The Bell

Guriev Departure: A Worrying Signal

May 30, 2013

The news this week that the prominent economist Sergei Guriev has resigned from his posts and has departed for France—perhaps permanently—is the latest in a series of rumored planned emigrations by liberal public figures such as journalist Masha Gessen. As has been recounted in translations published on The Interpreter this week, Guriev’s resignations and his […]

Seagal, Afghanistan, Syria, and Guriyev

May 29, 2013

– It seems that C-list action star Steven Seagal is now trying his hand at diplomacy. Seagal, coming off of his recent ventures helping Putin promote school physical education and posing with Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov, attempted to organize a Congressional fact-finding trip in the aftermath of the Boston bombings to the volatile republic. As […]

Epistles, S-300s, Warrants and Gay Rights

May 28, 2013

Here are some of the biggest Russia-focused stories from the past week: – In the wake of the Ryan Fogle spy debacle, and the endless debate on Syria, Obama and Putin have reverted to the 19th-century method of writing courier-delivered letters to each other instead of picking up a phone to discuss bilateral relations. According […]

Interpol, Russia and Politically-Motivated Arrest Warrants

May 24, 2013

Yesterday’s Telegraph featured a trenchant (and alarming) critique of Interpol by Peter Oborne, highlighting the abuse of Interpol’s organizational channels by authoritarian governments seeking the extradition of political enemies. Sadly yet unsurprisingly, the Russian Federation is at the top of the list of countries which abuse this system for malignant ends—most recently, with the politically-motivated […]

A Public Inquiry into Litvinenko’s Death is Likely–And Necessary

LONDON — In a strongly-worded, statement, Alexander Litvinenko’s widow Marina accused the British coroner of allowing “the Russian government to shield behind a claim for secrecy made by William Hague with the backing of Prime Minister David Cameron.” Marina Litvinenko certainly has every reason to be angry at the pace of this inquest, at the […]

Palace Intrigue Linked to Patronage Economy

May 21, 2013

Putin’s rule in Russia is based on his careful management of an institutionalized patronage system which has allowed him to navigate the “clan” factionalism of Russian business and political elites. Through unusually high commodity prices, and a 7 percent growth rate over the past decade, Putin was able to rely on large surpluses to placate […]

Coordinating Council: A Big Experiment of Democracy

May 20, 2013

The Russian opposition’s Coordinating Council has been under fire from both the government and the protest movement itself since its election in October 2012.  At least 29 out of 45 members of the Council have faced harassment from authorities or their employers in recent months; three are in pre-trial detention or under house arrest.  Every […]

Luke Harding on the Collapse of the Litvinenko Inquest

Last week, the Guardian’s former Moscow correspondent Luke Harding reported on the near collapse of Britain’s long-awaited and long-bedeviled inquest into the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, the former FSB agent turned MI6 spy, who was brutally assassinated with a radioactive substance in London in 2006. The inquest has taken years to commence owing mainly to […]