Rethinking Russia Digest: New Year Edition

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Dear readers!

Rethinking Russia wishes you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! We thank you for your attention to the work of the Centre and look forward to a meeting in the New Year.

We would like to introduce the special Christmas edition of the digest, which includes the most interesting and relevant materials of the Center as a gift. For your convenience, the materials are divided into thematic categories.

Russian Diplomat Murder in Ankara – Terrorism will not win out

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Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov has been shot dead in Ankara.

A gun-wielding man burst into the hall of the Modern Art Gallery and opened fire at a Russian diplomat, while the latter was several minutes into his speech and was about to finish his remarks at the opening of a photo exhibition titled “Russia Through Turks’ Eyes”. As some footage of the attack showed, the attacker fired several shots. Andrei Karlov died of his wounds.

The Battle for Syria

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The international dimension of the Syrian conflict is usually seen as the reluctance of the USA to get engaged, and Russia’s readiness to do just the opposite – while many other regional players get lost in the background. In order to establish different patterns and to articulate the plurality of motives that guided international actors, Rethinking Russia spoke to Christopher Phillips – senior lecturer at the School of Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary University and associate fellow at the Middle East and North Africa programme at Chatham House, who just published a meticulously researched book “The Battle for Syria: International Rivalry in the New Middle East” that documents the international dimension of the conflict.

A Few Words on Real Russia

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Vladimir Putin delivered his Annual Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly at St. George’s Hall of the Great Kremlin Palace on December 1. The state-of-the-nation address is regarded as a major speech over a 12-month period. It usually recounts the progress and outlines national priorities and the development agenda for the near future. This format is not unique, but it tends to command attention of the general public at home and abroad as well as of parliamentarians to whom, judging by its very name, it is addressed.

Russian liberals consolidating their efforts in an abortive attempt to dispel the pall

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Russian liberal non-system opposition proceeds to formulating its political strategy for the next two years. The People’s Freedom Party (PARNAS) – one of the key actors in this area of the political arena – calls on its supporters and followers at least to enlist cooperation before a run of electoral campaigns (from municipal to presidential), if not to close the ranks.

2016 Presidential Race Reveals the Systemic Crisis in American Society

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The 2016 electoral campaign outcome came like a complete bolt out of the blue for the American establishment, including the ruling elites, as well as academics, journalists, and other groups safeguarding the elites’ interests. Ironically, the showy campaign and the scandalous behavior of US billionaire and TV star Donald Trump, now 45th President-elect, overshadowed the fact that such a candidate per se exposed a deep systemic crisis in American society.

The US Elections and the Russian Factor

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The current American election campaign is the strangest – and also the most virulent – in recent memory. To begin with, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are unpopular with a wide segment of the American population. Trump, moreover, has the distinction of being widely disliked by a large segment of the Republican Party leadership and associated political elites. Hillary Clinton managed to prevail as the Democratic Party candidate against a strong challenge by Bernie Sanders, the senator from Vermont, who has most often identified as an independent rather than a Democrat.

From the Crisis to Cautious Economic Growth in Russia

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Early October 2016 saw the 8th annual VTB Capital “Russia Calling!” Investment Forum under the banner Maintaining Responsibility, Expanding Opportunities. It is noteworthy that numerous domestic and foreign experts tend to pay assiduous attention to the conference. Specifically, many foreign investors, top management and top executives from medium-sized businesses attend the Forum as it determines the direction of Russia’s economic development and presents the interim results of the year. The 2016 meeting brought together representatives from more than 40% of world countries.

Overcoming Babylon

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The 13th Valdai Discussion Club session was held in Sochi October 24-27. Ever since its establishment in 2004, the Club has gained the reputation, first of all, as a forum for Russian and foreign experts to compare notes on a wide range of international issues. Secondly, the President of Russia drops into the exclusive club on quite a regular basis.