In 1990, when the Russian economy was falling apart and Russia was suffering from acute food shortages, the first McDonald's opened in Moscow, offering a new experience of food service.
Russia's system of government administration is inefficient, unable to cope with both a transition of political power and the economic crisis at the same time. To ensure its own survival, the Russian regime must modernize itself.
A year after his enthronement, Patriarch Kirill has re-energized the Russian Orthodox Church, shored up his own support base, and laid the foundations for a new – if politically controversial – role for the Church in state and society.
Russia’s current ruling elite understands the threat posed by an ethnic project of nation-building and, therefore, seeks to adhere to a supranational concept of Russia as a civilization.
The recent State Council meeting on the subject of modernizing Russia's political system reflected the growing political cracks in the foundation of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s vertical power structure.
The Armenia-Azerbaijan-Russia presidential summit in Sochi is unlikely to change the situation with Karabakh, but may reignite the stagnated negotiation process. Russian involvement is key to its presence in the Caucasus.
The imminent departure of Mintimer Shaimiev as president of Tatarstan may mark the beginning of the end for the aging titans of Russian regional politics, but it will bring little if any real change to one of Russia’s most important ethnic republics.
In 20 years of religious freedom, the Russian Orthodox Church has been unable to create a workable system for preparing its clergy and lay workers to perform social service, including missionary work, charity and moral education at schools and universities.
By combining the posts of presidential envoy and deputy prime minister for the newly created North Caucasus Federal District, the Kremlin is taking strong political measures to end the violence in the North Caucasus.
The Republic of Dagestan is becoming increasingly unstable, partially caused by a Russian policy of neglect, appointing only leaders loyal to Moscow. Severe economic problems and radical Islam also contribute to the violence.