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Protesters in Moscow on Sunday. This impressive display of dissent has been met, increasingly, with force. Credit Alexander Zemlianichenko/Associated Press

For the first time in close to a decade, the rule of President Vladimir Putin of Russia may be facing a sustained challenge.

Over the past two weekends, thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of cities and towns across the country to voice their disapproval of the arrest of the anti-corruption campaigner Aleksei Navalny. This impressive display of dissent has been met, increasingly, with force. On Sunday, over 5,000 people were detained — the most ever on a single day in Russia — including 1,600 in Moscow alone.

This strategy of suppression was successful before. In the winter of 2011 and ’12, thousands of people demonstrated against electoral fraud by the ruling United Russia party and Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters on Saturday in Moscow with banners reading “Freedom to Alexsei Navalny! Freedom to Russia!” in support of the jailed opposition leader. After years of relative calm, the country is restive. Credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

It’s hard to pin down the exact moment when it became clear the protests on Saturday in Russia — where tens of thousands of people, stretching across the country, called for the release of the jailed opposition leader Aleksei Navalny — were something special.

It definitely wasn’t the violence doled out to protesters and even bystanders — like a woman in St. Petersburg being casually kicked in the gut by a police officer in riot gear — or the deliberate targeting of reporters. Such occurrences are sadly commonplace. It wasn’t even the people coming out to protest in the unlikeliest corners of Russia, like Yakutsk, where the temperatures dipped to minus-60 Fahrenheit.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters at a rally in central Moscow on 10 August. Photo: Getty Images.

The disqualification of opposition candidates ahead of an election to Moscow’s city duma on 8 September have spurred the largest protests seen in the city since 2011–12. Increasing waves of mass protests reached around 50,000 participants on 10 August, and there is no sign of them stopping. Nikolai Petrov explains the implications of these protests and the Kremlin’s response.

Why have these protests emerged now?

Since the announcement of pensions reform last year [when the government raised the retirement age without public discussion or explanation, to widespread outcry], there has been huge disappointment with the government in general and Putin in particular, which has led to a decline in Putin’s approval ratings.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russia and Ukraine have been fighting for several years on land, but the two clashed at sea recently. How likely is this maritime conflict to escalate?

Maritime disputes feature prominently in global politics. China’s maritime conflicts with neighboring states over the Senkaku/Diaoyu, Spratly, Paracels and other small islands and reefs have generated over a dozen militarized clashes at sea since 1991. Confrontations in the Kerch Strait between Russia and Ukraine on Nov. 25 and the imposition of limited martial law in Ukraine create similar concerns about escalation of the situation to war.

There are several diplomatic issues at stake in the Russia-Ukraine relationship, and understanding these points of contention can help clarify the escalation risks.…  Seguir leyendo »

Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Images. Protesters in downtown Moscow, June 12, 2017

The new face of Russian protest is barely pubescent. Reports from the June 12 demonstrations, which brought hundreds and sometimes thousands of people into the streets of just about every Russian city, feature teenagers: a boy in shorts being tackled by police in riot gear, a girl charging a police line, and a paddy wagon full of adolescents. One Russian Facebook user posted a photograph of the teenagers in the paddy wagon with the caption, “Russia has a future.” He posited that “every mass arrest of young people strengthens youth protest,” which, in turn, is sure to bring about the end of the regime.…  Seguir leyendo »

Según todos los indicios, la comunidad internacional se ha resignado a la "apropiación de territorio" de Crimea, como la ha llamado el Vicepresidente de los Estados Unidos, Joe Biden, por el Presidente de de Rusia. Una vez que Putin decidió asumir las consecuencias de sus actos, poco era lo que podían hacer los Estados Unidos, la Unión Europea o las Naciones Unidas.

Entretanto, América Latina esta experimentando el problema opuesto. Aunque los países de la región tienen los medios para detener la cada vez mayor catástrofe política, económica y de derechos humanos en Venezuela, carecen de la voluntad, mientras que la atención del resto del mundo centrada en Ucrania ha eliminado toda posibilidad de que se los presione para que actúen.…  Seguir leyendo »

«Et comment évaluer la situation en Ukraine dans une perspective juive?» demandai-je à Josef Zissels. Ce dissident ukrainien de longue date, militant juif et avocat passionné du mouvement de Maïdan ukrainien, venait de brosser le tableau de la spectaculaire victoire du mouvement et de la destitution du président Viktor Ianoukovitch devant un auditoire à Varsovie. «Il n’y a pas de perspective juive», me répondit-il. «Il y des juifs des deux côtés des barricades.»

Assurément. Aleksander Feldman, par exemple, le président du Comité juif ukrainien, est un éminent député du Parti des régions de Ianoukovitch – bien qu’il ait condamné les actions du président déchu après sa fuite.…  Seguir leyendo »

Depuis le balcon de sa maison, l'écrivain ukrainien Andreï Kourkov a été un témoin privilégié du Mouvement du Maidan, de l’espoir suscité par les premières manifestations à la répression de février.

J’habite à cinq cents mètres du Maidan. Depuis mon balcon, on peut apercevoir les bulbes du clocher de la cathédrale Sainte-Sophie. Quand des amis viennent chez moi, je leur montre ces symboles de l’antique cité de Kiev. Mais, ces derniers mois, mes amis d’autres villes et d’autres pays ne viennent plus à Kiev. Et du haut de mon balcon je regarde souvent la fumée qui s’élève au-dessus du centre de la ville.…  Seguir leyendo »

Viktor F. Yanukovych of Ukraine and the Ukrainian opposition leaders signed an agreement on Friday that ended the deadly protests in Kiev by promising a new constitution and early elections. But the Russian president’s envoy to Kiev refused to co-sign it. While Moscow welcomed an end to the violence, it basically viewed the agreement as a diktat by the Western-backed Ukrainian opposition. The opposition has seized power in Kiev, and Moscow is wary that the crisis will not end anytime soon. Some radical groups remain well-armed; there are deep political, cultural and regional cleavages in Ukrainian society; the country’s elites are in disarray; and its economic situation is rapidly deteriorating.…  Seguir leyendo »

As the Olympic flame burned above Sochi on Tuesday evening, a scene of mayhem and death exploded a few hundred miles away in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, where blazes roared and violent clashes erupted along protesters' barricades.

At least 100 people were killed just on Thursday and hundreds more hospitalized in confrontations pitting government forces against demonstrators opposed to a regime that has strong support from President Vladimir Putin's Russia. It was the deadliest day in the three months since the showdown started.

Between the two spectacles, you can bet Putin's attention focused more sharply on the crisis in Ukraine, which is officially an independent country since 1991 but in reality remains a state over which Moscow exercises enormous influence, infuriating much of Ukraine's population.…  Seguir leyendo »

Vladimir Putin’s regime is warning Russians that their budding “Snow Revolution” will be as big a mistake as Ukraine’s Orange Revolution of 2004. But, while the similarities between these two popular movements are palpable, their differences are essential, so comparing them might help the Russian opposition to avoid some mistakes.

Like the Snow Revolution, the Orange Revolution was a broad middle-class reaction against corruption and the absence of the rule of law. In contrast to the Arab Spring, the Orange Revolution was entirely peaceful, as the Snow Revolution has been, and neither was triggered by economic or social crisis. In 2004, the Ukrainian economy grew faster than ever, by 12%, and Russia’s GDP increased last year by a respectable 4.3%.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Sept. 24, when it was announced at the congress of the ruling party of Russia that our next president will once again be Vladimir Putin, my wife said to me: “That’s it. We need to leave. I don’t not want to spend the rest of my life in the country of Mister Dobby.” “This is not his country,” I replied. “Let’s wait some more. There will be a social eruption. People are not idiots, they will not agree to this castling move.”

But days passed, weeks, and there was no social eruption. Yes, a few of the usual anti-Putin grumblers — me among them — grumbled.…  Seguir leyendo »

The end of Soviet rule two decades ago unleashed new freedoms in Russia, but also roller coaster political and economic life. Arab countries should learn from Russia’s transition. The West should be realistic about Arab prospects, while encouraging reform even as it is resisted in Syria and elsewhere.

The Soviet Union collapsed under the weight of a stagnating state-run economy, cynical ideology and popular disillusionment. Modest reforms by the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, raised hopes but failed to remake a rigid and grossly inefficient system.

Catapulted into independence, Russia had no blueprint or consensus for reform but did have a freely elected president, Boris Yeltsin.…  Seguir leyendo »