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SnapshotsApr 4, 2018 | 16:23 GMT
Russia: The Kremlin's Anti-Corruption Drive Takes Aim at a Key Oligarch
As the number of anti-corruption protests increases across Russia, the Kremlin seems to be taking note. One of Russia's key oligarchs with deep ties to Kremlin circles, Ziyavudin Magomedov, was arrested on March 31 (along with his brother and another crony) on charges of corruption. Though the arrests indicate a possible governmental anti-corruption drive, they also point to a larger power struggle among Kremlin elites.
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AssessmentsSep 7, 2017 | 12:26 GMT
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Igor Sechin, the CEO of oil giant Rosneft, on May 17, 2017.
Russian Rivalries: A Tale of Two Energy Firms
Gazprom has long been the Kremlin's favored energy partner, holding a monopoly over Russia's piped natural gas exports. Gazprom's stranglehold on natural gas exports meant the Kremlin could use it as a tool in its relationships with former Soviet states, Europe and Turkey. But lower global natural gas prices, as well as a string of diversification projects in Europe, Eurasia and the Middle East, have curbed Gazprom's ability to influence affairs in those regions, which in turn has weakened its position with the Kremlin. In Gazprom's struggles, Rosneft has spied an opportunity. Now that its rival is weaker, the firm has started to aggressively grab new assets: In October 2016, Rosneft closed a deal to take over the country's sixth largest oil firm, Bashneft, even after Putin explicitly warned against the takeover with a rare public threat. Rosneft won out in the end, agreeing to let the Kremlin privatize a large
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AssessmentsFeb 27, 2017 | 09:31 GMT
Putin Faces an Enemy of His Own Design
Putin Faces an Enemy of His Own Design
Russia's legislature may be the next theater of the power struggle that has rocked the Kremlin over the past three years. The Duma has been all but inconsequential in the 17 years that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been in power, serving mostly as a means to boost the leader's legitimacy and as a scapegoat for enacting tough reforms. Facing growing challenges from the Kremlin's political elite, Russia's regional leaders and the public at large, however, Putin has bestowed increasing authority on the legislature to push through the measures he needs to secure his rule. And a recent report from the Carnegie Center in Moscow suggests that this power may have gone to the newly appointed parliamentary speaker's head.
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ReflectionsNov 16, 2016 | 01:06 GMT
The Fate of Russia's Liberals
The Fate of Russia's Liberals
Russia's economic and political problems are piling up, and they may be putting members of the country's more liberal circles at risk. In the most high-profile arrest to be made in post-Soviet Russia -- and arguably, since the 1950s -- Economic Minister Alexei Ulyukayev was detained Tuesday on charges of bribery and extortion. According to Russian authorities, Ulyukayev received $2 million from state-owned oil giant Rosneft in exchange for approving the company's purchase of the Bashneft oil firm. The sudden arrest has topped the headlines throughout the day. Ulyukayev was paraded through court, and a stream of Kremlin officials expressed their shock at the accusations against him. But the arrest has also raised some disturbing questions about President Vladimir Putin's involvement in the incident and the fate of the country's remaining liberal elites.
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AssessmentsOct 28, 2016 | 09:47 GMT
Russia's Federal Budget: Better Late Than Never
Russia's Federal Budget: Better Late Than Never
The Kremlin may yet end the year with a budget in place. After months of rancorous debate and half a dozen rejected drafts, Russia's legislature, the Duma, will vote Oct. 28 to finalize this year's budget and approve drafts for the next three years. For about a decade before the oil slump began in 2014, the country had enough oil revenue to justify two or three supplemental budgets to expand spending. Over the past few years, however, the Russian government has struggled to maintain even one budget without vastly expanding its federal deficit -- something the Kremlin has tried to avoid. Moscow has revised its 2016 budget time and again, and with just two months left before the year's end, it seems to have come up with a viable spending plan for this year and the next few. Still, the budget will not be enough to ease the strain on
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Quarterly ForecastsOct 10, 2016 | 00:09 GMT
If the study of geopolitics focuses on the structural forces shaping the international system, then domestic elections only rarely matter. Leaders tend to bend to their environment, not the other way around. And yet in the final months of 2016 the United States, still the world's only superpower, will choose a president in an election that will shape U.S. foreign policy more than usual.
2016 Fourth-Quarter Forecast
If the study of geopolitics focuses on the structural forces shaping the international system, then domestic elections only rarely matter. Leaders tend to bend to their environment, not the other way around. And yet in the final months of 2016 the United States, still the world's only superpower, will choose a president in an election that will shape U.S. foreign policy more than usual.
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AssessmentsOct 4, 2016 | 09:01 GMT
Putin Acquiesces to Russia's Powerful Energy Sector
In Russia, a Bow to the Powerful Energy Sector
Over the weekend, Russian media reported that the Kremlin had changed its position and will agree to sell a private stake in state-owned oil firm Bashneft to state oil giant Rosneft. According to Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, quoted by Kommersant, Moscow is planning to lift its suspension on the sale following a fierce political battle waged since August, when the sale was halted. If the sale goes to Rosneft, it would resolve one of the most significant battles being fought within the Kremlin among the Finance Ministry, the executive branch under President Vladimir Putin and Rosneft chief Igor Sechin. However, the oil dispute is not the only one of its kind souring relations between the government and the energy sector.
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AssessmentsAug 24, 2016 | 09:15 GMT
Russia Minds Its Budget Gap
Russia Minds Its Budget Gap
After two years of recession, the worst may be over for Russia's economy, but not for its leaders. As the year approaches its final quarter, the Russian government is still trying to finalize its 2016 budget. Though the federal budget has long been a point of contention in the Kremlin, this year's budget battle has been especially divisive amid dwindling funds and disappearing options for spending cuts. To make matters worse for the Kremlin, just weeks before September's parliamentary elections -- a bellwether for the ruling United Russia party ahead of the 2018 presidential vote -- Russians are protesting their economic straits in droves. Facing an unhappy public and a $31 billion shortfall in the current budget drafts, Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev has been given a tall order: plug the gaping hole in the budget while also allowing for billions more in social spending.
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AssessmentsAug 3, 2016 | 09:00 GMT
Kreminology and Russian internal politics
Russia's President Fights to Keep Control
Behind the walls of Moscow's Kremlin is a shadowy world of subterfuge and intrigue. In a place where cloak and dagger tactics are the norm, the past month has been particularly chaotic for the elites controlling Russia. Raids, arrests, forced resignations and reshufflings have left the political battlefield littered with the fallen. The world of the Kremlin is intentionally opaque, but one common theme is emerging: There is a grab underway by the Federal Security Service (FSB) to control Russia's financial flows and assets. Furthermore, one particularly formidable FSB elite is consolidating power in and beyond the FSB -- a move that is not only personally dangerous but could also challenge President Vladimir Putin's authority at a time when Russia's strongman faces many intersecting crises.
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