Friday, September 18, 2015

A Baker’s Dozen of Neglected Russian Stories This Week – No. 2

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 18 -- The flood of news stories from a country as large, diverse and often strange as the Russian Federation often appears to be is far too large for anyone to keep up with. But there needs to be a way to mark those which can’t be discussed in detail but which are too indicative of broader developments to ignore.

            Consequently, Windows on Eurasia will present a selection of 13 of these other and typically neglected stories at the end of each week. This is the second such weekly compilation. It is only suggestive and far from complete, but perhaps one or more of these stories will prove of broader interest.

1.      Holy Water Against Election Observers.  A Russian Orthodox priest from Moscow came to Krasnodar to ensure that there would be no violations in the holding of recent elections. His primary concern appears to have been to use holy water as a means of blocking election observers from watching the vote (

2.      Inmates of Irkutsk Prison Cast 103 Percent of Their Votes for United Russia.  Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov now has a competitor in Russian elections.  According to one report, prisoners cast more than 100 percent of their votes for the pro-Kremlin United Russia party (

3.      Three More Revenants from the Soviet Past. One group of Duma deputies wants to return “wrecking” as a crime, more than 80 percent of Russians want the return of sobering up stations, and there is now talk of introducing ration cards to some Russians (,, and

4.      ‘We Thought We were Going to Fight in Donbas, Not Syria.’ Russian politicians and Russian military personnel have long had problems with geography, arguing that they are not in Ukraine when they clearly are. Now, a new problem has arisen: some contract soldiers have discovered they are being sent to Syria even though they thought they were going to Ukraine’s Donbas (

5.      Novosibirsk Man Wants Authorities to Determine Whether Bible Passages are Extremist (

6.      Zhirinovsky Wants Reference to ‘Fraternal Peoples’ Dropped from Russian Hymn. Outspoken LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky says there is no reason for there to be any reference to Russia’s “fraternal peoples” because there are no such peoples (

7.      In China, Putin is Not the Most Popular Russian Politician; Lenin Is.  The current Russian president with his vaunted “turn to the east” may not be pleased by reports in the Chinese media that he is not the most popular Russian leader among the Chinese. Instead, surveys show, Lenin is (

8.      Russians Prefer to Travel to Crimea than to Moscow.  Russians are having to cut back on their travel because of the economic crisis. A new Levada Center poll says they’d rather go to Crimea than to the Russian capital (

9.      The Russian Orthodox Church Really Wants to Turn Back the Clock.  Many have criticized the drive by the Moscow Patriarchate to restore things from the past; they may be especially alarmed by the fact that some in the hierarchy want to restore the pre-Petrine calendar in order to distinguish Russia even more clearly from the West (

10.  Ever Harder to Distinguish Journalists from Admen, Professor Says.  Igor Yakovenko who teaches journalism in Moscow says that with each passing year, it is becoming ever more difficult for him to distinguish between those of his students who want to become journalists and those who want to work in advertising and propaganda (

11.  TASS Creates Portal to Give Real Truth on North Caucasus.  At a time when various internet sites provide enormous information on the North Caucasus but information not always to Moscow’s liking, TASS has announced that it is creating one to provide the real truth about developments there (

12.  Bill Collectors Getting Really Ugly. As the Russian economy deteriorates, bill collectors are adopting ever more aggressive measures to get people to pay up their debts (

13.  Russians Could Celebrate New Year Any Month They Like.  The various nationalities in the Russian Federation diverge in many ways, including when they mark new year.  There are so many of those holidays that by travelling around, Russians could mark the new year almost anytime they wanted. A few correspond with each other: thus, the Jews and the Pomors share a common date (

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