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19.09.2019
Is the Russia-Belarus Merger Anything More Than a Mirage?

Is the Russia-Belarus Merger Anything More Than a Mirage?

There’s no desperation or desire from the Belarusian side right now to obtain concessions from Moscow at any price. The damage to Belarus’s economy from Russia’s “tax maneuver” is serious, but not fatal. The cumulation of these losses will only anger Lukashenko and make him less prepared to compromise.
18.09.2019
How the Moscow Protest Cases Are Changing Russia’s Justice System

How the Moscow Protest Cases Are Changing Russia’s Justice System

By September, the criminal cases brought against Moscow protesters had stopped being described as a “second Bolotnaya case,” and rightly so, because it was a false analogy. We have entered a new phase, in which we are seeing political protest cases that would previously have been classified as administrative violations be reassigned en masse as more serious crimes.
11.09.2019
St. Petersburg Embraces Protest Voting in Local Elections

St. Petersburg Embraces Protest Voting in Local Elections

The near-identical results of gubernatorial runners-up Mikhail Amosov and Nadezhda Tikhonova show once again that people were following the tactic of voting for anyone except acting governor Alexander Beglov, and that left with two other options, voters simply tossed a coin. For the first time in the city’s history, we have seen clearly expressed protest voting.
10.09.2019
Regional Rehearsal: Kremlin’s Electoral Plans Look Set for Rethink

Regional Rehearsal: Kremlin’s Electoral Plans Look Set for Rethink

The outcome of Russia’s latest regional elections, especially in Moscow and Khabarovsk, throws into question plans to reduce the proportion of seats allocated by party list voting in favor of more single-mandate districts ahead of elections to the State Duma in 2021. It turns out that when faced with a strong protest mood like in Khabarovsk, or heavily mobilized protests amid a low turnout like in Moscow, these maneuvers don’t help.
9.09.2019
Fresh Approaches Enable Russia-Ukraine Prisoner Swap

Fresh Approaches Enable Russia-Ukraine Prisoner Swap

For the Kremlin, key conditions for the prisoner exchange were President Zelensky’s reference to joint work by two states and two presidents, recognition that there were advantages to the swap for both sides, and the exclusion of the exchange from the victory/defeat paradigm.
5.09.2019
Repression Rollback: First Moscow Protesters See Charges Dropped

Repression Rollback: First Moscow Protesters See Charges Dropped

After two months of trial and error in dealing with the Moscow protests, it looks like the Russian authorities have started to define their red lines. As before, the slightest physical resistance to the authorities is met with harsh punishment, but the siloviki have stopped short of openly fabricating cases: not for the sake of society, but because this concerns the president too. The level of repression is abating, together with the displeasure of the civilian section of the elite closest to the president, which had been alarmed by the siloviki’s attempts to alter the status quo.
4.09.2019
The Kremlin Experiments Going Unnoticed Ahead of Russian Elections

The Kremlin Experiments Going Unnoticed Ahead of Russian Elections

A TV star-turned-politician is as good a new model as any for candidates for State Duma elections: someone who criticizes everyone, but then on fundamental issues will always willingly support the authorities. The Kremlin is currently studying the potential of this kind of candidate. The global trend of populists winning; actors, singers and other celebrities turning their hand to politics; and the departure of traditional parties are all things Russia has already seen, and not so long ago either. It would not be hard to return to that time.
3.09.2019
Official Visit Symbolizes New U.S. Attitude to Belarus

Official Visit Symbolizes New U.S. Attitude to Belarus

Both Belarusian officials and U.S. presidential adviser John Bolton were quick to put out the message that the visit was more about form than content. Bolton said openly that no issues had been resolved at the meeting, but that he had not expected otherwise. Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei said that no one was enticing Minsk over to any side, and that the two sides had simply agreed to keep communicating.
2.09.2019
Idealism vs. Reality: Ukraine’s New Government Prepares for Challenges

Idealism vs. Reality: Ukraine’s New Government Prepares for Challenges

The new Ukrainian government’s main problem is the harsh reality awaiting it. The majority of the new ministers—progressive young idealists who have studied at Western universities, founders of successful startups—may not be sufficiently familiar with the conditions of everyday life in the country away from the post-industrial digital economy clusters. A collision with that reality could be a shock, both for the reformers themselves and for Ukrainian society, which is desperate for immediate change.
29.08.2019
Panic and Secrecy Reign Following Mysterious Explosion in Russia

Panic and Secrecy Reign Following Mysterious Explosion in Russia

In Russia, any information can be classified without discussion, from genuinely secret data about military developments to information that is in the public interest, such as the level of radiation in cities, and the names of those killed or injured as the result of an accident. Official recognition of these deaths, by naming the victims and according them full honors, could have become a source of pride and a good precedent, but the authorities still have not done this following the explosion near Severodvinsk: it’s not even known exactly how many people were injured.
27.08.2019
Ukraine’s New President: Servant of the People, or Father of the Nation?

Ukraine’s New President: Servant of the People, or Father of the Nation?

Under President Zelensky, the decisionmaking center is being dislodged to make way for the president himself and the circle of people close to him. The role of the government will be reduced to that of technical implementation, while the new parliament, with its single-party majority and weak opposition, will also lose a lot of its former influence. This style of ruling is more akin to a super-presidential republic than the parliamentary-presidential model customary for Ukraine.
26.08.2019
Has Russia, Inc. Stalwart Chemezov Crossed the Barricades?

Has Russia, Inc. Stalwart Chemezov Crossed the Barricades?

Sergei Chemezov’s comments on the public mood in Russia testify not to the specter of a thaw, but, on the contrary, to the fact that the clampdown is in full swing, and only individual members of the inner circle are apprehensive of the authorities’ new radical strategy of repression, which will provoke a new spiral in the war that is already de facto raging between the state and civil society.
22.08.2019
Why Macron Gave Putin Such a Warm Welcome in France

Why Macron Gave Putin Such a Warm Welcome in France

It’s impossible for Russia to return to the G7, but it’s also impossible for the group to solve many problems important to it without Russia. France’s relationship of trust with the Russian leadership, and the opportunity to represent Russia behind the scenes at the group’s gatherings, are an important diplomatic asset that France would hate to lose.
21.08.2019
Kremlin Analytica: Russian Elite Sets Sights on AI

Kremlin Analytica: Russian Elite Sets Sights on AI

A new experiment in the use of artificial intelligence will be monopolized by the Kremlin. It could have major political consequences in Russia.
20.08.2019
The Path to Politics: Belarus Prepares for Double Elections

The Path to Politics: Belarus Prepares for Double Elections

Elections in Belarus are traditionally administrative rituals. However, amid growing tensions with Russia and increased discussion of a future presidential transition in Minsk, the upcoming Belarusian parliamentary and presidential votes may be the start of cautious political change in the country.
13.08.2019
Protests Expose Russia’s Regime Rivalry

Protests Expose Russia’s Regime Rivalry

Russia’s government agencies are so busy competing with one another and presenting themselves in a good light to the Kremlin that they are failing to deal with the new street protests.
12.08.2019
What’s Behind Russia’s New Offensive Against the Internet Economy?

What’s Behind Russia’s New Offensive Against the Internet Economy?

In recent months, Russia has launched a new attack on web-based companies. Often, these measures are presented as efforts to combat terrorism. However, behind them lies a union of bureaucrats and security agents, the business aspirations of state capitalists, and the Russian authorities’ desire to control the internet.
8.08.2019
Moscow’s Crisis Is Now Russia’s Crisis

Moscow’s Crisis Is Now Russia’s Crisis

By agreeing to the brutal suppression of peaceful protests about Moscow city elections, Mayor Sobyanin has submitted to collective responsibility. For Putin and the Kremlin, it is impermissible that elections can be lost. This is a message for Russia’s next parliamentary and presidential polls.
31.07.2019
Why the Russian Government Can’t Attain Economic Growth

Why the Russian Government Can’t Attain Economic Growth

The obstacles hindering growth are well known, and it would seem that the government has every opportunity to tackle these problems. It could easily resist lobbying by state capitalists: both the law and regulations would allow that. Instead of embarking on a path of empowerment, however, the government has turned into a place of ceremonial meetings for people with influential positions who are manipulated by officials from the presidential administration and by state capitalists.
30.07.2019
Joint Russian-Chinese Air Patrol Signifies New Level of Cooperation

Joint Russian-Chinese Air Patrol Signifies New Level of Cooperation

In taking its military cooperation with China to a new level, Moscow will strive to preserve its anti-American slant. Russia clearly wants to stay out of Beijing’s numerous disputes with Asian countries over islands and historical grievances. In addition, the current nature of Russian-U.S. and Chinese-U.S. relations means Russia and China’s military cooperation will inevitably have an anti-United States focus.
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