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n.42 June 2012

Recent news dictates that our June issue be dedicated to Russia, where President Vladimir Putin has begun his third term in office amid considerable skepticism and growing public doubt.

The Return of the Tsar is the title we’ve given to this issue’s Dossier section, which opens with an exhaustive report from Astrit Dakli, a longtime student of Russia. Dakli analyzes the presidential election, probes the Kremlin’s international agenda, and studies Moscow’s relations with former Soviet states. Dakli’s insights are followed by statistical information about the Russian mood supplied by the Levada Institute and Flavio Fusi’s examination of the key role the online world is playing in animating Russian discontent and protest.
Our Inside Voices column comes from Russian journalist and writer Yulia Latynina, who supplies a scathing and often ironic attack on Putin and his governing methods.
Analyst Ben Judah reflects on the impact of recent Russian street protest, while Alessandra Garusi examines the intensification of repressive legislation. Paola Caridi takes a look at the growing power of Russians in Israel.
We close out the section with a report of the growth of prostitution and the sex industry in former Soviet Bloc states.
As always, we devote ample space to Europe.
Giuseppe Scognamiglio offers his views on the need for growth and development, and not just austerity.
Antonio Ferrari and Marta Ottaviani both weigh in on Turkey, Matteo Tacconi looks at the growth of Poland’s “big four” cities, which will host coming European Championship games, and Luisa Betti offers a poignant look at Eastern European children left behind when their parents migrate west in search of work.
Our photo essay is by Marco Bulgarelli, who provides a panorama of images on the Danube River, which flows west to east and defines the cultural diversity of a continent.
As always, you’ll find our host of columns, including Roberto Santaniello’s “Western Shore” and Stefano Bottoni’s “Eastern Shore,” which together examine events across the continent. Manuela Dviri supplies her Tel Aviv Notes column while Francesca Lancini weighs in with “That’s Incredible,” and Carlotta Magnanini offers up “By the Numbers.”
Our special report focuses on war-torn Kabul, as described by Giuliana Sgrena. Carlo Pizzati examines the power of female politicians in India. Francesca Lancini looks at the hopes and dreams of Burma, whose democratic hopes are still marred by scarring ethnic struggles.

Emanuele Bevilacqua

SUMMARY


Contents

Vladimir Lenin, icon of the Russian Revolution and father of the Soviet Union, was never short on sayings: “Any cook should be able to run the country.” “Democracy is indispensable to socialism.”

While working toward austerity remains a vital quest, it’s not enough to guarantee the EU’s future. The Union must adopt bolder strategies to stimulate growth and development.

Europe in Small Steps

Relations between Turks and minority Kurds eased in 2009, suggesting better times ahead. But since then the debate has lapsed back into contentiousness. The hopeful side is public opinion, which seems to want unity and peace.

Amysterious 1996 car crash suggested complicity between the government and crime syndicates, altering the face of Turkey and helping to usher in the Erdogan era. Now, Erdogan faces another challenge in dealing with the powerful and growing Gulen movement.

Impressive growth in the cities of Wroclaw, Poznan, Gdansk and Warsaw are collective proof of the boom that Poland has experienced since joining the European Union in 2004.

When parents in Romania, Ukraine and Moldova escaped awful domestic conditions to seek work elsewhere, many left their children behind. The pattern has led to the creation of a generation of so-called "white orphans", damaged children with parents they don't know.

Musical repression Following anti-gay laws, moralistic Russian authorities appear to have turned their aim on musicians.

Both a United Nations study and a World Wildlife Fund report recently described the Danube as among the top-10 most “at risk” rivers on the planet.

What links Occupy Wall Street to Tunisia to Syria isn’t just the devices and technology that allow people to communicate with each other, but a culture that encourages personal expression at the expense of politics, media, and conventional institutions.

Unlike his immediate predecessor, Vladimir Putin will be handicapped by Western disdain for his methods and ambitions, long seen as hostile. But Putin is expected to use that hostility to redouble his efforts to court Ukraine as an economic partner.

The Russian presidential elections saw Vladimir Putin win just morethan 60 percent of the vote, in line with expectations.

Social networking has become the instrument of choice for anti-government, helping to unite public opinion. The government can control television and print media, but not the web. Meanwhile dissent’sconstituency continues to grow.

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder maintains cordial if controversial ties with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. But the relationship doesn’t diminish the importance of changes he brought to Germany’spolitical and economic scene.

Life in Russia is unlimited: as in unlimited corruption and unlimited impunity.
Presidential megalomania is only made worse by government officials who see themselves as above the law.

Though street protests failed to prevent Vladimir Putin from returning to the Kremlin, Russian dissent is far from over.

As the new Putin era begins, many Russians openly claim they’re tired of talking about politics. That doesn’t change the fact that thousands remain imprisoned for their anti-government views, facing increasingly repressive if ill-defined anti-extremism legislation.

Have contributed to this issue:
Antonio Barbangelo
Luisa Betti
Emanuele Bevilacqua
Stefano Bottoni
Marco Bulgarelli
Paola Caridi
Maria Cuffaro
Astrit Dakli
Donatella Della Ratta
Manueladviri
Antonio Ferrari
Flavio Fusi
Alessandra Garusi
Francesca Gori
Serena Grassia
Lev Gudkov
Ben Judah
Francesca Lancini
Yulia Latynina
Carlotta Magnanini
Marta Ottaviani
Carlo Pizzati
Constanze Reuscher
Farian Sabahi
Roberto Santaniello
Giuseppe Scognamiglio
Giuliana Sgrena
Matteo Tacconi
Paola Tassi
 
GUALA