Staunton, April 30 – 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. Americans Said to Fear Russian Flying Saucers. A recent US Congressional hearing about Russian defense spending focused on Moscow’s high tech innovations, leading some Russians to say that the US is worrying about an attack on the White House by Russian flying saucers (fondsk.ru/news/2021/04/29/kogda-russkie-letajuschie-tarelki-napadut-na-belyj-dom-53476.html).
2. Russia Now Ranks First in the World in Per Capita Spending on the Military. The latest SIPRI report says that Russia now spend more per capita on its defense sector than any other major country (finanz.ru/novosti/aktsii/rossiya-operedila-vse-krupneyshie-ekonomiki-mira-po-dole-voennykh-raskhodov-v-vvp-1030344489).
3. Almost Half of Russians Think US and NATO Behind New Tensions with Ukraine; Only Four Percent Think Russia is. A new Levada Center poll finds that 48 percent of Russians blame the US and NATO for new tensions with Ukraine, 20 percent blame Ukraine, two percent blame the DNR and LNR, and four percent blame Russia itself (levada.ru/2021/04/29/obostrenie-na-yugo-vostoke-ukrainy/).
4. Russian Prisons Treat North Caucasians Worse than Others. Human rights activists say the evidence is clear that jailors in Russia treat inmates from the North Caucasus far worse than they do other groups (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/363434/).
5. Draftee in Siberia Asked How They Feel about Revolutions. In the course of psychological testing, new draftees in Krasnoyarsk Kray have been asked about their attitude toward protests, the need for change in the country and revolutions (tayga.info/167111).
6. ‘Like in Fascist State,’ Kremlin Now Cracking Down on Lawyers and Publishers. In addition to expanding its attacks on protesters, the Russian powers are now cracking down on lawyers who defend opposition figures, publishers the regime doesn’t like, tattoo and graffiti artists, and even pornographers whose work is viewed as anti-Kremlin (ehorussia.com/new/node/23346, graniru.org/Politics/Russia/Politzeki/m.281677.html, severreal.org/a/31226792.html svobodaradio.livejournal.com/5316747.htmlnovayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/04/27/zapretit-tatuirovki-na-poiasnitse, snob.ru/news/sud-priostanovil-deyatelnost-soyuza-kinematografistov-v-peterburge-iz-za-artdokfesta/snob.ru/news/sud-priostanovil-deyatelnost-soyuza-kinematografistov-v-peterburge-iz-za-artdokfesta/).
7. Inmates who Work on BAM Will Gain Early Release. The Russian prison administration says that any prisoner who works on BAM will be given credits that will allow him or her to be released early (tass.ru/obschestvo/11270473).
8. Putin Says Victory Day Chief and ‘Most Holy’ Russian Holiday. The May 9 holiday, Vladimir Putin says, is Russia’s chief holiday and the most holy one of all (regnum.ru/news/society/3258493.html). Meanwhile, Security Council secretary Nikolay Patrushev says Ivan the Terrible a victim of the West’s Russophobia (stoletie.ru/lenta/patrushev_nazval_ivana_groznogo_zhertvoj_rusofobskoj_propagandy_780.htm).
9. Peskov Says Closing of Any Media Outlet Won’t Be Strongly Felt in Russia. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says that the shuttering of any media outlet, including those found to be “foreign agents” won’t both many Russians (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/04/28/ischeznovenie-liubogo-smi-ne-budet-silno-oshchushchatsia-kreml-o-vnesenii-meduzy-v-reestr-inoagentov).
10. Russia Today Journalists Highly Paid for Attacking Navalny. Journalists at RT are paid up to 750,000 rubles (10,000 US dollars) a month for their attacks on Navalny and other opposition groups (navalny.com/p/6485/). But high salaries aren’t everything, and one RT employee, Maria Butina who became infamous for her work in the US has declared she is running for the Duma on the United Russia party slate (sobkorr.org/news/60892785909B8.html).
Moscow Cuts Budgets for Repatriation Program and Science. Despite its claims to the contrary, the Russian government has been cutting the amount of money it spends on programs to repatriate Russians and on science (ng.ru/politics/2021-04-28/1_8140_optimization.html and krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/85084
12. Moscow’s Children’s World Store May Be Forced to Move Because of Increased Cost of Rent. Landlords for Moscow’s famed Detsky mir store on Lubyanka Square say they are raising rents and that this may force the store to move to another less expensive location (forum-msk.org/material/news/17141873.html).
13. Michelin to Rate Moscow Restaurants But No Western Audit Firms Can Check Russian Companies. The Michelin company will begin rating restaurants in the Russian capital, but the Russian government has prohibited Russian firms from asking Western firms to audit them (vedomosti.ru/lifestyle/articles/2021/04/28/868116-moskovskie-restorani and newizv.ru/news/economy/27-04-2021/rossiyskomu-biznesu-zapretili-audit-ot-inostrannyh-kompaniy).
14. Russian Siloviki Detained Precisely 1984 Russians During April 21 Navalny Protests. In a move many will see as symbolic given George Orwell’s novel, siloviki detained exactly 1984 Russians during the most recent Navalny protests, OVD-Info says (zona.media/number/2021/04/26/21).
15. Stalin Condemned 93,000 Soviet Citizens as Spies in 1937. Putin on His Way to Do the Same with Foreign Agents. According to historians, Stalin condemned 93,000 Soviet citizens as spies in 1937 alone, a number greater than all the spies charged by all countries in all human history. Putin appears on his way to equaling that record with foreign agents now (echo.msk.ru/programs/personalno/2827902-echo/).
22. Belgorod Residents Collect 1.2 Million Rubles to Restore Lenin Memorial. Viewing it as a tourist attraction, residents of the impoverished region of Belgorod have collected 1.2 million rubles (17,000 US dollars) to restore the Lenin statue in their capital (versia.ru/1-246-828-rublej-belgorodcy-sobrali-na-vosstanovlenie-pamyatnika-leninu).
23. Despite Appearances, Moscow Doesn’t Have a Counterpart of Leaning Tower of Pisa. A photograph that has gone viral makes it appear that a new apartment tower in the Russian capital is leaning. In fact, officials say, it is only a matter of the perspective of the photographer (nakanune.ru/news/2021/4/28/22600833/).
24. Climate Change Threatens Survival of Nogai People in Daghestan. The spread of deserts because of global warming now threatens the survival of the Nogai, a Turkic people in Daghestan. It is costing them grazing lands they have used from time immemorial (themoscowtimes.com/2021/04/29/how-can-we-survive-when-the-land-is-gone-in-dagestan-a-proud-people-fights-the-desert-a73776).
Siloviki Using AI to Fight Navalny Movement. Yezhednevny zhurnal documents the ways in which Moscow is using artificial intelligence as part of its effort to disorder and destroy the Navalny movement (ej.ru/?a=note&id=36089