Russia – four paintings from July

  • Rusia
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  • 299 Views
  • 20 July 2018

The World Cup Is Over – What’s Next For Russia?

This was a successful world cup on many fronts. The Russian people showed the world a different side to themselves often overlooked in the media – one that was welcoming, warm and hospitable. It was a world cup where some of the ‘non-traditional’ broke through. It was well organised and greatly received by the fans at home and abroad.

That’s all in the past now. Anyone hoping that Russia and Vladimir Putin would avoid making the headlines for the remainder of 2018 is set to be hugely disappointed. Russia faces some immediate and pressing challenges. These are, quite frankly, akin to walking a tight rope.

The Centenary of the Tsar’s Murder

 The reader may have come across the odd opinion piece in the news, but this anniversary is one the government wants to keep low key and at arm’s length.

The Russian Orthodox Church canonised Nicholas II and his family as saints in 2000. In post-Soviet Russia, the church has played a key role for society and the state. On the one hand, it helped rebuild some form of Russian national identity and on the other, it provides the state with spiritual justification.

For Putin, the embodiment of the state comes through a strong and inspirational leader (vozhd’) who represents its continuation and survival, and this includes the USSR. While rebranded, it is essentially the same centralised state, viewed as a historic necessity to hold ‘great Russia’ together.

Putin and the elites have to condemn the murder while not condemning the Soviet state. The anniversary itself has now past, but commemorations continue. There are several competing narratives between different factions in society at odds with each other. Mediating these is no easy task.

Relations with The West

 Putin walked away from Helsinki the victor. His American counterpart struggled not just to keep his story straight, but even defend his own national interests. This was after upsetting NATO allies and followed by back peddling statements on North Korea and Syria.

One thing that Trump did get right (at least as far as his own government is concerned) was increasing arms sales to Ukraine: a symbolic, if hollow, gesture that keeps the relationship in a stalemate.

Elsewhere, the Mueller investigation is still ongoing. While the results are a long way off, recent reports from the Senate indicated that Putin personally ordered the election meddling. Meanwhile, the British police confirmed it knows the identity of those behind the Skripal poisoning, and links them to the Russian state. Both are sure to throw a wrench into an already rusty machine.

Whatever the reader’s views, both serve as an unwanted distraction and affect progress on the world’s most urgent issues. Not one of which can be resolved with the co-operation of Russia and the West.

Equally, recent polling shows that opinions of the West inside Russia are not improving. As Kimmage recently wrote in Foreign Affairs, Russians increasingly view the West as hypocritical, condescending, triumphalist and aggressive. With any luck, the World Cup started to change this. It is at the grassroots where the relations will steadily improve through increased cultural exchanges, and these are to be encouraged.

The Economy

After re-election, Putin promised a greater redistribution of wealth, spending on education, healthcare and the nurturing of technological development. The current economic picture is mixed.

The economy continues to recover despite sanctions, non-tradable sectors especially. However, growth prospects are modest (1.5% – 1.8%). Financially, things are stable; bank interest rates sit at 7.25%, for instance. The Russian stock market has been one of the best performers in the previous year, as well (20%).

On the flip side, the Duma recently raised the retirement age and state pensions remain at unsustainably low levels. The minimum wage was also recently increased, however, much of the population live pay cheque to pay cheque. Housing remains too expensive, and sectors where the economy is performing well (IT and agriculture) have limited long-term prospects.

The lack of genuine reforms since 2008 is starting to be felt. The world cup fever and patriotism surrounding Crimea is practically burnt out. Meanwhile, Putin’s personal popularity is down and the government cannot continue to rely on the economic success of his first presidency.

Modernisation is a term constantly thrown around, but more innovation is needed and entrepreneurship lacking. It’s a time to be cautiously optimistic, but the government would do well to finally diversify its economy, attract investment and improve the social support system. Then again, this is Russia, what else is new?

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A Russian History Lesson

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  • 336 Views
  • 7 September 2018

History has long been an object of reform since the collapse of the USSR. It has been used as an impetus for championing democratic change and explaining the chaos of the Russian Federation’s first decade. In addition, it is an important part of Vladimir Putin’s policy rhetoric to champion Russia’s ‘great powerness’ (derzhavnost’).

In the last twenty-eight years, history in schools has journeyed from one single view en

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Russia – four paintings from July

  • 0
  • 299 Views
  • 20 July 2018

The World Cup Is Over – What’s Next For Russia?

This was a successful world cup on many fronts. The Russian people showed the world a different side to themselves often overlooked in the media – one that was welcoming, warm and hospitable. It was a world cup where some of the ‘non-traditional’ broke through. It was well organised and greatly received by the fans at home and abroad.

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Russians Love Flowers, It Isn’t A Putin Thing

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  • 452 Views
  • 26 May 2018

When my mother came to visit me in Moscow, one of the first things she noticed was the amount of 24-hour florists everywhere. Flower etiquette is of particular importance in Russia. Simply put, you won’t survive here without it.

I write this piece because to anyone who knows anything about Russia, Putin presenting flowers to world leaders and their spouses is not altogether surprising.

The f

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Azebaijan, cheia geostrategică a Asiei Centrale

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  • 446 Views
  • 13 February 2018

După destrămarea URSS, Azerbaijanul a fost statul ex-sovietic care alături de    republicile Baltice a avut o dezvoltare constantă și durabilă. Desigur, aici pot fi adresate unele critici regimului de la Baku cu privire la democrație, care în opinia multor analiști este doar mimată la Baku. Însă faptul adevărat este că acest stat a reușit să își gestioneze eficient resursele de care dispune pentru a deveni o societate prosperă. I se atribuie Azerbaijanului etichet

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What Can Democrats Learn From Alabama’s Doug Jones?

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  • 452 Views
  • 30 November 2017

In ordinary circumstances, Doug Jones would already be preparing to move to Washington DC. The former prosecutor famous for convicting KKK members for a church bombing is up against gay bashing, God and gun lovin’, twice kicked out of elected office, Judge Roy Moore. A man who has eight accusers of sexual assault, all of whom were underage at the time of the allegations.

Yet, if one looks at all the recent polls, they show a ti

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Azerbaidjanul, petrolul și românii

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  • 1032 Views
  • 7 October 2016

Întotdeauna, statele sunt nevoite să își apere poziția pe marea tablă a geopoliticii, uitându-se cu grijă la vecini, dar și la puterile regionale. Această regulă presupune nu doar poziția ofensivă, ci și valorificare atuurilor, astfel încât să devină piese care contează pe „câmpul de analiză”, iar nu elemente neglijabile, care sunt măturate dintr-o dată de cei ce au suficientă putere să mânuiască piesele.

Caucazul, ca regiune geopolitică, nu face nici ea excepție

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Falii și axe geopolitice de impact pentru securitatea globală (II)

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  • 171 Views
  • 26 September 2018

  1. Statele Unite ale Americii: de la puterea globală la superputerea într-o lume multipolară

Mai întâi de toate SUA în perioada lui Donald Trump și-au însușit o abordare neoconservatoare în proiecțiile sale geopolitice. Spre exemplu, în viziunea strategică a lui Holms – de la Fundația Heritage, Statele Unite trebuie să se repoziționeze confor

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Falii și axe geopolitice de impact pentru securitatea globală (I)

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  • 273 Views
  • 15 September 2018

Introducere

Geopolitica se ocupă de istoria frontierelor și a diverselor regimuri pe care le are aceasta, utilizând conceptul de frontieră, graniță, izobare, etc. Și aici se relevă o luptă a formelor geografice, construite și proiectate în afara resurselor politice și ale puterii[1]. Teoria frontierei a istoricului american F.G.Terner a devenit una referințală în mediul geop

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Falii si axe geopolitice de impact pentru securitatea globala (I)

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  • 37 Views
  • 14 September 2018

Introducere Geopolitica se ocupă de istoria frontierelor și a diverselor regimuri pe care le are aceasta, utilizând conceptul de frontieră, graniță, izobare, etc. Și aici se relevă o luptă a formelor geografice, construite și proiectate în afara resurselor politice și ale puterii[1]. Teoria frontierei a istoricului american F.G.Terner a devenit una referințală în mediul geopolitic, ea fiind însușită și obținând o dublă semnificație citește mai mult