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13.06.2019
Ivan Golunov Is Free. Other Victims of Russia’s Police Are Not So Lucky

Ivan Golunov Is Free. Other Victims of Russia’s Police Are Not So Lucky

No one denies that drug lords really exist, but so long as everyone is busy fabricating cases against innocent people and battling to meet crime targets, the real ones go about their business undisturbed. After all, their cases would need proper investigation: real criminals are clever and cautious.
12.06.2019
Why Jailed U.S. Investor Calvey Is the Least of Putin’s Concerns

Why Jailed U.S. Investor Calvey Is the Least of Putin’s Concerns

While the authorities used the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum to blame the United States for Russia’s problems, the forum’s main unofficial topic was the lawlessness and impunity of the security services, or siloviki. Faced with the question of what is preventing business and investors from developing in Russia, the authorities and the business elite had contradictory answers.
10.06.2019
Changing the Guard: The End of Russia’s Bodyguards-Turned-Governors

Changing the Guard: The End of Russia’s Bodyguards-Turned-Governors

We are unlikely to see any more Federal Protective Service officers as governors following the resignation of Astrakhan’s acting governor, Sergei Morozov. This doesn’t mean that security service officials will no longer hold high-ranking government positions, but they won’t have the special status afforded by proximity to the president. It no longer suits Putin to have regional leaders hinting at their closeness to him as a method of government: now they must do some work for themselves.
29.05.2019
Symbolism and Radicalization: The New Russian Protest

Symbolism and Radicalization: The New Russian Protest

Russians, once cowed by the potential consequences of taking to the streets, are increasingly willing to protest over nonpolitical and local issues. Having failed to suppress these protests using force, authorities—federal, regional, and local—have resorted to accommodation, offering token concessions and sometimes even meeting protesters’ demands. But they have mistaken the symbolic reasons for these protests for the real drivers of unrest in Russia. In the meantime, protesters will become further radicalized and may eventually become courageous enough to issue overtly political demands.
28.05.2019
How “Loyalty” Ensnared Russia’s Journalists and Media Owners

How “Loyalty” Ensnared Russia’s Journalists and Media Owners

When media outlets and their owners are accountable to the political regime instead of to their audiences, they cannot be both professional and manageable.
24.05.2019
Zelenskiy vs. the Parties: Ukraine Prepares for Parliamentary Elections

Zelenskiy vs. the Parties: Ukraine Prepares for Parliamentary Elections

In calling early parliamentary elections, Ukraine’s new president is clearly hoping for yet another round of voting against the current authorities, in which the party system of the last five years will be defeated. But in destroying the system of checks and balances based on the “corrupt consensus” of oligarchic groups, Zelenskiy risks getting carried away and crossing the line into usurping power.
22.05.2019
Every Man for Himself: The Russian Regime Turns On Itself

Every Man for Himself: The Russian Regime Turns On Itself

The Russian regime is less and less like a well-tuned orchestra with a confident conductor, and more and more like a cacophony in which every musician is trying to play louder and get more attention than everyone else. No one is focusing on the harmonious sound of the symphony. Instead, institutional and corporate priorities take precedence over national priorities, and are carried out at the latter’s expense. This political divergence has been provoked by Putin’s political absence, and fueled by a general fear of an uncertain future and lack of clarity regarding Putin’s plans.
13.05.2019
A National Disappointment: What Went Wrong With the Sukhoi Superjet 100

A National Disappointment: What Went Wrong With the Sukhoi Superjet 100

The Sukhoi Superjet 100 has long stopped being just another aircraft, and has become a sociopolitical symbol of hope and disappointment. The project launched almost 20 years ago as a dream of conquering the world has turned into a thorn in everyone’s side. It seems that everyone, from government officials to airlines and passengers, is tired of the Superjet, which raises the question of whether the plane should continue to exist.
29.04.2019
The Split in Russia’s Civil Society

The Split in Russia’s Civil Society

The wave of landfill protests sweeping Russia is something new on the country’s political map. Fierce and intransigent, they have become a thorn in the side of the authorities—at least at a local level—and demonstrate a new kind of civic activism: one born out of garbage and demolition waste.
25.04.2019
It’s Time to Rethink Russia’s Foreign Policy Strategy

It’s Time to Rethink Russia’s Foreign Policy Strategy

A broad public discussion on Moscow’s foreign policy goals and objectives is long overdue. International issues are affecting the interests of Russian society as a whole more and more, making it necessary for private citizens to take a greater interest in their country’s conduct abroad, especially in the single continental space that is Greater Eurasia.
24.04.2019
Bad Cop, Mediator or Spoiler: Russia’s Role on the Korean Peninsula

Bad Cop, Mediator or Spoiler: Russia’s Role on the Korean Peninsula

Despite Russia’s limited toolkit, growing alignment with China, and its broken relationship with the U.S., Moscow will not be written off by Washington and its allies when it comes to the diplomatic process on North Korea.
23.04.2019
Victory for Zelensky in Ukraine — But the Real Battle Starts Now

Victory for Zelensky in Ukraine — But the Real Battle Starts Now

Ukraine’s president-elect Volodymyr Zelensky has formulated his ideal country as one that is neither a “corrupt partner of the West,” nor “Russia’s little sister.” This pragmatic kind of civil patriotism is close to the hearts of most Ukrainians, for whom the most important task right now is to fix the country’s domestic problems following the crusade-like presidency of Petro Poroshenko.
19.04.2019
Russia’s Sovereign Internet Law Will Kill Innovation

Russia’s Sovereign Internet Law Will Kill Innovation

The Kremlin’s domestic policy bloc increasingly tries to run Russia as a corporation. It’s not surprising, therefore, that they have resorted to typical corporate methods in the field of Internet control, electing to use deep packet inspection (DPI) technology, which is not employed at a national level anywhere else in the world.
17.04.2019
Accelerating the Transition: What’s Behind Kazakhstan’s Snap Election?

Accelerating the Transition: What’s Behind Kazakhstan’s Snap Election?

Kazakhstan’s power handover increasingly looks like a trap for Nazarbayev. He wants the process to go smoothly, as planned, but the entire system only works when he is at the helm. There is no one capable of replicating precisely what the first president conceived. Nazarbayev has ruled Kazakhstan with an iron fist, but that fist is gradually growing weaker. As for Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Dariga Nazarbayeva, their influence can buy them respect, but it doesn’t inspire fear.
15.04.2019
The Ukrainian elite is preparing for Poroshenko’s election defeat

The Ukrainian elite is preparing for Poroshenko’s election defeat

With polls showing incumbent Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko heading for a major defeat in the runoff election, governors and ministers are looking for contacts with the likely winner and his team. The president has fired a series of governors to send a warning to the rest. But the message is too late and not convincing.
9.04.2019
Kremlin Scapegoat: Russia’s In-System Opposition Under Attack

Kremlin Scapegoat: Russia’s In-System Opposition Under Attack

A new criterion for distinguishing between in-system and non-systemic opposition is emerging: if a candidate or party list has caused any problems, it must be disloyal and outside of the system, so it needs to be punished. This categorization is a matter of pure chance: after all, candidates and parties can win by doing nothing.
5.04.2019
Grudges Before Politics: Arrests in Russia Are Increasingly Random

Grudges Before Politics: Arrests in Russia Are Increasingly Random

Abyzov’s arrest demonstrates that the prosecution of economic crimes is becoming chaotic, and that politics, which previously loomed large behind high-profile arrests, now appears only after the fact, as a secondary, albeit important, consequence.
2.04.2019
Ukrainian Candidates Set to Haggle Ahead of Presidential Runoff

Ukrainian Candidates Set to Haggle Ahead of Presidential Runoff

The clash between the new populism of Zelenskiy, who staked everything on Russian-speaking Ukraine, and Poroshenko’s national-patriotic conservatism is leading to a partial resumption of the old standoff between the two Ukraines.
28.03.2019
Making Sense of Ukraine’s Complicated, Highly Competitive Presidential Campaign

Making Sense of Ukraine’s Complicated, Highly Competitive Presidential Campaign

Ukraine is going to the polls amid stalled reforms, multiple corruption scandals, and low trust in political institutions. Despite this, more than 80 percent of voters plan to take part, and the election is truly competitive. And although one candidate is leading in the polls, top political operatives are predicting a different outcome.
26.03.2019
War of Words Pushes Belarus-Russia Relations to the Brink

War of Words Pushes Belarus-Russia Relations to the Brink

The nonchalance with which the Russian ambassador and his sparring partners in Minsk are raising the stakes in their rhetoric is a symptom of deeper forces at work in Belarusian-Russian relations. Both sides are starting to sense that they have reached some kind of historic threshold. But the old format of friendship is so worn out that there is little to lose.
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