Russia Reform Monitor - No. 2235

Rehabilitating Stalin's legacy;
New political life for Navalny?

July 20, 2018

June 21:

Are Russians softening on Stalin's wartime leadership? New polling data from Moscow's Levada Center suggests that dictator Joseph Stalin may be undergoing a notable rehabilitation in Russian historical memory. In 1991, 36 percent of Russians polled believed that Stalin's poor strategic leadership caused the country’s staggering casualty rate in World War II. Now, however,
The Moscow Times reports that just nine percent of those surveyed by Levada believe that to be the case, and the majority of respondents blame Hitler’s surprise attack instead for Russia's catastrophic losses.

[EDITORS' NOTE: Given the effect of Russia's increasingly authoritarian political climate on pollsters and respondents alike, the results of public opinion surveys in Russia should be viewed with some caution.]

June 22:

Is Russia on the cusp of a new sports controversy?
The Moscow Times reports that the United States has formally requested the results of doping tests administered to Russia's national soccer team, following what the paper calls "a sudden improvement in performance" during the World Cup games, which Russia is currently hosting. "Extraordinary performances demand additional tests," explains Travis Tygart, head of the United States Anti-Doping Agency. Russia's Football Union has rejected the demand, however, claiming it to be driven by U.S. "bitterness."

Anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny and his cohorts are formalizing their political opposition to the Kremlin. Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation has submitted the requisite papers to Russia's Justice Ministry to register as a formal political party, activists from the organization
announced on social media platform Twitter. The new political faction will be known as "Russia of the Future," and has already held its founding convention.

[EDITORS' NOTE: The news caps a half-decade-long effort by Navalny and his supporters to launch their own political party - an effort that has been repeatedly thwarted by Russian authorities and political opponents (most recently in January 2018). This iteration, however, is expected to at long last successfully propel Navalny into the formal political arena.]

June 25:

Russia is dipping its toe anew into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and seeking to spur greater Palestinian unity.
According to the Itar-TASS news agency, Moscow is currently playing host to a delegation from the Hamas terrorist group, which has met with Mikhail Bogdanov, President Putin's special envoy for the Middle East and Africa as part of talks intended to jump-start internal Palestinian political reconciliation. "Key attention was focused on the problems of the Palestinian-Israeli settlement on the basis of the generally recognized international legal documents, including UN resolutions, and on efforts towards restoration of Palestinian national unity on the basis of the agreement signed between Hamas and Fatah in Cairo in October 2017," Russia's Foreign Ministry has confirmed in an official statement.

June 26:

Expanding Russian and Chinese activity in the Arctic region represents a growing strategic concern for the United States, America's top defense official has said. "Certainly America's got to up its game in the Arctic," Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters in Alaska while on an official visit there. The growing accessibility of the region as a result of climate change, as well as technological advances and new energy discoveries there, has made the area one of intense interest for Moscow and (more recently) Beijing - a reality which to the United States needs to adapt, Mattis stressed in comments
carried by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Related Categories: Russia; Russia and Eurasia Program; Ukraine

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