Alexanyan Pays Bail, Is Released

The terminally ill former Yukos executive Vasily Alexanyan has finally been released from custody after paying a punitively expensive $1.8 million bail bond.  Read more about the medical blackmail of Alexanyan here, here, and here, and also see the important opinion articles in RIA Novosti in support of leniency on political prisoners.

Grigory Pasko: Staying Pozitiv in the New Year

When I worked at a military newspaper as chief of the combat training department, the editor often told us journalists: don’t write critical articles, more pozitiv, write more about good things… But the times were such that everything all around was collapsing: the country after perestroika, the combat education of the fleet at zero, the […]

The Petro Dictators Feel the Pinch

The Wall Street Journal has a column today discussing the humbled ambitions of several authoritarian leaders in these days of low oil prices: We’re not suggesting the mullahs, Putinocracy or the Chávez regime are at death’s door. None will give up power easily. Suffice to appreciate the consequences of lower oil for America’s enemies. Mr. […]

Putin’s Diminishing Economic Hand

From George H. Wittman in the American Spectator: As the financial crisis deadens the exuberance of Putin’s leadership, there also has been an increase in dissension between the military/security factions on one side and the economic/business elements on the other. Each is pushing for ascendancy in the Putin-Medvedev bipolar leadership system. There may be no […]

Criminalizing Journalism

Our readers are likely familiar with the unfortunate fate of Yevgeny Gontmakher, an economist who published the article Novocherkassk-2009 (translated on this blog), providing a bleak outlook of what many one-factory Russian towns are experiencing in the economic crisis.  Now it seems that another figure, Aleksandr Bragin, is being targeted for having published an article […]

What Georgia Taught Us About Europe

From Simon Tisdall in the Guardian: The Georgian eruption had wide-ranging consequences. It embarrassingly exposed the disunity, rivalry and weakness that characterises an energy-dependent European Union in its dealings with Russia. And it placed on full display the emptiness of western security assurances to Georgia as Russian tanks rolled towards Tbilisi. The war threw the […]

Energy Blast – Dec 30, 2008

The New York Times reports on how the once mighty Gazprom has fallen on hard times to negotiate a govt. bailout, while the company offsets this news with financial reports from the second quarter that profits had tripled before the crash of the oil price.  Ukraine’s Naftogaz is said to be negotiating a $2 billion […]

Today in Russian Business – Dec 30, 2008

Yesterday Russia allowed the ninth devaluation of the ruble for the month, dragging down the value by 18% since August – however, against the dollar, the ruble has gained .08%.  Russian economic officials report 1.6% GDP growth for November.  Russia and the United States have signed a new meat and poultry agreement for 2009, allowing […]

RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Dec 30, 2008

TODAY:  Extended presidential terms signed into law – protests in response, a missile test gone awry, clashes in Dagestan claim life of top Russian official, Abramovich to sell yacht or Chelsea while Latvia asks to be bought, fallen hockey star Alexei Cherepanov is alleged to have used drugs, and Ded Moroz, Russia’s version of Santa […]

Escaping Conscription in Russia

Alistair Gee has a report on the time-honored Russian tradition of dodging the Army draft, which brings to mind the recently forced conscription of the activist Oleg Kozlovsky. The lengths that Russians go to avoid the Army hint at other problems–notably dedovshchina, or rule of the grandfathers, an informal and widespread discipline system in which […]