Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Iran Won’t Ratify 2018 Caspian Delimitation Treaty until Key Issue is Clarified

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 26 – When the five littoral states signed an agreement in August 2018 on the delimitation of the surface of the Caspian Sea, most observers in Russia, the region and the West argued that this represented a solution to conflicts over how to divide that inland body of water in the wake of the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

            But in fact, that agreement did not address many difficult questions, and as a result of just one of them, Iran has refused to ratify the accord even though the other four littoral states – the Russian Federation, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan – all have (

            What that means, of course, is that the treaty has not yet formally in place, although the littoral states are observing most of its provisions already. But because it isn’t ratified, each may yet feel free to challenge it; and all must come to an agreement about one issue in particular if the treaty is in fact going to apply.

            Tehran is concerned about what may seem a minor issue, but for Iran, which shared the sea with only the USSR before 1991 but now does so with four countries, it is no small thing. The 2018 accord does not specify exactly how lines from border points between two countries on the coast are to be drawn out to the limit of national exclusion zones.

            International law and experience offer a variety of possible options in this regard, some of which would leave Iran in control of a larger seabed where oil and gas reserves are known to be plentiful and others of which would assign these same spaces to Azerbaijan in the northwest and Turkmenistan in the northeast.

             It is unlikely that there will be much movement on this issue in Tehran until the new government has time to take shape; but until there is, the other littoral states and especially Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan will remain uncertain about their sea borders and thus have more difficulty attracting foreign investment on the basis of reserves in disputed areas.

            And lest anyone think this is a minor issue, he or she should remember the difficulties that Baku and Ashgabat faced in working out their disputes about a gas field in a disputed area ( In fact, even that agreement could be put at risk by Iranian intransigence on this question.

Yet Another Proposal for Dealing with Russia’s Aircraft Carrier Crisis Surfaces

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 26 – Russia needs aircraft carriers, but in order to build them quickly and inexpensively, they must be non-nuclear ships of a unique design rather than simply modifications of a new generation of naval vessels, according to Valentin Belanenko, former planning director at the Krylov State Scientific Center.

            Because Russia now has only one aircraft carrier and it is in drydock and may never sail again. Russian military planners have come up with a variety of plans for a new generation of aircraft carriers; but they have been stymied by problems with Russian yards, high costs, and questions about the utility of such ships ( and

            Moscow appears to have given up on building any fleet of nuclear-powered carriers given the costs involved, and criticism is mounting of the fallback position of extending the size of a new generation of ships so that some modification of them can serve as an aircraft carrier at least for certain purposes.

            Now, Belanenko has urged that Moscow give up that project as well and instead build stripped down “floating platforms” not driven by nuclear power. These ships will be monsters – at least 500 meters long – but they will be relatively cheap. As a result, Moscow can afford two or three of them now (

            Not being nuclear, such ships will have to be resupplied with fuel far more often and thus limit their ability to challenge the US carrier fleet. But for limited periods, they will be able to handle as many planes and thus give Russia the ability to project power in regions far from its borders.

            Russian media have already picked up on what may prove to be the salvation of the carrier for Russia; but it is as yet unknown how the Kremlin will respond to an idea that will give it far less than the enormous power that nuclear-powered carriers provide. Moscow, however, appears confronted by a choice between nothing and having something good enough.

Russian Peacekeepers Must Remain in Qarabagh 10 to 20 Years for Any Peace Treaty to be Possible, Shatrov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 26 – Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has called for the signing of a peace treaty between his country and Armenia because he believes that the results of the fighting last year ended the Qarabagh dispute in Baku’s favor. But Armenians don’t agree at all, and thus any treaty is at best a distant dream, Igor Shatrov says

            Still worse, the head of the Strategic Development Foundation says, there is no obvious compromise available; and consequently, it is far more appropriate to describe the recent declarations about the end of the fighting as an armistice rather than a peace given that there is every likelihood that more rounds of open conflict are ahead (

            Indeed, the only way forward is for there to be an agreement on the extension of the presence of Russian peacekeepers for ten or twenty years so that Azerbaijanis can return to Qarabagh and Armenians can get used to the idea that that region belongs to Azerbaijan. Without such a lengthy experience, the Armenians will never sign a peace treaty, Shatrov says.

            And Russia is the only country that can assure such a course of events. All the other interested international parties are either taking one side or the other or issuing declarations without a willingness to do anything that might promote the growth of the current armistice into a genuine peace.

            Mikhail Neyzhmakov of the Moscow agency for Political and Economic Communications agrees. And these statements of the two Russian experts make it clear that Moscow plans to insist on having its peacekeeping continent remain in Qarabagh far longer than the five years specified in the current declarations.

            Armenians may welcome that outcome because it would freeze the conflict for another generation without requiring Yerevan to agree with Baku that Qarabagh is part of Azerbaijan. But it will outrage Azerbaijanis and their Turkish supporters who will view this as a Moscow tactic to deprive the Azerbaijani side of what it feels it won in the fighting last year.


New Iron Curtain Going Up between Vaccinated and Unvaccinated in Russia and Other Countries, Baranova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 26 – Each new cataclysm changes the way the world is divided, Ancha Baranova says. The rise of communism led to an iron curtain between the Soviet bloc and the West. The collapse of communism led to expectations the world would divide along cultural lines. But the pandemic is putting in place new dividing lines, Ancha Baranova says.

            The Russian biologist now teaching at George Mason University in the United States says a new iron curtain is already going up not between peoples or countries or cultures but between people within countries who have been vaccinated and those in the same countries who have not (

            Given the ability of viruses to spread rapidly around the world because of the ease of transportation and the concentration of populations in cities, pandemics are going to become more frequent and quite possibly more deadly, Baranova suggests. People will try to protect themselves by erecting barriers, but the highest ones won’t be between countries but within them.

            “Countries will not be separated by ‘an iron curtain.’ This border will pass not among countries but within countries between various groups of the population. In each country which has the resources and can make or buy the vaccine, there is already a clear division of people between those who want to be vaccinated and those who don’t,” the biologist says.

            Russia is an obvious case, Baranova continues. Only ten percent of its population is vaccinated, and that is already splitting the country into two nations. Russians need to recognize the dangers inherent in that. Instead, all too many are assuming the pandemics will pass and they can get by with doing nothing. They are wrong.

            Those who choose to get fake certificates of vaccination are behaving in an especially dangerous way. It is possible to determine by blood analysis whether people have been vaccinated, but the presumption of innocence on which social stability depends requires that declarations be accepted rather than investigated.

            Because such fake certificates are spreading in Russia, there is a great danger, even a certainty, that those hiding behind them will spread the coronavirus further and only deepen the divide between those who have gotten the shots and those who have not. That divide will affect the entire society for decades to come.

Kazakhstan Arming Both Sides in Kyrgyz-Tajik Border Dispute

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 26 – A major reason that border disputes in Central Asia are becoming more deadly is that the governments involved are buying weapons from other countries which are all too ready to sell. Among these is Kazakhstan which is currently selling weapons to both sides in the Kyrgyz-Tajik border dispute.

            Tajikistan has doubled its defense budget over the last year. It justifies that by pointing to the threat of incursions by the Taliban from Afghanistan; but no one can guarantee that the weapons it is acquiring won’t be used in the border dispute with Kyrgyzstan. Indeed, observers say that is increasingly likely (

            Kyrgyzstan does not face a threat from Afghanistan but it does face one from Tajikistan, and because Tajikistan is arming itself, Bishkek feels it has no choice but to try to match Dushanbe so as to be able to counter any challenge to the borders and enclaves in the region. Other countries in the region may draw similar conclusions about what they must do.

            Those selling arms to any of these countries, Russian commentator Konstantin Larionov says, are in effect fueling not only more conflicts but more deadly ones in a region that has already suffered too much and whose governments should be spending what little money they have on helping their populations rather than on defending their borders.

            But because the arms trade is so profitable and because governments in the region feel they have no choice but to arm themselves if others do, the likelihood is that the next round of border violence in Central Asia will be far more deadly than any so far – and those have been deadly enough with hundreds dead already. 

Industrial Fishing Threatens Survival of Numerically Small Peoples in Amur Basin, Activists Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 26 – The numerically small peoples of the Russian Federation include both the 26 nations who live in the Far North and the 13 who live in the Amur River basin. The former who are many times larger than the latter and far more politically active attract regular attention from the media and the government; the latter do not.

            As a result, a tragedy is unfolding among the Ulchis, Nanays, Orochis, Negidaltsy, Udegeys and the rest: the Russian authorities have allowed industrial fishing to destroy the basis of the life of these ancient but small peoples (

            Indeed, because of overfishing by these firms and even amateur fishing by tourists, this year, these peoples will not have a summer fishing season at all. That not only means that they will lose their most important source of food but also the raw materials they use to make shoes and other clothing items.

            The summer fishing season is so important to these peoples that some of them even mark a second New Year at the same time. But this year, that celebration will be muted if it takes place at all. Not being able to fish threatens the survival of these communities, many of whose members may now be forced to give up their traditional lives and assimilate in cities.

            But because they are so small in number – most number only a few hundred or at most a few thousand – they lack the clout of the numerically small peoples of the North, although they are beginning to get organized, according to Lyubov Odzyal, head of the Association of Numerically Small Peoples of Khabarovsk Kray.

            Perhaps the only reason the ban on the summer fishing season among them has been noted by any Russian media is that the Russian word for fishing season and the name of the Russian president is the same, putin.

Russians Fear Many Pandemic Restrictions Will Remain in Place Permanently

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 26 – That resistance to vaccinations and pandemic restrictions reflects Russians’ distrust of their government is now common ground (, but there is an additional factor at work, one that may be leading to more resistance even among those who accept vaccinations and restrictions as rational steps.

That is the fear that the Kremlin will keep in place any restrictions long after the pandemic has ended because of the powers such restrictions give the regime over the population (

Today, Russian officials reported registering 21,665 new cases and 619 new deaths from the coronavirus, both new highs in the current surge, with Moscow city and oblast accounting for more than half of both, as the pandemic continues to intensify across most of the country ( and

Legal provisions allowing employers to dismiss employees who don’t get vaccinated have sparked widespread negative comment online and forced the Kremlin to deny rumors that these will be extended to government employees as well ( and

Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin says the current surge reflects the arrival of new strains of the virus and that the only way out is either massive vaccinations or a return to a lockdown ( and City officials are already tightening enforcement of mask requirements (

More regions are running short of vaccine, including Udmurtia which has suspended its vaccination program until more arrives. Irina Yarovaya, deputy speaker of the Duma is demanding that the government provide more vaccines to the regions ( and

Russia’s unions have joined with Russian employer organizations to call for universal vaccinations, but some experts are demanding that the government assume responsibility for any negative consequences arising from the shots ( and

Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments,

·         Russians are angry about the ways in which officials ignore their own restrictions in small ways as in not wearing required masks or in large ones such as staging enormous school-leaving ceremonies at a time of pandemic ( and

·         A new campaign has been launched against those who purchase fake vaccination certificates which points out that this is both senseless and dangerous (

·         And one commentator has suggested that anti-vaxxers are responsible for putting 100,000 Russians in their graves (

Kremlin Using Moscow City Approach to Unify Response of Regions to the Pandemic

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 25 – Early on in the pandemic, the Kremlin announced the regions rather than the center would be responsible for responding to the threat, an approach the authorities justified by pointing to the enormous diversity of the country but one that in fact was intended to deflect any popular anger at restrictions away from the Kremlin and to the regions.

            This departure from Russian practice was so striking that many commentators began to talk about the appearance of real federalism in Russia even though the heads of the federal subjects were Moscow appointees and Moscow controlled most if not all of their financial resources.

            But Russia would not be Russia and Putin would not be Putin if this response was going to be allowed to continue and expand; and in fact, as Russia has been hit by a third wave of the coronavirus, the central authorities have moved quickly and even dramatically to centralize policy making and unify the country’s response.

            The way in which the center has done so, by arguing that the regional governments should take Moscow city’s response as its template, obscures this return to what has been standard operating procedure; but it is no less dramatic given how diverse the regions remain and is fraught with political problems, especially for Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin.

            While the third wave of the pandemic has had a negative impact almost everywhere, some regions are suffering far more than others; and a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t necessarily the best given that harsh lockdowns may be appropriate in some regions but not in others and may in the latter do more economic and even political damage than work as intended.

            Moreover, by promoting the policies of Sobyanin which the Kremlin has been supporting as the model for all, the central authorities have whether they recognize it or not created an alternative center, one to whom some regions may now look for guidance on other matters, something the regime does not want.

            History suggests that the Kremlin is not going to tolerate such a second center for long and that the central government will either more sharply to rein in Sobyanin or even oust him lest he present a challenge to the center’s prerogatives, something that would likely infuriate Muscovites as a group.

            These reflections are prompted by the remarks of Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova who suggested that governors follow Moscow in coping with the third wave. She made that proposal at a meeting of the Russian government’s pandemic operational staff, and it was reported by the URA news agency (

            URA reported the observations of three Russian expert commentators, all of which point in the same direction. Dmitry Yelovsky, head of the Actor communications agency says that if the central government issues orders, the regional heads follow them, but if it doesn’t, they look to Moscow city because of its power and resources.

            Sergey Markov, another political commentator, says he expects the tougher measures Moscow has adopted in the crisis are likely to spread across the country because what has been done up to now hasn’t worked. And Dmitry Nechayev of the Institute for Political Analysis and Strategy says Sobyanin will be leading this because of his connections to the central government.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Putin Completing Transformation of Russian Party System into Carbon Copy of East Germany’s and North Korea’s, Preobrazhensky Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 25 – The Russian political system is increasingly an imitation of the kind of “multi-party democracy” which existed in East Germany and still exists in China and North Korea, a move that many believe reflects Vladimir Putin’s broader aspiration to “transformer Russia into the GDR,” Ivan Preobrazhensky says.

            The Moscow commentator reminds that before the end of the Soviet bloc, the political systems in the GDR, Poland and Czechoslovakia had “not only communist or ‘workers’ ruling parties but also allies subordinate to them,” thus giving voters “the illusion of choice” by offering them the chance to vote for “’their own’ party” (

            China and North Korea retain this arrangement even though it attracts little attention, Preobrzhensky continues. In North Korea, for example, 22 of the 687 seats in the Supreme Peoples Assembly are occupied by representatives of the Party of Young Friends of the Heavenly Path.

            In these systems, there is one ruling party and a number of smaller parties nominally independent but in fact subordinate to and even controlled by the ruling party. The Russian system under Putin has moved in that direction for some time, and there have been suggestions before of a GDR model. But now, Putin and his regime have taken further steps.

            According to Preobrazhensky, representatives of the Kremlin and the ruling party have had conversations with the leaders of all of Russia’s parties and made it clear that the other parties must stay close to the ruling party on all major and most minor questions. Those who violate this rule will suffer accordingly, he says they have been told.

            He details some of the rumors about what these talks have been like, but the bottom line is that at the very least, Preobrazhensky is correct in speaking about the final formalization of this GDR-style arrangement within the Russian political system, although given Russia’s regional arrangements, these smaller parties are likely to test the limits there in the future.

Moscow City’s Pothole Management Portal Benefits Residents and Regime, Sharafutdinova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 25 – Russia’s autocratic government is modern not just because it has reversed the democratization wave of three decades ago but because it is willing to make use of modern techniques in some spheres of life under its control for its direct benefit, according to Gulnaz Sharaftudinova.

            The Kremlin uses various digital technologies not to modernize its economy but rather as a medium to “control the agenda, divert attention, claim credit for successes or shift blame for failures,” the London-based scholar says. But it also uses the Internet to “improve governance, transparency and responsiveness to citizens’ demands” in certain limited fields.

            If its use of the media to reach and mobilize the population is well-known, she says, its use of this same medium as a feedback loop that allows the population to participate in governance and thus feel more a part of the system than would otherwise be the case (

            She draws that conclusion on the basis of a study she and two other scholars, Nisan Gorgulu and Jevgenijs Steinbuks prepared for the World Bank on pothole management in the city of Moscow (

            That study examined how Muscovites used the city’s Nash Gorod portal to report potholes they encountered in the city’s streets between 2012 and 2019. They filed more than 200,000 such complaints on this online platform, and the authorities were “quick to react,” correcting more than half of all complaints within eight days.

            Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin benefits from this, with those parts of the city which have used the portal to report potholes the most also being the part of the city that voted most heavily for him. Thus, Sharafutdinov concludes, “the strategy of engaging residents in governing their city appears to work.”

            Potholes are not the only thing Muscovites can file online reports about, she continues. They can also complain about housing problems and many other aspects of city life. The city’s resources allow it to respond, but the portal is a critical link, an example of modernity that helps both the population and the powers that be.

            St. Petersburg has a similar if smaller portal which has been the subject of study (, and it is likely that other Russian cities will in time copy the Moscow initiative, not only because of their traditional deference to the center but because this form of modernization works.

Kazakhstan Must Avoid Antagonizing China Lest It Be Dominated by Russia, Shibutov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 25 – There has been a rising tide of anti-Chinese sentiments in Kazakhstan in recent years, the result of Beijing’s sometime heavy-handed projection of its economic and political interests; but Kazakhstan must avoid antagonizing China because if it doesn’t, it will itself be dominated by Russia, Kazakh political scientist Marat Shibutov says.

            In Kazakhstan as in the rest of Central Asia, there are only two serious outside players, China and Russia, he continues; and that means that the Central Asian countries must avoid antagonizing one of them or alternatively driving them together so that they will adopt a common policy toward the region (

            It is in Kazakhstan’s interest that any Russian-Chinese alliance be about as few things as possible or develop only as far in the future as possible. Otherwise, Russia will be in a position to dominate the situation if China decides as it appears to have in recent months to cut back on trade and investment. Russia is the only other power on whom Kazakhstan can rely.

            Some Kazakhs imagine that by opposing China they can cause Beijing to change course or win support in the West by appearing to align themselves with Washington against China, Shibutov says. But they are wrong. On the one hand, Kazakhstan can do no more than give China a headache and one Beijing can address by cutting back support.

            And on the other, it is the height of naivete to think that the US will be able to offer an alternative to China’s one road, one path initiative in Central Asia. Washington will have many more opportunities to do so in East Asia and South Asia and certainly won’t focus on Central Asia in general or Kazakhstan in particular.

            In short, Shibutov says, Kazakhs have very few alternative ways to harm themselves as much as getting into a fight with China. If they do, China will lose little; but Kazakhstan will lose many of the benefits and independence it gained by pursuing a more cooperative policy with Beijing.

Demarcation of Tajik-Uzbek Border May Prove as Difficult as Delimitation Was

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 25 – Demarcation of the state border between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – that is the installation of border posts, fences and signage -- may prove as difficult and politically explosive as delimitation -- that is, agreement on where the line is between the two states – was, especially because it is being conducted in anything but a transparent manner.

            Earlier this year, the two countries announced that they had completely delimited the border, a statement that many took as the end of the story, even though they immediately said they would now address the question of demarcation by means of working groups ( and

            The presidents of the two countries made clear that they view demarcation as a technical issue, but experts in both countries warn that if it is not handled in an open way with the population along the frontier involved, it can be just as explosive as delimitation has proved to be in the region.

            The agreement on delimitation occurred, Uzbek and Tajik political scientists say, largely because of the personal involvement of the presidents; but the work on demarcation by its very nature is not something they will be directly involved with. As a result, there will be a tendency on both sides to avoid anything that looks like a concession to the other.

            If that happens, much of the progress that has been achieved will be vitiated; and there is even a risk that if demarcation does not occur quickly and in a completely open manner, the whole question of the border, delimitation as well as demarcation will be reopened, quite possibly with clashes between members of the two nations.

           The experts urge that Tashkent and Bishkek push for the working groups to open their deliberations to the public and to complete their work as soon as possible. The problem is that the first not only runs against what is the norm in both capitals but also risks delaying a final agreement.

            Consequently, the work of the five demarcation commissions now deserves just as much close attention as did the earlier meetings about delimitation.



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

Paul Goble

Staunton, June 25 – 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.      Wealth Inequality in Russia Far Worse than Income Inequality. As bad as income inequality has become in Russia, inequality in wealth has become far worse and is so catastrophic, some economists say, that Moscow should consider introducing inheritance taxes to reduce its transmission from one generation to another (

2.      FSB Classifies 1920 Kolchak Trail Documents. The Russian security service has classified all documents related to the 1920 trial of White Russian leader Admiral Kolchak. A historian seeking access has brought suit to try to force the FSB to change its decision (

3.      Russians Increasingly Want Death Penalty Restored. Polls show that 41 percent of Russians would like to see the death penalty restored for especially serious crimes, the highest figure in recent years (

4.      One in Three Pregnant Women in Poverty. A major explanation for Russia’s declining birthrate and resulting demographic problems is that having children increases the likelihood that couples who do will fall into poverty. Another is that one in three Russian women now pregnant are impoverished, something that makes it even less likely Russians will want to try to have children ( Meanwhile, however, the Moscow Patriarchate says that it doesn’t believe that a pregnancy resulting from a rape should be aborted (

5.      Seven Percent of Russian Officer Training Schools are Foreigners. Moscow continues its program of providing officer training to soldiers from other countries. This year, the Aviation Academy’s graduating class of almost 2000 included 145 men from 23 countries (

6.      Russia Should Shift Its Football Effort from Europe to Asia. Following Russia’s disastrous performance in the Euro-2000 football championships, one Russian fan has suggested that Moscow should turn its back on Europe in this sphere and become part of “Asiatic football” (

7.      Joking about Russian Xenophobia Brings Death Threats. Moscow standup comic Idrak Mirzalizade recently told a joke about xenophobia in Russia. His words offended Russian nationalist portals and television channels; and after they covered the story, he received more than a thousand threats including to his life (

8.      Livestock in Russia Seen Likely Victims of New Ban on Importing Animal Feeds. Russian officials have now banned the import of genetically modified feeds from Western countries, but agricultural experts say Russia won’t be able to make up the shortfall and that animals and meat production will suffer (

9.      Only Minority of Numerically Small Peoples of North have Internet Access. More than half of the numerically small nations in the Khanty-Mansiisk AD “live without Internet access,” a situation that the authorities plan to remedy by setting up IT hotspots in places where these people camp as they herd reindeer (

10.  Khabarovsk Court Blocks ‘Vagina Monologues’ Play. A court in the Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk has issued an injunction preventing the opening of the popular play, citing the need to defend “traditional values” (

11.  Defense Ministry Corruptly Disposing of Its Enormous Land Holdings. The Russian defense ministry controls some 12 million hectares of land in Russia. It doesn’t need all of it, and officers are selling some of it and pocketing the profits (

12.  Few Sakharov Statues Devoted to His Political Actions. There are in fact many statues to Academician Andrey Sakharov in Russia, but most have been erected to honor his role in the Soviet atomic bomb program rather than to celebrate his contribution to the liberalization of the USSR in Gorbachev’s times (

13.  Specially Limited Smart Phones Given to Russian Soldiers. After banning the use of cellphones by soldiers a year or more ago, the defense ministry has produced specially limited smart phones soldiers can use to contact their families but for few other purposes. It has also given these new controlled phones to the families of soldiers (

14.  Central Bank’s Limits on Refinancing Seen Producing Tsunami of Bankruptcies. The Russian Central Bank has issued new rules sharply restricting the ability of businesses to refinance, something experts say will produce a wave of bankruptcies especially since nearly one firm in three is operating at a loss ( and

15.  Sale of Stalin Vodka Banned in Canada. The Ukrainian community in Canada has succeeded in having the government ban the sale of Stalin Silver vodka. That brand is produced not in Russia but in Romania but has offended many Canadians (

16.  Northernsers Say Russia Isolated Now that Airports in Their Areas have Been Closed. Many will remember the London headline that fog in the channel had left Europe isolated. Something similar is happening in the Russian North. Reacting to the closure of their airports, they are now saying “we are on our own and Russia is on its own” (

17.  Russia Now has Its Own Equivalent to Black Lives Matter Movement. A Russian nationalist writer in St. Petersburg says the willingness of Russian officials to defer to demands by non-Russian minorities to remove statues of Russian heroes is giving rise to a Russian equivalent of the Black Lives Matter movement in the US (

18.  One Russian Construction Firm in Five Closed Last Year, Hitting Housing Construction Outside of Moscow Especially Hard. The economic crisis connected with the pandemic led to the closure of one in every five Russian construction companies. This trend hit smaller cities especially hard and means that there is not enough new housing stock being built because there is no one to put it up (

19.  Even Bard College’s Alger Hiss Chair Didn’t Keep Moscow from Declaring the School an ‘Undesirable’ Organization. One might have assumed Moscow, especially under Putin, would have avoided declaring Bard College in the US an undesirable organization because that school has a chair named for Soviet spy Alger Hiss. But apparently even that couldn’t prevent the wheels of injustice in Moscow from continuing to function (

20.  Chechnya Leads All Federal Subjects in Rise in Crime. Russian officials say that Chechenya saw the greatest increase in crime this year compared to last, and some Chechens are prepared to commit more crimes like killing anyone who criticized the republic’s boss, Ramzan Kadyrov ( and

21.  Employers’ Indebtedness to Russian Workers Resumes Climb. After falling slightly earlier this year, the amount of money Russian employers owe Russian workers in back pay has resumed its climb and now amounts to 1.6 billion rubles (24 million US dollars) (

22.  Moscow Media Says Kremlin Plans to Implant Chips in Russians’ Brains by 2029. Kommersant is among Moscow outlets saying that the Kremlin has decided to pursue a program that would lead to the insertion of computer chips into the brains of Russians to ensure greater control of the population by the state (

23.  Russian Skinheads Attack Caucasians and Brandish Guns. Attacks by Russian nationalists against people from the Caucasus in the streets of Moscow are nothing new. But one attack on June 22 was distinguished by the fact that the Russians involved threatened the others with guns (

24.  Rights Activists Condemn European Decisions to Return Chechens to Russia. Human rights groups in Europe and Russia have condemned the decision of some European countries to return Chechen refugees to the Russian Federation where they will certainly be subject to abuse and possibly death (

25.  Murder Charge No Obstacle to Reelection, LDPR Deputy Says. An LDPR deputy in Sverdlovsk says he expects to be re-elected even though he has been charged with murder ( In other election news, 40 percent of Russians say they like online voting, but 25 percent say they don’t trust any Russian political party ( and

26.  Had Tsars and Commissars Not Killed So Many, Nogays Say, They’d Now Number 15-20 Million, Not 100,000. Activists in Nogay regions in the North Caucasus say that if the genocide committed against them by Moscow had not happened, they would now number 15 to 20 million and not the handful more than 100,000 they now do (