Staunton, June 4 – 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. Putin Says US-Russian Relations Hostage to Domestic American Politics. Speaking to the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, Vladimir Putin says that Russia and the US do not have “any disagreements” with the US but that tensions between the two countries reflect US domestic politics and the desire to “restrain our development.” In other comments, he said he did not consider the economic situation in Russia, including rising unemployment, a catastrophe (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/85861).
2. Putin Says His Mother Worked Nights to Take Care of Him During the Day. Also in St. Petersburg, the Kremlin leader spoke about his family, something he rarely does. He said his mother worked nights when he was growing up so that she could be home to take care of him, the only child in the family after two siblings died in the war (ura.news/news/1052487720).
3. Russian Supreme Court Working to Reduce Number of Cases Heard by Juries. In order to prevent juries from finding Russians charged with crimes not guilty, a lawyer says that the Supreme Court is doing everything it can to reduce the number of cases heard by juries and is encouraging appeals of not guilty verdicts in order to ensure that far fewer than one percent of all those charged are convicted (newizv.ru/news/society/28-05-2021/advokat-predsedatelyu-verhovnogo-suda-pravosudie-v-rossii-stalo-pridatkom-vlasti).
4. Moscow Patriarchate Says It is Too Soon to Stop Blessing Nuclear Weapons. After a priest called for an end to the practice of having the church bless Russia’s nuclear weapons, Vladimir Legoyda, head of the Synod’s department for church-society relations, said it was too soon for the Russian church to take such a step (newsru.com/russia/28may2021/archimandrite.html https://credo.press/237436/).
5. Russian Women in Moscow Choosing Tajiks to be Their Husbands. Research shows that Russian women are increasingly inclined to marry ethnic Tajiks, something that may help integrate the latter into Russian society but that is certain to anger many Russian nationalists (stanradar.com/news/full/44962-issledovanie-chasche-vsego-sredi-inostrantsev-moskvichki-vybirajut-v-muzhja-tadzhikov.html).
6. Fewer than One Russian in Four Thinks Economy in Their Country will Soon Improve. Only 22 percent tell Romir pollsters that they believe the Russian economy will improve in the near future. Forty-three percent say they expect it to remain much as it is now, with the remainder, just under a quarter, either expecting a further deterioration or refusing to give an opinion (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/85751). Another study reports that 19 percent of Russians now drawing a pension are still working (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/85772).
7. Even in Kolyma, Sizeable Majority of Russians Face Using Prisoners in Place of Immigrants. Seventy-one percent of Russians across the country favor plans to use prisoners to perform work now being carried out by immigrants. Their numbers include residents of Kolyma, for many still a symbol of Stalin’s GULAG (rbc.ru/society/01/06/2021/60b50e699a79475c86b13219 and https://govoritmagadan.ru/na-kolyme-zainteresovalis-ideej-zamenit-migrantov-zakljuchjonnymi/). Among those opposed, however, are prisoners themselves (nakanune.ru/news/2021/6/2/22603659/).
8. Lukoil Lies About Oil Spill. Environmental activists have found that a river in the Komi Republic that Lukoil said had not been damaged by an oil spill from the company in fact is contaminated at a level 500 times the rate the government considers safe and acceptable (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/06/01/ochen-griaznaia-lozh).
9. Kremlin Says It is Not Paying Any Attention to Competition to Identify Worst Bathrooms in Russian Schools. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says that the Kremlin isn’t paying any attention to the competition and believes that the state of such facilities is the responsibility of each local government (meduza.io/feature/2021/06/01/schitayut-li-v-kremle-konkurs-na-zvanie-hudshego-shkolnogo-tualeta-popytkoy-zapada-diskreditirovat-rossiyu-otvechaet-dmitriy-peskov).
10. Russian Sparkling Wine Production Projected to Collapse. Because of a shortage of domestic grapes and existing sanctions, Russia will produce as much as 40 percent less sparkling wine this year than last, industry officials say (znak.com/2021-06-02/v_rossii_ozhidayut_padeniya_proizvodstva_igristyh_vin_na_40_iz_za_deficita_syrya).
11. Moscow Reimposes Soviet-Style Travel Limits on US Diplomats. In response to the US decision to leave the Open Skies treaty, Moscow has announced that it will now require US diplomats travelling outside of Moscow any distance to get advance permission just as was the case in Soviet times (russtrat.ru/news/3-iyunya-2021-1230-4505).
12. Russian Sex Workers Say Government Failing to Protect Them. The Russian Forum of Sex Workers says that the authorities in their country are failing to prosecute those who rape or harm its members, thus opening the way to still more abuse (sibreal.org/a/pochemu-seks-rabotniki-v-rossii-lisheny-prav/31284827.html). Meanwhile, Russian men who work as escorts say that their business has been seriously harmed by the pandemic and fears of the spread of the coronavirus (dailystorm.ru/obschestvo/razmer-imeet-znachenie-kak-v-rossii-rabotayut-muzhchiny-po-vyzovu).
13. The Poorer the Non-Russian Republic, the Wealthier Its Boss. Chechnya is one of the poorest republics in Russia but its head, Ramzan Kadyrov, has been identified as the richest regional head. A similar pattern holds across the non-Russian portions of the country (caucasustimes.com/ru/chem-bednee-region-tem-bogache-ego-glava/).
14. Russia Gets Its Own George Floyd Case. Moscow media have had a field day about the horrific killing of George Floyd by police officers, but they have given much less attention to a situation within Russia in which Novosibirsk police have killed an Azerbaijani, a case that some are calling Russia’s very own George Floyd case (apn-spb.ru/opinions/article33526.htm).
15. 95 Percent of Russian Youth Upset about Social Inequality in Their Country. A survey conducted by sociologists at Moscow State University finds that 19 out of 20 young people are upset by the amount of income inequality in Russia. Most believe the richest decile should earn no more than four to six times what the lowest decile does. In Russia today, the ratio if 15 to 16 times, one of the highest in the world (newizv.ru/article/general/04-06-2021/tsifra-dnya-pochti-95-molodyh-lyudey-zhaluyutsya-na-sotsialnoe-neravenstvo-v-strane).
16. Khabarovsk Residents Again Demonstrate on Behalf of Ousted Governor. Once again, the residents of the city in the Russian Far East have gone into the streets in support of their former governor Sergey Furgal, this time because many believe his treatment in jail may lead to his death (sibreal.org/a/miting-v-podderzhku-furgala/31291834.html). At least for the moment, the authorities have not cracked down, perhaps not wanting to embarrass Vladimir Putin who has just claimed to an international audience that the opposition in Russia can and does work “openly” (tass.ru/politika/11575227).
17. Two Thirds of Russians Feel They’re Free; One Third Don’t. A new Levada Center poll finds that 64 percent of Russians feel they are free people, down only slightly from a sampling in 2014 when 69 percent did, while 35 percent don’t feel free, up from 22 percent seven years ago (levada.ru/2021/06/04/prava-i-svobody/).
18. Volgograd Residents Launch Petition to Be in New Time Zone; Irkutsk Residents against a New Orthodox Church. Petitions are an increasingly popular way for residents of cities outside of Moscow to protest. Residents of Volgograd have collected more than 40,000 signatures on a petition to shift the time zone the city is located it, while Irkutsk residents have gathered more than 1200 in opposition of plans to build a new Orthodox church in the center of town (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/364625/ and credo.press/237528/).
19. VTimes Forced to Close for Economic Reasons Brought on by Political Situation. In shuttering operations after its journalists had tried to maintain their independence after the powers that be took over Vedomosti where most had worked, a move that led the Kremlin to declare their new project “a foreign agent,” the VTimes staff said they had been forced to close because they could no longer finance their operations but added that they could no longer do so because of the political situation znak.com/2021-06-03/izdanie_vtimes_obyavilo_o_zakrytii_posle_vklyucheniya_v_reestr_smi_inoagentov. News.Ru was similar forced to shut down for the same reasons (newsru.com/russia/31may2021/newsrucomoutoforder2.html).
20. Russian Post Now Using Drones to Deliver Mail in Parts of Chukotka. Because residents live in such widely dispersed areas connected by few roads, the Russian postal service is now using drones to deliver mail there (nazaccent.ru/content/35861-v-otdalennye-naselennye-punkty-chukotki-pochtu.html).
21. Russians Would Like to Have Two Children But Can’t See Any Chance to Have More. A new survey finds that Russians would like to have two children but can’t see any chance to have more given their incomes, small apartments, and the loss in many cases of partners (regnum.ru/news/society/3283120.html).
22. Moscow Announces Plan to Extend Street Cameras Across Russia. The Russian government has installed street cameras in major cities to fight crime, according to officials, but to control the population, according to many opposition figures. But now Moscow has decided to extent the street camera system to almost all municipalities in the country (svobodaradio.livejournal.com/5444113.html).
23. Moscow Set to Require International IT Companies to Maintain Offices in Russia. The Duma has passed on first reading a measure that it is likely to pass. It will require all IT companies regardless of where their home bases are to open offices in the Russian Federation, an arrangement that will give the Kremlin added leverage on them (rusmonitor.com/gosduma-odobrila-zakonoproekt-o-rusifikaczii-zarubezhnyh-it-gigantov.html).
24. NKVD Theater in Vorkuta in 1943 Celebrated as “Promoter of Cultural Progress.” Russian journalists are praising many things from Stalin’s time. Perhaps the most remarkable is an article in a St. Petersburg portal saying that the establishment of a prison theater in Vorkuta in 1943 represented an important stimulus for cultural progress by providing activities for actors and other theater people confined in the GULAG (gorod-812.ru/krepostnoj-teatr-hh-veka-nkvd-kak-dvigatel-kulturnogo-progressa/).
25. St. Petersburg Forum a Success, Some Say, Because No One There has been Arrested. It is a measure of how low the standards of success have fallen in Russia that one attendee at the St. Petersburg International Business Forum said it must be counted a success because no one at the meeting had yet been arrested (business-gazeta.ru/article/511753).
26. Melor Sturua Dies. Melor Sturua, a prominent Soviet journalist and then émigré scholar who was also rumored to have changed his name in 1956 so that it would be an acronym for Marx, Engels, and the October Revolution but not for Stalin as well, has died (iz.ru/1172398/izvestiia/chestnoe-slovo-kakim-zapomnitsia-legendarnyi-spetckor-izvestii-melor-sturua).