Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Moscow Patriarchate May Stop Blessing Nuclear Weapons – and Eight Other Instructive Russian Stories

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 24 – One of the most outrageous actions of the Russian Orthodox Church in recent years has been the blessings of Russian nuclear weapons by priests. But now voices are being raised in the Moscow Patriarchate against this violation of Christian doctrine and good sense and it may stop (ahilla.ru/rpts-mozhet-zapretit-osvyashhat-oruzhie-massovogo-porazheniya/).

            That is very much positive news, but not all the stories coming out of Russia are equally positive. In recent days, there have many numerous reports that are anything but good.  Below is a selection of eight that seem particularly instructive about where Russia is now and where it may be heading:

·         Poverty can be cured by not talking about it, Putin spokesman says. Poverty exists in Russia, Dmitry Peskov acknowledges; but he says that it is best for people not to talk so much about it but rather simply get down to work. To help them, those who talk about poverty should be fined. In that way, he says, “poverty in Russia  can be defeated” (1prime.ru/state_regulation/20190618/830082171.html).

·         Rising prices force Russians to buy more vodka in smaller bottles. Rising prices and falling incomes are changing the vodka market in Russia: people are purchasing more vodka in smaller bottles (vedomosti.ru/business/articles/2019/06/19/804494-rossiyane-vodku). The Russian government wants to change the alcohol market in another way. It has proposed requiring Russian restaurants to list Russian wines ahead of imports (meduza.io/news/2019/06/20/v-pravitelstve-predlozhili-obyazat-restorany-ukazyvat-v-menyu-snachala-rossiyskie-vina).

·         Daghestani journalist’s arrest leads to media campaign like one for Golunov in Moscow. One of the most powerful efforts on behalf of Moscow journalist Ivan Golunov was the decision by leading newspapers to run a common first page in support of him. Daghestani media outlets have decided on the same tactic in response to the arrest there of journalist Abdulmumin Gadzhiyev. So far, it hasn’t worked, however (ndelo.ru/novosti/vedushie-dagestanskie-ezhenedelniki-vyjdut-s-odinakovoj-pervoj-polosoj-yamy-abdulmumin-gadzhiev).

·         Roma being attacked across Russia. Penza oblast is far from the only place where Roma are being subject to public attacks and official indifference. Among the many places where they are openly discriminated against, the Roma are suffering in particular in Irkutsk (mk.ru/social/2019/06/18/novaya-tragediya-s-uchastiem-cygan-razygralas-v-irkutske.html).

·         Circassian returnee from Jordan tortured by FSB for more than a year on trumped up charges.  Orkhan Berseiko, an Ubykh who returned to the North Caucasus eight years ago, was arrested and then tortured by the FSB for more than a year because he had made a video calling on his fellow Circassians to return home.  He was kept incommunicado but his family finally secured his release by paying off officials involved (http://circassiancenter.org/permalink/92274.html).

·         Petrozavodsk Friendship Tree to be cut down to make room for War Memorial. Residents and architects in the Karelian capital are outraged that officials plan to cut down a Friendship Tree in honor of the city’s sister city relationships abroad in order to have room to erect yet another memorial celebrating Russia’s military glory.  They are circulating a petition demanding that the authorities cease and desist making military prowess more important than friendship (region.expert/friendship_tree/).

·         Putin further restricts sale of foreign print media in Russia. The Kremlin’s plans to cut off the Russian segment of the Internet from the world wide web have attracted considerable attention, but its actual moves to restrict the sale of print media from abroad have not. Vladimir Putin has now issued new rules requiring additional registration of and thus imposing more restrictions on the sale of anything printed abroad (kremlin.ru/acts/news/60773).

·         Environmental Crimes in Krasnoyarsk Kray Alone Inflicting 50 billion rubles in damages every year. Whie Moscow says that Russia is losing only 12 billion rubles (200 million US dollars) from economic crimes, activists in Krasnoyarsk say that the actual figure is many times that. In there region alone, they put the annual losses from such violations, many by Chinese firms working with Russian oligarchs, at more than four times that amount (afterempire.info/2019/06/19/ecologic_robbery/).

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