Russia Monitor

Putin's Ultras Say "No" to the "Regime"
03/21/2019

A group of Putin's staunch supporters, whose members expressed bitter disappointment over "betraying" most imperial elements of the president's policy, has recently intensified its political activities. Although their meetings so far have attracted little attention from the public while members refrain from attacking Putin directly, it cannot be ruled out that this milieu may soon appear problematic for the regime.

Russia's Governor Reshuffles: Putin's Trusted Men Take Power
03/20/2019

A new wave of large-scale personnel changes took part in the second part of March when Russian President Vladimir Putin replaced four governors within just a several dozen hours. This exemplifies the Kremlin's effort to increase the control the state federal authorities over individual regions. Such centralization processes are part of Moscow's tightened domestic course while constituting a strategy to prevent serious social and political unrest.

Pompeo Criticizes Rosneft CEO for Buying Oil from Venezuela
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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo openly accused Russia of backing Venezuela's Maduro regime. In response, Russia's state-run oil company Rosneft, which administers a number of oil investments in the country, said it will sue Pompeo to the court. What was said about Venezuela is one of many reasons for Moscow's outrage, and so is Pompeo's declaration to launch a more aggressive energy policy and a U.S. plan to enter markets that so far were chiefly dominated by Russia.

U.S. Stratofortress Jets Perform a Simulated Attack on Russia's Baltic Fleet
03/17/2019

U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber jets have recently arrived in Europe, at least a pair of which approached the Baltic Sea region while flying from its home base in Louisiana to the British base in Fairford. They first appeared in the region in 2017, with one of B-52 Stratofortress aircraft performing a simulated attack on military facilities in the Russian region of Kaliningrad. This coincided with the official launch of a new set of S-400 air defense system in the Russian exclave.

Russian Parliament Gives Nod to Controversial Censorship Legislation
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A controversial law adopted recently in Russia is a milestone step towards restricting freedom of speech in the country. Passed on March 13 by Russia's upper parliamentary house, two bills establish financial punishments for The way how the legislation was drafted leaves much room for the prosecutor's office that was given greater competences in this respect, enabling it for a more efficient fight against those who voice criticism over the regime while nipping all negative judgments in the bud. This is yet another evidence of the Kremlin's ever-tightening course in the state's domestic policy, confirming that the authorities no longer count on restoring social trust by financial means that proved effective in the past.

Russia Plans to Cut Itself Off From the Global Internet
03/16/2019

A gradual loss in popularity incited the Russian authorities to tighten control over the Internet. In fact, it is not about increasing Russia's censorship activities but disconnecting the Russian internet segment, also referred to as Runet, from the World Wide Web. The Russian army is simultaneously conducting works on designing a type of Runet that will be both fully controlled by the regime and isolated from the rest of the world.

Gazprom Faces Sharp Decline in Gas Exports
03/15/2019

As reported, Russian state-run gas giant Gazprom may find it difficult to realize its 2019 budget, which is due to lower gas prices than initially anticipated by the Russian firm. To make matters worse, sales of Russian-sourced energy have recently slumped while export figures, which began to drop sharply in the autumn of 2018, keep reflecting downward tendency. This is a significant blow to Gazprom as it is now supposed to finance its large pipeline endeavors.

Putin's Approval Rating Keeps Declining Despite Recent Address
03/11/2019

Vladimir Putin's social promises made in his annual speech to Russia's Federal Assembly failed to increase the president's approval ratings. A recent poll carried out after Putin's State of the Union address showed that popular support for the Russian leader has slumped, which may prompt him to sharpen his domestic and foreign policy. It is to be expected that the Russian authorities will intensify repressions against all those who will criticize the current regime. At the same time, there has emerged an increasing threat of Moscow's aggressive activities on the international arena aimed at rebuilding Putin's decreasing popularity.

"External Enemy": Putin Gives New Tasks to FSB
03/09/2019

Vladimir Putin's address at the Federal Security Service Board meeting confirmed the regime's eagerness to further sharpen its domestic policy. The president praised Russia's counterintelligence officers for its effectiveness, warning against antagonistic activities from the outside. Particular attention should be drawn to Putin's words about a growing number of foreign cyberattacks, which are a blatant example of his response to the West's renewed accusations of Russian activity in cyberspace. Vladimir Putin dedicated a part of his speech to the need to counteract corrupt practices, giving a hint that one of the FSB's priorities will still consist of executing the Kremlin's orders to destroy Russian politicians and businessmen. Lubyanka is set to remain a key tool for Putin, allowing him to continue his "divide and rule" strategy that is gaining momentum in the context of the tense economic situation and the regime's dropping popularity.

Russia Imposes Foreign Sailing Restrictions on Northern Sea Route
03/08/2019

The Russian authorities have announced its plan to introduce foreign sailing restrictions on the Northern Sea Route. In consequence, Moscow will be de-facto able to impede non-Russian ship passage through its strategically important Arctic sea route in the framework of Russia's isolation and militarization policy that seeks to embrace the Arctic region in particular.

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