Staunton, January 20 -- The flood of news stories from a country as large, diverse and 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 presents a selection of 13 of these other and typically neglected stories at the end of each week. This is the 67th such compilation. It is only suggestive and far from complete – indeed, once again, one could have put out such a listing every day -- but perhaps one or more of these stories will prove of broader interest.
1. Question of the Week: Why Did Putin Say Russia’s Prostitutes were ‘Best in the World’? Vladimir Putin’s comments about reports that Donald Trump cavorted with prostitutes in Moscow continues to fascinate Russians, with many of them asking what prompted the Kremlin leader to say that Russia’s prostitutes are “the best in the world.” Some think he did so just because for him, everything in Russia is better, but others wonder whether this reflects his own experience either professionally or personally (ru.krymr.com/a/28241956.htmlng.ru/economics/2017-01-18/100_putin180117.htmlznak.com/2017-01-19/eks_mer_zayavil_chto_s_chinovnikov_berut_platu_za_dostup_na_sovechaniya_s_uchastiem_prezidentaura.ru/news/1052273992
2. Trump’s Right on the Money – Russian Money. A Russian arms manufacturer has minted a one kilo silver coin in honor of Donald Trump’s inauguration at US president and plans to send him a copy (edition.cnn.com/2017/01/10/europe/russia-donald-trump-street) and, in a more serious development, Kremlin-controlled media changed their headlines immediately when a story about a Putin-Trump meeting that the Kremlin had floated turned out not to be true (http://www.palmerreport.com/opinion/russian-media-outlet-completely-changes-headline-donald-trump-denies/894/rawstory.com/2017/01/penthouse-may-have-proof-of-trumps-golden-shower-tryst-at-moscow-hotel/).
ura.ru/news/1052274310regnum.ru/news/polit/2228688.htmlrbc.ru/society/13/01/2017/5878cb179a7947fa96f0a487), the Russian government is considering cutting its anti-crisis program by 80 percent (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=587C81CDB689Eecho.msk.ru/blog/nikolaev_i/1911044-echo/forum-msk.org/material/news/12713089.html), Moscow admits it doesn’t have enough money to hold or deport criminals (ng.ru/politics/2017-01-17/3_6904_priemnik.html), Russian inequality of incomes is now at the highest point ever (ng.ru/economics/2017-01-17/1_6904_unequal.htmlrbc.ru/business/17/01/2017/587ce1019a7947d372915bda?from=mainprofile.ru/economics/item/114658-novogodnie-tratyregnum.ru/news/economy/2228206.htmlrbc.ru/rbcfreenews/587ddd6d9a794750f68cf2be?from=main
Moscow’s Repressive Measures Only Get Worse. According to one commentator, Russian legislators “liberalized” only two things last year: they passed a law allowing parents to beat their children and they passed a second allowing jailors to do the same thing (facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1373856419345592&set=a.375365079194736.85895.100001637412695&type=3&theater). The Kudrin Center says that Russian laws are becoming increasingly repressive across the board (rbc.ru/society/18/01/2017/587f27ff9a794774e2f0bdae?from=mainhttp://forum-msk.org/material/society/12705995.htmlvedomosti.ru/technology/articles/2017/01/12/672645-zakon-yarovoirbc.ru/society/16/01/2017/587cf7679a7947e59a7f2745?from=mainruskline.ru/analitika/2011/01/14/grigorianskij_kalendar_plod_katolicheskogo_imperializma/). The FSB is seeking and almost certainly will get more money to enforce the new repressive laws (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=587F10EE6E5EC
Monuments War Expands and Goes International The fight over whether St. Isaac’s cathedral in St. Petersburg should be returned to the Russian Orthodox church dominated the news in this sector over the past week, with many furious that the Russian government plans to continue to subsidize it once it is privatized but to allow the church to keep all the profits (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2017/01/14/71143-krysha-nad-kupolom and paperpaper.ru/photos/sxod-isaakiy/rline.tv/news/2016-12-15-eltsin-tsentr-potreboval-reabilitatsii-vlasovtsev-nazvav-ikh-dissidentami-40-kh-godov/), and the fight over removing Lenin from the mausoleum heated up with some saying he should be kept there “without heart or a brain” as “an art object” (znak.com/2016-12-09/rezhisser_belorusskogo_vokzala). In related developments, the Russian Orthodox Church put out a list of all the jobs priests can’t take, including bankers (camarade.biz/node/25146echo.msk.ru/blog/echomsk/1911168-echo/
Russian Participation in International Athletic Competitions Increasingly at Risk. Russian participation in international athletic competitions and its ability to host any of them, including the 2018 World Cup, appears increasingly unlikely. Not only are more foreign athletes and sports organizations calling for a ban on Russian participation and hosting (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=587B596D2971F andkp.ru/daily/26629/3648587/) and Vitaly Mutko, who oversees Russian sports for the Kremlin and apparently was deeply involved in Moscow’s doping effort, has now proposed a fallback position. He says that it will be entirely OK if Russian athletes take part in competitions under a neutral flag because, he says, “we will know that they are Russians” (
Moscow Now a Leader among Dictatorships Making Secret Flights to Switzerland. Russians love to know where their country is a leader except when where they are a leader is anything but a point of honor and dignity (cf. politikus.ru/industry/89182-40-sfer-liderstva-rossii.html). According to a new international report, Russia has now joined the very top of dictatorships in the world sending secret flights to Switzerland, presumably to put cash into numbered accounts (politsovet.ru/54211-rossiya-popala-v-reyting-poletov-diktatorov-v-zhenevu.htmlgraniru.org/Politics/World/m.258076.htmlrussialies.com/russias-top-240-lies-international-edition/
bbc.com/russian/features-38613216?). But both experts on Muslims and on immigrants say this tactic will be counterproductive with most migrants viewing it as patronizing or worse (islamio.ru/news/policy/eksperty_v_shoke_ot_pamyatki_migrantam/fergananews.com/articles/9236
Kremlin Urged to Start a Real Cold War in the Arctic. Moscow should have responded to Western sanctions by declaring a cold war where it is really cold, the Arctic, one Moscow analyst says (nvo.ng.ru/realty/2017-01-13/10_932_arctic.htmlthebarentsobserver.com/en/industry-and-energy/2017/01/russian-arctic-ports-have-best-year-ever
A Reminder to Putin: Stalin’s Great Grandson is Unemployed. People of great power or wealth always assume that their descendants will be well taken care of. But it doesn’t always work out that way, and a news story this week called attention to that fact to Russia’s current bosses: Stalin’s great grandson is unemployed and spends his time trying to make ends meet and collecting Soviet toys (snob.ru/selected/entry/119447
And six more from countries in the neighborhood of Russia:
Lithuania Wants to Build Wall on Kaliningrad Border – and Kaliningrad Wants to Sell It the Bricks. The Lithuanian government says that it wants to erect a wall along its western border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, and in response, the Kaliningrad authorities say they will be happy to sell Vilnius the bricks to do it (http://echo.msk.ru/news/1910038-echo.htmlng.ru/news/568371.html
2. Another Russian Crime in Ukraine: Russian Invasion Making Ukrainians Aggresive. Wars and invasions often have terrible consequences far from the war zone proper. One of them is the spread of aggression among the people who have been attacked as well as among those who have done the attacking. That has happened in Ukraine now as a result of Moscow’s actions, officials say (graniru.org/tags/ukrograni/m.257935.html).
Nakhchivan Again Emerges from the Shadows. Twenty-six years ago today as Soviet troops attacked Baku in what has become known as Black January, the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan voted to leave the USSR, two months before Lithuania voted to recover its independence (znak.com/2017-01-20/v_eti_dni_v_1990_godu_s_vosstaniya_v_azerbaydzhane_nachalsya_yuridicheskiy_razval_sovetskogo_soyuzaregnum.ru/news/polit/2226796.html and azertag.az/xeber/Alahidde_Umumqosun_Ordusunun_N_sayli_herbi_hissesindeki_esger_yataqxanasinin_ve_Asgeri_Meiset_Kompleksinin_achilisi_olub-1025703
4. There is Life in Belarus Outside of Minsk. In all too many post-Soviet states and not just there, many people assume that the only places that matter are the major cities especially when the political capital is in the same place as the economic and social one. But in Belarus as in some others, some young people are moving to what others denigrate as “the provinces” and bringing new life to depressed areas (charter97.org/ru/news/2017/1/14/237648/).
Seven Million Crimean Tatars Now Live in Turkey, Ukrainian Ambassador Says. Ukraine’s ambassador to Ankara says that there are now some seven million Crimean Tatars living in Turkey, a figure which is almost 30 times their number in the Russian-occupied Ukrainian peninsula and a reminder of what would happen were they to return there (turantoday.com/2017/01/crimean-tatars-ukraine-turkey-diaspora.html