Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Even Russian Beer is Being Corrupted – and More Bad News from the Russian Domestic Front

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 4 – Some days, it must be hard for Russians to read or listen to the news because so much of it is bad, even if seldom reported beyond the borders of their country.  Today, for example, brought reports that the rules governing production of beet are to be changed to boost profits for brewers but harm its taste (https://ura.news/news/1052361993).

            In addition to that depressing fact, made worse by the fact that it came just before the winter holidays, there were at least seven other stories in Russia today that can hardly have brought a smile to anyone reading them:

·         Officials said that there is likely to be a bread shortage after the winter holidays and that even if there isn’t, prices for this most basic consumer item will increase significantly (rusmonitor.com/v-rossii-deficit-khleba-posle-rozhdestva-glavnyjj-produkt-podorozhaet.html).

·         Russian law allows the government to confiscate the property of Russians convicted of some crimes, but in the latest iteration of the old Radio Armenia joke that if communists took over Saudi Arabia, in five years the kingdom would have to import sand, RBC reported that the government is actually losing money on this program (rbc.ru/economics/04/12/2018/5c054f819a7947d6e3d961ad).

·         Not only are the number of air routes declining, but now Russians have been told that the country’s pilot-training system has more or less collapsed, a development that means it will be even more difficult than before to keep the current routes going (ura.news/news/1052361981).

·         In an example of even good news being bad, government reports that the number of young Russians ready to serve as professionals in the infantry has risen by 15 percent over the last year have been undercut by the obvious explanation: they are looking for jobs in the military because they can’t find them in the civilian sector (function.mil.ru/news_page/country/more.htm?id=12206467).

·         The commander of Russia’s Baltic Fleet has only embarrassed the country by his suggestion that Immanuel Kant was “a traitor to the motherland” who wrote some books which the admiral certainly as not read let alone understood. His comments came as he urged sailors not to vote for Kant as the name for the Kaliningrad airport (znak.com/2018-12-03/glava_shtaba_baltiyskogo_flota_nazval_filosofa_immanuila_kanta_predatelem_rodiny).

·         Not to be outdone in the race to the bottom, a teacher in Khabarovsk has told her charges that wearing a Navalny button is the equivalent of engaging in propaganda for Nazi concentration camps (meduza.io/news/2018/12/04/uchitelnitsa-iz-habarovska-sravnila-noshenie-znachka-navalnogo-s-propagandoy-natsistskih-kontslagerey).

·         And finally a new VTsIOM poll reported that young Russians consider their country’s constitution to be quite democratic but that they do not see it as having any connection with the reality they see around themselves every day (politikus.ru/v-rossii/114423-vciom-molodezh-schitaet-konstituciyu-demokratichnoy-no-otmechaet-ee-razryv-s-realiyami.html).

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