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Russian Politics in Review
June-September, 2008

The following resource is meant to quickly introduce the reader to politics issues in Russia - with a focus on the upcoming elections, political parties, and political personages. This news review is part of SRAS's monthly "obzor" publications. For more reviews, see the newsletter for this corresponding month.

To receive the free monthly newsletter and obzori by email, simply sign up.


Russia's Relations With West
Rice and Lavrov spar

Russian deputy PM dismayed by lack of progress in WTO talks
Russia started WTO accession talks in 1995. The latest round of talks with the 153-member global trade organization collapsed in late July.

Rice takes aim at Russia as she meets Lavrov
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice piled new criticism on Russia as she met with its foreign minister.

Secretary Rice on US-Russia Relations at the German Marshall Fund
With response from Russia's Foreign Ministry included.

Medvedev is against conflict with West
Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported that the Kremlin does not intend to escalate the current state of confrontation with the West in general and the United States in particular.

Rice, Lavrov Struggle to Salvage Remnants of Iran Diplomacy
Lavrov, speaking after he met with Rice, told the Council on Foreign Relations that no new United Nations sanctions on Iran were discussed and further high-level talks wouldn't take place until "some time down the road."

Anti-US Sentiment Soars To Record Heights In Russia
Two-thirds of Russians dislike the U.S. following last month's war in Georgia, the country's highest level of anti-U.S. sentiment in a decade, a Moscow polling agency said Thursday.

Time to Treat Russia as a Partner
I had the sense that the United States was on the verge of a new era of confrontation with Moscow that could prove far more dangerous and unstable than the previous Cold War.

Medvedev: Russia won't be pushed into isolation
President Dmitry Medvedev said Friday that Russia would not yield to Western pressure or be pushed into isolation over the war in Georgia.

Russia, U.S. can improve dialogue despite differences
Russia and the United States can fashion a constructive dialogue regardless of their differences on some international issues, the Russian president said Thursday.


Government Acts
Corruption and Spending

Putin's package
The Russian government's $100bn-plus financial rescue plan has won a better reception from investors than Washington's $700bn proposal.

Russia loses $20 billion a year to corruption
Nurgaliyev said two thirds of Russian businessmen engage in corrupt practices, and that the bribery of officials is widespread.

United Moscow
There was no significant difference between Russian officials in what they said about Russian policy and Russian views.

Parties May Get Simplified Accounting
The Central Election Commission has published the results of its financial audit of the political parties for 2007. Once again, no irregularities were found.

New Plan for Olympic Facilities Ready
The first plans for the placement of the mountain Olympic village will be presented today, stated Minister of Regional Development Dmitry Kozak at a meeting of the presidium of the Russian government.

Government Spending Breaks Away
Budget receipts grew a third on year and the spending surged 40 percent.


Regional Issues
Provinces and Governors

Medvedev: Far East ignored too long
If Russia fails to develop the Far East, it could turn into a raw material base of Asian countries.

Violence pushes Russia's Ingushetia towards civil war
Russia thought it had tamed the Muslim regions on its southern flank when it quelled a rebellion in Chechnya, but trouble is brewing again.

Medvedev Faces Karachayevo-Cherkessia Appointment
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev must for the first time since taking office in early May propose a candidate to serve as president of one of Russia's 21 ethnic republics.

RAD: Federalism
This issue of the Russian Analytical Digest looks at centralized power and its effect on regions in Russia. It discusses regional autonomies and the government's centralizing policies and territorial reforms. The publication also includes a list of regional leaders.

Russia Rules Out Return to Elected Governors
Russia's government on Tuesday ruled out restoring direct elections of regional governors, scrapped four years ago.


How a lion-fancier got Grozny back on its feet
Infinitely more bizarre than either the deserted airport or the impressive instant rebuild of the capital was a two-hour visit to the estate of the President, Ramzan Kadyrov.

Justice, Chechen style
Chechens may be administering 'justice' now, but the lives of ordinary people still remain at risk from an arbitrary, ruthless system

Assassination Attempt on Chechen Pres places the incident in Tsentroi, home of the Kadyrov family. Kadyrov was not hurt.

Ramzan Kadyrov Frees Chechen Lands
President of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov demanded on Saturday that federal enforcement agencies immediately vacate civilian facilities and agricultural lands they are occupying.


Youth Politics
Nashi changes focus 

Nashi Summer Camp Tries a New Message
"The first idea was to block a possible Orange Revolution, that's why last year was so important. Now, they don't know what to do."

The Putin Generation: How Will its Rise Affect US-Russian Relations?
This year, young people are coming out in record numbers to support their political candidates, not just in the United States but in Russia as well.

Shuvalov Acknowledges Nashi
The pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi (Ours) is holding its annual camp at Lake Seliger. The guest of honor this year is First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov. The camp was decorated with exhibits such as the president of Estonia portrayed as a pig and Mikhail Khodorkovsky as a squirrel.


Political Opposition
One party gone, another reformed 

Moscow News: Anna Arutunyan, Liberal Yabloko gets New Leader
A massive overhaul of Russia's oldest democratic party, Yabloko, has lead to the replacement of its founding leader with a deputy in the Moscow City Duma that some members of this oppositionist party have described as a hardliner.

Veteran Russian politician quits with dig at Putin
Yavlinsky said Putin and Medvedev were dependent on Russia's centralized power structures to rule the country.

Russia needs political competition - Chubais
Chubais said that without proper feedback and political competition Russia's state risked being completely ineffective.

Agrarian Party Joins United Russia
Financial difficulties cited.

Russia: the opposition that melted away
Many different explanations are offered in Russia today for the weakness of the democratic movement and its inability to oppose the Kremlin in any way.

Supreme Court Rebuffs Communist Challenge to Elections
The Russian Supreme Court has declared the parliamentary elections of December 2007 legal, ruling on a suit by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.


How is Russia's President-PM "team" working? 

Russians Credit Putin with Power
The majority of Russians still think that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin rule Russia together. There are fewer who see the real power in the president's hands, while more credit it to Putin.

Putin, Medvedev Diverge as Protege Shows He Isn't a "Puppet"
The honeymoon between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin may be over.

Medvedev Vies With Putin in Word War
President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday made a surprise visit to Vladikavkaz, near the border with South Ossetia, to commend soldiers on their valor during the conflict with Georgia and promise them a better future.

Duumvirate is Tested as Medvedev Speaks Up Against Putin
There should be no doubt about who is in charge.

Is A Medvedev-Putin Split Brewing?
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered state officials to stop "terrorizing" business, just days after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin did just that.

Two Ratings Make a Pair
The military conflict in Georgia boosted Medvedev's popularity with the nation. The ranking of PM Vladimir Putin strengthened as well.


Still largely seen as the man in charge

The Vladimir Putin Story
Vladimir Putin is one of the central figures of our times, the man who presided at the Kremlin as the broken remains of a sprawling nation were restored to life.

Why Putin should scare us
He's an ethnic nationalist with a mystical sense of Russian destiny. Cold and pragmatic, he won't play by the world's rules.

Russia: Putin Pulls the Oligarchs' Strings
The revelation that Rosneft is behind the Yugansk takeover confirms that Vladimir Putin is determined to establish strong state control over the Russian oil industry.

Anatol Lieven, Lunch with Putin
There were moments during the week I spent in Russia for the Valdai Discussion Club when I felt as if the world had begun to rotate backward.

Petrostate: Putin, Power, and the New Russia
"One of Americas most seasoned Kremlin-watchers, Goldman's snappily written Petrostate argues boldly that Russia has become an energy superpower with a strong political agenda."

Back In the USSR
Vladimir Putin's appointment as prime minister of the symbolic "union" of Russia and Belarus was yet another troubling similarity between today's Russia and Leonid Brezhnev's Soviet Union in the 1970s.

Putin Scored the 2nd in Global Confidence Rating
Of eight national leaders, Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin rates the second in terms of inspired confidence.

Putin happy with PM job
Vladimir Putin is happy with his new job as Prime Minister of Russia. "There is enough to do, but the work is interesting and I think it is also very useful."

Prime Minister Dominates Economic, Foreign, and Security Policy
The recent controversy surrounding the coal and steel producer Mechel has sparked speculation about a rift between the President and Prime Minister.

Putin says terrorism remains major threat for Russia
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Monday that although significant progress has been made in counter-terrorism efforts, the country still faces a major terrorist threat.

Putin appoints ambassador to US to his Cabinet
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin appointed Russia's longtime ambassador to the U.S. to his Cabinet on Monday, a move likely to deepen speculation that the former president will claim a strong foreign policy role.


Still urging reform... 

Russian president speaks out in new book
The book — titled "Medvedev" — charts a series of interviews between the president and Nikolai Svanidze, a well-known TV anchor, and his journalist wife Marina over a two-and-a-half-month period before and after the presidential elections.

Interview with Reuters News Agency
From June 25th…

Medvedev's baptism by fire
The new Russian President's first 100 days in power examined.

Medvedev faces tough challenges at 100 days
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev marked 100 days in the Kremlin on Thursday still trying to establish his leadership amid a dizzying array of challenges, ranging from war with Georgia to scared investors selling out.

Medvedev says Kremlin must ease grip on power
Dmitry Medvedev unleashed unusually harsh criticism of the Kremlin's overly centralised system of decision making, indicating the Russian president was dissatisfied with his government's own crisis management skills.

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