The taking of journalist Roman Protasevich from a commercial airline flight has further estranged Belarus from an outraged west and will force the country deeper under the influence of an increasingly powerful Russian Federation. Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega were detained at Minsk airport after a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius, Lithuania was forced to make an emergency landing in the Belarusian capital on May 23. The incident sparked widespread backlash from the west, leading the UK and the EU to ban Belarusian aircrafts from entering the their airspace and the latter announcing preparations for another round of sanctions. The incident was received very differently in Russia. Moscow expressed support for Lukashenko’s decision – albeit relatively mutedly – …
The Russian newspaper Vedomosti recently reported something that may strike many as rather odd. Drawing on a range of internal sources, the paper claimed that the Russian Presidential Administration was increasingly using members of the Federation Council – the upper chamber of the Federal Assembly, whose members are colloquially referred to as “senators” – to introduce bills into the federal legislature. This use of senators as law-making proxies is puzzling because of the President’s formal law-making powers: According to article 104, section 1 of the Russian Constitution, the President of the Russian Federation has the “power to initiate legislation”. In practice, this means the President has the authority to introduce bills into the State Duma – the lower chamber of the …
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