Staunton, June 18 – 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 Denies Russians have ‘Habit to Kill.’ In an interview before the Geneva summit, Vladimir Putin said that Russians don’t have any “habit to kill.” Instead, individuals kill others just as in other countries. Aleksey Navalny was being treated “no worse” than other prisoners, he added (stoletie.ru/lenta/putin_u_nas_net_privychki_ubivat_670.htm, znak.com/2021-06-14/putin_poobechal_chto_s_navalnym_v_kolonii_budut_obrachatsya_ne_huzhe_chem_s_drugimi and znak.com/2021-06-12/putin_zayavil_nbc_chto_ubiycy_politkovskoy_nemcova_i_magnitskogo_naydeny). But a new investigation finds that doctors falsified Navalny’s medical records to bring them into line with the Kremlin’s position (navalny.com/p/6493/).
2. Russians Could View Porn Online with Moscow’s Permission under New Plan. The Russian government may get involved with pornography in a new way, not banning it outright but rather requiring that those who want to watch it online apply to the government for permission so that minors can’t watch it, a proposal that experts say won’t work and may backfire (ehorussia.com/new/node/23690).
3. Flooding Allows Crocodiles to Escape in Russian-Occupied Crimea. As if the people of Russian-occupied Crimea did not have enough problems, flooding has allowed alligators in a Yalta zoo to escape and roam nearby areas (znak.com/2021-06-20/v_yalte_zatopilo_krokodilyarium_reptilii_okazalis_na_svobode). As least one positive development in the region occurred last week, however. Cossacks who are guarding the streets will no longer carry nagaikas to threaten people (nazaccent.ru/content/35922-kazaki-ne-budut-patrulirovat-krym-s.html).
4. Problems in Daily Life Undermining Traditions of Non-Russians and Russians Too. Sakha residents say that the problems they face in their daily life are making it ever more difficult to maintain their ethnic traditions, a problem not limited to that republic but true for all groups, including ethnic Russians (yakutiafuture.ru/2021/06/19/kak-bytovye-problemy-respubliki-stanovyatsya-ugrozoj-dlya-nacionalnyx-tradicij/).
5. Putin’s Favorite Churchman Gets a Seminary. Metropolitan Tikhon, long rumored to be Vladimir Putin’s favorite Orthodox leader and an odds’ on favorite to succeed Kirill as patriarch, has acquired another weapon in pursuit of that goal: he has achieved the opening of a seminary in Pskov which will allow him to prepare future priests in his own image (ahilla.ru/otkryta-pskovo-pecherskaya-seminariya/).
6. Fewer Muslims Attending Services Now, Moscow Mufti Laments. Mufti Ildar Alyautdinov says fewer Muslims are coming to mosques in his city, something that may reflect pandemic fears or perhaps other concerns (nazaccent.ru/content/35956-muftij-moskvy-v-stolice-v-neskolko.html).
7. Moscow Plans Not Only to Have Street Cameras Everywhere but to Link Them Together. The Russian government not only plans to install street cameras throughout the country ostensibly to fight crime but in fact to control the population but also to link all of them into a single system permitting Moscow to monitor developments in this way everywhere in the country (thinktanks.by/publication/2021/06/16/rossiya-planiruet-obedinit-vse-kamery-videonablyudeniya-v-edinuyu-sistemu.html).
8. Russians Evenly Divided on Whether There is a Threat to Their Country’s Territorial Integrity. VTsIOM reports that Russians are nearly equally divided as to whether Russia faces the threats to its territorial integrity the Kremlin constantly talks about (wciom.ru/analytical-reviews/analiticheskii-obzor/granica-na-zamke).
9. Money for Textbooks for Non-Russians Being Diverted into Pockets of Russian Officials. Moscow has been spending ever less in real terms on textbooks in non-Russian languages, but that trend has been compounded in a negative way because officials in charge are diverting funds appropriated for that purpose into their own pockets (trtrussian.com/novosti-rossiya/chinovniki-nazhivalis-na-uchebnikah-po-rodnym-yazykam-narodov-rf-5782836).
10. Only One Major Russian Company in Five Cares about the Environment. Research by a team of investigators led by the Higher School of Economics finds that 80 percent of leading Russian companies have no concern about the environment. Only 20 percent of them say they take it into consideration in their plans and operations (polit.ru/article/2021/06/16/eco/).
11. Russian Industries Use More Power to Produce Each Product than Almost Any Other Country. Russian firms not only ignore the environment directly but harm it in another way that will make change difficult: long used to inexpensive energy, they use more of it in each product they put out than almost any other country (https://krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/86043).
12. One Russian in Eight Declares Avoiding the Draft a Priority. While 61 percent of Russians say military service is something every Russian man should perform, a remarkable 12 percent tell the Levada Center than avoiding the draft is a major priority for them (levada.ru/2021/06/17/o-sluzhbe-v-armii-po-prizyvu/).
13. Illegal Operators Compromising Cemetery Operations. Illegal and unregistered funeral service operations are leaving large swaths of Russian cemeteries without anyone responsible for the graves and driving up prices for those who use the officially registered ones (newizv.ru/news/society/15-06-2021/spok-20-30-mogil-na-kladbischah-yavlyayutsya-beshoznymi).
14. Far Eastern Hectare Program Extended to Far North. The anything-but-successful “Far Eastern hectare” program in which Russians are given homestead in the far east to encourage them to move there rather than leave is now being extended to the Arctic where it is likely to attract even fewer Russians even as it sets the stage for conflicts with the indigenous population (eastrussia.ru/news/dalnevostochnye-gektary-nachnut-vydelyat-s-1-avgusta-v-arktike/).
15. Cellphone Cameras Now Exposing Russia’s Problems. Just as cellphones have exposed police brutality in the United States, so too they are now being used by Russians to photograph and then put on line pictures of the worst living conditions and environmental disasters in that country (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/06/14/russkie-narodnye-skazki-v-200-km-ot-stolitsy).
16. Russian Journal Comes Out in Support of Anti-Lukashenka Protests in Belarus. Iskusstvo Kino has broken ranks with the Russian media and featured an article supporting the anti-Lukashenka protests in Belarus (charter97.org/ru/news/2021/6/14/425948/). Russian Chemical Troops Get Icon of Their Heavenly Protector. While debates rage as to whether Orthodox priests should continue to bless Russian nuclear weapons, the country’s chemical troops have been given an icon of their heavenly protector (newizv.ru/news/army/11-06-2021/ikonu-pokrovitelya-voysk-rhb-zaschity-osvyatili-v-glavnom-hrame-vooruzhennyh-sil). Meanwhile, Patriarch Kirill says that anyone who dies for Russia will go immediately to heaven (ura.news/news/1052489477).
17. Moscow Play about Young Stalin Outrages Many. The opening of a play about the young Stalin, “the remarkable Georgian,” as Lenin called him, has outraged many both because of its subject and because of some of the actors and actresses who are playing key roles (dailystorm.ru/news/mhat-priglasil-zyuganova-posle-kritiki-buzovoy-na-spektakl-pro-stalina).
18. Despite Russia’s Needs, Moscow Kept Building Cultural Centers during Pandemic. Last year, the culture ministry opened more than 300 cultural centers in Russian cities and towns and plans to open even more this year, spending money that might otherwise have gone to healthcare and education (gumilev-center.ru/bolee-300-domov-kultury-v-god-planiruyut-otkryvat-v-rossii/).
19. Russian Archives Destroying Documents to Save Money. Many specialists fear that Russia is on the brink of “a third archive war,” this time because officials are destroying archives so as to save money rather than to hide anything but the result will be similar – Russia will lose another chance to investigate its history honestly (newsib.net/obshchestvo/vitalij-semenov-rossiya-stoit-na-poroge-tretej-arxivnoj-vojny.html).
20. Baranov Says World May be as Tired of Russia as of Ukraine. Anatoly Baranov, editor of the pro-communist Forum-MSK portal, says the Kremlin is wrong to think that the world is tired only of Ukraine. It is tired of Russia and the antics of its government as well (forum-msk.org/material/news/17231513.html).
21. ‘Lukashenka-ization’ Enters Russian Vocabulary. Russians are increasingly speaking of the Lukashenka-ization of their country, given the increasing number of cases in which Moscow is copying Minsk in its repression of its own population (echo.msk.ru/blog/govorimporusski/2854138-echo/).
22. Chechnya Claims It Acted Correctly in Raiding Shelter in Daghestan and Moscow Refuses to Condemn It. The Chechen government says it has every right to send its forces into neighboring republics to recover its own citizens, and the Kremlin, given a chance to distance itself from this, refuses to do so, thus opening the way for more abuses by Ramzan Kadyrov and his goons (https://capost.media/news/obshchestvo/vlasti-chechni-nazvali-zakonnym-shturm-ubezhishcha-zhertv-nasiliya-v-makhachkale/ and https://www.kavkazr.com/a/31309170.html).
23. Russian Housing Stock in Increasing Trouble. More than 500,000 Russians live in housing that should be condemned as uninhabitable, but there is little chance that new housing will become available anytime soon. There aren’t enough migrant workers to build new houses, there is a housing bubble in many places, prices of construction materials are soaring, and fire protection services are collapsing which means that more Russians will lose their homes (znak.com/2021-06-19/stepashin_bolee_polumilliona_rossiyan_prozhivaet_v_avariynyh_domah, alternatio.org/articles/articles/item/92223-kuda-dvizhetsya-promyshlennost-i-infrastruktura-rossii https://ehorussia.com/new/node/23676, kp.ru/daily/27290/4428943/, krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/85998 and trtrussian.com/novosti-rossiya/schetnaya-palata-predupredila-ob-opasnosti-novogo-krizisa-v-rossii-5785920).
24. New Problems in Hunting Sector. The Duma has raised the age at which Russians can legally own guns in the hopes of stopping Columbine-like disasters, but it has also allowed gun owners to shoot in populated areas, something that had previously been banned (https://nazaccent.ru/content/35930-podnimayushaya-vozrast-priobreteniya-ohotnichego-oruzhiya-popravka.html and zona.media/article/2021/06/16/wild-hunt). And a scandal has hit the branch with a United Russia deputy found using dead birds to form a slogan on the ground in Sakha (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/06/18/my-ego-nashli and novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/06/15/ubivat-okhota-18).
25. Russia Faces Serious Shortage of Teachers. Russia is rapidly losing its teaching staff to retirement and to departures that reflect extremely low salaries. As a result, many schools lack teachers in many subjects, and those without training in one area are nonetheless being forced to teach it, driving educational attainment down further (newizv.ru/news/society/12-06-2021/v-strane-nehvatka-uchiteley-chto-delat-i-kto-vinovat).
26. Some Americans Moving to Russia in Search of ‘Traditional Values;’ Some Russians Fleeing US as Their Roles in January 6 Insurrection are Investigated. A small number of Americans who say they want to live in a country guided by traditional values are moving to Russia, while a larger number of Russians now being investigated for their possible role in the January 6 insurrection are leaving the US and returning home (russian.rt.com/russia/article/873063-semya-cennosti-ssha-kanada-grazhdanstvo-rf and trtrussian.com/magazine/sootechestvenniki-v-tylu-vraga-fbr-proveryaet-rossijskuyu-diasporu-v-ssha-5741518).