Staunton, January 14 – Observers of Russia are often in the position of the blind men and the elephant. So many things are going in so many different directions that it is often impossible to say which are the most important trends. The Kremlin appears to be counting on that, hoping that what people see or hear in Moscow will be what they think is true of Russia as a whole.
As seems to be always the case, the last two days bring stories that should be enough to disabuse anyone who thinks that way, not only regarding the enormous diversity of people and developments across the country but also about the curious mix of various pasts the Putin regime is promoting.
Perhaps the most obvious effort to reach back into a combination of the Soviet and tsarist path is a drive to impose judicial penalties on anyone who dares to criticize the authorities. After all, one blogger says, since Russia’s rulers are given by God criticism is inappropriate and should be banned (
But there have been 12 other developments reported worthy of note that suggest just how complex the new-old Russia of Vladimir Putin has become. They include:
1. Moscow has decided to add yet another military parade to the calendar. With the addition of a winter one, there will now be such an event each quarter ().
2. Is Jesus’ Life Really Over But Patriarch Kirill’s Continuing? An Orthodox commentator is upset that Russia’s Life of Remarkable People has put out two books on famous people. One is about Jesus Christ and treats his life as over; the other is about Patriarch Kirill and treats his as continuing ( ).
Duma Members Want to Impose State Controls on Magicians and ESP Adepts. When one believes that everything should be regulated by the government, it isn’t surprising that one is constantly casting about for new sectors to conquer. The current target of Duma legislation is Russia’s magicians and ESP adepts, people some in Moscow clearly believe need to be regulated (
5. Blogger who Filmed Russian Police Attending Major Criminal’s Funeral Arrested. Russian police were embarrassed by a film clip showing that many officers had come to pay their respects at a recent funeral of a major Russian criminal. They have now responded by arresting the man who filmed this episode ().
6. Duma now prepared to block private tour firms from leading groups into Orthodox church facilities so that the church can provide guides itself and profit as a result ().
7. Russian officials have made the Itelmen, a numerically small people of the Russian Far East, feel like “aliens in their own land” by taking away property they believe had been granted to them for all time ().
8. A new study concludes that nearly one-third of all news stories carried on the Runet are fake news ().
9. Moscow Patriarchate won’t accept new calendar, guaranteeing that Russia will have two Christmases and two New year’s celebrations well into the future ().
10. Chechen officials again imprisoning, torturing, and in at least one case killing LGBTs. So far, Moscow has done nothing to reign in its man there, Ramzan Kadyrov ().
11. Russia returning to Bolshevik standard on gun ownership: Only members of the ruling party will have free access. A St. Petersburg commentator says that increasing restrictions on gun ownership in Russia point to a return to the standards of Bolshevik times. Then, only approved members of the ruling party were allowed to own guns; now, perhaps, only members of United Russia will be ().
12. Book publishers are now being compelled to do what newspapers and journals already are: to identify groups as extremist in their production that the Russian authorities have found to be such ().