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  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: Rethinking Russia issues its new report on development of parliamentarism in world politics. The modern democratic model derives from parliamentary representation, which has been developing for a number of centuries in search for better coherence between people and political decision-making. The evolution of parliamentarism has been differing from country to country, which however brought nations to similar functions for their representative bodies. What is a parliament of the XXI century? Is it a national or universal phenomenon? How does it relate to global governance? Who represents people (not peoples) outside their sovereign entity? Speaker of the Russian State Duma Viacheslav Volodin raises corresponding questions in order to articulate what Russian view on the development of parliamentarism might be. We consider such a discourse to be quite worth rethinking and propose our ideas on that. Who knows – maybe such a discussion would contribute to better understanding for challenges we are facing.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Democracy, Parliamentarism
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Pietro A. Shakarian, Lusine Gigoyan
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: U.S.-Russia relations are in a deep crisis. However, the current state of these relations should not prevent the two powers from cooperating on resolving global problems. Rethinking Russia assesses six global health challenges, which can bring Moscow and Washington together.
  • Topic: Health, International Cooperation, Bilateral Relations, Trafficking , Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Bruno Sergi
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: A lot in the Russian-Italian relations depends on Italy’s next coalition government. The question is whether the Kremlin really benefits, given the EU’s solidarity regarding the Russia sanctions and the accusations of the Kremlin of meddling in the Italian elections.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Bilateral Relations, Elections
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia, Italy
  • Author: Wu Fei
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: UK has far-reaching strategic objectives to expel Russian diplomats for espionage. It has been aggressive to Russia for fear of a huge fall in its geopolitical status. Britain issued an ultimatum to the Russia after Skripal, the former Russian double agent, and his daughter Yulia were found poisoned and unconscious in Britain on 12 March. With no response from Russia, the Britain Prime Minister Theresa immediately announced that they will expel 23 Russian diplomats and command their departure in a week after report to Congress. Russia just indicates that they will take the same move as well.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Intelligence, Geopolitics, Soviet Union
  • Political Geography: Russia, United Kingdom, Europe, France
  • Author: Elkhan Nuriyev
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: There are so many global threats impacting the future of the Earth but Western democracies fear only one person – Vladimir Putin. That’s because on almost all geopolitical fronts of the emerging multipolar world, Russian President is deftly striking a blow against the collective challenge mounted by the West. It is thus no surprise that the West’s endless dread of Russia’s military power has made Putin the world’s most powerful man. What’s happening in West-Russia relations right now is not a new Cold War. It is not even a renewed East-West divide. It is rather an incredibly high-stakes geopolitical grand game fueled by decades of long-time mutual distrust and competing great power interests.
  • Topic: International Relations, Geopolitics, Strategic Competition, Multipolarity
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Daria Kazarinova
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: t the end of the second decade of the 21st century, problems of global security have become the main issues on the agenda of all regions of the world. Russia’s relations with the West have already entered the stage of the so-called new Cold War “with the elements of arms race, remilitarization and the split of the European continent, under the severance of political and economic contacts between the leaders of rival countries and the degradation of diplomacy”.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Geopolitics, Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia
  • Author: Dmitry Streltsov
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: International analytical center “Rethinking Russia” presents a commentary of Dmitry Streltsov, doctor of history, head of the Department of Oriental studies of the MGIMO University, on the results of Vladimir Putin’s visit to Japan.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, Japan
  • Author: Alexander Konkov
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: Russia experienced its revolution late in the game. By that time, most Western countries had already gone through coups and industrialization and promptly rejected feudal rules and practices. Most importantly, they had had enough time to resign themselves to their revolutions and their consequences and national scars left by any upheaval had healed. Moreover, countries and peoples are – if not proud – not ashamed of the past events. In terms of historical memory, revolutions are often reconciled with national archetypes.
  • Topic: Politics, History , Revolution, Russian Revolution
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Pietro A. Shakarian
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: Russia and Turkey have been improving their relationship since June 2016, the Kurdish question presents a potential challenge to their attempts to strengthen their ties. Reconciling Kurdish aspirations with Turkish fears will be a top priority for Moscow in its effort to broker a post-war peace in Syria.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, War, Syrian War, Kurds
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Andrei Korobkov
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: The buzz surrounding the so-called “Russian trace” in the U.S. elections, started by former presidential candidate from the Democratic party Hillary Clinton during her 2016 failed presidential campaign, continues to evolve. New accusations spring up, leading to new investigations. Started in mid-2016 by Clinton’s claims about the Russian hackers, who allegedly disclosed information contained on the Democratic Party National Committee servers, it increasingly targets the members of President Donald Trump’s inner circle, including some of his family members. Appointed to deal initially with a narrow set of issues, the Independent Prosecutor Robert Mueller, the former FBI Director, has to deal with the quickly expanding set of claims and accusations.
  • Topic: Intelligence, Bilateral Relations, Elections, Domestic politics, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Pavel Koshkin
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: After the victory of republican Donald Trump at the 2016 presidential election followed by the series of probes into the Kremlin’s alleged meddling in the American domestic affairs, Russia turned into political mainstream in the U.S. However, the revived interest toward this country failed to translate into increasing funding of Russia Studies programs. And here is why.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Elections, Academia, Area Studies
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Pavel Koshkin
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: 2017 brought both successes and disappointments to Russia on the international arena. Moscow succeeded in establishing dialogue with its rivals in the Middle East — Saudi Arabia and Turkey. It also participated in the Astana peace talks to come up with a compromise with Ankara and Tehran on Syria. Besides, Russia together with its Syrian allies defeated the Islamic State of Iraq and the Greater Syria (ISIS). Afterwards, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced about the partial withdrawal of the Russian troops from Syria. One of the biggest challenges became the strengthening of the American sanctions against Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The Russia dossier probe conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Congress is also a very important event, because it could deepen the crisis in U.S.-Russia relations. Parliamentary and presidential elections in Europe also matter: They took place amidst the buzz about the Russian cyber threat and hackers, and this indicates that there is not trust toward Russia in European countries today.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Sanctions, Elections, Islamic State, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Ivan Loshkarev
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: Ukraine’s legislative initiatives to establish state control over religion have recently brought the fate of the Orthodox Church back into the limelight. Despite the delayed vote, the bill can be back on the Parliament’s agenda any time soon. The incumbent government voices its disapproval of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC – Moscow Patriarchate), the only canonical church in the country. This offers hope to several non-canonical religious institutions, which aspire to obtain the status of autocephalous (self-governed) churches. In early 2016, Ukraine’s religious scene was dominated by 9 Orthodox churches (including the Old Believers) and 64 autonomous Orthodox communities. The country’s biggest Orthodox Church – as measured by different criteria – remains the one aligned with Moscow.
  • Topic: Government, Religion, Christianity
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia, Ukraine
  • Author: Dimitri de Kochko
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: The meeting of the Russian President with his French counterpart has testified to certain changes for the better. First, the anti-Russian sanctions regime imposed by François Hollande looks increasingly likely to be lifted. In addition, for all the arrogance of the French president, several statements allow us to hope for improved bilateral relations. He believes that he has the right to lecture Russia on how it should run its affairs. The French media immediately described his behaviour as an attempt to see “the sumptuous setting of the Palace of Versailles take Vladimir Putin’s breath away”.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations, Sanctions, Freedom of Press
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia, France
  • Author: Alexander Pivovarenko
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: May 5, Vyacheslav Volodin, the State Duma’s Speaker, paid a significant visit to Serbia for working negotiations with President-Elect Aleksandar Vučić, acting Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić, President of the National Assembly Maja Gojkovic, Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Irinej and other officials. The parliamentary delegation’s trip came at a difficult time. Montenegro’s accession to NATO and internal political changes in Macedonia are reconfiguring the military and political landscape of the region. All the events are unfolding amid a massive information campaign mounted by the mass media and Western pundits capitalizing on the issue of Russian influence in the Balkans, with yet another information attack being launched on the day of Volodin’s visit. Moreover, Russia’s relations with Montenegro have reached their lowest point over the past year. In its turn, Serbia is completing the phase of consolidation of Vučić’s regime. The agenda includes the creation of a new government, which may require new parliamentary elections. It is noteworthy that the President-Elect, however, fails to command total popular support. At the same time, Vučić is singled out for allegations and fierce criticism for embracing Euro-Atlantic integration. When it comes to Russia’s assets and liabilities in the Balkans, Volodin’s stay in Serbia, therefore, was of particular importance.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, NATO, Parliamentarism
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Serbia, Montenegro
  • Author: Nikolay Pakhomov
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: The US Constitution vests the president, the head of the executive branch, with considerable power to formulate the country’s foreign policy. Regardless of the proactive stance of some Congressmen in dealing with external issues, America’s foreign policy has historically been shaped by presidents, their temperament, experience, ideological leanings, and quite often it has been affected by their domestic policy. The latter can be central to understanding and forecasting the Trump administration’s steps related to Russia. Nowadays only the elites can initiate and introduce changes in the US-Russian interaction. Economic cooperation is also limited.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Donald Trump, Economic Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Akop Gabrielyan
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: ANALYSISOPINION NATO-Russia Relations: Overcoming Agony 17.07.2017Featured Image Akop A. Gabrielyan – the founder and the leader of the “Consensus” youth NGO, expert in the policy of the post-soviet states. If anything, the central tenet of the Hippocratic oath: first do no harm – Primum non nocere – is the first motto to be applied to today’s dialogue between Russia and NATO, a military and political organization. The dialogue essentially boiling down to interaction between Russia and the United States, the alliance’s leader, has offered fewer grounds for optimism over the years. Noticeably worse relations, whose downward spiraling trend is too serious a phenomenon to be even referred to as “the Cold War”, are degenerating into an agony. This is testified by some experts predicting an unavoidable military conflict and a real deterioration in the situation amid the Ukraine and Syria conflicts that Russia and NATO (the US) treat differently. For instance, Moscow officially suspended a deal with the US to prevent mid-air collisions over Syria in response to America’s attitude towards April’s deadly chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib province.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, NATO, Partnerships, Alliance
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia, United States of America
  • Author: Fernanda Magnotta, Roman Chukov
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: Last Friday, during the G20 summit, the US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met for the first time. The meeting was surrounded by expectations and marked by all types of speculation. The bilateral relationship has been controversial since the Obama administration, but the polemics have gained momentum in last year’s election when Trump came to power. Trump’s agenda becomes even more critical as he has been waging a war on the American media since the campaign. Trump popularized the term “fake news” by accusing the CNN network of making up facts, and made the “post-truth” concept the word of the year of 2016, according to Oxford University. In addition, he decided to communicate directly with the American society through Twitter not to depend on the curatorship of the country’s major media outlets.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Media, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Nikolay Pakhomov
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: When US President Trump on August 2 signed a bill that reinforces and expands to some extent sanctions on Moscow, the anti-Russian campaign emerged somewhat divorced from real policy-making. The bill has clarified the Congress position on the matter, with the ongoing investigation into Trump’s and his acolytes’ alleged ties with Russia shifting public attention to the legal aspect. While lambasting Trump, some intellectuals seek to establish nominal correlations between the US president and Russia and to draw historical parallels between the two countries. This clearly creative approach on the part of experts and pundits produces remarkable results.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, History, Donald Trump, Boris Yeltsin
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Anna Velikaya
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: Russia seems to have finally realized in recent years that nation branding, seen as a set of actions to improve country’s image abroad, is a form of investment, not a cost. In order to analyze the Russian approach to nation branding, it is necessary to highlight several dimensions: economic, scientific, cultural, sport, media, and development.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Foreign Direct Investment, Public Opinion, Economy, Soft Power, Cultural Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Emil Pevtsov
  • Publication Date: 09-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: Social media and especially microblogging are trending buzzwords in the public diplomacy scene. Disproportionate attention is paid to individual posts and trends on social media by the mainstream media. The best case are the tweets of Donald Trump, the president of the USA. They are reported on and analysed daily with unparalleled ferocity, with some outlets meticulously collecting all of the President’s social media comments. It has come to a point at which discussing social media is beating an already beaten up dead horse. Nevertheless, this weekend’s latest news requires comment and policy recommendation.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Geopolitics, Social Media
  • Political Geography: Britain, Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Lada Kochtcheeva
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: With the advance of globalization, the spread of new technologies and communication, diffusion of power to non-state actors, as well as the emergence of new forms of rivalry and statecraft, the concept of “gray zone” conflict has very recently produced substantial debates in the US and internationally. Most analysts do not view this phenomenon as entirely new, but they distinguish certain characteristics of gray zone and argue that it will progressively depict and challenge the international system in the near future. The gray zone form of conflict is usually defined by the presence of several crucial elements including rising revisionist states that seek to alter some aspect of the existing, status quo international order, incremental or gradual strategy often ambiguous, and unconventional tools, which are short of outright war. Actors using a gray zone method strive to achieve their goals while minimizing the scope and scale of actual fighting[3]. Russia’s actions in Eastern Europe are often described by the theorists of gray zone conflict as using multi-instrument strategies while employing direct action. China’s use of incremental approaches to produce a critical basis for its claims in the South China Sea also represents a prominent example of the gray zone conflict.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Globalization, Conflict, Gray Zone
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eastern Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Elena Ponomareva
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: In the Annual Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly, President Vladimir Putin placed special emphasis on the idea that the anniversary of the February Revolution and the October Revolution is “a good moment for looking back on the causes and nature of these revolutions in Russia. Not just historians and scholars should do this; Russian society in general needs an objective, honest and deep-reaching analysis of these events”. Indeed, history is a great teacher giving us a variety of cases and making us draw numerous lessons. However, we need to learn from our experience and apply our knowledge to specific circumstances and particular landscape for these lessons to be more than just a tribute to the memory of the events. We must learn from our historical, political, and social errors and contribute to the state’s development.
  • Topic: History, Revolution, Russian Revolution
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Maxim A. Suchkov
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: The American military strike on a Syrian airbase has rather demonstrated President Trump’s burning desire to adopt a more hawkish stance – both at home and abroad – than has been launched merely in retaliation for the terrible chemical attack. At home, it was a gimmick to consolidate his position in Congress, secure bipartisan support (primarily GOP’s approval), cement his voting base, and shed the image of the Kremlin’s lackey, which has increasingly been weakening his presidential mandate and left little room for political maneuver. Moreover, this step was due to receive the approbation of the major “domestic sponsors”, including the military-industrial complex, the oil industry, and financiers. Finally, it can be treated as the comeback of the “strong leader”, the translation of Trump’s election pledge into a policy.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Conflict, Syrian War, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Edward Luttwak
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: In the recent months the US-Russian relations have been in this weird place where Russia suddenly emerged again as a topic of a heated and very controversial electoral campaign and again in a form of an Evil Empire. The relations have been strained since 2014 following the events in Crimea, Ukraine and the sanctions rounds even though the same two countries managed to cooperate around Iran, and were rubbing shoulders in Syria. The recent storm has been caused by the leakage of the Democratic party emails, allegedly done by Moscow with the end goal to undermine Hillary Clinton (who is holding firm anti-Russian position) and support Donald Trump (who has praised Vladimir Putin in the past). With the elections taking place this week, Rethinking Russia spoke to an influential Republican geostrategist, CSIS senior associate Edward Luttwak about the current state of the Russian-American elections.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Cooperation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, America
  • Author: Thomas Graham
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: Beware of rapid improvement in US-Russian relations. It cannot be sustained, and it always ends in sorrow for both countries. That at least is the history of relations since the end of the Cold War, to which each American president – Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama – can attest.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Organization, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, America
  • Author: Yan Vaslavskiy
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: 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.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Tatyana Alekseeva
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: The International Primakov Readings Forum took place November 29-30, 2016, in commemoration of Yevgeny Primakov. The meeting was organized by the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO led by Alexander Dynkin) and was backed by the World Trade Center, the Russian Science Foundation, the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy, and the University of Pennsylvania. In his address to the Forum, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin argued that Primakov had succeeded in predicting the events unfolding in today’s world, especially in the Middle East. As the Head of State put it, “Actually, I was always taking heed of Primakov’s assessments, as he was a wise and astute diplomat. I trusted him and asked to accomplish responsible and sensitive missions rather than ordered him”. Besides, the Primakov Readings Conference brought together Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Chair of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko, and President’s foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov who delivered an opening speech. The Forum was also attended by most leading experts on international relations. The Rethinking Russia Think Tank presents the comment of Tatyana Alekseeva, a participant of the Primakov Readings Forum.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, Global Focus
  • Author: Bryan MacDonald
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: At the start of 1917, rumours reached London that something was stirring in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg). As a result, the concerned Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, urgently dispatched Lord Milner, a diplomat of some repute, to the Russian capital. His Lordship visited the Tsar and spoke to ministers and members of the Duma, who informed him that enemies of the state were spreading groundless yarns. Sadly, being a creature of his class, Milner believed that only the elites mattered so he neglected to consult any of the general public. Thus, cocooned in his bubble, the peer reported to London that there was nothing the government could not handle and no need to expect no major changes. However, the same British travelling party also included Lloyd George’s private secretary Philip Kerr. A little more clued in, Kerr walked the streets and interviewed the plain folk. Armed with their predictions, he sent a telegram to Downing Street which asserted that Russia was on the verge of an unstoppable revolution. As it happens, the man who stepped out of the comfort zone was right because Nikolai II was shorn of his crown before the British delegation made it home. We know this story because many years later the ‘Welsh Wizard,’ Lloyd George, revealed the details to Ivan Maisky, the Soviet ambassador to London. And almost a hundred years later, it is a salutary lesson in the dangers of the establishment refusing to acknowledge ordinary people’s concerns when evaluating the causes of political upheaval.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, Global Focus