From Foreign Policy, it’s hard to find people who are optimistic about the future of Russian democracy — Leon Aron explains why he’s one of them; and can Russia reform its outmoded military without scaring the United States? In a new report, Russian opposition leaders describe the presidential perks enjoyed by Vladimir V. Putin, including palaces, a fleet of jets and droves of luxury cars. Putin’s God Squad: After years of repression under Communist rule, the Orthodox Church is back at the heart of Russian politics. Nicholas Breyfogle and Jeffrey on Russia and the race for the Arctic. Snow Job: Siberia is the West’s new hunting ground for young girls to morph into supermodels — and the industry is warping their lives. Amy Knight on Russia and the new struggle with Putin. Leonid Kosals on Russia between chaos and dictatorship. John M. Handley reviews The Strongman: Vladimir Putin and the Struggle for Russia by Angus Roxburgh. Russia’s toughest prisons: what can the Pussy Riot band members expect? The fifth problem: How Moscow State University discriminated against Jewish applicants using deceptively simple problems. Yvonne Howell reviews When Pigs Could Fly and Bears Could Dance: A History of the Soviet Circus by Miriam Neirick.

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