Saturday, May 29, 2021

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

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 28 – 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.      British Cleaner Company Sponsors Contest for Worst Bathroom in a Russian School. Domestos, a British cleaner company, has announced a competition to find the worst bathroom in a Russian school. Pictures of some of the horrors in that category are already pouring in (

2.      When Putin-Era Archives are Opened, They may Be Empty. Russia’s Archive Watch says officials in that country are destroying many things that had been saved in the archives in the past, making it likely that future historians will not find what they are looking for (  

3.      Climate Change Puts More than 40 Percent of Roads and Buildings in Russian North at Risk. Natural Resources Minister Aleksandr Kozlov says that the melting of permafrost as a result of global warming is putting “more than 40 percent” of all roads and structures in Russia’s North at risk of collapse and that the country will have to spend some five trillion rubles (70 billion US dollars) over the next 30 years to fix or replace them (

4.      Corruption in Russia Returns with a Vengeance as Pandemic Eases. Russia’s loss from corruption has risen 28 percent over the last four months, an indication that as the population has become more active, it has also returned to corrupt practices (

5.      Russians Say Moscow Shouldn’t Send Peacekeepers Anywhere Unless Russia’s National Interests Clearly Involved. A new VTsIOM poll finds that Russians are anything but enthusiastic about having their country get involved in the peacekeeping business as it now is in Qarabagh. Russians say Moscow should dispatch such forces only if it can show that the country’s national interests are directly involved (

6.      Idea that Soviets Didn’t Care about Ethnicity Absurd, Dragunsky Says. Commentator Denis Dragunsky says that those who say that no one in Soviet times cared about ethnicity have either forgotten or are lying. People cared a lot, especially in large and ethnically mixed cities (

7.      85 Percent of Russian Commanders have Served in Syria. Vladimir Putin told a meeting of the defense ministry that the preparation of commanders had improved because 85 percent of them had served at least one tour in Syria in recent years (

8.      Four Out of Five Russian Businessmen Don’t Feel Safe against Baseless Criminal Charges – and One in Four Prosecutors Agrees with Them. A survey of Russian business leaders found that “almost 80 percent” say they feel defenseless against baseless criminal charges; and when prosecutors were asked if this was the case, 18 percent of them agreed with 6.6 percent saying the arrests for economic crimes were unjustified (

9.      Putin Again Delays the Census. This Time to Avoid Conflict with Duma Voting. Last year, Vladimir Putin delayed the 2020 census to this year because of the pandemic; now, he has postponed it again so that it won’t conflict with the Duma elections, a move necessitated by the fact that many officials are involved in both (

10.  Two Out of Three Russian Marriages End in Divorce. Eurostat, the statistical service of the European Union, says that almost two out of every three marriages in Russia ends in divorce, ranking Russia second only to Ukraine on the continent (

11.  Ufa Artist Forms Putin Bust Out of Pulled Teeth. Yevgeniya Khaybullina, an Ufa artist, has modeled a bust of the Kremlin leader out of 500 teeth. She did so after Putin declared that he would knock the teeth out of anyone who tried to take Siberia away from Russia (

12.  Duma Moves to Prevent Lawyers from Taking Mobile Phones or Other Recording Devices into Prison. The Duma has passed on third reading a bill that will block lawyers from carrying mobile telephones, cameras, or other recording devices when they visit their clients in prisons or camps (

13.  Russia Rail Closing Most Restaurant Cars. Russia Rail says it will eliminate restaurant cars on most runs to save money. Passengers will be expected to bring food with them or purchase it at stops (

14.  Moscow Wants State Media Except from Possible Infringement of Foreign Agent Law. The Russian government says that state media should be exempt from financial examinations to determine whether they receive money from abroad because such outlets are not subject to foreign influence (

15.  Russia’s Caspian Flotilla Fitted with Anti-Drone Weaponry. In an indication that Moscow wants to be prepared for any use of drones in its southern region, the navy has fitted the Caspian Flotilla with drone killers, a step it has taken in the wake of Azerbaijan’s successful use of drones in the fighting with Armenia (

16.  Muscovites Remain Divided on Fate of Lenin. Residents of the Russian capital are divided almost by exactly the same percentages as they were four years ago, with 45 percent who want to see the Bolshevik leader buried as to the 42 percent who want to keep him in the mausoleum (

17.  Russian Government Boosts Salaries for Siloviki. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has signed an order that will raise the salaries of military contractors, siloviki and law enforcement personnel by 3.7 percent on October 1 (

18.  First Contingent of Prisoner Ready to Be Sent to Work on BAM Next Month. The Federal Prison System has organized a continent of 600 prisoners who will work on the Baikal-Amur Mainland ( Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin says Russia needs many more workers than the prisons and camps can currently supply (

19.  Moscow to Use AI to Monitor Internet. Roskomnadzor says it will use artificial intelligence to monitor the Internet for prohibited information but that human beings will make the final decisions on bans ( Russian parents tells pollsters that they intend to limit their children’s use of the Internet this summer (

20.  Russia’s Search for Minerals in Arctic Falling Short. A third of the 60 surveys Moscow has made of the Arctic seabed for mineral wealth have not found any (

21.  Construction Ministry Wants to Introduce a Real Death Tax. The construction ministry is calling for the imposition of a 1.5 percent a year tax on Russians so that their heirs will be able to bury them appropriately. The idea has been savagely attacked and may not be going anywhere (

22.  All Components of Russians’ Breakfasts Jumping in Price. The components of an ordinary Russian breakfast are increasing in price far beyond the average of inflation and eggs are on the verge of disappearing altogether (

23.  Russians Running Short of Samogon. Because of the rise in the price of components and a crackdown against it in some places, Russians are finding it more difficult than at any time since Gorbachev’s anti-alcohol campaign to find and purchase samogon, the Russian word for moonshine (

24.  Ever More Activist Groups Shutting Down. Open Russia and both shut down this week after pressure from the authorities, and their leaders moved abroad. There was even a report that the Russian government may declare Wikipedia a foreign agent (как-активистов-вынуждают-уезжать-из-россии/31273271.html, and

25.  Petersburgers Outraged by Gazprom’s Plan for 703-Meter Skyscraper. Gazprom plans to build a 703-meter skyscraper in St. Petersburg to house its main offices. Residents are outraged not only by its location but by the fact that it will overwhelm the city’s existing skyline (

26.  Toliatti Teacher Forced Out for Refusing to Campaign for Ruling Party. Alena Skvortsova, an English-language teacher in Toliatti, was told to write a letter of resignation after she refused to vote for United Russia and campaign for it among the parents of her pupils (

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