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14.08.2018
What Really Lies Behind the Belarusian Crackdown on Independent Media

What Really Lies Behind the Belarusian Crackdown on Independent Media

Judging by how they are preparing for it, the Belarusian authorities apparently expect that a threat to stability could arise quite soon. It’s not clear how they envisage the source of the danger: economic problems, an information attack from the East or West, or perhaps they are contemplating carrying out painful reforms. But what is clear is that they have serious concerns about how non-state media would behave if something did happen.
9.08.2018
“No Trust”: What Russians Think About the Pension Reform Plan

“No Trust”: What Russians Think About the Pension Reform Plan

The government’s pension reform plan has shocked the majority of Russians, who, in focus group discussions, expressed confusion, fear, and frustration with the government, including President Vladimir Putin himself. Russians expect the proposed measures to pass. But they are also prepared to resist them in various ways, and they want concessions and guarantees of employment and healthcare, especially for society’s most vulnerable members.
7.08.2018
Why Russia Can’t Build the Political Infrastructure It Needs

Why Russia Can’t Build the Political Infrastructure It Needs

Public discontent over a plan to raise Russia’s pension age has revealed a critical flaw in the country’s political system: there is no political infrastructure that can function in crisis conditions. Only President Vladimir Putin can speak on behalf of the state. Without him, the vertical collapses. Russia desperately needs alternative connections between the state and the people. But virtually any political infrastructure project fundamentally undermines the country’s power vertical.
6.08.2018
Inside the Explosive Case Against Armenia’s Ex-President

Inside the Explosive Case Against Armenia’s Ex-President

The case against ex-president Robert Kocharyan has become the most explosive episode in Armenian politics since this past spring’s Velvet Revolution. It has unnerved Moscow, as well as Kocharyan’s allies in Yerevan, with the former fearing that Armenia is pivoting to the West and the latter accusing the Nikol Pashinyan government of political persecution. But the case against Kocharyan is neither geopolitical nor the beginning of a campaign of terror—it is all about the March 1 affair, Armenia’s Bloody Sunday.
2.08.2018
Two Trumps in Helsinki: Russia’s Approach to the U.S. President

Two Trumps in Helsinki: Russia’s Approach to the U.S. President

Vladimir Putin is widely viewed as the winner of the Helsinki summit. But reality may be more complicated. Despite optics in Putin’s favor, the Russian government is unsure how to further relate to Trump: should it view him as a full-fledged partner who can normalize relations between Russia and the United States, or should it use him as a tool for disrupting U.S. foreign policy?
25.07.2018
Western Sanctions on Russia’s Oil and Gas Sector: a Damage Assessment

Western Sanctions on Russia’s Oil and Gas Sector: a Damage Assessment

Don’t be misled by Western sanctions’ limited impact on Russia. In reality, they operate with an accumulating effect: the more time passes, the greater the potential technological backlog, financing gap, and negative consequences will be. In the long run, sanctions may jeopardize Russia’s oil and gas production volumes and the development of pipeline infrastructure, gradually squeezing the country out of foreign markets, limiting its export revenues, and undermining the stability of the Russian economy.
24.07.2018
Belarus’s Second Front: Is Lukashenko Really Afraid of Russia?

Belarus’s Second Front: Is Lukashenko Really Afraid of Russia?

In the past few years, Minsk has started citing Russia as its main threat—but only as a theory intended primarily for external consumption. Now it has been dangled before domestic audiences.
23.07.2018
Russia Must Show Caution Now That It Has Publicly Sided With Trump

Russia Must Show Caution Now That It Has Publicly Sided With Trump

Having publicly entered internal U.S. politics, Russia must be prepared for various unpleasant surprises.
12.07.2018
Lucky With Trump: Putin Prepares for Helsinki

Lucky With Trump: Putin Prepares for Helsinki

The Kremlin is seeking ways of de-escalating tensions with the West without making major concessions. It sees the isolationist unpredictable Trump as a partner in this endeavor.
12.07.2018
Détente Revisited in Helsinki

Détente Revisited in Helsinki

Helsinki will mark the first détente in the four-year-old Hybrid War between Russia and the United States. But there will be no major breakthrough. President Putin regards a meeting with the U.S. president not as a reward but as a resumption of normal business.
11.07.2018
Craving Respect: The Russian Public’s Wish List in Helsinki

Craving Respect: The Russian Public’s Wish List in Helsinki

Opinion polls and focus groups show that, despite intense anti-American feelings in Russia, Russians do pin hopes on the Putin-Trump summit. They want to see a de-escalation in confrontation and a re-focus away from foreign affairs by Putin, and they want Washington to show respect for Russia.
6.07.2018
The Doors are Still Closing: Russia and the World Cup

The Doors are Still Closing: Russia and the World Cup

Russia has opened its doors to thousands of foreigners for the World Cup, but the realities of Putin’s Russia are bigger than the feel-good spirit provided by the football.
5.07.2018
The Specter of Revolution: Moldova’s Future Hangs On Protests

The Specter of Revolution: Moldova’s Future Hangs On Protests

The decision to annul the opposition’s victory in Chi?inau’s mayoral election is among the most confrontational taken by Moldova’s self-avowedly pro-European authorities. But the convergence of internal and external factors that the anti-government protests need to succeed has not yet occurred. The defeat of anti-government forces shortly before decisive parliamentary elections will leave Moldovan society even more apathetic.
4.07.2018
Despite the Helsinki Summit, the Hybrid War Is Here to Stay

Despite the Helsinki Summit, the Hybrid War Is Here to Stay

Since 2014, Russia and the US have been engaged in a hybrid war, characterized by conflict in financial, technological, and ideological spheres. Regardless of the results of the summit, this hybrid war is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. However, the relationship can and must be stabilized through clear understanding by both parties of the other side’s behavior and motivations
3.07.2018
Illusory Stability: Putin’s Regime Is Readier Than Ever for Change

Illusory Stability: Putin’s Regime Is Readier Than Ever for Change

The events of the last four years in Russia show that its fabled stability and lack of change have stopped being the top political value. Today, the Russian regime is more ready than ever for transformation. Before, any decisions had to be approved by the president and were made at a snail’s pace because Putin had no time. Now, it’s the other way around: decisions are made quickly precisely because Putin has no time.
29.06.2018
Putin and Yumashev: Survivors of the Nineties

Putin and Yumashev: Survivors of the Nineties

Vladimir Putin learned the art of political survival in the Kremlin of the 1990s. Little wonder that he has decided to keep on his former co-conspirator from that era, Valentin Yumashev.
25.06.2018
Belarus, the Tactical Peacemaker

Belarus, the Tactical Peacemaker

Belarus’s newfound role as a peacemaker has helped Minsk gain previously unimaginable freedom of maneuver with both the West and Russia. Minsk will likely continue to defend and uphold its status as a mediator, even if warring parties do not want to negotiate.
22.06.2018
The Boomerang of 1968: Reflections on Prague, Paris, and Moscow Fifty Years On

The Boomerang of 1968: Reflections on Prague, Paris, and Moscow Fifty Years On

The Prague Spring was the nobler and more enduring face of 1968. The Western protests were mostly about middle-class counterculture and were subsumed by a culture of consumerism, while the Eastern European tradition of anti-totalitarian dissent has endured.
21.06.2018
Expect No Changes From Russia’s New Presidential Administration

Expect No Changes From Russia’s New Presidential Administration

To predict what the Kremlin will do, we need look no further than the ambitious but unrealized initiatives of the mid-2000s, such as enlarging the regions and tax reforms. The same is true of the Kremlin’s staffing policy: even if there are some reshuffles, the positions of power go to experienced and well-known individuals. Vladimir Putin is comfortable talking to familiar people on familiar subjects. His closest associates are well aware of this fact and have adjusted to their boss’s preferences.
19.06.2018
A Russian Writes to European Friends

A Russian Writes to European Friends

There are several misperceptions about Russia that make relations with Europe worse than they need to be. Acknowledging these illusions is the first step to Russia and Europe being able to understand each other.
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