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Brian Whitmore

Entries by Brian Whitmore

Obama's Kremlin Gambit

(1) Comments | Posted July 3, 2009 | 6:04 PM

Well, I can't say that I saw this coming.

In an interview with the Associated Press that hit the wires on July 3, U.S. President Barack Obama dropped this little bombshell on the eve of his visit to Moscow:

I have developed a very good relationship with President...
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The Kremlin, the Oligarch, and 'The Thaw'

(1) Comments | Posted March 3, 2009 | 11:19 AM

Many Kremlin-watchers point to oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky's October 2003 arrest as the point when it became crystal-clear where Vladimir Putin's Russia was headed. Opposition leaders are now saying that Khodorkovsky's fate has again become a litmus test -- this time for President Dmitry Medvedev.

In a trial that begins...

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Cops, Informants, and the Unemployed in Russia

(1) Comments | Posted February 6, 2009 | 12:22 PM

Some 5.8 million Russians are currently out of work. By the end of this year, that figure is expected to rise as high as 7 million.

One area that will not be hit by job losses, however, is law enforcement. The Kremlin has walked back plans to reduce the...

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A Creeping Police State or Looming Anarchy

(0) Comments | Posted January 26, 2009 | 2:15 PM

They're ratcheting up the machinery of repression! A crackdown is obviously just around the corner.

The elite is mired in clan warfare and the economy is collapsing! We're clearly headed for chaos and instability.

Recent commentary on Russia has tacked back-and-forth between these two apparently contradictory narratives -- the...

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Russia's Counter-Reformation

(0) Comments | Posted January 7, 2009 | 12:54 PM

Aleksandr Podrabinek knows a creeping police state when he sees one.

As a Soviet-era dissident he was a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group human rights organization, editor of the samizdat journal "The Chronicle of Current Events," and the author of a 1977 book, "Punitive Medicine," that chronicled the abuses...

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The Sochi Tea Party

(0) Comments | Posted January 6, 2009 | 12:47 PM

They went skiing. They chatted about old times. They mingled with ordinary folks.

And then they had tea.

It was the perfect photo-op for Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as TV cameras captured the athletic Kremlin leaders slaloming the slopes at a ski resort in Sochi...

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Is Russia's Social Contract Crumbling?

(1) Comments | Posted December 26, 2008 | 2:36 PM

Just how nervous is Russia's elite about the ongoing financial crisis?

Just a couple of weeks ago, Deputy Economic Development Minister Andrei Klepach received a stern Kremlin smack down for suggesting Russian was entering a recession.

But now, in an interview published in the magazine Novoye Vremya...

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Former Judge Speaks Truth To Power In Russia

(1) Comments | Posted December 23, 2008 | 11:50 AM

In the 1990s, Sergei Pashin was one of the most passionate advocates for true judicial reform in Russia. As a Moscow judge, he routinely threw out confessions obtained by torture, meticulously reviewed cases for signs of prosecutorial falsification, and was an unyielding supporter of jury trials.

So it should come...

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Dissent In The Russian Ranks

(0) Comments | Posted December 23, 2008 | 10:26 AM

Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov's plan to overhaul Russia's military is already sparking discord in the armed forces. Some analysts think it lead to social unrest as well?

As part of the restructuring, Serdyukov plans a massive downsizing of the officer corps. As many as 300,000 officers are expected to...

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