose sole purpose is to supply Europe with non-Russian gas is indeed real. Read more 
04.02.09 Rallying For Support
By Sergei Balashov
All they wanted was a discussion, but all they got were fists and clubs. Following last weekend’s Dissenters’ Day, Russia’s opposition insists that the crackdown on dissidents is intensifying, making it virtually impossible to speak up and hold protests against the government.
 Read more 
30.01.09 Will The Economic Crisis Cause Political Unrest In Russia?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
The world’s economic and financial crisis has led to serious social discontent and political turmoil in the hardest-hit countries of Eastern and Western Europe. These events have led some Russian analysts and opposition politicians to speculate that a similar wave of discontent might engulf Russia this year, as demonstrations against increased automobile import duties in Russia’s Far East have shown that Russians are indeed capable of protesting. Read more 
29.01.09 Everyone’s Best Friend
By Roland Oliphant
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin yesterday took center stage at the World Economic forum in Davos as he delivered the opening address to the gathering of the world’s most influential policy makers, economists and businessmen. There was only one topic this year’s forum could be about, and which Putin could address: the global economic crisis.  Read more 
28.01.09 The Time To Shop Abroad
By Sergei Balashov
It wasn’t that long ago that the Russian economy was booming. The ample wealth primarily generated by the energy sector was pouring over the national boundaries and into foreign markets, sending companies on a wild spending spree in order to complement their production lines with foreign assets. Read more 
27.01.09 Welcome Secretary Clinton
Comment by Vladimir Frolov
Last week, Hillary Rodham Clinton became the third woman in U.S. history and in the last fifteen years to be sworn in as Secretary of State. Her predecessors – Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice -- were both women of great intellect, discipline and personal charisma. But somehow they failed to achieve greatness – which is what this job is all about. Does Clinton have what it takes to do the job?
 Read more 
26.01.09 A Tale Of Two Lawyers
Comment by Shaun Walker
It has now been a week since Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova were shot dead on Prechistenka Street in central Moscow. As many commentators have noted, one of the scariest things about these killings was the brazenness with which they were carried out. Read more 
23.01.09 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: What’s In Obama For The Kremlin
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
On the eve of Barack Obama’s inauguration as the next president of the United States on January 20, the Kremlin sent out all sorts of positive signals, indicating a strong interest in having a fresh start in the U.S.-Russian relations. Is Moscow correct in its positive reading of the signals sent by Obama and his people during their election campaign? Read more 
22.01.09 Obama’s Feelings For Russia
By Sergei Balashov
The new U.S. President Barack Obama has finally been sworn into office, but whether his approach to handling the controversial legacy of the Republican administration will prove a success is still anyone’s guess. His stance on Russia remains rather ambivalent, but it appears that, whether they like it or not, Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama will have no choice but to cooperate.  Read more 
21.01.09 Preconciliar Tension
Comment by Andrei Zolotov-Jr.
The Council of Bishops and the Local Council – the two top bodies of the Russian Orthodox Church -- will convene in less than a week. The Councils will elect the new Patriarch of Moscow, and the pre-council tension has reached the apogee. Read more 
20.01.09 Double Murder In Broad Daylight
By Roland Oliphant
The murder on January 19 of lawyer Stanislav Markelov and Novaya Gazeta journalist Anastasia Baburova shocked Russia. It is not only the double nature of the murder – a human rights lawyer and a journalist in one blow – but the sheer audacity of the crime. Read more 
15.01.09 The Last To Be Sacrificed
By Svetlana Kolchik
Along with other industries that have been affected by the global financial crunch, the travel and leisure segments have also taken a blow, as consumers begin monitoring their expenses more closely and vacations end up in the “not essential” category.  Read more 
14.01.09 Pipelines, Checks, And Balances
Comment by Andreas Umland
It appears that in the near future, the European Union monitors will systematically observe the flow of Russian gas to Europe at the Russian-Ukrainian border. Thus, the EU seems to be helping to ease the Russian-Ukrainian confrontation. Or is it? Instead of alleviating the tension, the presence of neutral observers may open a new Pandora’s Box in the Russian-Ukrainian power struggle.  Read more 
12.01.09 The Rebels Find A Cause
By Sergei Balashov
Protests in Russia’s Far East over plans to restrict the import of foreign-made cars have been seen as a sign that the popularity of the Medvedev-Putin government is on the wane. Opposition parties have seized the opportunity to side with the little man against the unfeeling central government. But enthusiasm for car owners’ rights and antagonism to the Kremlin have been adopted only reluctantly, in an effort to combat their own popularity problems.
 Read more 
30.12.08 Year Of The Deficit
By Dmitry Babich
Out of many dangers facing the Russian economy in the coming year, a sharp decrease in the amount of taxes collected may be one of the gravest, since the majority of the country’s population is dependent on payments from the state budget. Experts believe the government will have to relinquish its cherished record of balanced budgets.  Read more 
29.12.08 A Sad Time For Ecology
By Sergei Balashov
The global economic crisis has fully settled in Russia, which now cannot help but recognize that the economy is in trouble. It also finds a curious way of crawling into almost every issue on the country’s agenda. Ecology is no exception. As government and businesses seek to cut costs, it is becoming more and more difficult to make caring for the environment a top consideration. Read more 
26.12.08 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Russia In The Year 2008
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
2008 started well for Russia. It began with a seamless transfer of power, a new young president talking of liberalization and the rule of law, and an economic boom backed by record oil prices. Russia was an “island of stability” against the U.S. sub-prime mortgage crisis, and the Government announced the most ambitious infrastructure programs seen in decades. Read more 
25.12.08 Crisis, But Not As We Know It
By Sergei Balashov
The World Bank’s latest report offered a detailed look into the nature of the Russian economic crisis, yet provided few concrete answers as to when we should expect a recovery. Those predictions that have been made are facing more and more challenges as the situation and the moods in the market head south.
 Read more 
24.12.08 Hope On The Banks Of The Neva
By Graham Stack
St. Petersburg’s middle class look hard hit by the financial crisis. But the city’s huge industrial sector, from carmakers to the defense sector, looks set to benefit in the crisis years from a whole range of recent investment commitments.
 Read more 
23.12.08 Ukraine, Ukraine…
By Vladimir Frolov
Since the hopeful days of the Orange revolution of 2004 Ukraine has been in the grip of political turmoil. Alliances dissolve as quickly as they form, and a power struggle between president and prime minister has paralyzed decision making. Vladimir Frolov argues this has little to do with democracy and much to do with the selfishness of the elite.  Read more 
22.12.08 Lukashenko Doesn’t Beg. He Just Gets It
By Dmitry Babich
Despite having little to bring to the table himself, Alexander Lukashenko seems to have got most of what he wanted from negotiations on gas supply in Moscow. But the shine of this victory may not last; the global economic crisis is hitting Belarus hard, and the Kremlin may be tiring of their ally’s hard bargaining.
 Read more 
19.12.08 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Russia's Handling Of The Crisis
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
It is now official – the Russian economy is in recession. Have Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev mishandled the crisis? Have they responded inadequately to the challenges facing the country? What could the Russian government have done differently?  Read more 
18.12.08 Redefining Betrayal
By Roland Oliphant
Recent legal reforms in Russia swing from threatening a return to Joseph Stalin era political repression to a surprising progressive liberalization of the criminal justice system. A new bill was introduced to the Duma this week widening the definitions of treason and espionage. Read more 
17.12.08 Solidarity Versus Ambition
By Roland Oliphant
Last weekend most of Russia’s best known democrats met in Khimki, not far from Moscow, to inaugurate a new political movement. Solidarity, named for the Polish trade union credited with a key role in bringing about the end of communism in Europe, is an alliance of liberal parties devoted to the not uncontroversial end of “dismantling the Putin regime.”
 Read more 
16.12.08 Bypassing The Banks
By Sergei Balashov
A new round of spending offered by the government focuses on the non-financial sector, since the banks failed to provide enough cash for the declining industries. However, this bailout is more directed at alleviating fear among investors and deterring possible social unrest than at actually improving the economy.

 Read more 
15.12.08 Flirting With OPEC
By Sergei Balashov
Russia appears to have gone too far in figuring out ways to stabilize the market amid negative expectations and declining consumption. Last week, President Dmitry Medvedev warned that Russia could cut oil and gas production to track back the falling revenues, and did not rule out the possibility of Russia joining OPEC, its longtime rival.  Read more 
12.12.08 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: The Role Of The Patriarch
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Alexy II, died at the age of 79 last week of heart-related illnesses. Alexy II helped restore the moral authority of the Russian Orthodox Church following decades of repression under communism.  Read more 
11.12.08 Russia’s Rating Scare
By Sergei Balashov
Standard & Poor’s has revisited Russia’s sovereign rating ten times over the past eight years, and every time this rating was changed for the better. Now, this streak is over. Russia’s economic downfall hit a new low on Monday, when Standard & Poor’s lowered its sovereign rating for the country for the first time since 1999. Read more 
10.12.08 Carpe Diem
Comment by Sergei Markedonov
Ukraine and Georgia have so far been unable to boost their status in NATO. This is probably one of the most significant events of the passing year. These countries will now have to either wait for a more favorable political environment, or to essentially adjust their approaches to foreign policy and national security. Read more 
09.12.08 Dear Dima
Comment by Vladimir Frolov
Three weeks before the U.S. presidential election, Vladimir Frolov wrote a column in the form of an imaginary letter from Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev to the U.S. presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama. Since then, Obama has been elected president, while Medvedev delivered his first State of the Nation Address and made his first trip to Washington, where he tried to procure an audience with Obama. Read more 
08.12.08 Whose Are The Classmates?
By Albina Kovalyova
The British company i-CD Publishing and its affiliates Carlene Investment Ltd. and Passado Ltd. have filed a lawsuit against Albert Popkov, the creator of the popular Russian social networking site Odnoklassniki.ru. Read more 
05.12.08 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: No MAP For Georgia And Ukraine?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Last week the U.S. State Department announced that the United States would not insist on granting Membership Action Plans (MAPs) to Ukraine and Georgia at the NATO ministerial. This decision reflects the fact that an increasing number of European NATO allies – Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Norway and Luxemburg—have recently made it clear to Washington that they would not support MAPs for Ukraine and Georgia. Read more 
04.12.08 The Canadian Way To Entertain
By Roland Oliphant
Cirque du Soleil, probably the world’s premier circus company, has announced plans to establish a permanent presence in Russia, and despite the unfavorable economic situation, the organizers are nothing less than evangelical about their chances of success. But Russia’s own venerable circuses have mixed feelings about the arrival of such a powerful competitor.

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03.12.08 Breeding Domestic Investors
By Sergei Balashov
The Russian stock index continued its freefall this week. The hastily deteriorating conditions evoked a strong reaction from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who called the situation in the stock market ugly.  Read more 
02.12.08 False Hopes For The Middle Class
By Roland Oliphant
Chief Kremlin ideologist and First Deputy Chief of Staff Vladislav Surkov made a rare foray into the limelight on Friday to call for decisive moves to defend the middle class from the on-coming economic crisis. This suggests that the government is slowly beginning to wake up to the gravity of the crisis and the potential implications for its popularity, which has been built on appeals to the middle class’ concerns about “continuity” and “stability.”

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01.12.08 An Exercise In Bad Publicity
By Roland Oliphant
If you’ve already booked your tickets to Moscow, researching your destination online and reading the latest newspaper reports from Russia would be a bad idea—they might make you want to reconsider. Russia’s capital city has been drawing a lot of criticism in mass media outlets both at home and abroad as one of the least favorable places to visit, whether for tourism or for business. The city authorities recognize that some of these accusations are true, but at the same time shift the blame to the media itself for deliberately painting the city in dark hues.
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28.11.08 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Has Russia Been Vindicated?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Moscow is having the last laugh in the international war of words over Russia’s brief war with Georgia last August. Back then, Russia, while quickly routing the Georgian military, squarely lost the propaganda battle with Mikheil Saakashvili, who managed, with the help of Western PR consultants and his impressive English skills, to convince the international public that Georgia was a blameless victim of blatant and unprovoked Russian aggression, meant to destroy Georgia’s democracy. Read more 
27.11.08 Letting Them Down Gently
By Roland Oliphant
Russian Art Week, London’s bi-annual auctioning bonanza of everything Russian from paintings and icons to antiquarian books, Faberg? jewelry and cavalry sabers, drew to a close on Thursday. From the auction houses who hosted it there was an almost audible sigh of relief; despite the harsh economic climate they escaped the collapse some doomsayers had predicted. Read more 
26.11.08 Final Destination Unknown
By Sergei Balashov
By 2020, Russia will grow into a global financial center and become one of the top five of the fastest growing nations, all the while becoming a better place to live. Or at least that’s the ambitious plan laid out in the social economic development concept signed off by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin this week.  Read more 
25.11.08 What’s The Catch?
Comment by Vladimir Frolov
Whether purposefully or unintentionally, Medvedev and Putin managed to create a situation where the constitutional changes, particularly the term of office extensions for the president and the Duma deputies, are increasingly perceived as solely intended to engineer Putin’s return to the presidency as soon as possible, perhaps even before Medvedev’s full term in office expires in 2012.
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24.11.08 Ready Or Not, Here I Come
Comment by Alexander Arkhangelsky
The prosecutor’s office has announced its intent to urgently find out who is responsible for stirring up the crisis. Which media are involved? You’ve been told loud and clear: there is no crisis in our country. What we are experiencing are mere consequences of the world’s financial crisis, provoked by America.  Read more 
21.11.08 Will There Be American Missile Defense Systems In Europe?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
The threat to deploy Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad was made public in President Dmitry Medvedev’s first State of the Nation address on November 5. Since then, both Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and president Medvedev himself, in his interview to Le Figaro daily, publicly offered Barack Obama to implement what for all intents and purposes would be the “zero option” – no U.S. missile defense deployments in Poland and the Czech Republic would be matched by no Iskander missile deployments in Kaliningrad.
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20.11.08 Too Much Of A Home
By Sergei Balashov
At a recent meeting of the International Mortgage Club, the Chairman of the Fora Bank Alexander Sinelnikov downplayed the effects of the crisis on the mortgage system, suggesting that it was time to diversify savings into multiple currencies to preserve purchasing power and catch up with growing interest rates.  Read more 
18.11.08 An Exercise In Leverage
By Sergei Balashov
The deal to build Nord Stream was signed off by then-President and now Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in 2005 during his visit to Germany, which will be the final destination of the pipeline capable of pumping over 55 billion cubic meters per year. It will stretch over Russian territory and through the bottom of the Baltic Sea, bypassing all countries but Germany and Russia. Read more 
17.11.08 The BBC At Dusk
By Roland Oliphant
Naturally, the BBC rejects the claims. It insists that it shares the experts’ concerns about the importance of its services, and that the changes are a sensible redirecting of resources to help the service reach a greater audience. The argument is simple and compelling: cuts to the radio service, which is losing listeners, are needed for greater investment in bbcrussian.com, which is posting impressive audience growth. Read more 
14.11.08 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Medvedev’s Conflicting Signals
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
On November 5, Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev delivered his first State of the Nation Address, sending rather conflicting signals about his plans for the country’s future. This led the Moscow Times to describe Medvedev’s speech as “a club sandwich.” Read more 
12.11.08 America’s Skewed Priorities
By Graham Stack
Among the victims of the plane crash in Mexico City were Juan Camilo Mouri?o, the 36-year-old close friend and ally of President Felipe Calder?n. Calder?n had charged Mouri?o with heading the fight against Mexico’s insidious drug cartels immediately following his election in 2006. Jos? Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, a presidential advisor on security issues, also died in the crash that almost everyone regards as an assassination by the cartels.
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11.11.08 Off The Mark
Comment by Vladimir Frolov
Medvedev was elected on the promise of staying the course and implementing what was then called “Putin’s Plan.” Things were going well for the country, with oil prices over $100 a barrel.
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10.11.08 Capital Punishment
By Roland Oliphant
It was a euphoric atmosphere. There were more flags than could be counted, a brass band, and vans blaring Soviet marching songs; thousands doffed their hats to sing the Soviet National Anthem. They may have been stripped of an official national holiday and obliged to rally on Theater Square rather than on Red Square, but Russia’s communists are still able to put on an impressive show for the anniversary of the October Revolution.  Read more 
07.11.08 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Medvedev’s Scorecard
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Medvedev was elected on a promise to ensure policy continuity and to implement what was then called “Putin’s Plan.” That was in March of 2008, when things were going well for the country and the price of oil was over $100 a barrel. It was logical at that time that the Russian people, with their incomes growing steadily and cheap car loans and mortgages readily available, desired more of the same.
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06.11.08 Liberal America Rejoices
By Andrei Zolotov, Jr.
CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts/ Cars honked at passers-by, students sang and greeted strangers with jubilant gestures. In the Harvard Yard – a lawn in the center of the campus – a crowd of over a hundred students was chanting Obama’s campaign slogan, “Yes we can!” One student climbed the John Harvard statue, a local landmark, and put an Obama poster around the bronze man’s neck as the crowd cheered him on.
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05.11.08 A Dubious Kind Of Unity
By Roland Oliphant
Despite sterling efforts by the state to lend the November 4 holiday some kind of substance, the Day of National Unity has, since its inception, been associated with a flavor of nationalism that even the Kremlin seems uncomfortable with. This year the authorities made a determined effort to win it back with officially-sanctioned celebrations on Red Square. Read more 
01.11.08 Swapping The Puppets
By Roland Oliphant
On Thursday October 30 the embattled president of Ingushetia, Murat Zyazikov, announced that he would be taking a new job in Moscow. His resignation was immediately accepted by President Dmitry Medvedev, who appointed one Lt. Col. Yunnus-Bek Yevkurov, the deputy chief of staff of the Volga Urals military district, as interim replacement.  Read more 
31.10.08 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Another Liberal Party For Russia?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
The new party is likely to be based on the ruins of the Union of Right Forces, at one time headed by Anatoly Chubais, Yegor Gaidar and Sergei Kiriyenko, and it will absorb two minor parties that have failed to gain sizeable popular support – the Democratic Party and the Civic Force.  Read more 
30.10.08 Tracking The Crisis
By Roland Oliphant
Importantly, the poll asked questions about the actual level of unemployment (how many people do you know who have lost their jobs in recent months?), and people’s perceptions (how high do you think unemployment is in your area?). The poll confirmed suspicions that rumors of redundancy are running well ahead of reality. Some 43 percent of respondents said that unemployment in their area was either high of very high.  Read more 
29.10.08 The Opportunity In Difficulty
Comment by Ethan Burger
In mid-October, Western government officials, journalists and specialists on Russia assumed that it was true that poison was placed in Russian human rights lawyer Karina Moskalenko's car in Strasburg–the home of the European Court of Human Rights. Moskalenko is a prominent human rights activist with a worldwide reputation. It was widely assumed at the time that this "event" was the result of a conscious decision on behalf of members of the Russian government, persons who enjoyed their backing, or Russian organized crime.
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28.10.08 Endangered Hopes
By Vladimir Frolov
It is clear that the Russian healthcare industry needs a complete overhaul. Healthcare costs are rising, while the quality of healthcare for the majority of Russians who are not very rich remains sub-standard. Mortality rates from serious chronic diseases grow while the Russian pharmaceuticals industry is incapable of supplying Russian patients and hospitals with the necessary drugs. Read more 
27.10.08 The Voice Of The Left
By Dmitry Babich
The coalition’s moves drew the most participants in Moscow and St. Petersburg, where several hundred people gathered on central squares. Their slogans included calls to "stop making an Auschwitz out of Moscow apartments" and to "send [Moscow Mayor] Yuri Luzhkov to early retirement for making Moscow a city unfit for living." Most observers link the Left Front and its protest to the National Assembly, a rag-tag opposition coalition centered on a former chess champion and Vladimir Putin's fiery critic Garry Kasparov.
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24.10.08 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Waiting For Obama
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
McCain’s chances of winning the presidency have been significantly reduced by the unfolding financial crisis and by his inability to reassure voters that he could provide the calm and steady leadership needed to solve the mounting economic problems.
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22.10.08 Is There A "Plan B"?
Comment by Georgy Bovt
The public's first reaction to the emergency anti-crisis measures taken by the Russian authorities was, on the whole, favorable. The expert community also largely approved. The methods used by the Russian authorities are not that different from the same emergency measures taken in these difficult times by the financial authorities of the United States and Europe: urgent monetary infusions aimed at increasing the liquidity of the bank system; reorganization of the most significant banks (to the point of their de facto nationalization) aimed at preventing a domino effect in the financial and credit markets; increased state guarantees on private deposits aimed at reassuring the depositors.
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21.10.08 The Best Place To Be Jewish
By Sergei Balashov
The interview was picked up by all major Jewish publications and received extensive coverage in the media in Russia and as well as abroad. Predictably enough, Israeli rabbis lashed out at Lazar for delivering a setback to Israel's efforts to lure in new immigrants. At the same time, Jewish communities at home quietly embraced his message.
Over the 60 years of its history the very existence of Israel has hinged on immigration, as the actual goal of its establishment was to gather Jews from all over the world and provide them with the long-sought home where they could maintain their Jewish identity.
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17.10.08 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Time For A New Global Leader?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
With an unprecedented financial hurricane devastating the world's leading economies (and even bankrupting an entire NATO member state—Iceland), there is now a palpable vacuum of global leadership which could stop this contagion from undoing humanity's remarkable progress of the last decade.
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15.10.08 The Eyes On The Prize
By Sergei Balashov
Private Russian businesses appeared to be the one party most interested in joining the WTO, as membership in the organization would grant numerous advantages, primarily to the exporting industries such as metallurgy. But these aspirations have been swarmed by the government’s rising concern that a number of Russian industries, particularly agriculture and manufacturing, are not competitive enough, and would be rendered immobile should barriers for foreign-made products and a myriad of protectionist measures currently in place be torn down.  Read more 
14.10.08 Dear Barack
By Vladimir Frolov
As the American presidential election nears and the two candidates, Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain, intensify their campaigns, the debate as to whether Russians would prefer to see a democrat or a republican in the White House swirls on. In the opinion of our columnist Vladimir Frolov, the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev would rather deal with the former. Frolov supports his line of reasoning with an imaginary letter.  Read more 
13.10.08 The State Horn Of Abundance
By Dmitry Babich
One stabilization measure comes hot on the heels of another, as television and other government-controlled media avoid using words like “collapse” or even “financial crisis,” preferring more soothing “decrease in activity” or “pessimistic expectations.”  Read more 
13.10.08 The Roads To The Future
By Sergei Balashov
The program targets the woes of the Russian transport system that sting the most. Of these there are plenty, starting from the poor quality of existing roads, which directly or indirectly led to the deaths of over 33,000 people last year, to the inaccessibility of about 50,000 localities that don’t have yearlong access to roads, leaving about five million people without quality transportation. The transport system is also getting worn out, with 29 percent of federal roads overloaded.  Read more 
10.10.08 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Medvedev's War On Corruption
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
For two years, government officials will be banned from taking lucrative positions in private companies operating in sectors they helped regulate at their previous posts (the ban, however, could be lifted if the official's superiors agree to his taking a private sector job in the regulated industry). More transparent procedures for the electronic handling of government documents and for holding government tenders are also part of the package. Heavy criminal penalties have also been introduced for those officials found guilty of corruption. Read more 
09.10.08 Meet The Layoffs
By Sergei Balashov
The Russian labor market is very peculiar, unlike those of most developed countries in Europe and North America. The workforce here lacks mobility, being reluctant to switch jobs, let alone move across the country if opportunities in the regions shrink. This situation is partly due to the absence of institutions that would ensure that the workforce has enough options once hard times hit and wages start going south. Read more 
08.10.08 What’s Eating The Funds?
By Dmitry Babich
Trading at Russia’s stock markets stopped again on Wednesday as the Russian Trading System (RTS) index lost 9.43 percent, and the Moscow Inter-Currency Exchange (MICEX) plummeted 13.86 percent. The Federal Service for Finance and Markets (FSFR) said that the trading will be suspended for two days until October 10.  Read more 
07.10.08 A Loose-Loose Situation
By Roland Oliphant
The previous coalition between President Viktor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine faction and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s eponymous bloc broke down at the beginning of September. The Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc joined forces with opposition parties in the Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian parliament, to pass measures limiting presidential powers.  Read more 
06.10.08 Look Who Is Talking
Comment by Gordon Hahn
Western (and Russian) leaders should have learned stark lessons from the outbreak of war in South Ossetia. So far, however, the post-Ossetian war period does not raise optimism that Western leaders will act to prevent a possible explosion of ethnic conflicts in the Caucasus. Vice President Dick Cheney traveled to Tbilisi bearing gifts for President Mikheil Saakashvili, America’s new darling in the Caucasus. Great Britain’s top officials recommended building an anti-Russian coalition.

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03.10.08 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Will Russia Be Isolated?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave a bizarre speech about Russia last week, in which she predicted that Moscow was taking a “dark turn” and that its assertive policies in the former Soviet Union are presenting a threat to international security that should be contained, repulsed and reversed.
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02.10.08 Good News For Everyone
By Sergei Balashov
After staying around $20 a barrel for most of the 1990s, the price of oil began to grow strongly in 2000, overshadowing the spike of 1977 to 1981 in inflation adjusted numbers, breaking the $100 threshold and subsequently setting a new record of $147.27 a barrel in July 2008.  Read more 
01.10.08 The Bubble Called Russia
Comment by Georgy Bovt
Although I know that this is a rather trite journalist trick, I still use it sometimes. It’s called “talking to the taxi driver.” This technique has proven to be rather useful in finding your way around a strange city or a country you’re visiting for the first time, or when “express-testing” certain actions of the authorities: for example, to find out how the official point of view correlates with the ordinary people’s mentality.
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30.09.08 Another Attempt At Resuscitating Democracy
By Roland Oliphant
This is not Gorbachev's first foray into opposition politics. The new party will be a successor to the now defunct Social Democratic Party of Russia (SDPR), founded by Gorbachev in 2001. It lost its official status in 2007 after changes to the law raised the requirements for minimum membership of political parties. The vast majority of its supporters regrouped in an umbrella movement called the Union of Social Democrats. Now that movement will form the backbone of the new party.
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29.09.08 Begging To Disagree
Comment by Ivan Sukhov
Ingushetia, a Russian autonomy in the North Caucasus with a predominantly Muslim population and close ethnic ties to the neighboring republic of Chechnya, is widely believed to be a “weak link” in the chain of Muslim regions in Russia’s North Caucuses, due to a high level of violence and the unresolved ethnic conflict with neighboring North Ossetia.

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26.09.08 Immunizing Russia From U.S. Economic Contagion
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
“They have set us all up!” angered President Dmitry Medvedev, summing up the Russian leadership’s attitude toward Washington’s disastrous economic policies that led to the buildup of dangerous market bubbles – from housing prices to credit swaps and other under-collateralized securities. Read more 
25.09.08 Down With The Money
By Sergei Balashov
“The crisis hasn’t passed yet. We’re just past the critical stage and it doesn’t look like we’re going to hit it again in the mid-term,” said Pavel Medvedev, a member of the State Duma committee on financial markets. “I don’t know how it is going to be in ten years, but then I don’t even know what will happen tomorrow.”
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24.09.08 Opening The Floodgate
By Roland Oliphant
If there is one country outside the CIS that has a close human relationship with Russia, it is Israel. Only the United States has a larger Russian population, and as a proportion of the population (almost 15 percent), the Russian Diaspora in Israel is probably the largest.  Read more 
23.09.08 No-Nonsense Murder
By Dmitry Babich
The sentencing in Moscow of 13 underage skinheads, found guilty of two murders and more than ten racist attacks, indicates a new, tougher line on racist violence that the authorities and the courts seem to have adopted. The prosecutor demanded up to 22-year-long prison terms for the young racists, but the court felt restricted by the fact that only one of the accused, Ivan Kalinichenko, was older than 18 when the attacks took place. Read more 
22.09.08 Russia’s Digital Conquest
By Sergei Balashov
Countries perceived as the pioneers of technological progress, namely the United States, Canada, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, have already launched digital television services. The Russian government plans to go fully digital only by 2015. Russia has already adopted the European DVB-T digital broadcasting standard, but so far only the regions of Mordovia and Yugra have official digital broadcasting. Meanwhile, broadcasters argue that trailing behind the global technological trends is by no means a setback for the country, but rather an advantage.
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19.09.08 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: A New Arms Race?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Last week, Russia sent strategic bombers and a nuclear guided missile cruiser task force to Venezuela for “maneuvers,” an apparent tit-for-tat for the United States sending its warships to the Black Sea to “deliver humanitarian aid” to Georgia.
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18.09.08 A Cold Peace
By Sergei Balashov
A lack of cooperation between two of the world's major power centers is likely to do more harm than good to their own, long-term interests, making the need to find a way to reconcile quite evident. The only way to patch up these broken relations would involve mutual concessions, an acknowledgement of reality and admittance of the fact that a new Cold War is already knocking on the door.
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17.09.08 A Bad Time For Benevolence
By Dmitry Babich
Russian stocks continue their two-day-long freefall. On Tuesday, Russia’s benchmark RTS and MICEX indexes plunged by 11.47 percent and 17.45 percent respectively, and MICEX cut its trading day rather short. On Wednesday, after a brief consolidation in the morning, stocks at RTS and MICEX fell by another six and three percent respectively, forcing Russia’s Federal Service on Financial Markets (FSFR) to stop the trading at both stock exchanges at noon.
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16.09.08 A Joke To Be Banned
By Sergei Balashov
In response to calls from religious groups, Russian state prosecutors have intervened and issued warnings to broadcasters, discouraging further airing of controversial shows. There is hardly any doubt that Russian television has an ethics problem, but the civic groups and the prosecutors seem to be barking up the wrong tree.
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15.09.08 In Search Of God
By Roland Oliphant
It was to international adulation, not to mention a fair dose of hysteria, that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest particle accelerator, was finally fired up last week. Physicists around the world tried to outdo each other in superlative hyperbole (the “eighth wonder of the world,” and “the Olympics of science,” were two of the more high-flown descriptions).  Read more 
12.09.08 Three Hours With Vladimir Putin
Blog by Andrei Zolotov, Jr.
SOCHI, Southern Russia/Concluding more than three hours of discussion over lunch at a state resort, where many bitter words were said about the West’s consistent unwillingness to accommodate Russian national interests, Putin suggested that the members of the Valdai Discussion Club stand up to commemorate the victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks against the United States. Read more 
11.09.08 Reconciliation And Remembrance
Comment by Sergei Markedonov
Professional sport has once again demonstrated that it can be an important political factor. The first match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying round, on September 6 was a poignant occasion as the Armenian soccer players took on Turkey’s national team (the Euro 2008 bronze medalists, along with Russia). The return game between the two sides will also take place in the fall, a year from now.
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10.09.08 A Ridiculous Case Of Mismanagement
Comment by Georgy Bovt
As soon as Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, some political analysts were immediately reminded of the case of Ingushetia. Perhaps the main reason for this is that Ingushetia still has an unsolved territorial conflict with North Ossetia over the Prigorodny District. This aroused misgivings that the “strengthening” of Ossetia might provoke the oppositional forces in Ingushetia to become more active.  Read more 
09.09.08 The Blame Game
By Shaun Walker
TBILISI, Georgia/ According to the Georgian version of events, its assault on South Ossetia was not an attack but a defensive play against a Russian invasion that was already underway and had indeed been planned for months. It was quite probably the first stage of an evil master plan by Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev to resurrect the Soviet Union, and would be followed up by Russian tanks rolling into Crimea, Estonia and who knows where else.  Read more 
08.09.08 Russia’s Going Global
By Sergei Balashov
According to a rating of Russian companies based on their amount of foreign assets compiled by the Skolkovo Moscow School of Management, the top 25 Russian businesses own over $60 billion worth of assets outside of Russia. The foreign turnover amounts to $200 billion with 130,000 employees on the payroll. Since the research project initiated at the end of 2007, the trends have only strengthened.

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05.09.08 Why Is Russia Losing The Media War?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
One of the hotly debated aspects of the Russian military operation in Georgia is how Moscow managed to lose the war in international media while winning the battle on the ground. The Russian government, at least in the early stages of the war, was ineffective in trying to convince the world that the operation to roll back Georgian forces from South Ossetia was justified.  Read more 
04.09.08 The Sky Is The Limit
By Sergei Balashov
Russia is home to some of the world’s longest domestic flights, with a trip from Moscow to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky or to Vladivostok stretching over 4,000 miles. The prices for domestic flights are just as enormous. While it currently costs a little over $400 to fly from New York to Seattle and back, a roundtrip ticket from Moscow to Krasnoyarsk, a route roughly 300 miles shorter, costs $200 or more on average. Economy class tickets for longer routes, such as from Moscow to Vladivostok, start at $700, and run as high as $1,400 to get to Russia’s easternmost region of Chukotka. Read more 
03.09.08 The Years Wasted
Comment by Georgy Bovt
Having recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and basically following the five-day war between Russia and Georgia, Moscow now finds itself in a situation that borders on diplomatic isolation, although almost nobody in the world denies the fact that it was Georgia, not Russia, that was the first to start military action. This seems to be an unprecedented case in history, when a country formally seen by everyone as the aggressor (that is, the one that was the first to attack) enjoys so much support, while the country that stood up to the aggressor is criticized, and even ostracized, by the global majority.
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02.09.08 A False Alarm?
By Sergei Balashov
Russia’s new foreign policy, which resonated negatively in the world, shattered foreign investors’ confidence. In the first half of this year, foreign investment in the country declined by 30 percent compared to the same period in 2007, while in the first week of the South Ossetian conflict alone, over $7 billion was transferred out of the country. The Russian Trading System (RTS) share index, which suffered from the Mechel skirmish, declined by another six percent following the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, reaching 1,547.1 points, the lowest figure since October 2006.  Read more 
01.09.08 A Council Of The Offended
By Dmitry Babich
"Sanctions are being considered, as are many other measures," the French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said. He had earlier claimed that sanctions against Moscow were not on the agenda. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov expressed dissatisfaction with some of Kouchner’s other recent statements.
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29.08.08 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Evaluating The Damage
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
With the Russian military operation to rebuff Mikheil Saakashvili’s attack on South Ossetia essentially over, and with Russia and the West engaged in a rhetorical fistfight over the conflict’s aftermath, time has come to sort through the debris of the international system that has demonstrated its ineffectiveness to deal with quarrels involving major powers.  Read more 
28.08.08 A Change Of Heart
Comment by Sergei Markedonov
On August 26 Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev signed the decree on the formal legal recognition of the independence of the two former Georgian autonomies, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. For the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, two new states will appear in its former realm. They will no longer be unrecognized and self-proclaimed republics. There is now a country that is willing to acknowledge their independence and, consequently, their international political “subjectness.”  Read more 
27.08.08 How Low Can It Go?
Comment by Georgy Bovt
To optimists, it might seem that the worst has already happened in Russia’s argument with the West over Georgia; that all the formidable words and all the ritual threats have already been uttered, and now both sides will in some form or other return to the pragmatic policy of “business and nothing personal.” This could be true for many reasons: because we sell too much oil and gas to them, and because Russia still presents a somewhat attractive market for many in the West.  Read more 
26.08.08 What’s The Rush?
By Dmitry Babich
The president’s move was a reaction to yesterday’s sessions of Russia’s State Duma and the Federation Council, the two chambers of the Russian parliament both of which unanimously voted in favor of recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Read more 
25.08.08 Who Is Not With Us, Is Against Us
By Roland Oliphant
While the echo of this war has reverberated all throughout the former Soviet space and the CIS, nowhere has the fallout been felt as strongly as in Ukraine. The obvious parallels with Georgia in its troubled relations with Moscow (rulers brought to power by a “colored revolution,” aspirant to NATO and EU membership, a large Russian speaking population, potentially explosive tensions with Russia over Crimea and Sevastopol) have made it a center of attention. Unlike Georgia, however, in Ukraine the conflict in the Caucasus has proved a catalyst for division rather than unity.

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22.08.08 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Solzhenitsyn’s Legacy
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
The entire Russian political leadership and cultural elite paid tribute to the great writer, and he was eulogized as a state hero. Solzhenitsyn is renowned in Russia and in the West for his forceful and factual exposure of the criminal nature of the Soviet gulag system through his powerful literary work. Read more 
21.08.08 A Shield Of A Passport
Comment by Andreas Umland
One of the main justifications for Russia’s recent invasion of Georgia was that it had to protect its citizens from what Moscow’s leaders chose to call “genocide” by the Georgian army in South Ossetia. The reasons behind Russia’s embrace of this particular argument seems to be that the protection of one’s own citizens has been a common rationalization for military action abroad by many countries, including major Western powers.  Read more 
20.08.08 A Black And White World
Comment by Georgy Bovt
I had the opportunity to observe how the Russian-Georgian war is interpreted and presented by the Western, first and foremost European, media. I got the impression that never since the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union has the Western interpretation of events been so diametrically opposed to how this is all perceived in Russia and not just on federal television but in public opinion as well.  Read more 
19.08.08 Wagging The Dog
Comment by Vladimir Frolov
Saakashvili has successfully manipulated his cozy relationship with the senior Bush administration officials to put vital American interests at risk by pushing the United States to the brink of a military showdown with Russia over the breakaway territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia—places that few Americans can locate on a map. Read more 
18.08.08 Local Win, Global Loss
Comment by Silvio Pitter
Superior military power has allowed Russia to “win” the military conflict in South Ossetia, paving the way for Abkhazia’s and South Ossetia’s auto-determination. But was the war really about these two regions?  Read more 
15.08.08 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Waging War On Georgia
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
This week’s panel was supposed to be about Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s political legacy, since the great writer passed away last Sunday. But events in South Ossetia called for a change of plans. We will discuss Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s impact on Russia and the world next week.
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14.08.08 Ungodly Silence
By Dmitry Babich
“Russia is losing the information war” is, by and large, the only kind of critique of the Russian government that can be heard from state-owned federal television channels, from which most Russians get their information about events in the country. Read more 
11.08.08 Another War, Another Media Frenzy
Comment by Greg Simons
A “frozen conflict” has now, in a spectacular way, become very much unfrozen. In the usual state of affairs, the mass media have reassumed their frenzied manner in this “side performance” of the Olympic Games in Beijing. This conflict has also resoundingly demonstrated the Western mass media’s complete failure in providing a relatively objective or at least complete picture and analysis of events, and a very short memory in terms of recent occurrences--a fact that becomes extremely obvious when reading through the headlines and stories of Swedish, British, and American newspapers. Read more 
08.08.08 The August Canons
By Dmitry Babich
The Georgian force attack against the country’s former autonomy of South Ossetia, which has been a de facto independent separatist state since 1991, obviously came as a surprise to Russia’s leaders. President Dmitry Medvedev convened the country’s Security Council on the morning of August 8, while intense military action began on the evening of August 7, following several days of periodic skirmishes between Georgian and South Ossetian forces. Read more 
07.08.08 Medvedev’s Anti-Corruption Crusade
By Dmitry Babich
Fighting corruption has been one of the main themes of Medvedev’s rhetoric since his inauguration in May. Just days ago, he lamented the fact that positions in the Russian state system are often distributed to high officials’ personal friends, or simply sold for money. So, what is Medvedev suggesting as a remedy for this evil? Read more 
06.08.08 Foul Diplomacy
Comment by Georgy Bovt
Last week, perhaps the most resonant foreign policy statement came from an anonymous source in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MID). Roughly on the same day when the appointment of the new Russian ambassador to Washington was finally approved, an anonymous high-ranking diplomat encouraged America “to stop teaching us who to sleep with,” and foretold a full-scale crisis for the United States, advising the country to learn to live within its means. Read more 
05.08.08 Undermining Medvedev
Comment by Vladimir Frolov
There are very few people who know for sure why Prime Minister Vladimir Putin decided to exercise his full verbal powers, and with a few terse sentences about Mechel, a major coal and steel producer in Russia, shaved off $60 billion worth of the Russian stock market capitalization.
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04.08.08 Never A Fellow Traveler
By Dmitry Babich
The death of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, 89, in Moscow, with only four months left before his 90th birthday, naturally spurred an avalanche of discussions on the Internet, on television and in newspapers. He lived the long life of a great man, which, even during its dark pages, was full – if not of happiness, than at least of meaning and controversy.  Read more 
01.08.08 Russia Runs Out Of Human Resources
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has acknowledged that the country has a pressing problem with selecting candidates for high government positions. “Every time, we have to scratch our heads over where to find people for placement in high official positions in the regions,” Medvedev said.
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31.07.08 The Grand Game Of Symbols
Interview by Andrei Zolotov-Jr.
The patriarchs have gone to their respective homes, Kiev police reported no casualties, and the workers have disassembled the podiums, where the dramatic celebrations for the 1020th anniversary of Christianization of Rus’ took place last weekend. Read more 
30.07.08 Mooching Off Fame
By Yelena Biberman
Nicholas II toppled Joseph Stalin from the most popular historical figure post in mid-July in the infamous Name of Russia contest. The surge in Nicholas’ popularity coincided with the 90th anniversary of the execution of the last Russian tsar and his family.
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29.07.08 A New Novgorod?
By Edward Cowley
VELIKY NOVGOROD/Along the Moscow-St. Petersburg highway, as trucks trundled past throwing up clouds of dust, the local women who have sold homemade pies and pastries to passing drivers for years wondered whether next year they would still be here.  Read more 
28.07.08 Inbreeding Colorblindness
By Sergei Balashov
Violent racism is no news for Russia, where attacks on foreign students, predominantly from African countries, were reported almost daily in the 1990s. These days, hate crimes are getting more and more brutal. “There is a sharp increase in lethal assaults among these attacks,” said executive director of the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights Natalya Rykova. Read more 
25.07.08 Medvedev Unveils His Foreign Policy Strategy
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Last week President Dmitry Medvedev addressed the annual gathering of Russia’s ambassadors and signed a new Russia’s Foreign Policy Strategy. Although the primary rationale for the new Strategy was to provide a policy document that would reflect the change in the international environment and account for Russia’s rise as an emerging great power with serious economic and financial muscle, the document released last week shows little innovative thinking by Russia in crafting a workable solution to the global challenges of the day.
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24.07.08 The Only Way Is Up
By Sergei Balashov
Moscow will soon be eclipsed by yet another ring, this time a ring of skyscrapers. The supertall modern buildings that once seemed so alien to the Soviet and later Russian capital are now a compelling part of the city’s architecture and can even be seen on the background of the Red Square ensemble. Soon, Moscow will be sporting a totally different skyline with skyscrapers defining the city’s image. Read more 
23.07.08 Moscow Stays Pragmatic With Chavez
Blog by Andrei Zolotov, Jr.
The visit of the Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez to Moscow on July 22 grew into a major event as fears of another standoff between Russia and the United States are mounting. First, Moscow is rife with rumors about a possible future deployment of Russian strategic bombers in Cuba as a response to the planned deployment of the U.S. anti-ballistic missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. Read more 
22.07.08 Coming In From The Cold?
By Graham Stack
Many analysts in Minsk see the energy dispute with Moscow at the start of 2007 over subsidized gas prices and customs-free oil exports as marking a break in Belarusian economic strategy. In 2007, Russia put Belarus on a one way track to paying European prices for its gas by 2011, and also ended duty-free oil exports that allowed its small neighbor to earn millions by refining and exporting oil to Europe. Read more 
21.07.08 New Strategy, Old Ideas
Comment by Vladimir Frolov
The Foreign Policy Strategy is remarkable for how little it says about President Dmitry Medvedev’s own vision of Russia’s role in international affairs. It bears all the signs of having been developed long before Medvedev became President. The Russian Foreign Ministry has been working on it for almost a year. As such, it is more of a Putin Foreign Policy Concept which Medvedev found little to disagree with.
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18.07.08 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Russian Democracy – From Manual
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
The debate on Russian democracy has been launched by no other than President Dmitry Medvedev’s think tank, the Institute on Contemporary Development, which commissioned a report by the Center of Political Technologies (CPT) entitled “Democracy: The Development of a Russian Model.”
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17.07.08 Preaching To The Wrong Choir
By Sergei Balashov
According to Russia’s new laws, humanitarian workers will be able to stay for no longer than 90 days without going out of the country and renewing their visa, and be in Russia for no more than 180 days a year. Mormon missionaries have to spend two years on a mission, usually going to a foreign country to take their best effort to spread the religion and get as many people as possible to convert and join the Church.  Read more 
16.07.08 The Unpredictable Past
Comment by Georgy Bovt
Russian television has launched “elections of the past.” The format of the project did not come from Russia – the necessary license for it was purchased from Great Britain. The idea is for the population to choose the most popular character from its history – someone great who has already passed into history. Read more 
15.07.08 Looking Both Ways
By Boris Kamchev
The rising temperatures make for a sweltering summer across Serbia, but the heat is felt not only outside. The impassioned debate over an energy deal with Russia signed earlier this year have made things a little restless for the new Serbian government, made up of the pro-Western Democratic Party (DS), headed by President Boris Tadic, and the Socialist Party of the late Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, both fierce political enemies at the beginning of the decade. Read more 
14.07.08 Farewell, And Forgive
Comment by Alexander Arkhangelsky
There’s a popular stock phrase: “the garbage heap of history.” One image that immediately comes to mind upon hearing this phrase is the one evoked by a recent picture from Naples in Italy; garbage that has not been removed rots under the burning sun and expands; in some places it has been set on fire, and the air is filled with bluish-gray ashes.  Read more 
11.07.08 Russia Profile Weekly Expert Panel: Who Is The Boss In Russia?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
As President Dmitry Medvedev heads for his first G8 summit in Japan, the rest of the G8 leaders must be quietly wondering whether the new guy in town has full authority in his own country.  Read more 
10.07.08 The Unwanted Investment
By Sergei Balashov
The Russian oil and gas industry has always been the most attractive for foreign investors, and it is no wonder that the biggest cash inflows Russia has ever seen have been recorded in this field. The second largest investment after the Sakhalin projects, BP’s joint venture with Tyumen Oil Company, TNK-BP, was set up during the period of transition in the government’s approach to handling foreign presence in the strategic fields of the economy and regulating the oil and gas industry. Read more 
09.07.08 The Ukrainian Dead End
Comment by Georgy Bovt
These days, the “Ukrainian issue” is a must at practically every conference, seminar or round-table that brings together Russian political analysts, experts and politicians who are involved in developing the country’s foreign policy course. Read more 
08.07.08 Why No Response?
By Ulrich Weisser and Frank Elbe
After his inauguration, the new Russian President Vladimir Medvedev made a careful choice where and how to explain his political priorities to the Western world. He decided to choose Berlin as the place for his first visit to the West and to accept the combined invitation of the Federal Association of German Industry and the German Council on Foreign Relations to deliver a programmatic speech on June 5.  Read more 
07.07.08 Natural Partners?
By Sergei Balashov
China is currently positioned as the fourth largest economy in the world. In 2007, its nominal GDP was over $3.4 trillion. This number naturally puts China in the second spot on the list of the largest energy consumers trailing the United States. Read more 
04.07.08 Russia Not Figuring Big In The US Presidential Election
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Through this U.S. presidential campaign season, talk about Russia has been scarce. When Russia is discussed, the tone is more caustic than friendly. Where is the U.S. debate on Russia heading? What specific strategies do Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama have for engaging Russia?  Read more 
03.07.08 Mission Accomplished
By Sergei Balashov
Abramovich wasn’t your typical candidate for governor. He wasn’t a career politician, nor did he enjoy much publicity. Just a little over a year before he won the election, instead of his photograph, a television report showed a sketch of Abramovich made by an Arbat painter from a rare video shot taken of him in the State Duma. It went far beyond just his image.  Read more 
02.07.08 The Quiet Golf Boom
By Sergei Balashov
Despite its many fields and lawns, Russia has never been perceived as a golf country, not only because of the game’s lack of popularity, but mostly owing to the country’s harsh climate that some may see as challenging for building a golf facility in Russia.  Read more 
01.07.08 The Politics Of Unleashing
Comment by Gordon Hahn
There are clear signs that the relationship between Russian Prime Minister and former President Vladimir Putin and his presidential successor Dmitry Medvedev is one of political mentorship, but not of either one’s political or administrative superiority, and that a thaw in Russia’s once again frozen politics is in the offing.  Read more 
30.06.08 The Church's New Teaching
By Andrei Zolotov, Jr.
What a coincidence: at the very same time as the Russia-EU summit, expected to unblock Russia's relations with the European Union, was opening in Khanty-Mansiysk, Western Siberia, in Moscow, the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church adopted, among several other practical and internal documents, a theoretical one addressed to a much wider audience than its own flock, titled: "The Bases of the Russian Orthodox Church's Teaching on Dignity, Liberty and Human Rights."
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26.06.08 Getting Closer In Space
By Sergei Balashov
After the tragic accident that destroyed the Columbia shuttle in 2003, crippling the U.S. space shuttle program by bringing it to a halt until 2005, Russian aircraft have been servicing the International Space Station (ISS). But as another crisis looms, Russia is once again seen as the only party available to help.  Read more 
25.06.08 Distant History’s Remains
Comment by Georgy Bovt
Those who follow the humanitarian development and the education level of our nation were shocked by the terrible results of Russia’s SAT-style (the standardized Scholastic Assessment Test in the United States) Single State Examination in literature. Almost one fourth of all Russian high school graduates failed the literature part of the exam. As soon as this shocking news settled in, another disturbing piece of news arrived.  Read more 
20.06.08 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Who Is Behind TNK-BP’s Trouble?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
The news surrounding TNK-BP could not have sounded grimmer: federal security bureau raids in their corporate headquarters; BP’s foreign personnel, employed at the TNK-BP’s oil fields, barred from entering Russia by the Russian Immigration Service; TNK-BP’s President Robert Dudley repeatedly summoned for hour-long questioning sessions to the Russian Interior Ministry as a witness in a tax-evasion suit against former senior TNK officials.
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19.06.08 Lost In Translation
By Sergei Balashov
“Despite the breakup of the Soviet Union, and in spite of all of the problems it has to face outside of Russia, the Russian language remains the fourth most popular language on the planet behind English, Chinese and Spanish,” said the Vice President of the Center for Political Technologies Sergei Mikheev. Read more 
18.06.08 Unnoticed Hatred
Comment by Georgy Bovt
Judging by the news reports on the national television networks, the current informational space in Russia is rather boring. Some time ago, the country was pleasantly surprised by a series of sports achievements – in hockey, in soccer (Zenit won the UEFA cup) and in the less popular handball.  Read more 
17.06.08 Wishful Reality
Comment by Felix Goryunov
At a time of global economic uncertainty, it is heartwarming to hear talk of a prosperous future, even if it sounds more like wishful thinking. In recent years, it has become a tradition for Russian leaders to share breathtaking ideas at annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forums.  Read more 
11.06.08 Caught Unprepared
By Graham Stack
The flood of investment in expanding Russia’s power generation capacity has taken most people by surprise – including the power engineering companies who will be involved in achieving it. "No one anticipated the success of the UES spin offs in raising investment funds," said Alfa Bank’s Alexander Kornilov, "and so the power generation machinery sector was caught unprepared for the huge surge in demand." Read more 
10.06.08 A Productive Debate
Blog by Andrei Zolotov, Jr.
ST. PETERSBURG/ With $14.6 billion worth of signed contracts, the cr?me de la cr?me of the Russian political elite mingling with a record number of CEOs, pride over the country’s economic achievements and a candid discussion of domestic and global challenges, the International Economic Forum held here on June 7th and 8th was more than just a vanity fair of show-offs and lavish parties. Read more 
09.06.08 Blending With The Global Economy
By Sergei Balashov
Inward and outward investment has been one of the key indicators of what many see as an economic boom. Russia has seen a sharp hike in foreign direct investment, which jumped from less than $7 billion in 2003 to over $27 billion in 2007, or $396.3 per capita, which is more than twice that of Brazil and six times greater than China’s for the same year.  Read more 
22.05.08 Equally Distanced Oligarchs
By Graham Stack
Roman Abramovich’s name is back in the headlines this week in connection with yesterday’s UEFA champions’ league final in Moscow, where Chelsea, the team he has pumped hundreds of millions into, lost to Manchester United. But coming a week after the new Russian government and Kremlin administration were formed, it is telling that, nowadays, political intrigue surrounding Abramovich concerns the Chelsea board and locker rooms. Read more 
21.05.08 Why Alma Mater Matters
By Yelena Biberman
“Even if a graduate is not employed in the field in which he received his degree, the ‘brand’ of his alma mater often serves as a sort of a ‘business card’,” explains a recent report by RatER, a Moscow-based independent rating agency. In April, RatER released its findings on the education of Russian political elite, and ranked Russia’s higher education institutions based on their “end product” – the marketability and success of their graduates in politics. Read more 
08.05.08 Inauguration Augurs
Comment by Andrei Zolotov-Jr.
Since the word “inauguration” stems from the root “augur” – a Roman pagan religious official, who observed natural signs and interpreted them as an indication of divine approval or disapproval of some proposed action – it would be only natural to read the signs of Wednesday’s inauguration of President Dmitry Medvedev. Read more 
07.05.08 Too Alien For Europe
Comment by Georgy Bovt
In 1994, President Boris Yeltsin signed the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the European Union on the Greek island of Corfu. If he could foresee the difficulties his successors would confront ten years after the agreement took effect in 1997, when the time would come for making a new treaty, he would be very upset.  Read more 
06.05.08 Scratching The Teflon
By Graham Stack
Vladimir Putin’s “Teflon coating” that prevents negative policy fallouts from affecting his personal popularity has been a continuous source of frustration for his critics. His willingness to blame the reversals on the government and the prime minister has played a crucial part: his televised castigation of officials from the White House for laziness, inefficiency and stupidity, has been a staple of the Putin show for the last eight years.  Read more 
04.05.08 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: A Quid Pro Quo Strategy
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
It appears that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has found an ingenuous answer to both the speedy recognition of Kosovo’s independence by major Western powers, and the U.S. and East European drive to get Ukraine and Georgia into NATO despite Russian objections. Read more 
30.04.08 The Gentle Impact Of The U.S. Recession
By Felix Goryunov
Recession has come to the United States of America. A couple of months ago, there were still doubts that the downturn in the economy, which began last autumn, would turn out to be a long-term phenomenon. The prevalent view among businessmen and economists now is that the recession will last until 2009 or longer, as more financial and real economy sectors are engulfed by the crisis. Unlike growing prices for gasoline and food, most general economy and industry indicators point downwards.  Read more 
29.04.08 Medvedev’s Public Figure
Comment by Vladimir Frolov
Two weeks before being officially named as the next Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin has already appointed his own men, two of them senior Kremlin officials, to run his press operation, speech writing and protocol at the White House, the seat of the Russian Cabinet.  Read more 
25.04.08 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Russia’s Modernization Challenge
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Last week, two new developments highlighted the challenges Russia's President-Elect Dmitry Medvedev will face as he seeks to modernize the country.
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24.04.08 Strategic Commitment
Interview by Felix Goryunov
Joerg Bongartz is Chairman of the Board, Deutsche Bank Ltd., Moscow, and Chairman of the Banking Committee of the Association of European Businesses (AEB) in the Russian Federation. He spoke to Russia Profile about Deutsche Bank’s operations in Russia and the state of the Russian financial system.
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23.04.08 Tomorrow’s Modest Menu
By Dmitry Babich
As the inauguration day of the new President Dmitry Medvedev (May 7) draws closer, the new leader may be faced with the old problem – soaring food prices. This time, however, the increase in prices can be quite significant, putting the government of the new Prime Minister Vladimir Putin before a host of hard choices.  Read more 
22.04.08 Political Scapegoats
By Yelena Biberman
The Russian government’s active involvement in the knotty space between the citizen and the state appears to be aimed not at strengthening political accountability to the constituents, but at battling an imaginary dragon. This foe – the foreign meddler – is believed to hide in the nongovernmental and charitable organizations designed to serve those for whom the government fails to provide. Read more 
17.04.08 No Man’s Land
By Yelena Biberman
This week marks the 20th anniversary of the Geneva Accords, a set of agreements that facilitated the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. Formally known as the Agreements on the Settlement of the Situation Relating to Afghanistan, the Accords allowed the Soviet Union to leave Afghanistan, which it had invaded ten years prior, without losing face.
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16.04.08 A Soft Touch
Comment by Georgy Bovt
Some political analysts and experts have said lately that Russia should more actively employ so-called “soft power” in its foreign policy. Obviously, this is the result of a certain disappointment with the results of displays of “hard power,” policies based on the use of force and the threat of force.  Read more 
15.04.08 Unlimited Power
By Dmitry Babich
President Putin’s election to the position of chairman of the United Russia party creates an entirely new balance of power in Russia, where the president and members of the government were not part of any party since 1991. According to the changes introduced in United Russia’s statute on the eve of Putin’s election, the chairman will have virtually unlimited powers inside the party. Read more 
14.04.08 A Split Decision
By Vladimir Kozlov
The awards season for Russia’s domestic cinema came to a close in late March with the Nika awards ceremony. The final prize capped off three months in which the White Elephant, a critics’ prize, and the Golden Eagle, an upstart in the industry, also found their way into the hands of Russian filmmakers.

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11.04.08 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Putin’s Defeat In Bucharest
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
At last week’s NATO summit in Bucharest, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany gained the right to claim an important victory, while Russian President Vladimir Putin met with a stinging defeat of his assertive diplomatic style in Romania’s capital.
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10.04.08 The Spoils Of Success
By Yelena Biberman
“Being successful in Russia is risky,” Georgy Satarov, president of the INDEM Foundation and the presidential representative in the State Duma under Boris Yeltsin, said in response to the latest controversy surrounding the renationalization of the Domodedovo International Airport. Satarov noted that the more successful a company is in Russia, the greater are its chances of becoming illegally taken over by the government. The case of Domodedovo supports this logic. Read more 
09.04.08 Mastering Russian Veggies
By Nataliya Vasilyeva
Having spent 13 years in Canada, Pasha Voytinsky moved back to Russia in 1994 to find much tolerance towards vegetarianism in the country of pelmeni and cutlets. Other vegetarian Muscovites have discovered that contrary to popular belief, Russians are far less of meat eaters than could be expected.
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08.04.08 New Style, Old Values
By Larisa Saenko
Americans are still trying to spell correctly the name of the new Russian political obscurity who will replace Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin in May. What’s to be expected after the newly elected President Dmitry Medvedev starts his first term was the main subject of a round table discussion at Columbia University, organized by the Harriman Institute, Russia Profile and RIA Novosti in New York.
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07.04.08 Cooperating Rivals
By Boris Kamchev
At the NATO summit last week in Bucharest, many former communist countries had hoped for a groundswell of support and a clear path of entry into the “most privileged security club in the world.”
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04.04.08 A Normal European Country?
By Yelena Biberman
“It turns out we are not as unique as we thought. It turns out that we are European,” Vladimir Andreenkov, director of the Moscow-based Institute for Comparative Social Research (CESSI) said ironically at the Mar. 28th RIA Novosti press-conference unveiling the very latest European Social Survey (ESS) findings.
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04.04.08 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Will Medvedev Wage War On Siloviki?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Russia’s President-elect Dmitry Medvedev has publicly warned the group of former security officials in President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle (also known as the siloviki) against attempts to test the new configuration of power, in which President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin would jointly rule Russia.  Read more 
03.04.08 Medvedev’s Economic Pledge
By Yelena Biberman
Predicting the future of the Russian economy may have became slightly easier on March 27, when President-elect Dmitry Medvedev promised to boost Russia’s small businesses in order to overcome the country’s excessive dependency on the energy sector. Read more 
02.04.08 The Standoff On Indian Ground
Comment by Varfolomey Bazanov
What is the status quo in the sphere of international relations? On the one hand, the objective reality is that the United States has vast economic, political, and military influence on a global scale, which makes its foreign policy a subject of great interest around the world. At the same time, it can be noted that the era of the United States is drawing to a close, as in the past three decades, 24 out of 25 states with the topmost economic growth lie in Asia and Latin America. And the United States holds the same percentage of the world economy as back in 1913. Read more 
01.04.08 Russia’s Arab Gambit
Comment by Gordon Hahn
On March 30, the summit of the League of Arab States in Damascus adopted a declaration supporting the idea of holding an international conference on the Middle East peace process in Moscow. The idea of the conference was first floated by the Russian President Vladimir Putin during his tour of Middle Eastern countries in April 2005.  Read more 
28.03.08 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Should Russia Strike A Deal With Bush?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
U.S. President George Bush unexpectedly sent his Secretaries of State and Defense on a scouting mission to Moscow last week (it was the U.S.’s turn to host the “two plus two” meeting in Washington) in a last minute effort to strike a deal on missile defense and strategic nuclear reductions with Vladimir Putin’s outgoing administration.
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27.03.08 An Extraordinary Will That Was Never Broken
By Dmitry Babich
Georgy Gachev, the 78-year-old philosopher whose death Russia’s intellectual community mourns this week, did not participate in discussions regarding the oppressive nature of the Soviet regime, despite not fitting into Soviet society. “I have always lived beyond the Soviet state,” he used to say, echoing Abram Terz’s famous confession of having “only stylistic disagreements” with Soviet power.

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26.03.08 The New “Caucasian Captive”
Comment by Georgy Bovt
Lately the Russian mass media – both traditional and Internet – has more and more frequently broached the subject of “regulating the Internet” -- whether it is possible, and if so, by what means. And, most importantly, how far the authorities are willing go in their attempts to isolate themselves from the outside world for the sake of their own political peace. Read more 
21.03.08 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Should Moscow Root For Obama?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
With Russia’s presidential transition all but complete and President-elect Dmitry Medvedev pledging little change in foreign policy after he officially takes over on May 7, it is time to take a look at the unfolding presidential race in the United States.  Read more 
20.03.08 The Lame Duck Challenge
By Yelena Biberman
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived in Moscow on March 17 for two day long two-plus-two “consultations” with their Russian counterparts, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, and also to meet with President Vladimir Putin and President-elect Dmitry Medvedev.
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19.03.08 Avoiding The Inevitable
By Dmitry Babich
The three Central Asian gas powers’ (Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan) sudden decision to start selling their gas at “European” prices as of January 1, 2009, puts Russia and to an even greater extent Ukraine in a very difficult situation. Read more 
18.03.08 Is Obama Good For Russia?
Comment by Vladimir Frolov
Senator Barack Obama has a real chance to become the next president of the United States. He would become the first black president in American history – a powerful factor in the unfolding Obama movement.
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17.03.08 He Taught People’s Souls. In Memoriam Metropolitan Laurus
By Andrei Zolotov, Jr.
When he began to appear on television screens four years ago, he seemed a strange man for the Russian public. Bearing the high title of Metropolitan of East America and New York, he was dressed accordingly. He met with President Vladimir Putin and Patriarch Alexy II and then signed on May 17, 2007 the historical act on communion of the Orthodox Church in Russia and abroad, thus putting an end to the tragic division of the Russian people in the 20th century. Read more 
14.03.08 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: An Investment Of Diminishing Returns?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Last week, a sweeping article by Peter Finn appeared in the Washington Post. Entitled “Russia Pumps Tens of Millions Into Burnishing Image Abroad,” it described an increasingly sophisticated and well funded effort “to build and project to the world an image of a country where the economy is booming and democracy is developing. Read more 
13.03.08 Conflicting Interests
Comment by Georgy Bovt
The recent conflict between the Journalists Union of Chechnya and the Russian Union of Journalists seems to have risen out of nowhere. It also seems like it was a surprise to the majority of the parties involved. Nevertheless, it reflected the current state of Russian press in a rather original manner.
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12.03.08 Dull Is Beautiful?
By Dmitry Babich
As the world laments a rollback of democracy in Russia, Russians themselves seem to be more divided than ever before on how to react to the criticism from abroad, including the general discomfort with the recent victory of Dmitry Medvedev.
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11.03.08 Recognized As Such
By Daria Solovieva
It was 1985 when the grand Soviet experiment began to show symptoms of fateful miscalculations. As the West steadily outsmarted the Soviet Union in the arms race and the development of new technology, the leaders of the crumbling Soviet empire began paying attention.  Read more 
06.03.08 Forgiving And Forgetting
By Olaf Koens
Unlike the Duma elections last December, there was no sincere interest in Brussels in the Russian presidential election. Some even proclaimed Dmitry Medvedev’s victory before polling stations even opened in Russia. The European Council of Foreign Relations (ECFR), a newly-founded European advocacy think thank, released a report on Feb. 28 titled “Meeting Medvedev: the politics of the Putin succession,” stating that instead of rushing to embrace Medvedev, European Union leaders should agree on a joint Russia strategy and organize a series of tests for Putin’s successor. Read more 
05.03.08 Misleading Rhetoric
Comment by Vladimir Frolov
This year’s presidential election in Russia has been a boring and predictable affair. We have all known for some time that Dmitry Medvedev would be our next president. Over 70 percent of the voters endorsed this outcome, which was not really contested during the campaign. Medvedev’s rivals were no match.  Read more 
04.03.08 Gazprom’s Sochi
By Graham Stack
On Feb. 21, the CEOs of Russia’s Gazprom, France’s Total and Norway’s StatoilHydro signed a deal establishing the Shtokman Development Company, a joint venture that will develop (but not own) the eponymous gas field in the Barents Sea.
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03.03.08 A Rural Referendum
By Yelena Biberman
The result of Sunday’s presidential election was never nebulous for now president-elect Dmitry Medvedev, and though the state apparatus supported him all the way with dominant coverage on state controlled media and a lack of true opposition, the rank and file voters also lined up to vote for the “obvious” choice to replace President Vladimir Putin.
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29.02.08 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Russia’s Stake In Kosovo
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Following Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence on Feb. 17 and its recognition by major Western powers the following week, much has been said about the possible adverse effects this will have on similar unresolved ethnic conflicts in Europe and other parts of the world.

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28.02.08 Ousting The Ideological Enemy
By Yelena Biberman
A prominent ivory tower in the Russian cultural capital has become one of the tragic casualties of Russia’s cold clash with the West. The shuttering of the European University (EUSP) in St. Petersburg on Feb. 8 by the Dzerzhinsky district court sent shockwaves through the international academic community.
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27.02.08 Russia Steps On The Gas
By Graham Stack
Germany is Russia’s most prominent European partner, and now Germany’s most important Russia specialist has published a snapshot of Russia and its ambivalent relationship to Europe, containing a wealth of insider information and hot off the press. Read more 
26.02.08 A Precedent After The Fact
Comment by Sergei Markedonov
The Kosovo issue has been one of the most complicated and intricate ethno-political problems in the Balkan Peninsula for the past two decades. The leaders of the Kosovo Albanian movement proclaimed independence once back in 1991, but at that time the problem was localized in the Balkan region. Albania was the only country to support Kosovo back then. Later, the idea of unifying two Albanian states was taken off the political agenda.  Read more 
22.02.08 Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: The Dream President?
Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Last Friday, Russia’s likely next President Dmitry Medvedev unveiled his presidential economic and political program for the next four years. The program appears to be very liberal, at least on paper, which prompted some left-wing politicians to talk about a possible “new thaw” and a “new opening” for liberal reforms.
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21.02.08 Suspiciously Accurate
By Dmitry Babich
An erroneous forecast is an embarrassment for every sociologist, but a prediction that is right to the point is a true nightmare. This is the impression one got during a roundtable at Moscow’s Union of Journalists, where representatives of Russia’s most prestigious think tanks specializing in public opinion research voiced their stance on a very peculiar problem, namely that of all their for