Staunton, May 7 – 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. Russian Oligarch Offers to Bankroll New Trump Social Network. Konstantin Marofeyev, a Russian oligarch behind Tsargrad television, has offered to fund a possible effort by former US president Donald Trump to create his own social network (znak.com/2021-04-28/pravoslavnyy_biznesmen_malofeev_predlozhil_donaldu_trampu_pomoch_po_sozdaniyu_novoy_socseti).
2. 90-Year-Old Russian Grandmother Challenges Duma Speaker. Vyacheslav Volodin faced an unexpected challenge when he appeared in public and a elderly Russian woman denounced him and his policies. Her words and Volodin’s troubled reaction were caught on film and went viral online (idelreal.org/a/31232111.html).
Moscow Using Draft to Suppress Dissent. The Putin regime has adopted a large number of strategies to suppress dissent and punish those who engage in it. One of the most repressive and frightening is its increase use of the military draft against younger protesters (themoscowtimes.com/2021/05/02/in-russia-conscription-is-a-weapon-for-silencing-dissent-a73805
4. Most Foreign Journalists in Russia at Risk of Being Declared ‘Foreign Agents.’ Most journalists from other countries have been declared “foreign agents,” something that limits their ability to function. The Russian Security Council reportedly is considering expanding this policy to most of the rest (ehorussia.com/new/node/23355).
5. Moscow Makes More than 500,000 Residents of DNR and LNR Russian Citizens. The Russian government has distributed 527,000 Russian passports to residents of the breakaway Donbass regions, thus creating the basis for a claim that further Russian intervention in Ukraine is to protect ethnic Russians (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=608EA01049784).
6. Russia’s Demographic Situation Continues to Deteriorate. The number of children born in Russia over the last five years has declined by 24.2 percent, while deaths continue to rise even though the pandemic is easing, thus ensuring that this year’s population decline will be even larger than last year’s post-war record falloff (https://mbk-news.appspot.com/korotko/chislo-rozhdennyh-v-rossii/ and https://krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/85175).
7. Rising Oil Prices haven’t Returned Russia to Earlier Earnings. A major reason that rising oil prices haven’t boosted Russian earnings to earlier levels is that Moscow has not been able to export nearly as much oil as it expected to key markets. Consequently, while earnings per barrel are up, earnings have remained much lower than before (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/85173).
8. Fraudsters Outpace Even Siloviki. Last year, the Russian force structures investigated 260,000 suspected cases involving bank accounts, but fraudsters carried out an estimated 770,000 illegal operations (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/85142).
9. Shift to Capitalism wasn’t Progress but Regress, Fursov Says. Moscow analyst Andrey Fursov says that Russians are by nature anti-capitalist and that the country’s move from socialism to capitalism in the 1990s was thus not a form of economic progress as liberals insist but a regression (business-gazeta.ru/article/507977).
10. Melting Permafrost Seen Leading to Higher Lung Cancer Rates in Russia. Scholars say that the rapid melting of the permafrost in the Russian North is releasing enormous amounts of radon and that this will lead to higher rates of lung cancer in the population there and elsewhere (thebarentsobserver.com/en/climate-crisis/2021/05/scientists-fear-more-lung-cancer-radon-released-thawing-permafrost and akcent.site/novosti/13926).
11. Udmurt Prosecutors Go after Astrologer for Illegal Missionary Work. Prosecutors in Izhevsk have charged Yekaterina Kalininkova with illegal missionary because the astrologist refers to the Hindu divinities Shiva and Durga during her work (idelreal.org/a/31237674.html).
12. Russia Gives Its Veterans Far Less than Central Asian Countries Do. Russian officials take great pride in how much they support their country’s veterans, but this year, Moscow provided far less to the remaining World War II veterans than did Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, only about six percent relative to the former (rusmonitor.com/v-rf-veterany-vov-poluchat-v-razy-menshe-deneg-chem-veterany-v-kazahstane-i-uzbekistane.html).
13. KPRF Building a Stalin Center in Bor. Communist activists in Bor are building a Stalin Center to provide a space for protesting against the Putin regime whose repressions they say are worse than those of the Soviet dictator (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/05/05/my-raschishchaem-gnil).
14. Patriarch Kirill Expands His Personal Protection Detachment. Many speculate that the Kremlin would like to see Kirill exit his position as Moscow patriarchate one way or another. One indication that the churchman may be concerned is that he has expanded his personal protection detachment which would make any attack on him more difficult (credo.press/237064/).
15. Regional Air Routes to Contract Further. The Russian government, which has already closed hundreds of small airports, is now in the process of closing still more, citing security concerns. Regional carriers say that unless that policy is reversed, they will be forced to cancel all flights to many increasingly isolated parts of the country (https://www.rbc.ru/business/05/05/2021/608958169a79476d7121f28d).
Moscow is Now Restricting Mushroom Collecting. Russians face increasing restrictions from the Putin regime, but a new one may infuriate people who had been supportive of the Kremlin. The natural resources ministry has tightened the rules governing the collection of mushrooms, a popular pastime in that country (sibreal.org/a/31240506.html
Siloviki Say They Could have Killed Sakha Shaman but Decided Not to. Russian Guards who took part in the arrest of Shaman Aleksandr Gabyshev said they might very well have killed him when they placed him under arrest, but they decided not to, a clear indication of how the siloviki approach such questions and decide them not on the basis of law or morality but convenience (sibreal.org/a/31242513.html
24. Prostitutes Say Russian Businessmen and Parliamentarians Like Sado-Masochistic Sex. Russian prostitutes tell journalists that Russian businessmen and Duma deputies are among their most frequent customers for sado-masochistic sex (lenta.ru/articles/2021/05/04/bdsm/).
25. Closed Baikal Cellulose Plant Still Polluting Baikal. Vladimir Putin received widespread praise when he finally shuttered the Baikal cellulose plant that had been polluting Lake Baikal for decades, but closing the plant has not ended its negative impact on the lake because the authorities have done little to clean up large piles of pollutants from its past operations (vtimes.io/2021/04/26/chto-budet-s-baikalskim-tsellyulozno-bumazhnim-kombinatom-a4696).
26. Now Even State Media Draw Fines for Using Objectionable Material. In a sign that the Putin regime faces a situation in which even its own media can’t be counted on to exclude things it doesn’t like all the time, a state media outlet has been fined for using a clip from an independent channel (idelreal.org/a/31244306.html).