Foreign Policy Blogs

Russia & Central Asia

Khodorkovsky, Revisited

Khodorkovsky, Revisited

This day marks a decade in Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s imprisonment, a journey all too similar to the hopelessly frigid Siberian settings of Dostoevsky’s stories and Solzhenitsyn’s novels — except in one regard. In his younger years, Khodorkovsky was a corrupt oil tycoon and pragmatic oligarch successfully basking in the Russian government’s economic malaise. It was Khodorkovsky […]

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Olympic Cyber Surveillance and Global Internet Privacy

Olympic Cyber Surveillance and Global Internet Privacy

Sochi, a city whose flag features palm trees, the sun and rain drops, was far from a traditional choice for 2014 Winter Olympics. Yet there is an even more troubling geographical concern than why a country literally cold enough to freeze invading armies to death would choose a subtropical beach resort catering to aging apparatchiks […]

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Putin’s Punitive Psychiatry and other Flashbacks

Putin’s Punitive Psychiatry and other Flashbacks

You have to be mad to oppose Putin. At least that is what a Moscow court ruled on Tuesday when it sentenced Mikhail Kosenko to be committed to a psychiatric hospital for his part in the anti-government protest. “The court has ruled to release Kosenko Mikhail Alexandrovich from criminal responsibility for insanely conducting actions forbidden […]

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A Money Showdown, Moscow-Style, and Its Potential Consequences

A Money Showdown, Moscow-Style, and Its Potential Consequences

  As President Obama clashes with Congress over spending authorizations and debt ceilings to keep funds flowing outward from the U.S. government, his counterpart in Moscow is celebrating a victory that has brought lawmakers’ own money flowing back into Russia. Six weeks ago, just as Washington’s budget battles began heating up yet again, Russian lawmakers […]

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Putin’s Kiss (2012)

Putin’s Kiss (2012)

This documentary focuses on the pitfalls of groupthink in modern Russia. It shows a young woman, Masha Drokova, who skyrocketed to the top of a pro-Putin group called Nashi, a political youth organization. She was the group’s spokesperson and was a firm believer in Putin’s rule. That is, until she met some opposition journalists. What Putin’s Kiss […]

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Snowden in the Greater Scheme of U.S.-Russian Relations

Snowden in the Greater Scheme of U.S.-Russian Relations

On Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013, Russia granted temporary asylum to Edward Snowden, permitting him to leave the transit zone of Sheremetyevo Airport for the first time in nearly six weeks. The Obama administration immediately expressed its disappointment with the Russian decision, and some members of Congress have called for retaliatory measures against Russia. While President […]

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Putin’s Deadliest Catch: Snowden Joins Navalny in Moscow

Putin’s Deadliest Catch: Snowden Joins Navalny in Moscow

As Edward Snowden slipped into Moscow this afternoon, asylum documents in hand, he joined another recently freed man: Alexey Navalny. Russia now has two famous cyber-whistleblowers on its hands, and hasn’t yet figured out what to do with either. One thing is for sure, Putin’s planned meeting Obama on the sidelines of the G20 summit […]

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Snowden, Putin, sheared pigs and the joys of Whataboutism

Snowden, Putin, sheared pigs and the joys of Whataboutism

What is Russia playing at by harboring America’s most wanted whistleblower Edward Snowden in a Moscow airport? A brief recap: Over the weekend, Snowden arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong en route to a third country, probably Ecuador (which is already housing Julian Assange in its London embassy).  On Sunday, journalists received a number of […]

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Russia’s new anti-gay law: more cynicism than bigotry

Russia’s new anti-gay law: more cynicism than bigotry

Amidst worldwide condemnation, Russia’s parliament passed a law outlawing “homosexual propaganda.” It was definitely a shameful milestone. As of today, The law will make it an offence…to communicate to Russian children and young people that love between two women or two men is “just as socially valuable” as that between a man and a woman. […]

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Nagorno-Karabakh: Expect Status Quo in 2013-14

Nagorno-Karabakh: Expect Status Quo in 2013-14

Two decades of international community administered talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, a predominantly Armenian enclave inside Azerbaijani territory, have failed to reach a resolution. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan’s petro-dollar aided exponential increase in defence expenditure amid pitched rabble-rousing and frequent sniper skirmishes in the region has led many to fear that the disputed landlocked mountainous […]

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India, Pakistan and China: The importance of regional powers in a post-U.S. Afghanistan

India, Pakistan and China: The importance of regional powers in a post-U.S. Afghanistan

By Tyler Hooper With U.S., NATO and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) personnel set to withdraw the bulk of their military personnel from Afghanistan in 2014, regional powers such as China, India and Pakistan will have the opportunity to play an influential role in the country’s future. Both India and Pakistan have historically been involved in […]

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Shadow of Afghanistan (2012)

Shadow of Afghanistan (2012)

This documentary is all over the place. It is in part a history of modern Afghanistan and also a film about independent journalists – some of whom were killed – trying to report on the situation on the ground. Afghanistan is called “The Graveyard of Empires” for good reason: Every country or empire that has […]

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Exit Surkov: The end of postmodern Putinism?

Exit Surkov: The end of postmodern Putinism?

Speculation swirls around today’s sudden resignation of Vladislav Surkov, the Kremlin’s chief ideologue who had thought up “sovereign democracy” and invented the Nashi youth groups. He name-dropped Lacan and Derrida and even allegedly wrote a novel called Almost Zero. And now he might have become just that. Did he jump, or was he pushed? What […]

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Prisoner of the Mountains (1996)

Prisoner of the Mountains (1996)

The conflict between Russia and the territory of Chechnya is the backdrop for this film. In it two Russian soldiers are taken away to a Chechen village after their group is ambushed. The reason they are captured is so that a villager can use them as a trade for his son, who is being held […]

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As NATO Draws Down, Feuding Neighbors’ Elections May Heat Up

As NATO Draws Down, Feuding Neighbors’ Elections May Heat Up

  As NATO troops leave, Afghanistan and two of its northern neighbors will undergo national elections. Should we be worried? While some observers expect an uptick in Afghan border infiltration after the upcoming NATO drawdown, others feel that instability in neighboring states Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have long been homegrown. These countries are the main routes […]

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