Sunday, April 4, 2021

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

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 2 – Below are 26 more stories from Russia this week that deserve to be noted because they shed significant light on Russia, its government and its people, but that I was unable to write up as full-scale Windows:  

1.      If the Suez Canal were in Russia, Putin would Have Been Surprised There was a Problem – and Only after 30 Days. Russian commentators say the international community reacted far more quickly than the Kremlin would have to the problem in the Suez Canal, and cartoonists have shown Putin, bare-chested and by himself, pulling the ailing ship along that body of water ( and

2.      Dzerzhinsky Even Monitored Stalin’s Movements. Newly released archival materials show that Cheka chief Feliks Dzerzhinsky had even Stalin trailed to track where he went and whom he met with (

3.      Cossacks Will Be Counted as Nationality in Upcoming Census But with Two Twists. Russian census takers have counted the Cossacks as a distinct nationality in past censuses and will do so again but with two twists that may reduce the importance of the numbers who declare that identity. On the one hand, people will be able to declare more than one nationality and so those who say they are Cossacks and Russians may be counted only as the latter. And on the other, the census this time around will count 13 different Cossack hosts as separate nationalities, thus dividing those who make this declaration (

4.      Moscow to Investigate International Ratings of Russia. Rosstat and other government agencies have announced they will look into how various international ratings agencies judge Russia to ensure that the numbers are fair and accurate and to call out those which aren’t (

5.      Kremlin Acknowledges It Can’t Stem Russia’s Demographic Decline. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has admitted that Russia’s demographic decline is beyond the capacity  of the country’s rulers to reverse (

6.      Governors in Russian North Want Northern Sea Route Extended. Five governors from northern regions want the Northern Sea Route extended. They say that they want that to happen because it will benefit their areas, but not unimportantly, it is what the Kremlin pushed for earlier as a way of ensuring that Putin’s predictions about the amount of cargo carried would be met, as the longer the Route is, the more ships will be counted (  

7.      Once Again, Oil Prices are Rising But Ruble Exchange Rate is Falling. Sanctions have exacerbated something Moscow never expected: Even though oil prices are now rising, the ruble exchange rate with key Western currencies continues to fall (

8.      Moscow Patriarchate Says Priests who Protest will Be Suspended. The Moscow Patriarchate has announced that Orthodox priests who take part in or even support protest demonstrations will be suspended from their positions  (

9.      Defense Ministry to Set Up Training Centers in All Public Higher Educational Institutions. The ministry of defense has announced that it will be setting up military training centers in all government higher educational institutions in the coming months (

10.  One Russian in Four has Never Visited a Theater. Russians are justly proud of their live theater, but a new poll finds that 23 percent have never been inside one and 34 percent more did so only once a year before the pandemic struck (

11.  Some Officials Welcome Rural Depopulation. Officials in some regions welcome the depopulation of rural areas because it reduces the burdens on them to provide services (

1212.  300,000 Russians Call for Navalny’s Release. Some 300,000 Russians have signed an online petition calling for the release of imprisoned opposition leader Aleksey Navalny ( And more than 500 doctors have demanded that he be given medical help (

1313. ‘Its Time to Call Putin a Dictator Not a President,’ Commentator Says. Ivan Tyutin says it is in fact long past time to call Vladimir Putin what he is, a dictator who only styles himself a president (

1414. Abortions in Russia have Fallen 39 Percent Since 2016. Russians still use abortions as a primary means of birth control and have one of the highest per capita figures on that measure in the world, but over the last five years, the number of abortions in Russia has declined by 39 percent (

1515. Duma Horrified by Government Plan to Privatize Land around Potable Water Sources. The Russian agency that manages property wants to allow Russians to be able to purchase land around springs, lakes, and reservoirs that provide drinking water to cities. Parliamentarians are outrated saying it is “impossible to imagine a more harmful idea” (

1616. Peskov Says Russia has ‘Many More Friends than Enemies.’ For those keeping track, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says that his country has “many more friends than enemies’” (

1717, Another Disaster at a Shipyard. Russia’s shipbuilding facilities seem to suffer one disaster after another. The latest, pictures of which spread across the media, was of a ship being refitted that turned on its side and will now have to be pulled out of the water to be fixed again (

1818. Duma to Consider Requiring State Registration of Cats and Dogs. In the wake of the announcement that Russia has come up with a coronavirus vaccine for animals, the Duma is set to take up a measure that would require the owners of cats and dogs to register them. That might provide protection to some animals, but it might also mean that those not registered would be subject to being hunted down and killed (

1919. Defense Ministry Proudly Publishes Photos Showing Russian Soldiers Attacking Clearly Marked Medical Vehicles. In combat, armies sometimes attack medical vehicles and hospitals, but most countries don’t take pride in doing that. The Russian defense ministry is different: it has published pictures of its soldiers doing just that in the course of a recent exercise (

2020. Another Unfunded Liability: Regions Given No Money to Maintain Federal Monuments They’re Supposed to Take Care Of. Moscow takes most of the tax money collected in the regions and gives back only some of it and does not give back funds to pay for the maintenance of federal monuments in the regions even though regional governments are told they are responsible for doing just that (

2121. Two Russian Cities Out of Three Unfit for Human Habitation. New research by Dom RF finds that two out of every three Russian cities are unfit for human habitation because of environmental contamination and that the number of such places is increasing rapidly (

2222.  Doctors who Kept Operating while Their Hospital Burned Given Awards. A group of doctors in the Amur Region have been given government prizes for continuing surgery while parts of the hospital they were in was burning (

2323. Russian Forest Rangers Say Poaching ‘Old National Tradition.’ One reason that so much of Russian land near residential areas has been despoiled is that those who are supposed to be guarding it view illegal hunting and wood gathering as nothing more than “a national tradition” they shouldn’t interfere with (

2424. New Wave of Telephone Bomb Threats Empties Schools around Moscow. Although it seldom attracts much attention, the phenomenon of telephone bomb threats remains a serious problem in Russia. This week, it hit kindergartens, schools and even clinics in the Moscow region (

2525. Closing of World War II Archives in Russia Preventing Important Research. Historians say that Moscow’s decision to close Russian archives covering World War II means that many important questions can’t be answered, although they concede that this will make it more difficult for anyone to challenge the Kremlin narrative about that conflict (

2626. Moscow Continues to Discriminate against All Religious Minorities. The SOVA Center which monitors religious freedom in Russia says that Moscow continues to discriminate against all religious minorities. Its mistreatment of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is perhaps the worst but it is far from the only form of unconstitutional treatment of religious groups (

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