The Donkey and the Elephant: American Presidential Politics, Russia, and None of the Above

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Russian ‘support’ for Trump might be more of an indictment against past Hillary positions and statements rather than based on real evidence that accurately predicts what a Trump presidency might mean for Moscow. In fact, looking at both candidates strictly from a ‘what-this-means-for-Russia?’ perspective reveals the next four years of White House-Kremlin relations could be rather problematic no matter who wins.

The Volodin Effect: Primaries Against Glass Bead Game

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Although it was Vladimir Putin who initiated and encouraged the reform, it was Vyacheslav Volodin who put it into practice. Russia’s personality-oriented political culture will surely make people treat Volodin’s reform which established primaries, the mixed parliamentary system, and the All-Russia People’s Front, solely as a personal achievement of the man who spared no effort to set up these political institutions.

Brexit and the Future of the European Union

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Regardless of the shock Brexit caused, the reports of the Union’s death are greatly exaggerated. Yet, the outcome of the British referendum will inevitably trigger processes of change not only for the EU and Britain, but also for the entire continent. Moscow seems quite aware of how Brexit might bring more troubles than benefits to the Russian foreign policy no matter what some may think or say in the West.

Foreign Press Review #13 (20.06-26.06)

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Last week Brexit was the top story in Western media. Outlets described Russian president Vladimir Putin as the main winner of the EU referendum as Europe is weakening now with Eurosceptic political movements gaining power. The US State Department dissent memo, which called on President Obama to resort to “targeted military strikes in response to egregious regime violations”, triggered serious debates in the foreign media. Amid these debates, the press was actively disseminating commentaries on the incident in the Syrian sky that took place on the 16th of June, when, according to the US officials, U.S. F-18 fighter jets tried to intercept Russian Su-34 fighter-bombers, reportedly, bombing US-backed rebels.

British Voters Were Unreasonably Being Scared With Russia

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Western media, politicians and public opinion leaders are scaring the British electorate by calling UK’s possible exit from the EU a Russian victory. Russia’s leaders are presently busy adapting the country’s economy to already unfavorable external conditions, therefore a sudden crisis that may hit its largest foreign economic partner, with negative consequences for the global economy, is the last thing the Kremlin desires.

European Referendums Brief

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Since 1972 European countries have held 57 referendums on European issues. 21 of these referendums have been held on the accession to the EU. It looks like if Brexit happens, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and France will follow the lead of the UK.

Russia’s Appearance on Global ‘Soft Power’ Ranking Shouldn’t Come as a Total Shock

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Russia has had a rocky relationship with the concept of soft power. The question has lingered; is there really any point in pouring money into some Harvard professor’s abstract concept of global influence that may never earn any return on investment? While no ranking should be taken as the be-all and end-all of anything, Russia’s inclusion in the Soft Power 30 list this year provides some proof that this is indeed the case — and the Kremlin will take note.

The French Senate: A Hardly Audible Voice in the Wilderness

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The Senate’s vote on a resolution calling on the French government and Brussels to relieve the sanctions was expected and its outcome was predictable. With the EU voting today to uphold sanctions against Russia for another six months, it is clear that even France’s overwhelming opposition did not lead to a change in EU’s stance.

Foreign Press Review #12 (13.06-19.06)

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During the week foreign media was discussing violence at the Euro-2016 championship and the clashes between Russian and English supporters in Marseille in particular. Quite prominently the German foreign minister criticized NATO last week calling its exercises at the Russian border an act of war-mongering and sabre-rattling. The recent attack on the Democratic National Committee’s computers has also been in the limelight. DNC officials and security experts accused the Russian government hackers of the attack, as a result of which they allegedly gained access to all email and chat traffic and stole a database of research on Donald Trump.