Pavel Baev 31 Oct 2017
(EDM) Taking ownership of and “conquering” the Arctic are themes Russian authorities love to amplify. But sometimes, the harsh Northern reality interferes. The crash of an Mi-8 helicopter in Svalbard (Spitsbergen), last Thursday (October 26), with eight lives lost, was one such occasion. Norway launched a rescue operation within 30 minutes, while Russian officials continued to falter for hours about the unclear circumstances surrounding the...
Volodymyr Dubovyk 30 Oct 2017
(Kyiv Post) The United States has played an outsized role vis-à-vis Ukraine throughout the 25 years of their relations. The lonely superpower has pushed Ukraine towards denuclearization while picking up the check for this endeavor. It has followed with substantial financial assistance that has helped Ukraine to stabilize its currency, proceed with reforms, introduce privatization, deal with the implications of the 1986 Chornobyl nuclear power...
Dmitry Gorenburg 30 Oct 2017
I promised a readout of my impressions of the Valdai Club meeting. This was the first time I had been invited to attend this event and I was curious to get a sense of both the content of the discussions and the atmosphere. The four day conference was held at a Gazprom-owned mountain resort an hour outside of Sochi, though after the first day we had virtually no opportunities to go outside, much less leave the compound. When I decided to take a...
PONARS Eurasia 30 Oct 2017
Sergei Medvedev's collection of essays, The Crimean Period of Russian History (Moscow, Individuum Publishers, 2017), evokes the key political, social, and historical debates in Russia over the past three years. Chekists and journalists, wars in Donbas and Syria, tanks in military parades and black government limos, conflicting memories of Stalin and Yeltsin, the jetsetter dogs of Vice Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, and cheeky pop songs by...
Susanne Wengle 27 Oct 2017
(PONARS Policy Memo) The conventional wisdom about agriculture reforms in post-Soviet countries is that they failed to achieve their stated objectives. This assessment is largely based on studies that focused on the initial decade of agricultural reforms that was indeed marked by output collapse, land abandonment, and rural outmigration. Many observers continued to emphasize failures well into the 2000s, blaming them on the flawed institutional...
PONARS Eurasia 26 Oct 2017
(NYTimes) Uzbekistan — Muhammad Bekjanov, often called the world’s longest-imprisoned journalist, did 18 years of hard time in some of Uzbekistan’s most notorious prisons, with nicknames like “Goodbye to Youth.” He was a writer with never much hope for a happy ending to his own story. “I was accused of insulting President Karimov,” he said, referring to Islam A. Karimov, the thin-skinned and iron-fisted former president of Uzbekistan, a...
Barbara Junisbai, Azamat Junisbai, Christopher Whitsel 24 Oct 2017
(PONARS Policy Memo) If Kazakhstan is home to Eurasia’s longest serving ruler, neighboring Kyrgyzstan is among its most competitive polities. We wanted to know if, as a growing body of literature posits, these differences in regime type translate into differences in political attitudes. Are Kyrgyzstanis, as might be surmised from their recent context of political contestation and constitutional reform, more likely to support democratic ideals?...
Pavel Baev 24 Oct 2017
(EDM) The annual meeting of the Valdai discussion club provides a unique opportunity for many Western experts to “meet” with President Vladimir Putin. This year, the Kremlin sought to build up expectations by divulging that Putin was working on a draft of a particularly important speech (RIA Novosti, October 13). However, the Russian president’s performance turned out to be distinguished only by his demonstrative lack of interest in the...

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