Saturday, October 17, 2020

A Baker’s Dozen of Stories from Russia -- Too Many to Detail but Too Important to Miss

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 15 – A major problem confronting the author of Windows on Eurasia is that on all too many days, there are more stories worth reporting than he has the possibility of writing up. I try to save some of them to write up when other developments occur, but often the flood of events makes that impossible.

            Consequently over the 16  years that I have been preparing this series, I have been driven to adopt various strategies to try to ensure that what appears to me essential to the understanding of the evolution of the part of Eurasia I track gets reported, combining stories in various ways or occasionally, as now, preparing brief notes about developments likely to affect the future.

            Below are a baker’s dozen of such stories:

·         Chechen Leader Revives Stalinist Practice of Having Relatives Disown Those State Convicts. One of the more horrific practices of Stalin’s time was the Soviet leader’s insistence that relatives of those found guilty in Soviet courts be publicly disowned by their relatives. Ramzan Kadyrov has now revived that practice, something especially offensive in the Caucasus where family ties are sacred (

·         Volgograd Residents Don’t Want to Go Back to Moscow Time. Residents of Volgograd have protested the decision of regional authorities to shift their city back into Moscow time as it was in Soviet times. They have collected some 40,000 signatures on a petition which they have sent to the Duma opposing this plan (

·         Is Russia Planning to Launch New War Crimes Trials Against Germans? Yesterday, officials in a Novgorod village opened what they described as a war crimes trial against Germans for what the Nazi invaders did during World War II, a possible indication that Moscow is now preparing to use such events to whip up anti-German sentiment (

·         Moscow Prosecutors Demand University Inform on Its Students. Prosecutors in the Western District of the Russian Capital have demanded that the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service provide them with information on the political activities of their students (

·         Moscow Pulls Out of International Investigation of Jetliner Downing. Saying that the Netherlands had acted in an “unfriendly manner,” the Russian foreign ministry has announced that it will no longer participate in the international investigation of the downing of the Malaysian airliner over Ukraine (

·         Fight Breaks Out over Survival of Russia’s Sports Ministry. Officials and politicians in Moscow are very much divided as to whether the country’s ministry of sports should be reformed or disbanded altogether (

·         Kazan Follows Up Ban on 1552 Commemoration with Arrests. The Kazan city government for the first time since the Soviet period has banned public commemoration of the 1552 sacking of the city by Ivan the Terrible. It has now followed that up with the detention of some of those involved in seeking to hold such a meeting (

·         Dockers Seize Port Administration Offices in Vladivostok. In a labor dispute, dockworkers in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok seized the offices of the port to press their case (

·         Social Chamber Presses for Nationality Agency to Become a Ministry. The Russian Social Chamber and its Kaluga branch have called on Moscow to elevate the status of the Federal Agency for Nationality Affairs by transforming it into a ministry for nationality affairs (

·         Moscow Views Any Independent-Mindedness by Governors as Threatening Secession. Pavel Salin, a political scientist at the Finance University, says that the central government has been alarmed by the increasing willingness of regional leaders to strike out on their own, especially during the pandemic, and is now re-tightening the screws because it views any such moves as the first step toward secession (

·         Putin Doesn’t Want Gay Marriages Russians Contract Abroad Recognized in Russia. Vladimir Putin has sent a draft law to the Duma to eliminate a loophole that some Russian gays and lesbians had used to get around the existing prohibition on gay marriage in Russia. Many of them had travelled abroad and been married there. Russian officials have recognized such unions up to now; but if Putin’s proposal passes, they no longer will (

·         Moscow Plans to Approach Central Asian Countries According to Common Formula. Over the last 30 years, Moscow has adopted an increasingly variegated approach to the five countries in what was once Soviet Central Asia. But now, Central Asian commentators say, it wants to treat with them according to a common formula (

·         Sobyanin Supports Combining Regional Capitals. In what appears to be a backhanded way to promote the amalgamation of federal subjects, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin says he favors combining the capitals of regions so that they can become millionaire cities and development hubs (

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