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Russian NGO crackdown: Election watchdog group facing closure

Russia’s main independent election group ‘Golos’ is the latest target in a string of NGO closures by Vladimir Putin's government.

Putin flies with endangered cranes

There he was, the loved and feared leader of Russia, dressed in a puffy white one-piece, bulgy white helmet, and goggles, flying with a flock of cranes to the promised land.

Russian court refuses bail for female punk rockers

The Kremlin shows its brittleness by punishing a symbol of opposition.
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Members of the all-girl punk band Pussy Rio, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (C), Maria Alyokhina (R) and Yekaterina Samutsevich (L), sit behind bars during a court hearing in Moscow on July 20, 2012. (Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty Images)
The decision by a Moscow court on Friday to refuse bail to three members of a female punk band called Pussy Riot and extend their pretrial detention until January strains the imagination. What's the logic?

Putin and Abramovich: Russian leadership style gets different results

Putin steamrolls opposition, Abramovich steamrolls managers
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Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich at a recent Chelsea match. You never see Vladimir Putin looking so miserable. Sport is so much more unpredictable than Russian politics. (BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

Chelsea Football club fired its manager, Portugal's Andre Villas-Boas, Sunday . No surprise there. Vladimir Putin was elected Tsar of all the Russias … sorry, President of Russia the same day. No surprise there either.

This coincidence says much about the limits of autocracy in non-autocratic environments.

For Putin the autocrat, Russia is effectively a personal fief with a constitution. When he says he want to return to the presidency from a stint as Prime Minister - no problem. It's his.

For 40-year old Abramovich, the Russian oligarch who took his first steps towards an estimated net worth of $13 plus billion back in the days when Boris Yeltsin sold the state oil company for a fraction of its value, things aren't quite so easy.

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