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Archive for the 'AP Russia' Category

Putin and the Berlin Wall

Friday, December 12th, 2014

The Russian Federation’s current president, Vladimir Putin, was a KGB officer in East Germany during its final days, and it’s been reported that even he—no nascent democrat—was appalled at the totalitarianism of its state apparatus. Yet the sudden implosion of his homeland’s empire, and the laying open of its borders to Western businessmen and TV shows, clearly left him traumatized. His current policies can be seen as a reaction to those embittering days.

Is Vladimir Putin trying to build a new Orthodox empire?

Friday, December 12th, 2014

The vast majority of Russians now identify as Orthodox—a stark change from the immediate post-Soviet period. Recent years have seen a flurry of church construction throughout the country. And perhaps most important of all, there’s a committed believer—Vladimir Putin—in the Kremlin, a man who surrounds himself with other influential people of faith and regularly invokes God in his public statements. Yet all is not as rosy for the Orthodox Church as it appears on the surface. The blurring of the line between church and state in Russia, what critics call an attempt to turn religion into a branch of the government, has alienated many former believers. The recent crisis in Ukraine has also exposed a potentially dangerous split in the millennium-old institution.

Russia’s Insane Crackdown on Bloggers

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

Most American bloggers would be thrilled if their government announced that they were officially journalists. Press passes! Insider access! In Russia, however, the journalist label comes with a bit of baggage—namely, state oversight and strict censorship of any potentially contentious reportage.

It’s bad news for Russian bloggers, then, that starting today, anyone who attracts more than 3,000 daily readers to his blog is considered a de facto journalist and must register. (In a largely symbolic gesture, LiveJournal has already stopped reporting blog subscribers beyond the 2,500 mark.) Registration entails turning over your personal details to the government—including, of course, your name, meaning anonymous blogging is now illegal for many. (By the way, the law applies to any blog written in Russian for Russians; a post you write from a Brooklyn cafe could face censorship from Moscow.)

Putin: The rebuilding of ‘Soviet’ Russia

Friday, May 30th, 2014

The world was stunned when Russia invaded Crimea, but should it have been? Author and journalist Oliver Bullough says President Vladimir Putin never kept secret his intention to restore Russian power – what’s less clear, he says, is how long the country’s rise can continue.

Illiberal Democracy? – Russian TV All Day

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Here is what one commentator learned from watching Russian state TV for a day

In many ways, the 8 p.m. news broadcast brings the themes of the day together. It is a masterwork of mentioning controversial points as if they were indisputable facts. What is unsaid is as important as what is said

Putin’s Four Dirty Words

Saturday, May 10th, 2014

On Monday, Putin signed legislation that has been floating around the Duma for years: as of July 1st, there will be no swearing in movies and theatrical productions or from the concert stage.

You won’t read it in your local family newspaper, but the law centers on the four pillars of mat: there is khuy (“cock”), pizda (“cunt”), ebat’ (“to fuck”), and blyad (“whore”).

According to the Moscow Times, the Institute of Russian Language at the Russian Academy of Sciences settled on the obvious four words. A spokesman for the Ministry of Culture told the Times that the new strictures will be limited to pop culture and will not apply to matters of art.

In the nineties and beyond, as society became more open, more liberal, mat became more and more prevalent. Now President Putin, who has been known to use a blistering phrase of mathimself in private meetings, has shown his determination to stopper public speech and turn back the clock on the vast society under his rule.

(from New Yorker)

Putin’s Games: Influence Peddling at the Feeding Troughs of Sochi

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

The president has used the spectacle — and the vast construction contracts involved — to secure his own power and to rid himself of rivals.

Just 18 months ago, Putin appeared weakened as a result of ballot box fraud and mass demonstrations. But now he is using the Olympic Games to present himself as a leader who can do everything. And he is using the event to consolidate his rule and shunt aside rivals. Those who serve him unconditionally are allowed to profit handsomely. Those who don’t lose his blessing.

The fates of Putin’s enemies

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

Russian anti-corruption blogger and opposition politician Alexei Navalny has been jailed for five years for fraud, after a trial he says was politically motivated.

Mr Navalny could now be barred from running in the Moscow mayoral election set for September. He also joins a growing list of opponents of President Vladimir Putin who have ended up on the wrong side of the law or in exile, or have met their deaths in suspicious circumstances.

The Russia Left Behind

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

This is tremendous longform journalism on Russia. For better and worse, this is the future of e-journalism. It is also very informative about Russia

Obituary: Boris A. Berezovsky

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Boris A. Berezovsky, once the richest and most powerful of the so-called oligarchs who dominated post-Soviet Russia, and a close ally of Boris N. Yeltsin who helped install Vladimir V. Putin as president but later exiled himself to London after a bitter falling out with the Kremlin, died Saturday.

Mr. Berezovsky was a Soviet mathematician who after the fall of Communism went into business and figured out how to skim profits off what was then Russian’s largest state-owned carmaker. Along with spectacular wealth, he accumulated enormous political influence, becoming a close ally of Mr. Yeltsin’s.

With Mr. Yeltsin’s political career fading, Mr. Berezovsky helped engineer the rise of Mr. Putin, an obscure former K.G.B. agent and onetime aide to the mayor of St. Petersburg who became president of Russia in 2000 and last May returned to the presidency for a third term.

After his election, Mr. Putin began a campaign of tax claims against a group of rich and powerful Russians, including Mr. Berezovsky and Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, an oil tycoon, who remains jailed in Russia.

Mr. Berezovsky fled to London, where he eventually won political asylum and at one point raised tensions by calling for a coup against Mr. Putin.

Here is is NY Times Obit