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Author: Artem Filatov

Long live Kim Jong-un: how Russia helps the dictator thrive

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said there is an estimated 40,000 North Koreans working in Russia today, with some assessments indicating that this number will continue to grow. Human rights activists describe these workers as modern slaves, whose working conditions are harsh under the pressure to complete preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Kim Jong-un's North Korea is now at the centre of international news with its nuclear tests and reported preparations for more missile launches. Last autumn Kim Jong-un promised to complete his nuclear programme, despite new sanctions imposed by the West. Russia’s Vladimir Putin has rejected US calls for new sanctions on Pyongyang, claiming that it would be a counter-productive “road to nowhere” and may trigger a “global catastrophe”. This statement could be interpreted as an act of solidarity with the North Korean regime, since Putin's friends and senior officials are also under western sanctions.

However, upon closer examination this is not the only explanation. One of the major proposals of the sanctions package against North Korea is to cut off sources of foreign currency, limiting its ability to continue developing its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. This would signify a major shift for Moscow, as it would have to stop employing cheap North Korean labour.

January 2, 2018 - Artem Filatov

Putin and his monsters

The Russian president is flipping the switch after 17 years in office. At the start of the new presidential campaign Vladimir Putin has already attempted to gain the sympathies of the younger generation, but avoids facing the worrying reality created by his system.

Russia is in a nervous period of transition as preparations are being made for the next presidential election in March 2018. Vladimir Putin was already asked by “ordinary Russians” from a village in the Buryatia region to run for office for the fourth time since 2000. He replied that he still needed time to make his final decision, but he also indicated he does not want to retire. According to sources at the RBC news agency, the Kremlin has already set plans for the presidential campaign and the one and only real candidate will be Putin. Meanwhile, the president is said to announce his decision at the end of the year during a large event in Moscow.

This presidential term that Putin will soon be completing is the first six-year term of the Russian presidency (prior to 2012, terms were only four years). The five and a half years of this term were tough, nervous and full of conflict – both domestically and internationally. Russia’s aggressive foreign policy is combined with the harsh treatment of independent media and NGOs in domestic policy. Putin decimated the separation of powers in the early 2000s and after the 2012 election he made the system more repressive, allowing it to intervene into the private lives of Russian citizens.

October 31, 2017 - Artem Filatov

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