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23.10.2018
The Church Strikes Back: Moscow Breaks With Constantinople?

The Church Strikes Back: Moscow Breaks With Constantinople?

The Russian Orthodox Church has broken off full communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople after he took steps to recognize two Ukrainian Orthodox Churches that Moscow regards as “schismatic.” Russian Orthodox believers will bear the brunt of these self-imposed sanctions. But it didn’t have to be this way.
22.10.2018
Orthodox Déjà Vu: Ukraine’s Church Split Is Nothing New

Orthodox Déjà Vu: Ukraine’s Church Split Is Nothing New

There have been many schisms in the Eastern Orthodox world, some more peaceful, some more agonized. Moscow and Kiev should choose one of the more peaceful splits as a good historical example.
12.10.2018
Chavismo, Russian Style: The Winners of Russia’s Regional Elections

Chavismo, Russian Style: The Winners of Russia’s Regional Elections

The opposition victors in Russian regional elections were not anti-establishment liberals but traditionalists and paternalists, unhappy with the Kremlin’s modernization agenda.
11.10.2018
Digital Monopolies: Dividing the Big Data Pie in Russia

Digital Monopolies: Dividing the Big Data Pie in Russia

Companies close to the Kremlin are creating a monopoly on data in Russia. Although the data market has yet to take shape, it has already been turned into a monopoly by the president’s decisions. Competition takes a back seat to matters of national importance.
9.10.2018
Can Russia’s Far East Feed China With Soy?

Can Russia’s Far East Feed China With Soy?

The trade war with the United States has piqued China’s interest in Russian soybean imports. Russian officials are optimistic about the prospects of increasing soy exports to China, but their expectations are unrealistic.
8.10.2018
Far East Defeat: How the Kremlin Lost an Election

Far East Defeat: How the Kremlin Lost an Election

The Kremlin’s chosen candidate lost the gubernatorial race in Russia’s Primorsky region. In part, that can be chalked up to local economic and political conditions. But while the Primorsky loss might seem like an outlier now, it may also foreshadow problems that the Russian regime will encounter as the country moves into the 2020s.
5.10.2018
A Tactical Retreat: The Kremlin Reins in a War on Online Extremism

A Tactical Retreat: The Kremlin Reins in a War on Online Extremism

A crackdown on online “extremism” has drawn rare resistance from both the Russian public and the political elite, forcing the Kremlin to support changes to the country’s main anti-extremism law.
2.10.2018
System Failure in Russia: The Elections That Didn’t Go as Planned

System Failure in Russia: The Elections That Didn’t Go as Planned

The Kremlin obviously understands that elections held under the old rules will result in more defeats. The rules, therefore, will have to change. Just like in 2013–2014, when opposition candidates started winning mayoral elections, the Kremlin first welcomed their victory, but then dispatched local legislatures to scrap mayoral elections altogether. They remain in just seven out of 83 regional centers. A similar fate may now await gubernatorial elections.
28.09.2018
An English Spire and Russian Spies: A New Post–Cold War Script

An English Spire and Russian Spies: A New Post–Cold War Script

The Russian security services are not the elite body they were in Soviet times. They see themselves engaged in a struggle with their Western adversaries to fight off recruitment efforts, whatever the cost may be to Russia’s global image.
26.09.2018
A Chinese-Russian Regional Program Ends With a Whimper

A Chinese-Russian Regional Program Ends With a Whimper

The failure of the Program of Cooperation (2009–2018) cannot be blamed entirely on the inertia of Russian bureaucrats or the paucity of local budgets. The program was underdeveloped from the start.
25.09.2018
Resolving Ukraine’s Orthodox Church Crisis

Resolving Ukraine’s Orthodox Church Crisis

Ukraine already has the autonomous Moscow Patriarchate Church. Soon, the country might also have an autonomous Constantinople Patriarchate Church. The Moscow patriarch has threatened to sever ties with Constantinople if the Ukrainian Orthodox Church becomes autocephalous, or fully independent from another country’s patriarch. This probably won’t happen if the church only becomes autonomous, stopping one step short of autocephaly.
24.09.2018
Putin on the Back Burner as Orban Flirts With Trump

Putin on the Back Burner as Orban Flirts With Trump

Widely regarded as the EU’s most pro-Russian member-state, Hungary is, in fact, cooling to Russia. The two countries’ leaders are focused on old projects instead of looking to the future, while Viktor Orban is growing more critical of Russia both at home and abroad. For Orban, Vladimir Putin is increasingly useless, having been replaced with an even better ally: Donald Trump.
21.09.2018
Why Russia’s Crimean Consensus Is Over (And What Comes Next)

Why Russia’s Crimean Consensus Is Over (And What Comes Next)

The largest coalition of support for the Russian regime in modern history is over. Due to the fusion of the ruling elite and business, the Russian authorities have no one left to blame for poverty and falling standards of living besides themselves. But the government may have one last trick up its sleeve: repression.
17.09.2018
Russia’s Youtube Duel: Zolotov vs. Navalny

Russia’s Youtube Duel: Zolotov vs. Navalny

Viktor Zolotov’s video message to Alexei Navalny—a crude and highly personal address for an influential national security official—underscores the increasing incoherence of the authorities’ strategy for dealing with Navalny. More important, it points to the emergence of a state of “every man for himself” and the splintering of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.
14.09.2018
Depoliticization in Russia: The Growth of the Protest Vote

Depoliticization in Russia: The Growth of the Protest Vote

Unhappy with plans to raise the retirement age, the decline in their living standards, and tax hikes, Russians can’t vote for the real opposition. Strong candidates are either not allowed to run or prefer to cooperate with the authorities by not running, while in-system parties deliberately tone down their rhetoric. Under such conditions, the protest vote becomes random: people are willing to vote for anyone but the ruling regime candidates.
13.09.2018
Moscow Courts the Taliban

Moscow Courts the Taliban

Russia wants to be a player in Afghanistan, and that means dealing with the Taliban. But the postponement of a planned international conference in Moscow, involving a once-reviled group, shows that Russia’s influence is still limited.
12.09.2018
Russia’s New Agenda: Choosing Between Two Versions of State Capitalism

Russia’s New Agenda: Choosing Between Two Versions of State Capitalism

In an economic system that wasn’t so focused on solving government problems or fulfilling the “public agenda,” the state wouldn’t have to find ways of extracting funds from business to spend on social programs.
11.09.2018
Why Putin Is Losing Popular Support

Why Putin Is Losing Popular Support

The approval ratings of Russia’s leaders and its institutions have been declining for more than three years. The erosion of popular support has been accelerated, rather than caused, by the unveiling of the government’s pension reform plan, and Russians are increasingly concerned by the state of not only their pensions but also their country’s foreign policy and its economy
10.09.2018
The Bugbear of Chinese Deforestation: The Real Threat to Russia’s Forests

The Bugbear of Chinese Deforestation: The Real Threat to Russia’s Forests

Russia is not the only country in whose forestry industry the Chinese are active. Chinese businesses’ behavior largely depends on the degree of control exercised by the local authorities, and forestry is a great illustration of this.
7.09.2018
The Hidden Resistance: Why Russian Prisoners Protest and What They Can Achieve

The Hidden Resistance: Why Russian Prisoners Protest and What They Can Achieve

While the world watches the hunger strike of Oleg Sentsov, who is becoming Russia’s best-known political prisoner, most penitentiary protests have nothing to do with politics. Rather, they are about improving conditions in prisons and human dignity. Their occurrence and their tendency to be covered up testify to the lack of true accountability in the Russian prison system.
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