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22.02.2019
Moldova’s Critical Elections

Moldova’s Critical Elections

On February 24, Moldovans vote in parliamentary elections, which are seen by many as critical to the country’s future. The ruling Democratic party and its de facto leader have been accused of abuse of power and facilitating corruption. The EU has suspended its financial assistance program. The party faces a challenge from the Socialist Party led by President Igor Dodon, who is more sympathetic to Russia, and a new pro-European bloc named NOW.
22.02.2019
No Country for Investors: Russia’s Latest Shock Arrests

No Country for Investors: Russia’s Latest Shock Arrests

The state is one of nothing other than arbitrariness. After the lawlessness of the mid-1990s in Russia, many hoped that competition between various groups of the elite would force them to create a system of laws and rules to protect them (and everyone else) from arbitrariness. But it didn’t turn out that way: one of the groups—the one furthest from both honest business and from society—won the battle and made arbitrariness the guarantee of its position.
19.02.2019
Overhyped: How “Putin’s Chef” Became One of the Most Influential People in Russia

Overhyped: How “Putin’s Chef” Became One of the Most Influential People in Russia

Businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin used to avoid the spotlight. Much of his work—the Russian internet troll factory, the Wagner private military company, and political research in Africa—required secrecy. But all that changed when Russian and Western media exaggerated his role in Russian politics and essentially forced him into President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.
14.02.2019
Russia and Ukraine: A Lethal Codependency

Russia and Ukraine: A Lethal Codependency

The Russia-Ukraine relationship has moved from cozy mutual exploitation to lethal hostility. Neither side is prepared to admit its deep dependence on the other.
11.02.2019
Trading Dollars for Yuan: How Wise Is Russia’s Reserves Management?

Trading Dollars for Yuan: How Wise Is Russia’s Reserves Management?

The greatest risk, which will grow together with funds and reserves, is that of the open or creeping politicization of investment. In other words, the state will choose to invest in “friendly” but unstable currencies, as well as to extend loans to even “friendlier” states and companies. Experience of past crises should make the responsible government agencies stay well away from such initiatives—as far as it’s politically possible.
8.02.2019
Macedonia Joining NATO Is Self-Inflicted Defeat for Russia

Macedonia Joining NATO Is Self-Inflicted Defeat for Russia

In the Macedonian settlement, Russia chose a tactic that did not even theoretically allow for the possibility of success. The results of its involvement are, consequently, woeful. Greece has expelled two Russian diplomats. The Macedonian government sees Russia as an enemy, while the Macedonian opposition has no intention of orienting itself on Moscow, and continues to support Macedonia’s entry into NATO. The country will join the alliance far more quickly than people there could ever have dreamt not so long ago, and all of this has turned into yet another source of irritation in the already fraught relations between Russia and the West.
6.02.2019
Senator’s Arrest Exposes Cannibalization of Russia’s Power Vertical

Senator’s Arrest Exposes Cannibalization of Russia’s Power Vertical

The powerful, monolithic, and robust state that Putin has been building since he came to power in 2000 is now devouring itself from within, demonstratively and ruthlessly locking up governors, ministers, and senators as though there were no Putin system or Putin appointees. The president, having focused too much of his attention on geopolitics, has opened the floodgates for the de-Putinization of the power vertical, creating a situation in which virtually no one except the head of state remains protected by the system’s legitimacy.
29.01.2019
A Brotherly Takeover: Could Russia Annex Belarus?

A Brotherly Takeover: Could Russia Annex Belarus?

The Kremlin’s recent demand that Belarus integrate further with the Russian state in return for financial support has sparked concerns that Russia may annex its neighbor. Such a move, some analysts suggest, would allow President Vladimir Putin to remain in office after 2024. But this scenario is rife with unpredictable risks for Russia and is based upon several incorrect myths about modern Belarus.
28.01.2019
How a Comedian Will Change Ukraine’s Election

How a Comedian Will Change Ukraine’s Election

After throwing his hat into the Ukrainian presidential race, popular comedian Volodymyr Zelensky will likely attempt to woo the country’s Russian-speaking southeast. That will make the race more difficult for incumbent Petro Poroshenko and front-runner Yulia Tymoshenko. It will also challenge Russia, using ideas amenable to the Kremlin to undermine its favored candidate.
23.01.2019
The Kuril Social Contract

The Kuril Social Contract

The Kremlin needs to understand clearly that it is up against not just Japan but also the Russian public—and based on public opinion surveys, two-thirds of Russians do not want to hand over the Kuril Islands. The Kremlin will not be able to coerce the people into accepting its point of view.
22.01.2019
Escaping the Kremlin’s Embrace: Why Serbia Has Tired of Russian Support

Escaping the Kremlin’s Embrace: Why Serbia Has Tired of Russian Support

To an outside observer, Russia’s passive sabotage of the Kosovo conflict resolution looks like all-out support of Serbia. Assurances that Russia will never abandon Serbia, will protect it from Western pressure, and do everything possible to preserve its territorial integrity come across as gestures of unswerving friendship toward the Serbs. In reality, the Serbian leadership doesn’t know how to rid itself of this support, which leaves Belgrade no room for maneuver at the Kosovo negotiations.
21.01.2019
Cyberweapons: A Growing Threat to Strategic Stability in the Twenty-First Century

Cyberweapons: A Growing Threat to Strategic Stability in the Twenty-First Century

The impact of cyberweapons on strategic stability is a growing problem that extends well beyond the security of the control and communication systems of nuclear forces.
18.01.2019
Pragmatic Paternalism: The Russian Public and the Private Sector

Pragmatic Paternalism: The Russian Public and the Private Sector

Russians have a dream for their children and their grandchildren of a different environment that is favorable for entrepreneurship and private initiatives. This is where the true interests of Russians and their perceptions about the future diverge radically from the interests and perceptions of the state in which they live.
16.01.2019
Can Russia and the EU Overcome Their Differences in the Balkans?

Can Russia and the EU Overcome Their Differences in the Balkans?

Mutual accusations by Russia and the EU in the Balkans are virtually indistinguishable from their dialogue on any other subject. Even the Western Balkans, where there are ostensibly no grounds for geopolitical rivalry and where the sides complement each other well, are turning into a source of apprehension, miscommunication, and irritation simply due to the overall atmosphere of distrust and the differences in basic approaches to international relations.
15.01.2019
Modernizing the Masses: Russia’s People vs Putin

Modernizing the Masses: Russia’s People vs Putin

Putin’s press conference made it clear that for the president, the question of whether ordinary people want to participate in modernization is secondary to the fact that the government wants to carry it out, and that there are enough people around who are “full of optimism and ready to work.” The subject of optimism and the future epitomizes the problem of the gap between the modernization agenda and public sentiment.
14.01.2019
Rapping for the Kremlin: The Regime Hijacks a Youth Subculture

Rapping for the Kremlin: The Regime Hijacks a Youth Subculture

The Kremlin must win over Russia’s youth, but it does not speak their language, as its dialogue with rappers has demonstrated. Initiated amid a controversial crackdown on rap, the Kremlin’s outreach to rappers has seen it attempt to co-opt an entire youth subculture—to no avail. In the absence of a coherent policy on cultural figures, Russia’s federal agencies, including law enforcement bodies, will continue to prefer the stick to the carrot, impeding any efforts to make peace, let alone ally, with rappers and, by extension, their fans.
11.01.2019
Russia in 2019: What Putin’s Annual Press Conference Revealed

Russia in 2019: What Putin’s Annual Press Conference Revealed

The main takeaways from Putin’s end-of-the-year press conference are that he has less and less room to maneuver on foreign policy, and that his optimism about a “breakthrough” in the domestic arena is clearly divorced from reality. Circumstances are forcing Putin to turn from geopolitical problems to domestic ones, and that is proving difficult.
10.01.2019
Money or Sovereignty? What an Oil Dispute Portends for Russian-Belarusian Relations

Money or Sovereignty? What an Oil Dispute Portends for Russian-Belarusian Relations

A new confrontation between Belarus and Russia over oil revenues and political integration has delivered a serious blow to the two countries’ long-standing alliance. There are talks that even the Belarusian independence is under threat. Faced with a choice between more money and more sovereignty, Minsk will inevitably choose sovereignty. In the long run, this conflict demonstrates the gradual breakdown of Russian-Belarusian “brotherhood.”
9.01.2019
The Vladivostok Phenomenon: Should Russia Eliminate Visa Requirements for Chinese Tourists?

The Vladivostok Phenomenon: Should Russia Eliminate Visa Requirements for Chinese Tourists?

In 2015, Russia introduced visa-free travel for South Koreans. Since then, Korean tourism to Vladivostok has skyrocketed, bringing an economic windfall to the city. That, in turn, has become an argument for lifting the visa regime with China. But several issues stand in the way.
21.12.2018
The New Church Politics of Ukraine

The New Church Politics of Ukraine

President Poroshenko is making use of the newly created Orthodox Church of Ukraine for political ends. The new church may become a state-sponsored church, while the pro-Moscow church could present itself as a marginalized persecuted entity.
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