Pacta non sunt servanda

From Denis MacShane on Comment is Free: Now, the Kremlin has thrown down a new challenge to Sarkozy, to the EU, and to the OSCE (one of the most important examples of successful US diplomacy) at a time when Washington preferred jaw-jaw to war-war. In the six-point agreement Medvedev signed with Sarkozy pride of place […]

A Whiff of Stalinism

From Reuters – more on this topic here. “The younger generation is fed with myths about Stalin. It knows nothing about the millions who died in Gulag camps but well knows he was a strong leader who defeated (Nazi) Germany,” human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov told Reuters. He said a whiff of Stalinism was felt […]

A Peculiar Accident

Here’s a story of a peculiar accident from the Daily Mail, but interestingly enough, the tax authorities re-opened their claims against the British Council several days earlier. A British diplomat in Moscow knocked over a pedestrian who turned out to be a senior Russian spy. The accident threatens to reopen a simmering diplomatic row between […]

Searching in Sukhumi

From the intro of a very interesting story in tomorrow’s Washington Post by Tara Bahrampour, which seeks to provide a glimpse of the human side of the conflict in Georgia. This fall, as I was preparing to travel to the Georgian breakaway region of Abkhazia, one of the cafeteria ladies in the journalism school where […]

Obama’s Russia Advantage

I must confess that I was expecting this New York Times editorial on President-elect Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin to be much, much worse.  Still, most everyone who has found their way to this blog is likely way above this shallow treatment of U.S.-Russian relations. Mr. Obama does have a few advantages in dealing with […]

Legal Nihilism in Suspended Animation

It’s been a pretty slow news week in Russia, and my suspicion that this involves something more than just the approach of the Jan. 7 Orthodox Christmas. We’ve had relatively few events of any major importance in the political environment (at least that we know of), no major moves against companies or individuals, and the […]

The Orthodox Media

Karl Marx’s famous declaration of religion being the opium of the masses continues to raise interesting discussions even today, as various observers debate the new role of church-and-state ties in the context of moral ambiguity and armed conflict.  Russia is one of the most interesting examples, though not the only one, where the government’s professed […]

FSB Connections to Murdered Journalists

In light of the unraveling of the prosecution’s case in the Anna Politkovskaya trial, David Satter has a new column in Forbes detailing some of the alleged connections between the FSB and several murder cases of journalists. The involvement of law enforcement officers in contract killings should be a momentous scandal, but the elimination of […]

Voloshin Joins Norilsk Board

Various analysts have been predicting over the fall that the economic crisis would provide the Russian government with an opportunity to gradually take over the crown jewel of mining, Norilsk Nickel.  Today’s appointment of Alexander Voloshin, a Kremlin insider and alleged proxy of the executive, looks like a step in that direction.  This measure is […]

Predictably Unpredictable

David Kakabadze of RFE/RL has a piece up commenting on Russia’s successful campaign to eliminate most outside participants (the OSCE) from the conflict resolution process in the Caucases – and argues that the West should really stop pretending to be “so surprised” by Russia’s foreign policy decisions. That, of course, seems highly unlikely. Less than […]