• Many of the debates about the possibility of a Russian military action against Ukraine focus on what what US President Joe Biden and other NATO leaders can do to prevent it (or how to react if it happens.) What has been missing is a reflection on some of the wider contextual motives behind Moscow’s moves to ratchet up tension.
    by Anton Barbashin
  • Once again Russia is mobilising its forces near the Ukrainian border, but much more covertly than in the past. Moscow’s belief that the EU and US will not step in to protect Ukraine could lead it to take direct military action.
    by Gustav Gressel
  • The amassment of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border makes the world nervous. Putin's retoric is belligerent and the Kremlin refuses to talk to the Ukrainian leadership. Is it deterrence, bluff or the foreboding of war?
    by Dmitri Trenin
  • President Putin didn't go to Glasgow. Understandably, because for the near future high prices for oil, gas and coal will guarantee him economic stability.
    by Vladislav Inozemtsev
  • The migration crisis, organised by Aleksandr Lukashenka, for the time being is in the interests of the Kremlin, as this aggravates the situation on the EU border and tests the resilience of the Polish security system, Poland’s armed forces and NATO as a whole. But Putin's support is not unconditional.
    by Piotr Żochowski
  • President Putin and Security Council member Dmitry Medvedev openly discredited Ukraine as an independent state.Causing the rage is a fundamental attitude of imperial Russia, that denies its neighbour's right to independence.
    by Volodymyr Yermolenko
  • The human rights group Memorial updated its list of persons imprisoned in modern-day Russia for political or religious reasons. There are now 420 people on Memorial’s list, and activists say the true number could be several times higher.Meduza asked a sociologist, a political scientist, a historian, and a psychologist why Russians appear to be so indifferent to the repression of their compatriots.
  • In April Putin promised to cut carbon emissions below the level of the EU by 2050. And there is talk of steps towards carbon regulation. Experts differ if these are substantial moves or just window dressing or a possibility to get sanctions lifted.
    by Natalie Sauer
  • A former inmate of a Saratov penal colony, IT-specialist Syarhey Savelyeu (Sergej Saveljev) from Belarus, collected mass scale video footage of torture of prisoners in Russian camps. He fled the country and asked for political asylum in France. Russia has put him on a wanted list, for disclosing information that may 'harm state security'.
    by Mike Eckel
  • After the parliamentarian elections this time the usual upward mobility switches in the elite are conspicuously absent. The path of career progression within the power vertical has stopped being predictable.Putin stopped the carroussel. It is total stagnation. This never bodes well in politics.
    by Andrey Pertsev
  • After NATO's expulsion of 8 Russian 'spies', Moscow retaliated with the closing down of the permanent mission to NATO in the Russian capital. How bad is that? According to our columnist Mark Galeotti Moscow does not believe that multinational agencies have any real importance. It prefers bilateral contacts, like the talks between Putin and Biden.
    by Mark Galeotti
  • Fifteen years ago journalist Anna Politkovskaya was killed in the entrance to her appartment. The murder was never solved. As the Kremlin cracks down on independent media, journalists say that Politkovskaya's worst fears materialized.
    by Robert Coalson
  • The current energy crisis illustrates that the EU’s road to energy transition will be bumpy and reliance on Russian gas is here to stay for longer. At the Russian Energy Week president Putin rebuffed allegations that Russia uses energy as a weapon. His key message to the Europeans was: Russia is your reliable trouble-shooter, if you ask nicely.
    by Maria Shagina
  • Officially Georgia sticks to its pro-European retoric, but under the guidance of the Georgian Dream party it is swiftly drifting into illiberal direction. Georgian democracy is up for its greatest test.
    by Neil Hauer
  • On October 5, at the Warsaw Security Conference political prisoner Alexei Navalny was awarded the 2021 Knight of Freedom Award. The former Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves held the laudatio. Instead of pronouncing obvious words of praise for Navalny, Ilves lambasts the West that helps criminal politicians and oligarchs to rob their people.
    by Toomas Hendrik Ilves
  • A massive new leak of financial documents has exposed how the presidents of Azerbaijan and Ukraine, as well as hundreds of other politicians and billionaires around the world, are linked with companies that use offshore tax havens to hide wealth.
  • Continuity has always characterized the Kremlin’s Afghanistan-policy. But will Moscow benefit of the exit of the West? Hard to say. Even Russia has not much leverage on the Taliban.
    by Helena Arntz & Michael Kemper
  • Although United Russia easily won the elections, there was nervousness at the Kremlin. On election day Putin's favoured oligarch Oleg Deripaska of aluminium giant Rusal sent 11,000 participants to Moscow for a posh conference on family values and geopolitics. They were told that, if necessary, they would be summoned to a large scale political rally in support of the regime.
    by Pjotr Sauer and Jake Cordell
  • After the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 many feared that this 'compatriot protection scheme' could become a precedent. The author concludes that conditions in Belarus are ultimately unfavorable to Russian-sponsored secessionism. The national uprising after the election fraud of August 2020 proved to be a gamechanger as well.
    by Tijs van de Vijver
  • From 10 till 15 September Russian and Belarusian troops held their joint military exercises Zapad-2021. Strangely enough the main push was directed not against the West, but against Ukraine.
    by Hannes Adomeit
  • It's the Russian regime which needs the vote. It won't change the balance of power or the lawmaking in the Duma. The elections serve to give the regime legitimacy and to reassure the apathetic masses that they are still the majority.
    by Andrei Kolesnikov
  • While natural gas reserves are far below the normal levels in Europa, gas prices are spiking. Normally one would expect that Gazprom would take advantage from the high prices and supply more gas. However, this doesn't happen. Experts wonder why. Is it to put political pressure on Germany to speed up the certification for the controversial Nord Stream 2?
    by Mike Eckel
  • 'It was as if I was attending at my own funeral', says Sonya Groysman, one of almost 40 Russian journalists now who have been stigmatised as 'foreign agents' by the Russian Ministry of Justice. For the Russian website The Village she, and some others, explained how it feels to be categorised as an enemy of Russia. To defend journalists she started the podcast 'Hello, you are a foreign agent'.
    by Sonia Groysman
  • Lukashenko is able to repress the opposition, but can he manage the economy of Belarus as well as he manages the crack-down of society?
    by Mark Galeotti
  • After the takeover of Kabul by the Taliban, thousands of Afghans who worked for the former regime stormed the airport to leave the country. Most countries closed down their embassies, but the Russians stayed calm. For Russia, the collapse of the Afghan regime is a welcome defeat of the West.
    by Ivan Klyszcz
  • Belarusian President Lukashenko has had a complicated love-hate relationship with the Kremlin. While Belarus has generally aligned its foreign policy outlook with the Russian Federation, at various moments Lukashenko tried to keep his geopolitical options open. In a special report Institute Clingendael identifies six scenarios for the future of Belarus and further elaborates the consequences of four of them.
    by Bob Deen, Barbara Roggeveen en Wouter Zweers
  • The Kremlin Crackdown.The end of the free press in Russia. In her October Lecture Galina Timchenko sheds light on the bumpy history of independent journalism in Russia and answers the question: are we returning to Soviet times? After the lecture there will be a debate with the Dutch publisher Derek Sauer, who for more than 30 years facilitated and funded independent media in Russia.
  • Sergei Kovalyov, one of the most prominent and eloquent Soviet and Russian human rights activists, died in his sleep in Moscow on August 9. He was 91. Kovalyov joined the human rights movement in 1968 and remained a vocal defender of democracy and human rights until he died. Robert Coalson, correspondent for Radio Liberty, calls him Sakharov's heir.
    by Robert Coalson
  • Russia's new National Strategy regards not just foreign countries as a threat, but the very processes reshaping the modern world, argues Mark Galeotti for the Moscow Times. It bears the fingerprints of the hawkish National Security Adviser Nikolai Patrushev. Again, the West is the enemy who tries to destroy Russia from within. But the Strategy is more: it is a quest against modernity.
    by Mark Galeotti
  • The Kremlin's growing obsession with lists and registers to control the population is a mix of Chinese social control and fear of flying. If you are not in a register in Russia, you don't exist, argues Andrei Soldatov, investigative journalist specialised in security services. In effect this super-bureaucratic tool has become a new form of censorship.
    by Andrei Soldatov
  • On September 19 Russia sees Duma elections. In fear of a (far fetched) Belarusian scenario and angered by Navalny's challenge the Kremlin decided to crack down on all forms of independant political activities and journalism. The picture is bleak. But our columnist Mark Galeotti argues that the Kremlin will not be able to eradicate all forms of opposition. Don't underestimate the resilience of the Russians.
    by Mark Galeotti
  • Expectations were low, but the Geneva summit between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin on June 16 was good, argues Kadri Liik, senior policy fellow of the European Council on Foreign Relations. It was not so much the concrete deliverables, but the restoration of the power of old-fashioned diplomacy and working patiently away at difficult problems. The presidents found the start of a modus vivendi for managing their mutual relationship.
    by Kadri Liik
  • The constitutional, political and social changes of 2020–2021 have proven so sweeping and profound that the Russian regime is undergoing a renaissance. An abyss opened up: you are either pro-regime or anti-regime. In the last case you are criminal.
    by Tatyana Stanovaya
  • After de meeting of the presidents Putin and Lukashenko, the 28th of May in Soch, it remains crystal clear: Russia is the only country that can truly influence the behavior of the Belarusian regime. Therefore, it’s only a matter of time before Western pressure is transferred from Minsk to Moscow.
    by Artyom Shraibman
  • Declaring all opposition figures enemies of the state and outlawing organisations linked to Alexei Navalny precludes any chance of dialogue: there might have been a place at the table for a non-system opposition activist, but not for an extremist. The Russian power system is becoming monolithic.
    by Andrey Pertsev
  • From a disastrous pandemic response and blatantly rigged elections, to nationwide protests and brutal crackdowns, this past year has been one of the most volatile in Belarus’s history. To find out more about what’s changed (and what hasn’t) during this time, journalist Shura Burtin turned to residents of Minsk. This article tells the story of a changing Belarus — through the eyes of the people who live there.
    by Shura Burtin
  • It is an eternal discussion in East and West. Did the euforic West let down Russia after the collapse of communism? The economic collapse of the 1990s quickly alienated the people from a choice for a western partnership. Public opinion returned to nostalgia of the past and political elites cynically used this to keep their power. And now conveniently blame the West.
    by Igor Gretski
  • The Belarusian government’s move to destroy the country’s biggest non-state media outlet—the website tut.by—is as sign that eliminating political threats isn’t just a priority, it’s the regime’s only task. With de-escalation becoming almost impossible, society will become even more polarized, and fewer and fewer people will be prepared to forgive the regime. Belarus is facing the danger of a violent escalation.
    by Artyom Shraibman
  • The perceptions by the German government of Putin’s Russia appear to converge with the views of the Biden administration. Both acknowledge the link between the Kremlin’s repressive domestic policies and aggressive foreign policy. But in German government, there is a wide gap between the views and correspondingly tough responses.
    by Hannes Adomeit
  • By persecuting tycoon, political leader and Putin pal Viktor Medvedchuk for treason the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy is taking a big risk, says Todd Prince for RadioFreeEurope/Radio Liberty.
    by Todd Prince
  • Neither expansionism, nor détente with Europe is the answer for the future of the Russian Federation after the break-up of the

    ...
  • As the spat on Russia's hacking of the US information technology firm SolarWinds shows, Russia again damaged its own interests. It was classical espionage, but American pundits framed it as Kremlin sabotage.
    by Mark Galeotti
  • Does Moscow have anything positive to offer to win over youngsters or is repression the only option? Funding and attention is offered to those who conform, while young Russians who think more critically face bans and arrests. By continuing to rely on trolls and showing lack of creativity in marketing themselves online, the government does not appear ready to corner the market of young internet users.
    by Adam Tarasewicz
  • A regime that for twenty years sought to be an exemplar of ‘hybrid authoritarianism,’ seems to be seeking to get back to basics. Belarus, Navalny, the persecution of his anti-corruption organisation FBK and independent media have made Putin change his mind. It is not (yet) totalitarianism, but it is definitely a watershed.
    by Mark Galeotti
  • Tough rhetoric, preemptive escalation, and the announcement of new sanctions were necessary for Biden to start the inevitable conversation with Russia. For Russia, the deployment of huge amounts of troups was meant to show that Putin decides which red line shouldn't be crossed. Both Ukrainian and Russian leaders used the tension 'to make contact with the new U.S. administration'. This is, obviously, not 2014.
    by Alexander Baunov
  • In an unprecedented move the Moscow prosecutor, on April 26, hours before the start of a lawsuit to ban Navalny's political organization FBK as 'extremist', asked for the immediate prohibition of its activities. The court upheld this request.It is a heavy blow to political life and civil society, argues political scientist Grigori Golosov for Riddle Russia. And a threat to thousands of (young) people who solidarized with Navalny's work. 'Any participation in Navalny’s organizational network will carry a criminal burden.'
    by Grigori Golosov
  • So far it is two cheers for Biden's approach to Russia, Some of the sanctions will be more effective than others. By calling Putin a 'killer' with respect to Navalny, but at the same time inviting him for a meeting, he shows he has sticks and carrots to offer.
    by Matthew Sussex
  • Ukraine is preparing itself for a war with Russia, as Russian troups have been heavily concentrated at the Ukrainian border since March 2021. Hostilities in the Donbas have flared up and president Zelensky is touring the West to find support in case of an attack.
    by The Kiev Post
  • With Moscow's relentless drive for centralisation and control it seems logical that ethnic minority regions in Russia would be critical of the Kremlin. However, in elections they more often than not vote for Putin and government party United Russia. How to explain this? Keep this in mind for the upcoming parliamentary elections of september 2021.
    by Stanislav Shkel a.o.
  • The average Russian may not be happy with the state of affair, but he still fears one thing above all: that a change in political regime might only make things worse. However, youngsters have totally different values and attitudes. Will the next generation change Russia or is that just wishful thinking.
    by Andrei Kolesnikov
  • The opposition in Belarus promised a 'hot spring' with new mass protests against Lukashenko. But active repression in the last months precluded that and from 25 till 27 March there were no demonstrations to be seen. It is a failure for the opposition and a seemlingly victory for the regime, but the deep distrust has not disappeared and some day the anger of the people will erupt again.
    by Kamyl Klisinski
  • YouTube, twitter, Facebook: international social media are an important source of information in Russia. But state watchdog Roskomnadzor is tightening the screws and the Duma adopts laws that will curb foreign internet providers. Russia strives for a 'sovereign internet' to eliminate foreign influence and control opposition. Roskomnadzor's slowing down of twitter was a mess, but can Russia in the future technically isolate its population from the world?
    by Alena Epifanova
  • In an interview president Biden affirmed that he considered Putin 'a killer'. Russian pundits reacted ferociously, but Putin rather made fun of him. Biden punished Putin for trying to damage his reputation by smearing his Ukrainian connections. What is worse, though, is that the Kremlin will use the quote against what's left of political opposition at home.
    by Vladimir Frolov
  • Colonel General Sergei Korolev, appointed as the new First Deputy Director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), is connected with organised crime in Russia. This was probably a deciding factor in finally elevating him.
    by Mark Galeotti
  • The Polish-based Belarusian opposition news outlet Nexta on March 8 has published an investigative film about Alexander Lukashenko's luxurious life, reminiscent of Alexei Navalny's YouTube film Putin's Castle. Within a week the film (Lukashenko, Goldmine) was watched by 5,5 million viewers. Lukashenko dismissed it as rubbish and cheap photoshopping. 'I didnot steal anything from my state.' 
  • The Belarusian opposition wants to restart mass protests late March, but will people go back to the streets? Last month saw a heavy crackdown with outrageous verdicts for demonstrators and journalists in courts. The number of political prisoners since last summer has risen to 270, and only in February 102 people were convicted of 'political crimes' under the Lukashenko regime.
    by Adam Tarasewicz
  • Viktor Babariko, ex-candidate for president of Belarus and former top manager of Belgazprombank, has been behind bars for almost 8 months. On the eve of his trial, that started on 17 February, Deutsche Welle was able to obtain written answers from prison to questions on the future of Belarus, his presidential ambitions and his meeting with Lukashenko in the KGB jail.
    by Bogdana Alexandrovskaya
  • Nationalists started a campaign to resurrect Iron Felix, the notorious chekis on Lubyanka Square in Moscowt. A referendum was organised, only to be unplugged by the mayor after two days, as it proved 'too divisive'. Or maybe not distracting enough from the headlines on Navalny?
    by Adam Tarasewicz
  • Amnesty International stripped Alexei Navalny from his status as prisoner of conscience. After the organisation was bombarded with complaints it reviewed his statements, made some 13 years ago and concluded that they amounted to hate speech. Journalist Yevgenia Albats, who has known Navalny since the early 2000s, is stunned that Amnesty let itself being used for a typical smear campaign by Russia.
    by Yevgenia Albats
  • On February 11 and 12 Alexander Lukashenko gathered his loyal Belarusian People's Congress to discuss constitutional reforms. The Kremlin didn't find an alternative leader and Russia loses popularity in Belarus.
    by Artyom Shraibman
  • With Alexei Navalny in prison and his wife Yulia and some prominent activists abroad, how has the opposition movement to regroup and find a new strategy?
    by Mark Galeotti
  • Alexei Navalny is a 'classic hero', who seeks and finds the meaning of life. In fairy tales and mythology there are lots of examples of this specimen, that goes through ordeals to attain its goal. From Odysseus to Frau Holle, the scheme is identical. However, the often made comparison between Navalny and another emigré who returned to Russia, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, is false.
    by Roel van Duijn
  • Since Alexei Navalny’s arrest upon returning to Russia on the 17th of January, supporters of the opposition leader have made their voices heard in cities around the country. Over 11,000 people were detained as a result of three days of protesting, Russia’s detention centres are fully occupied.
    by Adam Tarasewicz
  • Josep Borrell's visit to Moscow Friday, February 5, was a painful embarrassement. Borrell only confirmed the Kremlin's idea that the EU is not to be taken seriously.
    by Mark Galeotti
  • A Moscow court has sentenced oppostitionleader Alexei Navalny to 2 years and 8 months for violating the conditions of a suspended sentence in 2014. The sentence has been converted into a jail term. The year that he served under house arrest was deducted. In a fiery speech Navalny held president Putin personally responsible for his fate and called him ‘Vladimir the poisoner’. The translation of his last word was made by the newssite Meduza.
    by Alexei Navalny
  • There are no new polls about the public opinion of Navalny and the protests yet, but the situation appears to have changed drastically. The internet generation is becoming fed up with grotesquely spending authorities and their use of excessive force against peaceful protesters
    by Andrei Kolesnikov
  • Russian analysts see a changing attitude in the Kremlin’s reactions to crises in Belarus, Nagorno-Karabakh and Kyrgyzstan. In their view the Kremlin is becoming more pragmatic. German Russia expert Hannes Adomeit disagrees and argues that Russia just follows traditional imperial Russian (and Soviet) patterns of behaviour.
    by Hannes Adomeit
  • The challenge to maintain Russia’s oil production at its current high level is becoming greater. How does the Russian oil and gas industry, and the Putin regime, deal with these challenges and what are its prospects?
    by Jilles van den Beukel and Lucia van Geuns
  • Simultaneous crises in Belarus, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Kyrgyzstan have demonstrated Russia’s maturing approach to its neighborhood. Russia is learning to mind its limitations and stay focused on its own interests, leaving the empire farther and farther behind.
    by Dmitri Trenin
  • For the Baltic states and for Russia it's time to stop fighting yesterday's battles, and look with clear eyes at the world as it is and at each other.Today’s challenge for the Baltic states is to transform their moralist position into a policy that could work.
    by Kadri Liik
  • After the disclosure of the assassination plot against Navalny by the FSB, new leaks this time point to the Belarusian KGB, planning the murder of political opponents of Lukashenko. It sheds new light on the killing of the Belarusian journalist Pavel Sheremet, who died in a car bomb in Kyiv in 2016. Our columnist Mark Galeotti on the Belarusian KGB's lack of tradecraft and the complicated relationship between the secret services of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.
    by Mark Galeotti
  • In 2020 the Russian economy on the whole performed better than expected. But the middle class was badly hit by covid-19 and the most vital reforms, long overdue, again failed to materialize. Economic editor Ivan Tkachev of newsagency RBK analyses the bleak prospects for recovery in 2021. According to the government Russians’ real disposable income this year will drop by 3%, whereas independent economists predict a decline of 4–5%.
    by Ivan Tkachev
  • Over the past two months several agents of the Russian Federal Security Service, who tracked and possibly tried to murder Alexey Navalny, are identified because of some basic errors inside the FSB. Is the main intelligence agency really so amateurish?
    by Andrei Soldatov
  • Faced with a pandemic, growing inequality, and widespread dissatisfaction, the Kremlin has launched a series of measures aimed at consolidating Russia’s authoritarian political system. Will they work?
    by Andrei Kolesnikov and Denis Volkov
  • Climate change, increased industrialization and mineral exploitation pose an existential threat. As of 2021 Russia will be chairman of the intergovernmental Arctic Council and is likely going to promote its new Arctic Strategy in the global arena. But critics fear that protection of the Arctic environment is not yet a top priority for Russia.
    by Michael Scollon
  • So far the Belorusian security forces have been the loyal and brutal guarantee for the survival of president Lukashenko. The opposition is trying to undermine this loyalty by offering police officers who resign moral and financial support. With some succes. But many of them realise that they already have gone too far and have to continue.
    by Mark Galeotti
  • How to read Russia? Do we understand how the country is governed? Is Putin still the guarantee for stability? Will a young generation change and modernize Russia? How do Russians look at Europe and how do they look at the US? A livestream interview with the prominent political scientist Yekaterina Schulmann in Moscow. Go to the article and listen to the podcast.
  • Probably thousands of Azerbaijani and Armenians were killed during the six weeks that the battle for Nagorno-Karabakh lasted. President Putin spoke of 5.000 casualties. Officials in Armenia have reported 2.400 dead and hundreds of missing persons. The victorious Azerbaijani government, however, remains silent, while the anguished families are scrambling for news about their missing loved ones. But no one outside the halls of power knows for sure what happened to them.
    by Andy Heil
  • In an Open Letter American experts have urged a new start in the US-Russian relations and advocated a ‘soft’ approach, but political analyst Hannes Adomeit almost excludes that Biden will follow their advice. .
    by Hannes Adomeit
  • On November 15 the young reformer Maia Sandu convincingly won the presidential elections in Moldova. By defeating the Moscow-oriented Igor Dodon she became the country's first female president. Putin congratulated her, but Dodon tellingly immediately left for Moscow. It is the start of an uphill fight.
    by Stanislav Secrieru
  • Ukraine's president Zelensky faces a legal and constitutional crisis engineered by anti-reform forces in the country. He has belatedly promised to fight back, to try and save what is left of his presidency. But his options are limited.
    by Andrew Wilson
  • In the peace plan of nine points for Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan is the clear winner, while Turkey also benefits. Moscow claims a diplomatic succes, but will have to deal with a very difficult implementation and no solution for the conflict in sight. Russia may need wider international support to make it work.
    by Thomas de Waal
  • Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia brokered a cease-fire on Karabakh before the Azeri managed to recapture the Armenian enclave of Karabakh.It is a win for Russia: the West is out and Turkey officially didn't sign the armistice. However, Turkish troups can be invited to Azerbaijan any time.
    by Wojciech Górecki
  • Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov vehemently attacked the French president Macron for his response to the latest Muslim attack in Nice. To the embarrassment of the Kremlin. Russia faces four problems in its handling the Muslim population, explains our columnist Mark Galeotti: heavy-handed policing, the prevalence of Central Asian migrants, coronavirus. And Kadyrov.
    by Mark Galeotti
  • Russia witnesses worrying developments in what it sees as its 'Near Abroad' or sphere of influence, like the Caucasus and Belarus. But war and revolution are not inimical to Moscow if they follow paths Russian policymakers understand and even support.
    by Kadri Liik
  • Donald Trump's victory in 2016 was a pleasant surprise for the Kremlin and raised hope for a reset of the relations with the U.S. Instead, the confrontation didn't abate and time and again the U.S. Congress imposed new sanctions against Russia. On the eve of the American polls, most Russians are indifferent as to who will be elected, while the Kremlin doesn't expect a significant change whoever will be the next president.
    by Matthew Luxmoore
  • Three times Russian journalist Ekaterina Sergatskova had to flee: first from Russia, then from Crimea and now from Ukraine. Her last flight was caused by threats after she published a story about the links between Ukrainian neo-nazi's and the wellknown post-Maidan fact-checker StopFake. In this columnshe warns the West that overcoming dictatorship doesn't automatically mean that democracy will blossom.
    by Ekaterina Sergatskova
  • The perseverance of the Belarusian demonstrators has been amazing - for more than 2 months now every week a hundred thousand or more marched in Minsk - but there are signs that the energy is diminishing. Partly this is due to weather conditions, partly to growing threats of the use of violence by the authorities. In this respect the ultimatum of Lukashenka's presidential opponent Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is a risky step.
    by Kamil Kłysiński
  • As the international global order is unraveling, Russia is facing a belligerent Turkey in the deadly Nagorno-Karabakh escalation.
    by Jaba Devdariani
  • The attempts to silence oppositon leader Alexei Navalny have failed.The Kremlin always portrayed him as a minor nuisance, a simple blogger. His poisoning revealed, however, exactly whom the Kremlin considered the main figure opposing Russian authoritarianism. Navalny will emerge from this dramatic incident an even stronger figure
    by Andrei Kolesnikov
  • Two new factors make the hostilities, which erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the enclave Nagorno-Karabakh, more dangerous. For the first time Turkey is openly backing one of the parties, Azerbaijan, and the United States is unusually disengaged. Russia has leverage, but will never be able to deliver a peace agreement on its own. Region-expert Thomas de Waal calls for serious American and European engagement to stem the conflict.
    by Thomas de Waal
  • The Clingendael Foreign Affairs Barometer asked over 23,000 people in the Netherlands to what extent Russia posed a threat to Europe and what they thought about our treaty obligations as NATO members and about Dutch imports of Russian gas. More than 35% see Russia as a threat, while 27% don't perceive Russian as a threat to Europe's security and 38% have a neutral view or don't know. Public opinions on Russia apparently are highly polarised, but no longer along the traditional left-right dividing line as at the time of the Cold War.
  • Russian opposition activist Aleksei Navalny in Berlin is recovering from the murder attempt with nerve agent novichok in Tomsk. He is walking again, adressing his followers and determined to return to Russia. In July Navalny was forced to dissolve his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), because he lost a lawsuit against one of his targets, 'Putin's Chef' Yevgeny Prigozhin. But he and his people continue to investigate corruption at the highest levels of the Russian government.
    by Todd Prince
  • Lukashenko's weakened position after the presidential elections of August 9 seemed an opportunity for Russia. At last Putin could force him to accept total integration in the Union State he has been dreaming of. But now the Belarusian president seems unable to crush the protests and the West has turned him down Belarus is becoming a problem for the Kremlin as well. It can lose the sympathy of the last Slavic brothers left after the Ukraine crisis.
    by Artyom Shraibman
  • The image of Putin’s Russia in Germany has suffered tremendously in the past few weeks. In the wake of a series of ever more implausible denials, the Kremlin’s credibility has seriously been eroded. Government and leading figures in the political parties have called for sanctions, both against the Lukashenko regime and Putin’s Russia, including stopping the North Stream 2 gas pipeline project. It remains to be seen whether the current shocks of the Kremlin’s behaviour will lead to major policy changes or, as in the past, end in business as usual.
    by Hannes Adomeit
  • Putin's first public reaction to the crisis in Belarus ultimately proves that countries in Russia's so called 'sphere of influence' are not allowed to have an internal political agenda of their own. If protests in Belarus lead to more independence from Russia and inclination to the West they will be stopped.
    by Alexander Baunov
  • While the popular uprising against the Lukashenko regime is not abating, Russia faces the dilemma whether to intervene or not to intervene. According to Russia-expert Hannes Adomeit it is unlikely that Russia will just wait and consent to a new government, as it did in Armenia. Russia might look for a Belarusian Jaruzelski or resort to hybrid intervention. The attittude of the West hardly has any impact: domestic political considerations will determine Russia's behaviour.
    by Hannes Adomeit
  • Belarusians must chart their own future. The West can encourage them but it's too presumptuous and too counter-productive to tell them how to act. In the meantime, sanctions are ineffective and might actually make Belarus more dependent on Russia, argues Mark Galeotti. The West should provide practical aid and comfort. And Lukashenko should no longer be referred to as the president of Belarus. It’s a symbolic measure, but symbolism matters in politics.
    by Mark Galeotti
  • Vote rigging in Belarus is nothing new. The pattern is always the same. This time, however, the electorate doesn't accept the falsified outcome. Matthew Frear, expert on Belarus, explains what has changed in the domestic political landscape. The damaged Lukashenka clings to power, but will be forced out, now or somewhat later. His rule is entering its last phase.
    by Matthew Frear
  • Both Russia and the West may be sick and tired of the mercurial Belarusian autocrat, but up till now they still saw him as the lesser evil, writes Maxim Samorukov of Carnegie Moscow. Outdated regimes can prove extremely resilient if favored by broader geopolitics.
    by Maxim Samorukov
  • The social economic circumstances for the presidential elections in Belarus are extremely unfavourable for the authorities. Recession, decline in living standards and no reforms in sight, have caused popular protests and a wish for change. The risk of the regime falling, however, is still pretty low. Re-elected, a weakened president Lukashenka, may be forced to resort to increased Russian subsidies and thus severely limit the sovereignty of his country
    by Kamil Kłysiński
  • In appointing Mikhail Degtyarev as the new governor of Khabarovsk, Putin is not promoting one of his own men, but making the LDPR of

    ...
  • After the unification of Germany hopes were high that a new phase of cooperation between the Bundesrepublik and Russia would start. But in stead of the hoped for strategic partnership relations quickly soured. Why did the dreams not come true? Russia says the West is guilty as it refused the open hand offered. But according to analyst Hannes Adomeit Russia already during Yeltsin's reign refused cooperation as it didnot fit in to its security strategy.
    by Hannes Adomeit
  • After unseen police violence, anger in Belarus reached even some of the smallest towns across the country. In the weeks before the

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  • If there is anything the spontaneous outburst of popular anger in the Far-Eastern town of Khabarovsk shows it is the steady decline of Putinism. Arrest a popular governor (Sergey Furgal) for not delivering on election results ánd being more popular than Putin is usual stuff, as are trumped-up charges from a distant past. But not foreseeing the response is a sign of the times.
    by Mark Galeotti
  • The birthday of KGB chief and shortlived General Secretary of the CPSU Yuri Andropov, on June 15, tempted many Russian commentators to muse on the question: what if he had not passed away in 1984?
    by Mark Galeotti
  • For the first time the Russian government has laid out its nuclear deterrence policy in one document of six pages. There is little that is strikingly new here. It clarifies a few things and also highlights some seeming inconsistencies. No doubt, the debate about the interpretation will continue, but the publication of the official Russian position contributes to transparancy and mutual understanding.
    by Olga Oliker
  • Although the usual tv-pundits foam about American hypocrisy after mass demonstrations from Black Lives Matter, the response in many media is muted: what if street unrest is Russia's future as well? The Kremlin is allergic to people's uprisings, usually described as 'color revolutions'.
    by Matthew Luxmoore
  • Children were impressionable, unspoilt and they believed almost instinctively in the high communist visions of the revolutionaries. That is why after the 1917 Revolution children’s literature took center stage in the Bolshevik reconstruction of the entire human race. The recently published Companion to Soviet Children's Literature emphasizes the ideological indoctrination, but is deaf to the fun and genius of so many Soviet children's poetry and stories.
    by Robbert-Jan Henkes
  • Popular vlogger Syarhey Tsikhanouski is becoming a serious opposition force. As president Lukashenka seeks reelection in August, his position is weakening. His dismissal of corona as a 'psychosis' further undermined his power.
    by Tony Wesolowsky
  • Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov reportedly has been flown to Moscow for corona-treatment in one of the best hospitals of the capital. What is the Kremlin to do when he would succumb to COVID-19? Putin pays him off for keeping peace in the belligerent republic of Chechnya, so he seems indispensable. Our columnist Mark Galeotti on the prospects of the possible disappearance of Putin's own warlord. 
    by Mark Galeotti
  • On March 18, the lives of hundreds of thousands of migrants across Russia were turned upside down. That day, the country closed its borders with the outside world in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Right until the beginning of April, the embassies of Central Asian states chartered flights to evacuate their citizens from Russia. Nevertheless, most Central Asian migrants have remained in the country — albeit without jobs and without livelihoods.
    by Ekaterina Ivashchenko
  • Russia has been working on the possibility to close the country off by creating a 'sovereign Ru-net', looking at the Chinese example. Experts concluded that it is too late to seal off Russia, but Alena Epifanova from the German think tank DGAP points to the possibilities to seriously hamper internet access for business and civil society.
    by Alena Epifanova
  • Victory Day in Russia, 75 years after the defeat of Nazi-Germany, was a weird celebration.The pandemic cancelled the military parade and a jubilee summit of world leaders, put in question the constitutional reform that would give Vladimir Putin the right to stay in power for life, and postponed the memory war between Russia and her neighbors.
    by Ivan Kurilla
  • Russia’s longstanding experience with tuberculosis in setting up systems to test, treat and contain the spread of the virus, may help to combat corona. At the other hand it suffers from the weaknesses of an imperfectly reformed health system and inadequate and unevenly distributed medical facilities.
    by Alexandra Vacroux
  • President Putin ordered the governors to take responsibility for the fight against corona, threatening them with persecution for 'criminal liability' if they make mistakes. In Yaroslavl the governor, Putin's ex-security guard, decided to reopen businesses and allow people to leave their homes.
    by Alexander Tikhonov
  • Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko has not taken strong measures to counter the coronavirus in his country yet. He still claims that nobody is going to die from the virus, even though it is likely that some already have. What is going on in Belarus? 
    by  Andrey Shingaryov
  • In his popular comedy series Volodymyr Zelensky ridiculed the IMF. But politics is more pragmatic: now he was forced to push through parliament two controversial laws on demand of the same IMF. Playtime is over for Zelensky. Ukraine needs the money.
    by Mischa van Diepen
  • Italian newspapers criticised Russia's humanitarian aid to Italy as a propaganda tool and espionage. But international aid always

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  • In his address to the nation on April 2 Putin extended the economic lockdown with three more weeks and promised salary compensation

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  • Although Russia still has a relatively low number of confirmed corona cases, medics are bracing themselves for the worst, facing serious shortages of personal protective equipment and pressure on medical staff.
    by Pavel Merzlikin and Alexey Yablokov 
  • As of March 24, Russia had reported 658 cases of coronavirus and one (disputed) death. But there is growing speculation in the West over whether official figures can be trusted and whether the Kremlin might be making use of the pandemic to further its own ends. Carnegie Moscow offered three comments by Russian analysts, which we republish.
  • Jeroen Ketting, Dutch businessman in Moscow since 26 years, is sure his business will be hit hard by the corona-crisis, but he will survive, as he has all the former crises in Russia. For most small and medium Russian entrepreneurs, however, it’s a different story. ‘If this crisis will not kill small and medium business, it will definitively put them in intensive care’, he says.
    by Hella Rottenberg
  • Russia’s official statistics indicate that the country has virtually no coronavirus within its borders. Experts say, however, that the testing procedures have been hampered by bureaucracy. A report from Moscow.
  • Never a dull moment. This is the feeling one has when observing the tumultuous turns of events in the complex entanglement of energy and politics involving Europe, Russia, the US, and countries in the neighbourhood. The US imposes sanctions on Nord Stream 2 and the energy market is politicising. Is the EU-Russia gas relation a liability? Who profits the most from it?
    by Luca Franza
  • Boris Nemtsov was shot dead on a bridge just opposite the Kremlin 5 years ago. The murder, deemed political, was never solved. Why was Nemtsov killed? Was he lobbying too hard for sanctions against Russian authorities in Washington, wonders research journalist Andrei Soldatov.
    by Andrei Soldatov
  • Instead of playing the blame game on the eve of the 75th celebration of the victory over Nazi Germany, Western leaders should understand the feelings of the Russians. And attend on May 9 the parade in Moscow, argues our columnist Mark Galeotti.
    by Mark Galeotti
  • The new Russian government must keep society stable. Without reform and growth only higher taxes can fill the state coffers, argues Andrey Movchan of Carnegie Russia.
    by Andrey Movchan
  • On the 2nd of May 2014 in Odesa, Ukraine, clashes between supporters and opponents of the new Maidan-government killed 48 people. How are these tragic events remembered in Odesa? Five years later Mischa van Diepen went there and found four different narratives on the tragedy, that deeply divide the famous port city.
    by Mischa van Diepen
  • Inspired by the book of Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich The unwomanly face of war, Russian director Kantemir Balagov made his second feature film, Beanpole. Set in Leningrad in 1945 after the siege is lifted and the war is over, two young women, Iya and Masha, search for meaning and hope in the struggle to rebuild their lives amongst the ruins. Balagov manages to completely transport the audience to Leningrad in the autumn of 1945.
    by Elsa Court
  • Despite the chill in bilateral relations, the Netherlands is fairly well-regarded by Russian citizens. This is shown by an opinion poll conducted by the Moscow independent opinion polling agency Levada Center on behalf of Leiden University and Raam op Rusland. It is the first time that such an opinion poll has been held in Russia about the Netherlands, and its outcome is spectacular.
    by Jos Schaeken and Hubert Smeets
  • In 2019, the outcome of a hard-fought battle over the structure of the Eastern Orthodox Church shook Ukrainian religious life to its core. In this thesis Elsa Court examines what happened to parishes in western Ukraine as they were faced with the choice to switch to the new Kyiv-centred church or stick with the politically unpopular Moscow Patriarchy.
    by Elsa Court
  • After the announcement of Trump's so-called 'Deal of the Century' for settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Moscow showed restraint and only said that it will 'study' the plan. Actually, Russia hopes to benefit, because the 'deal' let major powers dictate their terms to weaker ones. This bodes well for international recognition of the annexation of Crimea, argues foreign policy analist Vladimir Frolov.
    by Vladimir Frolov
  • Putin's proposals to change the constitution and the powerstructure puzzle all analysts in East and West. According to Mark Galeotti, to leave the position of super-president to someone else is a very dangerous legacy. So maybe trying to diversify power, willingly or un-willingly, might in the end be a step forward for Russian politics.
    by Mark Galeotti
  • proposals to change the constitution and the powerstructure puzzle all analysts in East and West. Window-dressing, shrewdness, securing his political future as and clinging to power, it is all that and more.
    by Andrei Kolesnikov
  • Can Russia cope with its new role as mighty power-broker in the Middle East, asks Marianna Belenkaya from Carnegie Moscow.
    by Marianna Belenkaya
  • What to expect in 2020? Putin’s power within the system and Russia’s leverage in the world are still relatively great, but the ideas to change anything appear to be lacking. Putin and his entourage seem to think 'better safe than sorry'. So it will be more of the same: economic malaise, political repression and frozen conflict in the Donbas, argues Mark Galeotti.
    by Mark Galeotti
  • While Moscow pushes Belarus into further integration with Russia, talks between Putin and Lukashenko on December 7th failed to bring substantial progress. Minsk is playing hard to get and is not willing to obtain economic gains at all costs, but it's unlikely that Moscow’s embrace will shift from fraternal to fratricidal, argues Matthew Frear.
    by Matthew Frear
  • After the fall of the Soviet Union, a weighty question hung in the air: What would become of the KGB? It made perfect sense that the KGB would also dissolve or at least change beyond recognition. Thus in the 1990s, under Yeltsin’s democratic government, the KGB’s foreign intelligence apparatus was doomed. Or was it?
  • There are signs that the monopoly on violence in Russia is being shared with thugs. Is it possible to hire tough guys to rough up demonstrators? According to security specialist Mark Galeotti, it is more about the 'theatre of violence', creating an environment to make people think twice to take part in protests.
  • Young Russian diplomats are pragmatic, sometimes cynical, and looking forward to the post-Putin-period. Political analyst Kadri Liik spoke with young Russian foreign policy professionals from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. What can the West expect from the new generation? We publish a summary of the policy brief 'The Last of the Offended: Russia's First Post-Putin-Diplomats'.
    by Kadri Liik
  • A wave of resignations and strikes is sweeping Russia’s health sector, as clinics are closed down in small towns and rural areas. Matthew Luxmoore of Radio Liberty travelled to a TB clinic south of the Urals, where the independent trade union Alliance of Doctors hoped to save a hospital.
    by Mathew Luxmoore
  • Russians’ attitudes to the fall of the Berlin Wall are largely positive — at least among those who still understand what it was. But historical knowledge is dwindling and being replaced with mythology. We should never forget, however, the benefits Germany's reunification brought to the world, writes Andrei Kolesnikov of the Carnegie Moscow Center.
    by Andrei Kolesnikov
  • With smart tactical improvisation and an intelligent strategy, Putin has put together a house of cards in Syria. With its current success, Russia also inherits many problems, writes ex-diplomat and arabist Marcel Kurpershoek.
  • One of the most persistent myths about German reunification is that Mikhail Gorbachev told East German party leader Erich Honecker in 1989 that 'those who are late will be punished by history'. Shortly after that, the Berlin Wall fell. In reality, Gorbachev had the Soviet Union in mind, and in private conversations was very meek and deferential to Honecker, writes Hannes Adomeit.
  • A report about Vladimir Putin as a KBG officer shows that he was seen as worthy, serious and reliable, but not as a high-flier or a leader. His later career confirms this early assessment, argues Mark Galeotti. Putin feels attached to the intelligence services, relies on their judgement and fails to manage them, giving them far too much leeway to decide the course of Russia.
  • During a two-day Russia-Africa summit in Sochi, African leaders met with president Putin. They stressed that Western dominance and pressure is over, and that together they will promote a world order based on multilaterialism and respect for national sovereignty. Evan Gershkovich reported on the summit for Coda Story.
    by Evan Gershkovich
  • One of the most well-known Russian economists, Sergei Guriev, spoke about Russian corruption and Western enablement at De Rode Hoed in Amsterdam on October 16. He explained the effects of corruption on the Russian economy and citizens, and what the West should do to fight it.
    by Sergei Guriev
  • In the relationship between Russia and Europe, illusions about rapprochement are gone. However, the relation is not confrontational either. It's in Russia's interest to strengthen economic and technological ties with the EU, argues Dmitri Trenin, director of Carnegie Center Moscow on the website of his think tank.
  • The decision of president Trump to withdraw the American military from northern Syria clears the way for Russia to become the referee in Syria and the wider region. Russia must feel excited that it has finally returned to the world stage as a major recognized force, argues Maxim Trudolyubov, senior fellow at the Kennan Institute.
    by Maxim Trudolyubov
  • Banker and oil magnate Ihor Kolomojsky, who aired Zelensky's comedy show 'Servant of the People', returned to Kyiv after a two-year exile. Under Poroshenko, his PrivatBank was nationalised. Now there are signs that the tycoon is protected, says Kyiv-based Christopher Miller in an article on RFE/RL. How independent is president Zelensky?
    by Christopher Miller
  • Economist Sergei Guriev, who will hold the third RaamopRusland ‘October Lecture’ on October 16 in Amsterdam, recently gave an interview to one of Russia’s most popular vloggers, Yuri Dud. The vlogger is becoming more politically outspoken and supported the protest wave against election fraud this summer in Moscow.
    by Raam op Rusland
  • Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu gave a lenghty interview in which he spoke about the reform of the army, the victories in Syria and Russia's successful defence against the West's hybrid warfare. According to our columnist Mark Galeotti, it looks like the application letter for the presidency after Putin's current term ends in 2024. But there are competitors.
  • An open letter written by Russian Orthodox priests in defense of those imprisoned over recent protests in Moscow is the first time that clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church have taken collective action that was not sanctioned by the church authorities.
    by Ksenia Luchenko
  • The Russian elite is engaged in an indirect debate about a future without Putin. Until recently this was unthinkable - or in any case unmentionable - , but the issue is rapidly becoming the central fascination of the Muscovite ruling class, observes Mark Galeotti.
  • Two weeks ago in Berlin a Chechen enemy of the Kremlin was murdered by, presumably, a contract killer dispatched from Moscow. According to security expert Mark Galeotti, Russian policy making is often 'driven by powerful intangibles such as honour, vengeance and reputation'.
  • The anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Non-Agression Pact between Hitler and Stalin is hotly debated these days. Dutch historian Jeroen Bult rejects Russian Ambassador Shulgin's explanation of the facts, saying: 'Germany and the Soviet Union joined forces to destroy the Order of Versailles, by which both of them felt so humiliated, for good.'
    by Jeroen Bult
  • The Trump administration and the U.S. Congress want to block the Nord Stream 2 project because they think it will make European countries too dependent on Russian energy and damage Ukraine. However, it’s unlikely that the U.S. will succeed, writes Todd Prince for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
    by Todd Prince
  • This fall Dmitry Trenin publishes his new book 'Russia', an ultra-concise overview of 120 years of Russia's recent history. On the site of Carnegie he published this summary.
  • Signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was a difficult, but unavoidable step for the Soviet leadership on August 23 1939, argues the Russian ambassador Alexander Shulgin in response to historian Marc Jansen. The Soviets were concerned by the prospect of an anti-Soviet front and needed time to prepare for the war.
    by Alexander Shulgin
  • This August marks 20 years that Vladimir Putin is in power. The first decade produced an unprecedented growth, but this rapidly declined after Putin halted reforms. Sergey Guriyev doesn't believe in recovery unless Putin reduces the state's role and protects property rights.
    by Sergey Guriyev
  • Again an overwhelming police force in Moscow suppressed demonstrations for fair elections. According to our columnist Mark Galeotti, the security forces can easily deal with the small and peaceful civil disobedience. However, the situation also shows the elite's worry about the future. This regime has totally run out of ideas.
  • In a recent article, Russian journalist Leonid Ragozin argued that ‘Russophobia exists and that it affects politics in the West’. However, the driving mechanisms of Western policies are primarily not Russophobia but are for the most part based on rational analyses, rebuts Hannes Adomeit.
  • A rare show of solidarity between pro-Kremlin and independent journalists helped investigative journalist Ivan Golunov stay out of jail. In an article for CodaStory, Eva Hartog explores the motives of pro-Kremlin journalists who decided to protest.
  • Russian state propaganda labels any suggestion that Russia might be blamed for some wrongdoing as Russophobia. So is Russophobia solely the fruit of imagination? No, alas it isn't. Russophobia exists, argues journalist Leonid Ragozin. The myth about an omnipotent Russia which meddles everywhere obscures the impotency that spans entire Western societies.
    by Leonid Ragozin
  • In his interview with the Financial Times Vladimir Putin buried liberalism. Our columnist Mark Galeotti, author of the sobre book 'We need to talk about Putin' puts things in perspective. Putin is a man with many masks, who easily adapts to different audiences. His main goal is stability for his regime and for the world, in the interest of Russia. And of his business friends.
  • What can Ukraine's new president Volodymyr Zelensky do to help solve the Donbas conflict? With its policy of 'passportization' the Kremlin is escalating the conflict, Andreas Umland argues. More sanctions are needed to force Russia to change its policy. Or Europe will pay dearly.
  • Russians watch Putin's annual call-in show for clues about what the future will bring, but the president took them back to the past. Putin invoked the 1990s to show that life could be worse, if not for his 20 years in power. We republish a slightly abridged report of the show, written by Steve Gutterman for Radio Free Europe, followed by quotations of Putin's most remarkable statements.
    by Steve Gutterman
  • Russian investigative journalist Ivan Golunov was arrested on fabricated drugs charges. His employer Meduza suspected his arrest was triggered by his recent stories about enrichment by Moscow officials and other corrupt schemes. We republish, in an abridged version, his investigation into private microfinance firms that seized the homes of hundreds of Moscovites.
    by Ivan Golunov
  • The investigative journalist Ivan Golunov, whose arrest in Moscow on false drug charges on June 6 elicited unprecedented outrage in Russia, has been freed and the charged dropped. But being vindicated he is the exception to the rule, writes Olga Romanova, director of the prisoner's rights organisation 'Russia behind bars', for the Moscow Carnegie Center.
    by Olga Romanova
  • In a hall with over 400 (mostly) students at the Campus The Hague, Mikhail Khodorkovsky spoke about the future of Russia. Khodorkovsky declared himself a staunch supporter of evolutionary change in Russia, from a presidential system to a fullfledged democratic parliamentary republic.
    by Raam op Rusland
  • The Russian Orthodox Church was always an arm of the state. But after the collapse of communism it grew greedy fingers of its own and became the state corporation RosBog (GodofRussia), argues our columnist Mark Galeotti. As the successful protests against the umptieth church in Ekaterinburg have shown, shareholders can back down. This was an onion dome too far.
  • There are signs that the political influence of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service SVR is growing. After Stalin and Andropov, Putin is the third Russian leader who politically uses the intelligence services, argues intelligence expert Andrei Soldatov.
  • For the first time since 2013, a major bilateral dispute between Russia and the Netherlands has been settled. According to sea law expert Alex Oude Elferink, the agreement about the Arctic Sunrise gives both parties the possibility to hold on to their own point of view, at the same recognizing the significance of international law for their bilateral relations.
  • Not only Russians, but also scores of western politicians and commentators use the term 'civil war' for the armed conflict in the Donbas. This is a false flag, argues researcher Tobias Wals, to deny Russia's heavy involvement in the military operation.
  • The Kremlin’s domestic policy bloc tries to run Russia as a corporation. It’s not surprising, therefore, that they have resorted to using deep packet inspection (DPI) technology, a corporate method of internet control, writes Alexandra Prokopenko for Carnegie Moscow. The new internet law is driven by anxiety about growing discontent in society, but instead it will drag Russia down.
    by Alexandra Prokopenko
  • At the Arctic Council in Finland, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talked about the crisis in Venezuela. This was also the most important topic of the phone call between Trump and Putin. In The Moscow Times, analyst Vladimir Frolov argues that the Kremlin is testing the water for a deal to exchange spheres of influence: Venezuela for Donbass.
    by Vladimir Frolov
  • For Russia challenging the US self-proclaimed 'sphere of influence' in Venezuela is a very cheap gamble, says our security expert Mark Galeotti. An airplane with armed men, a couple of threathening statements, and flexing of some muscles is all it costs. Rosneft investments in the Venezuelan oil industry could suffer. But that is probably an affordable loss and shrewd political calculation.
  • During the wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya the Soviet Army was highly unpopular. Putin completely recreated the image of the military, and now Minister of Defense Shoigu is now the most popular person after Putin. Shoigu plans to build a huge Army Cathedral near Moscow. Andrei Soldatov writes about the growing political clout of the military, unheard of in the history of Russia.
  • According to Russia all military and political cooperation with NATO has effectively ended. There is no readiness for compromise or pragmatism, as both sides appear to think time is on their side. That's the real tragedy, writes our columnist Mark Galeotti.
  • The winner of the first round in the Ukrainian presidential elections is someone who has never held a government position and has no record of political or civic activism. Rather, Volodymyr Zelensky has risen to prominence by ridiculing in tv shows the politicians he is running against. He is a populist who defies the existing left and right wing models, writes political scientist Sergiy Kudelia.
    by Sergiy Kudelia
  • In a worst-case scenario, political-technological trickery could unsettle social stability in Ukraine. Cynical puppet masters are prepared to risk the outbreak of a major domestic civil conflict for the sake of securing the re-election of Ukraine’s incumbent president.
  • After president Nursultan Nazarbayev announced that he would step down after 30 years in power, Kazakh parliament decided to rename the capital to Nursultan, and wants to make the president's daughter speaker of the House. 'Is he really stepping down?' asks our columnist Mark Galeotti. And: what can Vladimir Putin learn from the cunning fox about exit strategies and safe havens?
  • Many think that Russia's aggressive foreign policy was created by Vladimir Putin. In this report for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Julia Gurganus and Eugene Rumer show that there is nothing new to it. Russia’s quest for strategic depth, great power ambitions, and uneasy ties with the West have been around for centuries and will be with us for the foreseeable future.
    by Julia Gurganus and Eugene Rumer
  • On March 31 Ukrainians will vote for a new president. It looks like a run-off between Petro Poroshenko and TV comedian Volodymir Zelensky. This 'against-all' candidate with no political experience shows that a large chunk of the electorate is fed up with Poroshenko's Putinism-lite. The West prefers to neglect these signs, says journalist Leonid Ragozin.
    by Leonid Ragozin
  • The arrest of mega-investor Michael Calvey in Moscow once again shocked the world of business. Why are people so surprised, asks Andrey Movchan of Carnegie Center Moscow. After the lawlessness of the mid-1990s, many hoped that a system of laws and rules to protect business (and everyone else) from arbitrariness would emerge. No way: the interest group that is furthest from honest business and society won the battle and made arbitrariness the guarantee of its position.
    by Andrey Movchan
  • The new German foreign minister Heiko Maas created a stir by calling for a ‘new Ostpolitik’, aimed at making Russia respect again international rules. His remarks gave rise to a discussion about the Ostpolitik in the 1970s, what was right and what was wrong about it. According to Hannes Adomeit old misconceptions, fear for Russia and anti-Americanism hamper a new and realistic German approach.
  • Putin's annual address to parliament and the people differed from last year's. In spite of an obligatory threat to target the US with missiles, the speech was meant to appease his angry people. So Putin morphed from Tsar Vladimir to Uncle Vova. According to our columnist Mark Galeotti that will not be enough. There are no more quick fixes and easy answers, but Putin budges to act decisively.
  • Last spring, longtime Kremlin aide Vladislav Surkov said Russia faces 100 years or more of geopolitical solitude -- and suggested that’s a good thing. Now he’s predicting it will be 'Putin’s state' for just as long. Analysts interpret the wordy court figure’s latest article, and poke big holes in some of his main premises, writes Steve Gutterman in an article for RFE/RL.
    by Steve Gutterman
  • After six years of unabated attack on Internet freedoms in Russia, the Kremlin is taking another bold step. In a first lecture, the Duma adopted a new law that can cut off the Russian internet from the world wide web by installing special equipment all over the country. Security specialist Andrei Soldatov reports.
  • Shown at the Rotterdam Film Festival and now available in select theatres in the Netherlands, Sergei Loznitsa’s latest film paints a hopeless portrait of the war in Eastern Ukraine. It uses black humour to make sense of the harsh reality.
  • While his film 'Leto' (Summer) is shown at the Rotterdam Film Festival, theater and film director Kirill Serebrennikov is in court, accused of fraud and embezzlement of state subsidies. He has been under house arrest since summer 2017 in an investigation that Moscow's intellectual elite considers as a revenge for his avant-garde theater. According to literary scholar Ksenia Robbe, Leto is more than a film about rock legend Viktor Tsoi who died young and became a cult hero. It's a playful work on the spirit of freedom that inspires hope.
  • Four sacks of potatoes and a piece of lard were the Christmas gifts president Lukashenko brought for his meeting with Putin on December 29. But tensions about sovereignty of Belarus have risen again. It's an old power play between Minsk and Moscow. Arseny Sivitsky analyses the concerns from the point of view of Belarus.
  • In March 2019, Ukrainians vote for a new president. Don't underestimate Poroshenko, warns consultant Brian Mefford, based in Kyiv. His fight for an independent Ukrainian orthodox church raised his popularity. One thing is sure: thanks to Crimea and the Donbass war, the Russian political bloc has completely lost its clout.
    by Brian Mefford
  • Political fragmentation, fights between the elites and a total absence of a positive domestic agenda. Political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya signals three key domestic risks of the year 2019 for those in power.
  • In their own ways both Russia and the West consider themselves at war with each other. Wars bring their own zero-sum logic, so it would seem appropriate to ask the most basic of questions: who ‘won’ 2018? Our columnist Mark Galeotti weighs in.
  • Prosecutors provide impunity and revenue for you and your allies, and the law for your enemies. Security expert Mark Galeotti notices an upsurge of high profile squabbles in Russia about positions in the departments of justice, secret service and internal affairs. It suggests tension and uncertainty within the Russian elite, preparing for a post-Putin succession struggle.
  • After twenty years in power, Putin's presidential office can barely offer anything promising. Trump is the new autocrat populists of the world look up to. The Kremlin is more and more turning into an ancien regime, ready to be swept away, argues sociologist Maxim Trudolyubov on the Russian website Riddle.
    by Maxim Trudolyubov
  • Be it at the end of Putin's presidency in 2024 or before, things will inevitably change in Russia. But in which direction? The West cannot stay aloof, as what happens in Russia is a matter of concern for the world as well. At the end of the Cold War the West offered a positive alternative, but now it is alienating ordinary Russians, writes Russian journalist Leonid Ragozin.
    by Leonid Ragozin
  • The World Cup 2018 in Russia appeared to be flawless and therefore a success for president Putin. But to what extent did civil society participate in the organization of the tournament? In his master thesis Luuk Peters, student at Leiden University, sheds light on this question.
    by Luuk Peters