How Did So Many Kremlinologists Get It Wrong?

Are Russia-watchers guilty of over-thinking or over-hoping? Sam Greene claims to have been the “last analyst left in Moscow who actually thought that Dmitri Medvedev would stay on as president of Russia,” but this is hyperbole. Analysts as talented as Stanislav Belkovsky, Igor Yurgens, and Gleb Pavlovsky (to name just a few) were also in …

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Exit Kudrin

In light of Aleksei Kudrin’s departure from the Ministry of Finance yesterday, I’m posting this follow-up to my initial thoughts about Russia after Putin’s return. Before Medvedev spit hellfire and brimstone at Kudrin on Monday, Igor Shuvalov seemed convinced that Russia’s long-time Finance Minister would be migrating from the ‘government’ to the ‘Kremlin,’ just as …

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No Time for Obituaries: Putin’s Return in 2012

The eternal, hotly-debated question about whether or not Vladimir Putin will return to the Kremlin was answered yesterday in the affirmative. None other than Dmitri Medvedev made the announcement, minutes before Putin returned to the stage at the United Russia party convention to deliver what was essentially an early victory speech. There is much to …

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The Strange Death of Liberal Russia: Prokhorov & Pravoe Delo

In the wake of Mikhail Prokhorov’s political downfall and the likely death of Pravoe Delo’s chances at attracting enough votes to enter the next Duma, commentators are scrambling to make sense of what has happened. The amount of relevant material that’s exploded onto the Internet in the past two days is vast and beyond easy …

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Just A Man & His Will to Survive: Medvedev the Fighter?

On September 8th, Russia’s two most prominent Dimas (President Medvedev and Representative to NATO Rogozin) both delivered speeches in Yaroslavl at the Global Policy Forum. The theme of the conference was “The Modern State in the Age of Social Diversity.” Rogozin elected to take part in a talk dedicated to “Global Security and Local Conflicts.” When …

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Mikhail Prokhorov’s Truth

[Прочитать статью на русском языке здесь.] Roughly eleven years ago, as Boris Yeltsin departed the Kremlin and Russia’s love affair with American culture turned sour, film director Aleksei Balabanov released a sequel to his 1997 hit “Brother.” Capturing the changing mood of the era, “Brother II” took place primarily in the United States, where the hero, …

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Should Five Percent Appear Too Small: Medvedev & Russia’s Social Insurance Tax

On March 30, 2011, President Medvedev gave a speech in Magnitogorsk, where he announced a series of executive orders aimed at improving Russia’s miserable, “bad, very bad” investment climate. In an apparent effort to reach out to business interests, Medvedev declared that social insurance payroll taxes (strakhovye vznosy) were too high, and he ordered the …

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Pardon My Past: Khodorkovsky & Clemency

  On December 6, 2000, American businessman Edmond Pope was convicted by a Moscow court of espionage and sentenced to twenty years in prison. Even after the verdict, Pope did not confess to being a spy, and he refused to appeal to the Russian President for clemency. Nevertheless, a young President Vladimir Putin pardoned Mr. …

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