Russia

A Bottom-Up Democracy

June 2009

It had to happen sooner or later. The first bill on nationalization has been submitted to the State Duma. That such a bill would appear in Russia only after similar legislation was introduced in Britain and the United States might seem paradoxical, at least at first glance. After all, Moscow officials would rather die than be accused of an attempt to revive communism. This is especially true of senior government officials in the "economic bloc" whose job is to please investors.

Stabilisation is worse than depression

June 2009

Russian officials have become optimistic again. Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev criticizes his Minister of Finances Alexey Kudrin in public because he said that Russia’s favorable economic trends had become a thing of the past, and the Central Bank representatives joyfully speak about the growth of gold and currency reserves.

Good cop, bad cop an unremarkable one

May 2009

The diarchy in the Russian politics is a permanent problem for analysts, propagandists and moralists. Who is the head of state? The President or the Prime Minister? And what kind of our system is? The superpresidential republic or the moderate constitutional monarchy? In fact, these questions are not the most unpleasant.

The commentators’ main difficulty and temptation is their natural desire to find in the diarchy an intrigue concealing the confrontation of the political tendencies, for example, to imagine Vladimir Putin as a “bad cop” and Dmitry Medvedev – as a “good one”.

Case on killed wild rams: continuation

May 2009

It seems that in this spring not only weather but also the political climate in Russia is getting warm. Although those symptoms are unconvincing, they continue to multiply turning particular cases into a tendency. The crime committed by police major Denis Evsukov, who has shot down innocent people in a Moscow supermarket, led to a dismissal of Vladimir Pronin, head of the Moscow police – there is no precedent for this event in Russia where top officials are not accustomed to being responsible not only for the actions of their subordinates but also for those of their own.

Policemen: part of criminal world?

Interview with Boris Kagarlitsky
April 2009
Many Russians do not trust the police as they consider many of them a part of the criminal world, rather than enforcers of the law, says Boris Kagarlitsky.

What are the bureaucrats afraid of?

April 2009

When looking round the Russian city of Izhevsk a participant in the last week Ural Social Forum said: “Now I came to realize why the Kalashnikov assault rifle had been invented here”.

In Izhevsk it was too cold for the middle of April, but also there were many policemen, members of riot squad, who were ready for action, and numerous military equipment including a new police armored car resembling those in a Hollywood film about the war in Iraq. Suddenly the Izhevsk hotels refused to accommodate the forum organizers, although the money had been transferred to those hotels.

The Unknown War

April 2009

While economists debate whether the economic crisis has bottomed out yet and celebrities throw gaudy evening bashes and ordinary citizens count their shrinking incomes, there is a quiet but grim war taking place on the streets. Bands of fascists and anti-fascists are pitched in a brutal struggle that is rarely mentioned in public or in the mass media.

For some months now, fascist gangs have been attacking foreigners, minorities and immigrant workers, killing several people every month. Even members of anti-fascist organizations are counted among the murder victims.

Seal protection the Russian way

March 2009

The main decision, which the Russian government made last week, concerned protection of seals. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin decided to ban the hunting of the Greenlandic seal cubs which are mercilessly killed for their fur when they are one year old. Not only does the Russian Prime Minister sympathize with young seals – the West European environmental organizations have come out against the hunting of baby seals for a long time.

A credibility crisis

March 2009

The Russian government has developed a new anti-crisis plan. Although nobody has seen it yet, we can be 100 percent certain that it is a good one and that it will enable Russia to fulfill its strategy for development through 2020, offer solutions to new problems and provide for overall stability.

Protests are more than about sheep

March 2009

It is likely that nobody would have taken note of the crash of an Mi-171 helicopter in the Altai region on Jan. 9 if the president's representative to the State Duma, Alexander Kosopkin, had not been among the dead. The passengers who survived the accident were members of the local and federal political elite.

The passengers had been illegally hunting endangered wild sheep, but that did not come to light through a press leak.