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by John Helmer, Moscow   @bears_with In a plan Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin initiated two years ago called “Smart City 2030”, the Russian capital has attempted to catch up with China’s cities and to London in the mobilization of electronic and digital tools for following the city’s inhabitants, enforcing the laws, and catching criminals, tax cheats, speeders […]

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by John Helmer, Moscow   @bears_with There’s an invariable rule of politics the world over. “It was worthwhile making sure of your potential friends,” the English novelist C.P. Snow put into the mouth of a rising cabinet minister in London a half-century ago. “As a rule you couldn’t win over your enemies, but you could lose your […]

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by John Helmer, Moscow   @bears_with It’s an old tsarist ploy. When government officials grow fearful of public protests, attacks on the authorities, and rioting, they increase the volume of alcohol for sale but decrease the number of places where drinkers can gather in public. Vodka is the opium of the people: this has been the Russian […]

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by John Helmer, Moscow  @bears_with “The immediate priority is to prevent the quick spread of this disease”, President Vladimir Putin (lead image, top left) declared in his state speech on the corona virus last week.   This is the point on which there is no disagreement, not now at least. But how restrictive for the economy […]

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by John Helmer, Moscow  @bears_with Two weeks is not a long time in Russian politics. But it’s just enough for Kremlin deputy staff chief Sergei Kirienko to send the instruction to the Central Election Commission head Ella Pamfilova (lead image) that any turnout, big or small, for the national vote on constitutional amendments will be enough.  […]

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by John Helmer, Moscow  @bears_with Despite an order from President Vladimir Putin to arrange a nationwide vote on his proposed amendments to the Russian Constitution, the Central Election Commission and its director Ella Pamfilova are unable to confirm the contents of the ballot paper, the counting rule for voter approval or disapproval, the threshold of voter […]

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by John Helmer, Moscow  @bears_with Mikhail Mishustin, the prime minister appointed by President Vladimir Putin on the evening of January 15, would be disqualified from holding office when the new eligibility rule which Putin proposed earlier that day becomes law. This is because Mishustin’s mother is reported to be of Armenian nationality, and under Armenian law […]

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by John Helmer, Moscow  @bears_with The first independent national opinion poll to measure Russian interpretations of President Vladimir Putin’s proposals for changing the Constitution has been reported by the Levada Centre in Moscow.   The results show a sharp decline in Russian confidence that the Constitution protects their rights and freedoms. On the meaning of Putin’s proposals […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow   @bears_with Sergei Frank (lead image, right) is being removed from control of Sovcomflot, the Russian state tanker company and one of the largest oil and gas transporters in the world.  Frank is the only senior Russian state official to have been judged by the British courts to be dishonest and vindictive […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow   @bears_with To introduce himself to the international financial markets, ahead of his arrival in Osaka for the G20 summit meetings, President Vladimir Putin has given an interview to the Financial Times, a Japan-owned, England-based newspaper. The publication has headlined its report: “Vladimir Putin has trumpeted the growth of national populist movements in […]