Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Priorities in Age of Putin: Dogs Slated to Appear in Military Parade Get Vaccinated When Many Regions Don’t have Medication

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 30 – Sometimes it is the small things that define an age. Perhaps one of those has just occurred in Putin’s Russia: dogs scheduled to appear in the May Victory Day parade in St. Petersburg are beginning vaccinated for the coronavirus even though many Russians still can’t get the shots because of shortages (

            In some federal subjects, the share of the human population vaccinated remains extremely low. Daghestan has the lowest percentage of all, just 0.83 percent or 25,665 people ( Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov rarely talks about logistical shortcomings but he does say that many in his country aren’t getting vaccinated because of what he calls “our national characteristics” – suspiciousness (

            Russian officials reported that they have registered 8277 new cases of infection and 409 new deaths from the coronavirus over the last 24 hours, both figures up slightly from recent days ( They also said that 119.9 million tests for the disease have been carried out in Russia so far (

            Despite improvements in the epidemiological situation in most places, some continue to feature increases in infections, hospitalizations and deaths, forcing officials to extend or tighten enforcement of restrictions designed to contain the pandemic (  and

            On the vaccine front, Peskov said the Kremlin is pleased that more prominent officials are getting vaccinated as Vladimir Putin just has and that it hopes that more ordinary Russians will now follow suit (, and

            Having had the infection and recovered, however, Peskov says that he personally has no plans to get the shots (

            On the economic front, analysts celebrated what they described as Russia’s outstanding performance in response to the pandemic. For the first time ever, they said, Russia had done better than the rest of the world in coping with a crisis (

            And they welcome the fact that few of the apocalyptic predictions of a year ago about either health or the economy have proved to be true (

            But that crisis has hit ordinary Russians extremely hard. In St. Petersburg, the number of officially unemployed has more than tripled over the last year ( Outside of Moscow, 44 media outlets have closed, and 40 percent of journalists have lost their jobs (

            Meanwhile, Russian commentators sharply criticized the fall of the government in Slovakia where the issue leading to that change was the previous regime’s decision to purchase and use Russia’s Sputnik-5 vaccine. Such a course of events, they suggested, was ridiculous (

Russian Officials Deny There are Any Political Prisoners in Russia, ‘but Everyone Knows They Exist,’ Romanova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 29 – Since World War II, Russia like most countries has denied that it has any political prisoners, claiming that individuals have been sentenced for ordinary crimes rather than for their political beliefs. But Olga Romanova says, “everyone knows that they exist” and that there is still a divide between ordinary criminals and political ones.

            Public recognition of that reality in Russia has increased dramatically with the sentencing of Aleksey Navalny, the commentator writes in an essay published by the Moscow Carnegie Center, and that has made the issue of political prisoners a more serious and more frequent problem for the regime (

            With Navalny’s incarceration, “the situation in Russian jails and especially everything connected with jail medicine and other important rights have come to be of interest for literally everyone; and Russian human rights activists have found it easier to explain the real problems connected with the rights of the convicts.”

            Opponents of Navalny are upset that he has been given access to medical care not given to other prisoners, but his supporters are worried because he has been confined in one of the few prison camps – IK2 in Pokrov -- where ordinary prisoners aren’t organized and thus where the administration makes all the decisions.

            One consequence of this expanded public attention to conditions within Russian prisons has been the publication of various guides to the prison camp system and of articles about conditions there. For an example of the former, see Romanova’s article is a particularly insightful example of the latter.

            Until 1945, Moscow acknowledged that it had political prisoners, but after that time, it refused to. And in fact, it eliminated most of the political paragraphs in the criminal code under which they had been sentenced. But that did not mean that there were no political prisoners, only that the regime wouldn’t acknowledge that status.

            Since 2014, however, the Russian criminal code does have at least one political article, Paragraph 212.1, which imposes punishment for violating rules governing the holding of meetings, Romanova says, adding that in the future more such “political” paragraphs are likely to be added.

            As of now, only two people have received real time behind bars for violating this article, Ildar Dadin and Konstantin Kotov. But more are likely to in the current environment. Nonetheless, according to the Memorial human rights organization, there are now 349 political prisoners in Russia jails and camps.

            The overwhelming majority of these – 288 – are in jail for their religious practices, be they Jehovah’s Witnesses or various Muslim groups. The issue of who is a political prisoner and who is not, of course, is not a simple one. Many benefit by claiming to be political prisoners, but it should be kept in mind that “illegal persecution and political persecution are different things.”

            Moreover, those who are genuinely political prisoners are likely to be treated differently both by others behind bars and by the population at large. In Stalin’s time, these were “two worlds” and each tried to avoid the other except when the jailors set the ordinary criminals on the political ones.

            In Brezhnev’s times up to the beginning of Gorbachev’s, many ordinary criminals treated political prisoners with greater respect, especially since there was always the chance that they might be exchanged for Soviet citizens held in the West. Gorbachev freed the politicals, and there were none until Yeltsin incarcerated some of the putschists from August 1991 and the Supreme Soviet activists in October 1993.

            The current era of political prisoners in Russia began with the rise of Vladimir Putin to power, Romanova says. According to Mariya Eismont, a lawyer who has often defended political, those incarcerated for religious reasons are mostly treated normally. Those charged with crimes like extremism or terrorism much less so.

            Eismont says that “the situation in various zones can be different. A clear example is the famous IK-2 in Pokrov where Konstantin Kotov was confined and where Aleksey Navalny now is.” The lawyer says that it represents a special case precisely because the ordinary prisoners haven’t been able to form their own structure or committee to organize things.

            But everyone there knows the difference between the ordinary criminals and the political, Eismont continues. She recalls that when she asked the deputy head of that camp why Kotov couldn’t study or write letters, she was told “because he is a political,” confirmation of what the authorities work so hard to deny.

Academicians Bury Report on Siberian Environment Lest They Create Problems for Regime Candidates in Duma Elections

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 29 – The presidium of the Siberian division of the Russian Academy of Sciences decided to classify a report its members had prepared on environmental degradation in that region lest its publication act “like a bomb” before the elections. But in so doing, they not only discredited themselves but attracted more attention to the findings in the report.

            The Siberian academicians removed the report from its website, and one of their number, Aleksey Kontorovich observing that the scholars didn’t have the right to publish something that could cause problems like sparking public debate about the environment (

            But that very public action of restricting access to the report had two consequences neither of which the academics or their institution expected or can really afford. On the hand, it had the effect, since much of the data had been released, of attracting even more attention to just how bad things are with the air and water the people of Siberia are now contending with.

            And on the other, it discredited the whole notion of academic integrity that has long been the basis of support for that institution.  Indeed, the fact that the report was classified not by the regional or federal governments but by members of the Academy of science shocked more people than the report itself (

            The Russian people expect the political authorities to restrict the flow of information, but they don’t expect academicians to do so. That the latter are now engaged in such classification efforts shows just how much pressure the scholars are under. That is an indictment of both politicians and scholars and will only lead to more cynicism among Russians.

            It will also mean that Russian academicians will have lost for many in Siberia and beyond the kind of respect and deference they have long enjoyed, something that will mean these new defenders of the Putin system and its approach won’t be able to count on popular support if and when the politicians attack them. 

Prosecution’s Star ‘Secret’ Witness Against Ingush Seven Fails to Give Evidence of Their Guilt

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 29 – At today’s session of the trial of the Ingush Seven, the prosecution’s star “secret” witness took the stand but was unable to provide any useable evidence of their guilt. Indeed, his testimony was so strained that finally a defense lawyer suggested he should try just telling the truth ( and

            Two of the defendants, Barakh Chemurziyev and Akhmed Barakhoyev are feeling better since they ended their hunger strike, lawyers say, although Zarifa Sautiyeva, also a defendant and the person they called the hunger strike about to protest her return to the detention center, asked that they be given medical exams. Their jailors refused (

Sautiyeva’s lawyer said she needed to be examined as well. It is no problem to get her any medications she needs, but unless detention center guards allow doctors to come in, there is no way to know which medications Sautiyeva or the others need or the amounts they should take.

Many of the Ingush Moscow and Magas have put in detention for long periods of time are elderly and face serious medical problems. Some of them are in fact old enough to have been born when the Ingush nation was deported to Central Asia by Stalin (

Because this week is the second anniversary of the protests that led to the arrests for which the Ingush Seven and others are now being tried, the Fortanga news agency interviewed three experts on the case, lawyer Magomed Bekov, rights activist Magomed Mustolgov, and a second rights activist Karina Moskalenko.

They were unanimous in saying that the Ingush case is “unprecedented” and is being carried out by the powers that be who despite calls for talks have proven deaf to such entreaties. As a result, the situation in the republic remains dire (

Turkey Finalizes Plan for Canal Bypassing Bosphorus, Mulls Denouncing Montreux Convention

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 29 – Two new developments in Turkey are likely to have a profound impact on Russia and other Black Sea littoral states: Ankara announced it has finalized plans for a canal bypassing the Bosphorus after completing environmental surveys, and a prominent member of Turkey’s ruling party said Ankara may soon exit the 1936 Montreux Convention.

            The first of these means that ships will be able to enter and exit the Black Sea without going through the clogged waters of the Bosphorus; the second that Turkey may unilaterally end the restrictions on the passage of warships that the international community imposed on Ankara nearly a century ago.

            They are linked in that the new canal from the point of view of Turks would not be subject to Montreux restrictions in any case but its existence and Turkey’s increasing self-confidence and independent-mindedness means that Ankara may finally take a step many Turks have seen as demeaning.

            Two days ago, Murat Kurum, Turkey’s environmental affairs minister, tweeted that all required consultations with those living along the route of the proposed canal have been completed and the project can go forward (

            The 9.2 billion US dollar project, located 100 kilometers to the west of Istanbul, has been talked about for a decade to reduce risk of accidents in Istanbul but has not moved forward because of questions about financing and objections by Turks living in the region through which it will pass. Kurum’s statement suggests that at least the first of these has now been overcome.

Meanwhile and reacting to the criticism Turkey has received for withdrawing from the Istanbul Convention about the prevention of violence against women, Ankara has raised the possibility that it may withdraw from an agreement even more sensitive as far as much of the international community is concerned (

            That is the 1937 Montreux Convention governing the passage of warships through the Turkish straits during peacetime, limiting both the number and the tonnage of ships belonging to other than Black Sea littoral states. (For details on that agreement and what its modification or annulment might mean, see

            In remarks on Haberturk TV cited by Russia’s Rex news agency, Mustapha Septop, the speaker of Turkey’s parliament, said that his country’s president could withdraw Turkey from the Montreux Convention in the same fashion and just as easily as he has withdrawn from the Istanbul Convention.

            If Turkey were to withdraw from the convention, that would effectively mean that the accord would be a dead letter, given that the accord’s provisions govern how Turkey must treat ships passing through its waters. Consequently, even the threat to do so is likely to unsettle diplomatic waters far from its coastline.


To Keep Power, Moscow Now Using Terror Against Its Own Population, Pastukhov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 29 – By its recent actions, including the arrest of relatives of those who oppose the regime, the powers that be in the Russian capital have shown that they have adopted terror as a means against the population and thus have implicitly acknowledged the existence of a civil war in the Russian Federation, Vladimir Pastukhov says.

            Increasingly, the regime is using the FSB’s Service for the Defense of the Constitutional Order and the Struggle with Terrorism against its political opponents, the London-based Russian analyst says, and that service’s officers are inclined to use the same methods against the opposition they use against terrorists (

            “This is a manifestation of civil war,” Pastukhov argues, because now the opposition is being treated not as an element of society against which laws can be deployed but as an outlaw formation that the regime can use any methods it wants to in order to suppress some and intimidate others.

            “In principle,” he says, this is like when the Bolsheviks declared the Red Terror,” and one can thus say that Russia now has “the Putin terror,” a move designed to suppress those “who do not agree with the new anti-democratic construction of Russian society which the regime has offered.”

            According to Pastukhov, this shift in state policy happened not because of Navalny and his supporters but rather “the return of Navalny became a trigger for the crossing of some sort of red line” in the regime’s thinking. Up until now, some in the regime wanted to continue to play with the opposition, but now they have lost to those who want suppression as such.

            In part, this reflects a response within the ruling circles in Moscow to the events in Ukraine and especially Belarus, a fear without justification in fact that Russia is on the road toward a color revolution of its own and that the powers must suppress anyone who might be thinking about taking part in it.

            By deploying terror, whose audience is not individuals but society as a whole, the regime is forcing Russians to choose among three options: keeping their heads down and avoiding any involvement in politics, taking a chance by doing so, or leaving the country in order to be able to live as they want.

            Most will choose the first in response to terror, Pastukhov argues. But the real problem is that “99 percent of the so-called liberal-democratic opposition in Russia consists of people who quite easily will exchange their political positions for all kinds of material benefits” and thus won’t challenge a regime which offers them carrots as well as sticks.

            In other comments, Pastukhov suggests that at present, the efforts of historian Denis Karagodin to track down those who persecuted his ancestors represents an even greater threat to the regime and those who want to use terror than anything Navalny and his supporters have done or may do.

            The historian is in the business of destroying the myth that terrorism was justified because of the victory in World War II. That is what the entire Putin edifice is based on and what allows those who engage in repression to assume that they will remain untouchable. If that confidence is destroyed, then it will be far harder for repression to continue.

            The problem is, Pastukhov continues, is that those engaged in repression are now operating as a self-directed machine. Putin is ever less important concerning what they do in specific cases because the machine has its own goals which are reinforced by the rewards it has been able and will be able to give to its officers.

            And the logic of that machine, the analyst argues, is to become ever harsher leading to the point where “if the enemy doesn’t surrender, he must be destroyed.” Indeed, “we are approaching that stage” already.

            What is important to keep in mind is that the Putin regime does not have the ambition to convince everyone. It doesn’t care very much about the 14 percent of the population that opposes it and even allows them to live on “reservations” the Kremlin has established. There, like “European Indians,” they are free to talk and complain with one important limitation.

            They must not seek to reach out beyond their own ranks. Navalny has violated that by hammering on the single theme of corruption in the hopes of expanding his political base. For the Kremlin and the security structures, that is intolerable; and now they want to destroy him for making that effort.

Northern Sea Route isn’t About to Replace Suez Canal, Russian Analysts Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 29 – As the world watched as a single ship blocked the Suez Canal this past week, some in Moscow suggested that this even suggested that the world would now turn to Russia’s Northern Sea Route as a better alternative (

            The Nezygar telegram channel agreed that the accident in the Suez canal highlights the dangers of relying on any single route but suggested that a single accident is not enough to reroute shipping between Europe and Asia completely as Moscow may hope ( reposted at

            The reasons for Russian expectations lie both in the fact that its favored Northern Sea Route is both shorter and far wider than the Suez Canal, but declining fuel prices, on the one hand, and the greater costs arising from the need for icebreakers, on the other, mean that the Russian route is not as advantageous as Moscow analysts think, the telegram channel suggests.

            Moreover, the Northern Sea Route has its own risks because of ice, something that could delay passage far longer than the Ever Given has blocked traffic on the Suez Canal. But the Northern Sea Route has another disadvantage, one that there is little chance the Russian side will be able to correct anytime soon.

            “The most important element as far as the attractiveness of a sea route is concerned is well-developed port infrastructure,” the outlet continues. It isn’t time at sea that is critical in financial calculations but the ability to arrive “just in rime” and offload quickly onto land-based transportation.

            On both sides of the Suez, there are many such ports with that ability. “But today, along the Northern Sea Route, there is only one deep-water port, Murmansk,” and it is not connected via highway and train in ways that make it an attractive option for shippers, given the likelihood of bottlenecks on land even if the sea route is traversed more quickly.

            As ships carry more containers, they can use only those ports which have sufficient depth. But as of now, the ports for ships using the Suez Canal are already deeper, while nearly all those along the Northern Sea Route must be significantly deepened and expanded if they are to be competitive.

            Over time, Russia might be able to correct this situation, the channel says; but there is another factor that Moscow seems to have ignored at its peril as far as trade is concerned. At present, most Chinese exports go not to Europe but to the United States. Thus, the number of ships Beijing might want to send via the Northern Sea Route will be smaller than Moscow hopes.

            And that of course means that even if Russia adopts policies intended to deepen its ports and build on-land transportation infrastructure to service them, it may discover that it will not see any return on such investments at anything like the rate or in the amount that many in Moscow now assume is inevitable.

A Large Share of Excessive Deaths in Russia in 2020 Came Not from Covid but from Inadequate Medical Care, Saversky Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 29 – The Russian government has been all too ready to blame the increase in deaths in the country over the last year entirely on the pandemic, Aleksandr Saversky, head of the Social Council for the Defense of Patients, says. But in fact, a large share of the increase reflected shortcomings in the healthcare system more generally.

            That means that while the mortality rate may fall somewhat in 2021 and succeeding years, it is unlikely to return to pre-2020 levels unless and until the government spends more on the healthcare system as a whole, something it has been reluctant to do up to now (

            Today, Moscow reported registering 8711 new cases of covid infection and 293 new deaths, both the lowest figures since early last fall, as the pandemic continued to ebb across most of the country despite some continuing hotspots where these statistics actually increased ( and

            Russian officials were generally upbeat about the situation, with the Kremlin confirming that the May 9 Victory Parade will take place and that restrictions will soon be lifted (,, and

            But there was one dark spot that affects Russians across the country. Officials say that quarantine requirements are likely to prevent summer camps for children to operate at anything like their normal level again this year and that most young people will have to spend the summer at home (

            On the vaccine front, commentator Sergey Markov says that Russia must make a dramatic comeback if it is to take the leadership in the battle of vaccines. After being the first to develop a medication, it has not inoculated nearly as high a percentage of its population as some other countries (

            One reason for that is a lack of public trust in the vaccine, something Moscow writers complain the West is playing up for competitive advantage (, and  

But other reasons include a lack of productive capacity, something that has forced Moscow to seek to have its vaccine manufactured abroad ( and inadequate distribution networks, which mean that 57 regions have had shortages of vaccine (

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Kremlin Should Be More Worried about Inflation than about Navalny, Tarasov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 28 – Rising prices and the disappearance of some goods from food stores has led many Russians to conclude that a wider variety of products than just sugar and oil are in short supply and will soon disappear. Such conclusions, Aleksey Tarasov says, are a greater threat to the Kremlin than Aleksey Navalny is.

            The Novaya gazeta commentator says that in advance of Navalny’s return, the Kremlin decided to slow or stop prices rises for those two commodities. But its approach didn’t work because of the nature of the producers and the sellers and because Russians drew the wrong conclusions (

            Sugar production is dominated by three large companies, and they are only too happy to have prices set at a level where their profits are guaranteed, experts with whom Tarasov spoke say. But supermarkets are seeing demand rise, and their attitudes about price controls are entirely different because if they are in place, they can’t raise prices even as demand increases.

            And demand for products that have already seen price rises will continue to go up because Russians on the basis of their historical experience assume that means that either prices are being set unjustly by outside forces or that the goods in question are in short supply and are buying things up to be prepared.

            Had the government not tried to freeze prices for these key foodstuffs, it might have faced protesters in January with very specific demands rather than the release of Navalny which no one in fact expected, Tarasov says. But now it faces a new and larger problem: people assume goods are going to disappear, and they are even more angry about that.

            That is the result of the Russian government’s relatively clumsy approach to controlling prices; and now a situation has emerged in which the Kremlin should be far more worried about new inflation than about anything Navalny may do. Russians who face rising prices and empty shelves are a more serious problem than those who want an opposition leader released.


Requiring Clergy to Have Training in Russian Religious Law Likely to Radicalize Muslims and Other Religious

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 28 – Only the Russian Orthodox Church is not objecting to Duma plans to amend the laws governing religious organizations to require that clergy and other religious leaders receive instruction in the laws of the Russian Federation governing faith communities before being allowed to lead congregations.

            Buddhists fear that it will mean that leaders of their community abroad cannot come to Russia to teach. Muslims object to what they see as an infringement of their constitutional rights. And Pentecostals, similar concerned, have announced that they will ask Vladimir Putin not to sign the bill if it passes, Kommersant reports (

            This opposition has led the Duma to postpone a second vote on the question, but the idea, which has been under consideration by the Russian legislature since last summer, appears to have a life of its own and is likely to be brought up again once the current wave of resistance crests and passes.

            The proposed amendment itself, Duma deputies involved in the process say, may be modified to allow those trained abroad to take courses in Russia and those who are members of a religious denomination without its own religious training center in Russia to be certified in this regard at one or another Russian university.

            Such changes meet the objections of the Buddhists but hardly those of the Muslims or Protestants, the Moscow daily reports. And their leaders see the failure of Duma deputies to pay attention to their suggestions and complaints as evidence both that the ruling party plans to go ahead with this and that it is not concerned about Muslims and non-Orthodox Christians.

            That makes the observation of Aleksandr Verkhovsky, the head of the SOVA Information-Analytic Center which tracks religious issues, intriguing. He says that he is “certain” the new amendment was introduced in the first instance in order to give the state the ability to “’de-radicalize”” Muslims.

            If Muslim mullahs and imams aren’t trained inside Russia or in secular institutions there, they would not be allowed to preach in the future. But blocking them from doing so in this way almost certainly will have the unintended consequence of driving them and their congregations underground, thus promoting the very radicalization the amendment is intended to prevent.

            Indeed, if this measure does finally pass and is signed into law, a large number of Russia’s increasingly numerous Muslim communities are likely to go underground much as was true in Soviet times and now become a greater threat to the secular authorities than anything they have presented in recent years.


A Russia of the Agglomerations Would Be Even More Tightly Controlled from Moscow than the Current One, Shtepa Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 28 – The increasing concentration of the population of the Russian federation in 10 “super-agglomerations,” a reflection both of efforts to find work and government support for housing construction only there, will leave the country even more tightly controlled from Moscow than is the case now, Vadim Shtepa says.

            The editor of the Tallinn-based portal, Region.Expert, says that there is little reason to believe the promises of some behind this program that more taxes would remain at the level of the agglomerations than now do at the level of regions and republics and that the former would be allowed to elect their own leaders (

            That would be completely inconsistent with the ideas of the individual most prominently associated with the idea of a Russia of the agglomerations who, while finance minister in the first decade of Putin’s rule, worked hard to centralize tax collections and impose appointees in place of elected leaders outside of Moscow, Shtepa continues.

            “If some sort of ‘new model of a federation’ is being pushed by the current powers that be,” he suggests, “it is precisely for the convenience of centralized administration and has nothing to do with sharing power with the citizens.” That is because “the only political ‘metropolis’ as before would remain the Moscow Kremlin.”

            In many ways, Shtepa continues, this recalls the sad experience of the federal districts, which Putin imposed to help Moscow recover control of the country but which have never been included in the Constitution or played the decentralizing role that many expected at the time of their creation.

            Consequently, “if one imagines the structural transformation of the Russian Federation into six to ten gigantic agglomerations, this will lead not to the growth in them of civic self-administration but only to the doubling there of ‘the Moscow model’ with its sharp border between ‘the capital’ and ‘the provinces.’”

            And that in turn will give Moscow yet another lever to destroy all the remaining government institutions outside the agglomerations, including local self-administration and the governments of the autonomous non-Russian republics and predominantly ethnic-Russian oblasts and krays.

            Those who argue that history is moving in the direction of large cities alone are somewhat behind the curve, Shtepa suggests. In post-industrial societies, smaller centers are becoming more important because the Internet allows people to work from just about anywhere and living conditions are often far better outside of enormous metropolitan areas.

            He says he completely agrees with the view of Russian economist Vladislav Inozemtsev who has observed that “gigantic cities have appeared mostly on the global periphery” rather than at its center, thus suggesting that if Russia moves in that direction, it will be following not the leaders of development but those who are following with a lag (

            That means that a Russia of the agglomerations will not only be more centralized and authoritarian than the country is now, Shtepa concludes, but that it will likely be setting itself up to fall further and further behind advanced countries whose most important centers of change are no longer the largest cities but places like Silicon Valley.


Moscow’s Youth Programs Failing and Nowhere More So than in the North Caucasus, Study Finds

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 28 – The Kremlin has been worried by its loss of influence among young people and talked a great deal about new programs to teach out to the rising generation, but a new study concludes that its approaches are failing and nowhere more so than in the North Caucasus where young people form a larger share of the population than elsewhere.

            At a Stavropol conference on contemporary Russia, Grigory Dobromelov of the KGD Group, presented findings of that organization’s latest research on young people and youth policy. These findings are devastating and should serve as a wake-up call for the powers that be (

            In the Russian population, there are approximately 40 million young people, but the government’s programs do not involve more than 1 to 1.5 million. “The remainder,” Dobromelov says, “are simply forgotten.” And not surprisingly, they are listening to others and going their own very different way.

            Still worse, the government’s youth organizations have been sinecures for “young careerists” who care more about feathering their own nests and rising in the bureaucracy than about carrying out their mission. In fewer than a third of the country’s missions have they even managed to pass since 2008 when Rosmolodezh was founded new laws on young people.

            “In more than ten regions,” the researcher says, “there is not a single specialist with training in the subject responsible for work with young people.” They know little about them, but spend, in many places, most of their money on themselves rather than on activities. In North Ossetia, for example, 80 percent of the state’s youth budget goes for officials.

            And he concludes that given rapid growth rates in the population in regions like the North Caucasus, this split “will only grow.” He suggests the government should change course and work with young people “not via state agencies but through educational centers” like the North Caucasus Federal University or the Southern Federal University.