Sunday, March 14, 2021

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

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 12 – 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.      Putin is Tsar, Kazan Instructor Tells His Students. Oleg Tikhonov, an instructor at Kazan’s National Technology University, has told his students that Vladimir Putin is in fact a tsar and that they should not bring shame to his rule by taking part in Navalny demonstrations (

2.      Russian Security Agencies Launch Recruiting Drive to Counter Protest Movement. In one of the clearest signs that the Kremlin is worried about more protests, its security agencies have launched a new drive to recruit people ready to use force against demonstrators (

3.      Putin’s Hopes for Alternative Human Rights Court Going Nowhere Fast. In order to reduce the importance of the European Human Rights Court, the Kremlin has proposed creating a Russian Human Rights Court, but the relevant agencies charged with coming up with a plan have made little progress in elaborating it, journalists report (

4.      Vilnius Says Moscow Snet a Prigozhin Double to Lithuania. In order to weaken Lithuanian and European institutions, the Lithuanian security agency says, Moscow dispatched a double of Russian businessman and Putin friend Yevgeny Prigozhin to Vilnius (

5.      Moscow More than Triples Gold Sales in 2020. The Russian government sold 3.2 times as much gold in 2020 as it did in 2019 in order to cover expenses while state income fell (  

6.      Tyva Head Plans to Sue Znak over Critical Story. Sholban Kara-ool, head of the Tyva republic, says he will sue the Znak news agency for its highly critical story of his region (; for a discussion of the Znak report, see

7.      Last Speaker of Bering Dialect of Aleut Language Dies. Vera Timoshenko, the last speaker of the dialect of Aleut earlier spoken through the Bering coastline of Russia has died at the age of 93, yet another end to a linguistic and cultural tradition that Moscow typically denies is happening (

8.      Sex Shops in Russia Today have Soviet Roots. While it was often said that “in the USSR, there was no sex,” there was of course and there were sex toys and condoms offered for sale, but at drug stores. These are the direct ancestors of today’s sex shops in Russia, one commentator says. They are not a Western import as some imagine (

9.      ILO Urges Russia to Eliminate List of Professions Women Can’t Join. Last year, Moscow cut the number of professions women were not allowed to take part in from 456 to 100, but the International Labor Organization has called on the Russian authorities to eliminate this list altogether (

10.  More than 20 Times as Many Russian Women Die from Family Violence than Government Registers. According to an independent investigation, at least 5,000 women in Russia died from family violence in 2018, even though the interior ministry continues to say that only 253 did ( and

11.  Russian Government Shutters Office of Group Fighting Family Violence. The Russian authorities have shut down the Moscow center of, a group that seeks to counter violence against women and children in Russian families (

12.  Russia Ranks Second Only to Belarus in Former Soviet Space in Attacks on Journalists. The Justice for Journalists organization says that there has been more violence against journalists in Russia than in all former Soviet republics except for Belarus in the last year (

13.  Number of People Getting Asylum in Russia Drops. While Moscow offered slightly more people asylum in 2020 than in 2019, 28 as opposed to 23, the total number of people in Russia with that status declined by 32 over the past year (

14.  More than 75 percent of Russians Say They have Experienced Delays in Being Paid. A new survey finds that more than 75 percent of Russians have experienced delays in being paid for their work. It did not indicate whether these were recent or older experiences, but because many workers are young, it does mean that such problems have extended into the Putin years (

15.  Kremlin Thinks Russians Prepared for Their Country’s Isolation But It’s Wrong. Political scientist Ilya Grashechenko says that the Russian leadership assumes that Russians are quite prepared for their country to be cut off from the rest of the world and to live in proud isolation but in fact that is not the case, his research shows (

16.  Kazan Plans Tatar-Language Netflix to Boost Tatar Films. Tatarstan’s film industry is planning to launch a Netflix-type operation that will carry only Tatar-language films to the population of that republic and to Tatars abroad (

17.  Despite Pressure, Izhors Remain Loyal to Their Language and Culture. A new study finds that despite Moscow’s moves against their language and culture, Izhors, like neighboring Finno-Ugric peoples in the northwestern quadrant of the Russian Federation remain strikingly loyal to both (   

18.  Moscow Plans to Put More Prisoners to Work Outside of Camps. Over the next decades, the Russian penal system plans to cut the number of prisoners confined in camps, not by reducing convictions and prison sentences but by having an ever greater number of those sentenced work outside of the colonies, yet another way Moscow is responding to the economic impact of demographic decline (

19.  A Russian Dreyfus Case? Prosecution or more precisely persecution of Mikhail Iosilevich in Nizhny Novgorod recalls the Dreyfus case in that there is no basis for the ever-changing charges prosecutors are lodging against him as each new one fails. Instead, some observers say that what is going on reflects the anti-Semitism that along with sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia infects so many of those in the justice system (

20.  Russian Officials Push Orthodoxy The Way Their Soviet Predecessors Promoted Atheism. Russian officials in many places are promoting the Russian Orthodox Church in ways that recall the actions of their Soviet predecessors in promoting atheism, a new independent study says (

21.  FSB Liquidates 37 More Underground Arms Producers. In an indication that existing Russian restrictions on guns aren’t keeping those who want them, including criminals and people who want to resist state power, from getting them, the FSB has announced that it has identified and liquidated 37 underground arms producers in 28 federal subjects (

22.  Russian Prisoners Being Sent to Arctic Regions to Clean Up Trash. In Soviet times, the Kremlin dispatched GULAG inmates to the North to isolate them from the rest of society while building Stalin’s giant projects. Now the Putin regime is sending prisoners there to keep them isolated while picking up trash (

23.  Fewer than One in Five Russians Convicted of Corruption Lands in Prison. In yet another case of the Putin regime protecting itself, only 18 percent of Russians charged with corruption, a number far smaller than the total engaging in it, lands in prison after convictions, new figures show (

24.  Moscow Boosts Food Exports as Shortages of Food and Prices for It Inside Russia Soar. The Russian government is celebrating record exports of food even as food shortages and price rises spread across the Russian Federation (

25.  When It Comes to Monuments, Republic Officials Follow Moscow’s Orders Not Wishes of People. Recent decisions in Tatarstan about monuments show that Kazan – like other regional governments as well -- takes its orders from Moscow even when these contradict the expressed wishes of its own people (

26.  After Closing Mosques, Kaliningrad FSB Takes Money It Gave Muslims in Compensation. After the Kaliningrad government shut one mosque and stopped construction of another, the FSB raided the local Islamic community and took the money the authorities had given that body in compensation (

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