NY Dispatches: Ivan Golunov’s case

The swift release of investigative journalist Ivan Golunov from custody after unprecedented protests is a triumph of Russia’s increasingly confident civil society and press. The way it happened also tells us a lot about the worst fears of the Russian president.

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NY Dispatches: Putin’s trust rating

The grotesque revision of the methodology behind the Russian president’s trust rating by the state-owned VTsIOM pollster following a comment by Putin’s spokesman does not only show how malleable statistical data are in Russia. It also tells a lot about a sclerosis of decision-making triggered by a worrying crisis of responsibility.

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NY Dispatches: Firings at the Kommersant daily

This week it emerged that one of Russia’s main business dailies, Kommersant had forced two of its journalists, Ivan Safronov and Maxim Ivanov to resign their jobs. The decision came on the heels of an article published in April about Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament. The article quoted insider sources about the imminent departure of Matvienko, to be replaced, ostensibly, by Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Russia’s foreign intelligence (SVR). The speaker herself was going to be appointed the head of Russia’s retirement fund, effectively a sinecure job.  Matvienko has called these “rumours”. Following the firing of Safronov and Ivanov the entire politics desk of Kommersant resigned their jobs and more than 200 Kommersant employees condemned the decision. Suddenly, a heated discussion erupted over the state of the Russian media.

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NY Dispatches: Russia and the Council of Europe

On Friday news broke that Russia reached an agreement with the Council of Europe, which will result in Russia remaining a member of Europe’s most important human rights organisation. A qualified majority of the CoE’s foreign ministers approved the deal, mediated by France and Germany.  Seven countries, Ukraine, the UK, Poland, Georgia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were against the decision and loudly contested it. They were right. 

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NY Dispatches: The protest in Yekaterinburg

One of the most remarkable protest actions of the past decade seems to be unfolding in Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth largest city this week, where thousands of locals protest the construction of a church on what is now a green area. The developments tell a lot about the present and the future of protest movements in Russia. 

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NY Dispatches: The aftermath of the Superjet crash

Russia is looking for answers to questions raised by the deadly crash landing of an Aeroflot jet at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, which killed 41 people on Sunday. The tragedy and how it was handled drew attention to certain uncomfortable issues about Russia as a state.

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NY Dispatches: The dismissal of Mikhail Babich

Does the dismissal of Russia’s controversial ambassador in Belarus signal a change in Russia-Belarus relations? It may on the surface, but most likely Mikhail Babich did exactly what was expected of him. 

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