From the Berlin wall to the Kremlin wall

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

For those following the event from Moscow at the time, the contrast was striking. On one side, the thrill caused by the fall of Berlin Wall in the outside world, especially in the West; on the other, the quasi indifference with which it was met in the Soviet Union. Continue reading “From the Berlin wall to the Kremlin wall”

A full reintegration, a half success

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

The return of Russia to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) is not the Russian victory declared by those who opposed the measure. It was an act of pragmatism by the Assembly that means nothing in terms of rapprochement between Russia and EU, the latter being a body totally separated from the Council of Europe. Continue reading “A full reintegration, a half success”

Victory that cannot be shared anymore

By Nina Bachkatov & Andrew Wilson

For years now, the allies of the second world war are unable to celebrate a common victory over Nazism. This is especially true in the West where the former enemy and invader (Germany) is now at the core of the Western alliance; while the former ally, the USSR, or its successors, is no longer mentionable. That was especially evident during this year’s celebrations of D-Day, with the aggravating factor that while the Western allies were rewriting history in Plymouth and Normandy, presidents Putin and Xi were preparing the future in Moscow. Continue reading “Victory that cannot be shared anymore”

Crimea for ever?

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

Celebrations in Crimea lasted 4 full days and included a visit of president Putin. In Moscow, there were a few flags, but no official celebrations. Seemingly, the Kremlin wants to show that Crimea is just another member of the Federation, no more no less. Continue reading “Crimea for ever?”

Disputed islands

By Nina Bachkatov & Andrew Wilson

Once again, hopes for a solution to the disputed Kurils Islands during a Russia-Japan meeting did not materialise as public opinions are still not ready to accept a compromise. On 22 January, in Moscow, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and Russian president Vladimir Putin tried to solve the last unsettled row of WWII. The meeting failed to do so, but participants expressed a mutual desire to continue economic and cultural cooperation. Continue reading “Disputed islands”

The symbolic visit of Putin in Paris

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

Vladimir Putin occupied a prominent place in the great international gathering in Paris to mark the century of the 1918 armistice. His presence led to odd moments, especially when the Russian President, so often accused of threatening peace on the Continent, attended the opening ceremony of the Forum for Peace. Continue reading “The symbolic visit of Putin in Paris”

A gift for Russian opposition

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

As eyes are on football, the Russian government is launching a long due but unpopular reform of the pension system. On 14 June, the Russian prime minister Dmitri Medvedev signed and sent to the Duma a draft law proposing to raise the pension age from 60 to 65 for men and from 55 to 63 for women. The reform will be phased in over a number of years – by 2028 for men and 2034 for women. Continue reading “A gift for Russian opposition”

Putin strange address to the Nation

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

By any standards, the annual Address to Parliament delivered by President Putin on 1 of March was unusual, by the content and the form. The Address is one of the three public presidential high moments, with the end of the year press conference and the “meeting with the nation”. It is an opportunity for the president to present his track record and his projects. In an electoral period, everyone expected the 2018 edition to be different. But nobody was prepared for so much emphasis on military issues, in a high-tech décor including a projection full of military hardware and explosions, delivered by a president adopting a tone of voice remembering his intervention at the 2007 Munich Conference which stunned the West by its violence. Continue reading “Putin strange address to the Nation”

Sochi: another step towards a Syrian resolution

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

The main success of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress held on 30 January in Sochi is that it existed. Up to the last moment, Russian diplomats and experts doubted that the Congress would attract enough Syrian delegates to be credible. There was fears that it might be cancelled for a third time. Continue reading “Sochi: another step towards a Syrian resolution”

Moscow-Versailles

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

The meeting between presidents Macron and Putin was a demonstration of cultural diplomacy at its best. Culture and history provided a key background to this first meeting between the presidents of two countries whose diplomatic relations had suffer of the general Western distaste towards Putin’s Russia. Continue reading “Moscow-Versailles”