Sunday, May 23, 2021

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

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 21 – 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.      Moscow Blames Foreign Propaganda for Luring Russians Abroad. The Russian council of ministers says Russians would travel within their own country more if it foreign propaganda wasn’t luring them abroad. But in addition to cost and pandemic restrictions, nearly seven million Russians now can’t go anyway because of debts. As Turkey is off limits for many, Italy is now the most popular destination (, and

2.      Putin Says He’ll Beat Off Anyone who Tries to Take Away Part of Russia. In typically crude terms, Vladimir Putin says he will beat the teeth of anyone who tries to eat away at Russian territory, even though critics have noted that the current Kremlin leader has made territorial concessions to China, Azerbaijan and other countries (

3.      Siloviki Shut Down Zemtsvo Congress 20 Minutes after It Opens. Russian police swooped in to close down the Zemtsvo Congress in Novgorod whose participants sought to call attention to the democratic traditions of Russia outside of Moscow (

4.      Columbine-Style Violence in Russia Product of Moscow’s Aggressiveness, Duma Deputy Says. Oksana Pushkina, a Duma deputy, says that violence of the kind that occurred in a Kazan school is the inevitable result of the aggressive rhetoric the Kremlin increasingly engages in ( Others note that the Putin regime guards government buildings far more than it guards schools (

5.      Sixty Percent of Russia’s Communal Infrastructure Needs Replacing. According to Senator Andrey Shevchenko, 60 percent of pipelines and powerlines connected to housing in the Russian Federation are worn out and need to be replaced ( Also running out are Russia’s natural resources. The Accounting Chamber says that Russia today is drawing down its reserves at twice the rate it was earlier (

6.      DNA Tests Urged for Those Claiming to Be Stalin’s Descendants. Several people have recently claimed to be descendants of Stalin. Komsomolskaya Pravda suggests that they be given DNA tests to determine whether they are telling the truth (

7.      Moscow TV Commentators Urge Protecting Russia by Rebuilding Iron Curtain. Moscow commentators appear to be outdoing themselves: Some of them now say that Moscow must rebuild the iron curtain in order to protect Russia from “fascist” Europe (  Novaya gazeta reports that many of them are not only politically outrageous but morally questionable (

8.      Health Ministry Says More than Five Million Russians Suffer from Mental Problems. The Russian health ministry says that five to six million Russians suffer from mental problems serious enough to require treatment (

9.      Suzanne Massey Seeks Russian Citizenship. The US Russian specialist who advised Ronald Reagan has written Vladimir Putin requesting that she be allowed to take Russian citizenship. State media are having a field day with this suggesting this highlights just how bad things are in the US and how right the course Vladimir Putin has put Russia on ( But at almost the same time, a study found that Russia is among the five first countries in the world for expats (

10.  Russian Defense Ministry Uses Old Believers to Train Troops and Apparently Views the Chechens as the New Cossacks. Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu has arranged for Old Believers who live far from urban areas to train some of his troops on how to live off the land in extreme conditions ( Another report suggests Moscow may now view the Chechens in much the same way the tsars viewed the Cossacks, as a group available to suppress opposition (

11.  Academy of Science Head Says Russian Students Ever Less Well-Prepared. Academician Aleksandr Sergeyev says that the quality of preparation of students in Russian higher educational institutions has declined ( Perhaps that explains another report: a new poll finds that ever more graduates want to become government bureaucrats (

12.  Slain Deputy Galina Starovoitova Remembered on 75th Birthday.  Galina Starovoitova, a liberal deputy who was murdered for her views, was remembered by some on what would have been her 75th birthday. Her murder has never been solved ( and

13.  Putin’s Extended May Holiday Not Only Led to Spike in Pandemic but to Early Start of Forest Fire Season. By extending the days off Russians had for the May holidays, Vladimir Putin not only hurt the economy and produced a spike in the pandemic, but by allowing Russians time to travel, he contributed to the early start of this year’s forest fire season (

14.  Kremlin Happy to Use Russian Citizens in Donbass to Boost Vote for United Russia. Moscow has been handing out Russian passports to residents in occupied areas of Ukraine’s Donbass so that these people can vote in the upcoming Duma elections, but despite that, Moscow still shows no interest in absorbing these regions into Russia ( In another election move, more than half of those taking part as candidates in the primaries of United Russia are not members of the party itself (

15.  Russia May Soon Run Out of Ice Cream – and It is the Government’s Fault. In Soviet times, there was a running joke that if the communists ever took power in Saudi Arabia, within five years, Riyadh would be importing sand. Now something similar is happening in Russia with ice cream. Because of new rules governing the registration of products, 40 percent of Russia’s leading producers of ice cream, a Russian staple, say they won’t be able to deliver their product to stores and that consumers will likely face shortages (

16.  Russian Government Ignores Many Decisions of Constitutional Court. Even though the Russian constitution specifies that the executive and legislative branches must follow the decisions of the Russian Constitutional Court, a new study by the Open Media group finds that in many cases both of these branches ignore the court’s decisions (

17.  Patriarchate has Built 99 New Orthodox Churches in Moscow over Last Decade.  As part of its Program 200, the Moscow Patriarchate has built 99 new churches in the Russian capital over the last decade, government officials say ( The Patriarchate says it is now constructing 40 churches in Russia’s prisons and prison camps (

18.  Russians Worried Less about Pandemic and More about Economic Crisis. A new Romir poll finds that Russians are worrying much less about the pandemic and much more about their incomes and the economic crisis than they did a year ago (

19.  Russians with Cancer and HIV/AIDS Not Getting Medications They Need. Cancer patients in Russia are getting only five percent of the medications they require, and half of those suffering from HIV/AIDS are not being treated at all (  and

20.  Duma Debates New Arrangements for Wealthy Russians to Pass Their Wealth to Their Children. The Duma’s repressive measures have attracted more attention, but the survival of the Putin regime may depend much more on the outcome of ongoing discussions in the parliament over how the country’s wealthy will be able to pass on their wealth to their children (

21.  Moscow Expects Northern Sea Route to Operate 12 Months a Year Beginning at End of 2023. Up to now, the Northern Sea Route has been closed during the winter months even for ships accompanied by ice breakers, but global warming means, Moscow officials say, that it will be operational 12 months of the year by the end of 2023 (

22.  Moscow Preparing to Block Foreign Influence on Duma Elections. Given the likelihood that the Duma vote will extend over several says, Russian election officials say they are preparing to block any foreign influence of the kind some Americans believed happened in their voting in 2020 (

23.  Moscow Now has Its Own Marie Antoinette. United Russia Duma deputy Aleksandr Iltyakov says that pensioners are a burden to society and that 50 percent of all Russians should not live to retirement. He speaks in actuarial terms, but his words reflect a contempt for life that it is unlikely he and his fellow party comrades share when it comes to themselves of their leaders (

24.  Putin Approves Delaying Census Again – This Time Because of Duma Vote. Vladimir Putin who earlier delayed the decennial Russian census from 2020 to 2021 because of the pandemic has now agreed to delay it further because of the Duma election scheduled for September (

25.  Inflation Accelerating, Incomes Declining and Growth Slowing. Many expected that 2021 would see an improvement in Russia’s economic situation, but a slew of economic reports suggests that isn’t happening. Inflation has in fact accelerated, incomes have fallen to the lowest level in 12 years, and the miracle the regime promised as far as economic growth is concerned is not taking place (,,, and

26.  Navalny’s Health is Improving, His Jailors Say. The Russian penal administration says that the health of imprisoned Aleksey Navalny has in fact improved over the last few weeks (россия/20210520-глава-фсин-сообщил-о-состоянии-здоровья-алексея-навального).

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