Friday, August 31, 2018

A Baker’s Dozen of Russian Stories on a Single Day that Shouldn’t Be Missed

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 30 – Some days, especially on those when a single story like Vladimir Putin’s speech about pension reform overwhelms most coverage, the number of other stories likely to be missed climbs dramatically, sometimes intentionally because those behind them don’t want them noticed but often quite accidentally especially in the dog days of late August.

            Today, there were at least 13 that should not be missed. They are simply listed below with sources for those who want to go into any of them more deeply:

1.      2100 Russian Schools Lack Indoor Plumbing and Medvedev Wants to Punish Governors.  At the present time, there are more than 2100 Russian schools lacking indoor plumbing and whose pupils must continue to rely on outhouses. Some are in non-Russian areas, but a remarkable number are in rural parts of more developed Russian ones. Now, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev wants to address the problem by imposing punishments on governors who have not solved this problem (

2.      As Oil Era Ends, Russians Ask Why Norway has Money for Next Five Generations while Russia Doesn’t Even for One.  As the era of oil approaches it end, Russians are asking a new question: why has Norway been able to salt away enough money from its oil profits to secure that country’s development for the next five generations while Russia hasn’t enough even for the current one. The answers of course are the corruption of the Russian elites and Moscow’s enormous spending on aggressive wars (

3.      Rising Death Rates Prompt Russia to Rewrite Funeral Laws. As the number of deaths in Russia rises, Moscow is redrawing the laws governing funerals and cemeteries not only to allow more for-profit activities but to ensure that the sector will not collapse entirely ( One reason deaths are up is alcoholism: Russia now ranks third in total number of deaths from alcohol among the countries of the world and first in per capita deaths among the heaviest drinking ones (

4.      Moscow’s Reputation Ranks Last among 56 World Capitals. According to a new rating, Moscow ranks dead last among 56 major capital cities in terms of its reputation among foreigners (

5.      Russian Pensioners Increasingly Renting Their Housing to Supplement Income. One aspect of Russia’s pension system has been largely ignored: Many pensioners own their own apartments and are now renting them out to others, moving in with children or to dachas, as a way of making their retirement incomes go further (

6.      Is the CIS Going to Become a Truly Criminal Enterprise? Thieves in law in Uzbekistan have voted to allow their Russian criminal counterparts to be the final court of appeal for disputes among them in that Central Asian republic (

7.      ‘We Weren’t Torturing Anyone,’ Jailors in Buryatia Say; ‘We were Just Joking Around.’ When a video surfaced showing jailors in the Buryat republic torturing inmates, the jailors responded that they weren’t torturing anyone but rather were just “joking around” (

8.      Two Russians in Three Ready to Settle Abroad Permanently to Get Better Pay. Two-thirds of Russians in a new poll say they would leave Russia and settle abroad permanently if that meant they could get better pay (  Many of them are doing so already: Russians now rank after only Morocco and Turkey in terms of foreign workers now employed in EU countries (

9.      55 Percent of Russians Back Criminal Sanctions for Reposting on Line.  A majority of Russians say that criminal sanctions including prison should be imposed on those who repost extremist materials online (

10.  First Invade, Then Invest – Russia’s Strategy in Ukraine. Although Russia has invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea, Russia is now the largest foreign investor in Ukraine, something it is already leveraging to affect Kyiv’s policies (

11.  Fashion Designer Comes Up with Strait Jackets for Different Social Strata of Russians. As ever more Russians are being fitted for strait jackets, a fashion designer has come up with special ones to suit the various social classes and strata into which Russian society has dissolved. Now, a wealthy Russian can look different than a poor one even when he is being taken to the same mental hospital (

12.  Rosstat’s Latest Discovery: Villagers in Moscow Healthier than People in Real Villages.  Moscow, it is sometimes said, is a big village; but Rosstat, the Russian government’s statistical arm has taken that notion beyond the point of absurdity. It has published figures showing that villagers within the confines of Moscow are healthier than villagers in real villagers (

13.  Vorkuta and Norilsk Two of 300 Russian Cities Likely to Disappear before 2200.  Russia’s population is declining so rapidly that more than 300 of its existing cities are likely to become ghost towns before the end of this century, experts say. Among them are two of the most notorious GULAG center, Vorkuta and Norilsk (

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