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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Shoigu’s Game

One of the underreported stories of the past years in the Western media was how Russia’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu became one of the most visible, most popular and strongest figures in Russian politics. This is perhaps because Shoigu has been present in the upper echelons of Russian politics since the early 1990s, therefore he is hardly an exciting new face like Maxim Oreshkin, the minister for economic development. However, as the Russian political elite – and Vladimir Putin himself – start to ask questions of themselves about 2024 and Putin’s succession, this old fixture of Russian politics may become very important. Here is why. 

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The next big Surkov piece

Following the roaring success of the latest article by everyone’s favourite obscure Russian political advisor, the intelligence team at No Yardstick managed to take hold of a draft of Vladislav Surkov’s next treatise on the pathways of Russia, Putin and the West. Below we are publishing an unabridged version translated into English.*

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