Russia’s Central Bank has released new data showing drops as steep as 15 percent in the amount of money transferred by individuals to Central Asia in 2014 versus the year before. Much of that cash – no one can say exactly how much – comprises remittances from labor migrants.
More and more, posts and commentaries on the Internet in Russia and even abroad are generated by professional trolls, many of whom receive a higher-than-average salary for perpetuating a pro-Kremlin dialogue online.
Few Westerners doubt the South Caucasus country of Georgia’s commitment to eventual integration with Europe. But as a massive currency devaluation tightens the squeeze on Georgia’s relatively fragile economy, calls are increasing for ordinary Georgians to reconsider the actual benefits of that commitment.
In an interview with RFE/RL in Brussels, former Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt talks frankly about the mistakes made by the European Union with regard to Russia, what he thinks the Russian president's next moves are likely to be, and why the bloc needs to engage more deeply with Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia.
The intrigue is building in Moscow. Vladimir Putin has not been seen in a week, and the rumor mill is going into overdrive.
Helping fan the flames of speculation, the official presidential website seems to be going into “Swan Lake” mode. The site has taken to posting old pictures of Putin in action in an attempt to make it seem as though it is business as usual.
Boris Nemtsov’s assassination can be considered the natural outcome of trends that have been shaping Russia’s development for the past couple of years. More ominously, the killing may signal that Russia is headed for a period of prolonged political violence.