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By John Helmer, Moscow “We have the right to expect,” Mikhail Gorbachev, then President of the Soviet Union, declared to James Baker, US Secretary of State, in Washington on February 10, 1990, “that you won’t just wait until the fruit falls into your basket”. Baker relaxed. By “right” he knew Gorbachev was holding out a […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow For the first time President Vladimir Putin’s annual address to the Federal Assembly has abandoned the distinction between  American partners and American enemies. In this week’s speech, Putin said that in response to the threats of missile attack the US is introducing against Russia, Americans in their command centres, all of […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow In this week’s address to the Federal Assembly – Russia’s equivalent of the State of the Union speech to the US Congress, and the Queens’s Speech to the House of Lords  – President Vladimir Putin has removed the representative of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill (Vladimir Gundyayev), from the seat […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow In the programme for the special form of Russian governance which Vladislav Surkov (lead image, right*) calls Putinism for the next hundred years, there is no power-sharing with businessmen (oligarchs or merchants), social classes, intelligentsia, the Russian Orthodox Church, political parties, parliaments,  the Constitution or  the civil and criminal courts. Rule […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow The Routledge Handbook of Russian Foreign Policy is a 450-page compendium by academics who earn modest livings in think-tanks at places in North America or Europe like Louisville, Hamburg, San Francisco, Rhode Island, Edinburgh, West Virginia, South Carolina, Southern California,  Newcastle, Uppsala, Tartu, and Helsinki. In the book Russian academics in […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow The State Duma voted on Tuesday to approve the nomination of Alexei Kudrin as Chairman of the Accounting Chamber, the state auditor and budget watchdog. The vote was 264 in favour; 86 opposed. No presidential nominee for the post has been elected over so much parliamentary opposition. Forty-three deputies voted against […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow The longer the delay in the official announcement of who is to be the new Russian Defence Minister, the plainer it is that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev wants to oust Sergei Shoigu from the job because he is a rival presidential succession candidate; and because President Vladimir Putin is afraid of […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Since the Middle Ages, so for almost a thousand years, the hat which symbolized European learning was the mortar board. It originally meant the wearer had graduated with a university degree. It also symbolized that he had more degrees and more learning still to earn.  It was a symbol of the […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow President Vladimir Putin is considering whether to appoint a vice president for negotiating an end to sanctions with the US and the European Union (EU), and an about-turn in Russia’s foreign and defence policy.   In the scheme proposed by former finance minister Alexei Kudrin (lead image, centre), the job would […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow There are many Russian reasons why no Russian, man or woman, has trusted Oleg Deripaska (lead picture, on the wall), control shareholder and chief executive of the state aluminium monopoly Rusal (Russian Aluminium), for more than a few months at a time. The reasons have varied from business to business, contract […]