The Bell

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 […]

Amnesty for Entrepreneurs Mooted—But Khodorkovsky’s Release Looks Doubtful

May 15, 2013

It was reported today that Vladimir Putin will meet with business leaders next week to discuss the possibility of granting amnesty to imprisoned entrepreneurs—prompting speculation about whether such a measure would extend to former Yukos CEO and Putin nemesis Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Formerly one of the most powerful men in Russia, this October will mark ten […]

Brutal Murder Casts Light on Homophobia in Russia

May 13, 2013

On Sunday, Russian investigators revealed that a 23-year old man (subsequently identified by activists as Vladislav Tornovoi) was tortured to death, in what the authorities believe to have been an anti-gay attack. Tornovoi was brutally beaten and raped during the Victory Day celebrations on May 9th, and two men have been detained in connection with […]

Russia Celebrates Victory Day With Soviet-Style Pomp

May 9, 2013

Today Russians celebrated Victory Day, commemorating the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany. The day was marked by muscular displays of military might— including fighter jets and tanks streaming over Red Square—in scenes redolent of the height of Soviet power. The celebration of Victory Day offers Russians an opportunity to reflect upon the tremendous loss […]

Surkov ousted as Kerry faces pleas for help from dissidents

May 8, 2013

Yesterday, Vladimir Putin berated his Cabinet for their failure to execute the decrees to fulfill his campaign promises. He specifically attacked the Cabinet for failing to provide adequate support to regional authorities on various matters including the provision of funds—touching on a longstanding sentiment that the regions have been neglected under Putin. Whatever the sincerity of this […]