Sunday, March 21, 2021

A Baker’s Double Dozen of Other Notable Stories from Russia This Week

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 19 – Below are 26 more stories from Russia that deserve to be noted because they shed light on Russia, its government and its people, but that I was unable to write up as full-scale Windows:

1.      Kremlin Tells United Russia Activists to Fill Internet with Posts Denouncing Biden’s Comment about Putin. The powers that be in Moscow have told their most loyal followers to post online comments denouncing US President Joe Biden’s identification of Vladimir Putin as a murderer (

2.      Forty-Five Countries have Called for Aleksey Navalny’s Release. The governments of 45 countries have now called for the release of Russian opposition leader Aleksey Navalny (

3.      Inmates of Russian Prisons Die at Twice the Rate of Those in US Ones. Russian prisoners are twice as likely per capita to die while incarcerated than are those in the US, a rate that puts the Russian Federation at the top of the list of all countries for inmate deaths (

4.      Duma Close to Approving Law Allowing Russian Officials to Violate Laws. The Russian legislature has passed on first reading a measure that would allow officials to receive bribes and embezzle government money under certain conditions (

5.      At Least Russian Vegetables Can’t Be Fined for Protesting. An appeals court has overruled judge who imposed fines on activists who arranged pumpkins with protest signs in Kabardino-Balkaria (

6.      Moscow Plans to Quadruple Number of Pupils in Youth Army by 2030. The Russian defense ministry has announced plans to increase the number of schoolchildren enrolled in the Youth Army from 775,000 to 3.25 million over the next nine years in order to promote patriotism (

7.      Eighty Percent of All Money in Russia is Concentrated in Moscow. There are many measures of just how centralized the Russian Federation is, but perhaps most indicative is one that shows that 80 percent of all money in the country is held in the capital city, even though it forms just over 10 percent of the Russian population (

8.      Could Moscow and St. Petersburg Combine after 2024? Rumors are circulating that the Russian government is considering plans to put both capitals under a common administration sometime after the upcoming presidential elections (

9.      Moscow Patriarchate Drops Effort to Reclaim St. Isaac’s Cathedral in Petersburg. The leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church has ended its campaign to reclaim St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg, a prominent building that has been a museum since Soviet times (

10.  Russians Favor Non-Russian Republics as Tourist Destinations. A group of Russian anthropologists has concluded that Russian prefer to go to the non-Russian republics of their country more than to predominantly Russian regions (

11.  Chechen Troops Back in Arctic. The appearance of ethnic Chechen troops in the Arctic raised concerns several years ago. They were then removed, but now The Barents Observer reports they are back (

12.  Migrant Workers from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan Returning to Russia. Central Asian workers who left Russia because of the pandemic are now returning in large numbers to fill jobs that in many cases had been left vacant (

13.  Former Chechen Soldier Says Forces in His Republic Engaged in Extra-Judicial Murder. A former sergeant in Chechen military units says he and his comrades in arms regularly engaged in extra-judicial murders. He said he had quick the service because “I don’t want to kill people” (

14.  Sanctions May have Reduced Russia’s Arms Exports, Golts Says. Independent Russian military analyst says that the decline in Russia’s arms exports over the past year reflects not just the pandemic but possibly US sanctions as well which has left Russian producers without key components (

15.  KPRF Leader Wants to Impose Taxes on ‘Suspiciously Rich Russians.’ Gennady Zyuganov says that the Duma should pass a law imposing higher taxes on Russians whose incomes are “suspiciously large (

16.  Sports Court Rules Russia Can’t Use ‘Katyusha’ as Substitute Anthem at Olympics. Because of bans on national symbols imposed on Russia for its illegal drug programs, the Olympic movement earlier banned Russia from using its flag or national anthem at the Tokyo games. Now an arbitrage court has ruled it can’t use Katyusha either because that song is considered “a patriotic call to defend the Motherland” (

17.  Tatarstan Residents Use Tatar Language to Complain to Kazan 20 Times as Often as They Do Russian. Whether it is because Tatars feel they are mistreated more often or because they feel that they are more likely to get a response, residents of Tatarstan who complain to the republic government use Tatar 20 times as often as they use Russian (

18.  Almost a Third of Russians Say They Aren’t Interested in Politics, Lowest Percentage Ever. Since polls on the subject began in 1990, Russians saying they have no interest in politics have increased in number from 12 percent then to 27 percent now, the highest share ever, the Levada Center says (

19.  Why aren’t There More Statue of Ethnic Russians? Russian nationalist commentator Yegor Kholmogorov complains that there are too many statues of non-Russians and too few of Russians and that the situation should be rectified by increasing the number of the latter and reducing the number of the former (

20.  Moscow Patriarchate Says Protesting is a Sin. The leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church says that believers should not participate in meetings that have not been approved by the government because doing so is a violation of the principles of their faith (

21.  Those who Like a Post May Be Equally at Risk to Those who Put It Up. A quirk in the Russian internet may mean that those who simply click a like on a post may be as much at risk of criminal prosecution as those who post what they like. That is because Russian providers provide the government with data on users rather than what they post, making it easy for the siloviki to go after both categories more or less equally (

22.  Duma Wants to Make Complaining about Inflation a Crime. If a measure working its way through the Russian legislature becomes law, anyone who is reported as having complained about inflation will be subject to criminal sanctions, something that was not even the case in Soviet times (

23.  Norwegian Border City May Soon have a Nemtsov Square. Kirkenes, a Norwegian city close to the Russian border, may soon name one of its main squares after murdered Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov (

24.  Streaker who Ran Across Red Square Disappears. No one has been able to find the young Russian who ran naked across Moscow’s Red Square in what some say is performance art and others a political protest (

25.  Young Adults Released from Orphanages Continue to Suffer. Russian law requires that the government provide housing and other benefits to those who are released from orphanages, but the government isn’t doing so in many cases and many former detdomtsy are forced to live in barracks (

26.  Soviet Origins of ‘Gigantomania’ Proved. Commentator Maksim Mirovich explores one of the few cases in which the Soviet government’s fixation of size alone failed, the Palace of the Soviets that was never built. The issue matters because Moscow’s obsession with size continues to inform its actions (

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