Tuesday, June 29, 2021

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 (kp.ru/daily/28295/4433467/).

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 (team29.org/court/sud-delo-kolchaka/).

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 (znak.com/2021-06-25/opros_chislo_rossiyan_zhelayuchih_vernut_smertnuyu_kazn_dostiglo_maksimuma_s_2007_goda).

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 (rosbalt.ru/posts/2021/06/25/1908459.html). Meanwhile, however, the Moscow Patriarchate says that it doesn’t believe that a pregnancy resulting from a rape should be aborted (znak.com/2021-06-27/v_rpc_schitayut_chto_beremennost_posle_iznasilovaniya_ne_povod_dlya_aborta).

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 (kp.ru/daily/28296.5/4435626/).

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” (vz.ru/opinions/2021/6/24/1105473.html).

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 (mbk-news.appspot.com/news/mirzalizade/).

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 (zona.media/article/2021/06/25/zoo).

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 (ura.news/news/1052490950).

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” (graniru.org/Society/Neuro/m.282047.html).

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 (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/06/25/karty-ne-skhodiatsia).

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 (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=60D4C7109B544).

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 (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=60D4BDF256DEC).

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 (ng.ru/economics/2021-06-27/1_8183_economics1.html and krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/86279).

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 (iarex.ru/news/81548.html).

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” (thebarentsobserver.com/en/node/8521).

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 (http://apn-spb.ru/opinions/article33606.htm).

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 (profile.ru/economy/regiony-bez-zastrojshhikov-pochemu-v-rossii-stali-stroit-menshe-zhilya-880074/).

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 (meduza.io/feature/2021/06/23/v-rossii-vpervye-priznali-nezhelatelnoy-organizatsiey-tselyy-universitet-amerikanskiy-bard-kolledzh).

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 (kavkazr.com/a/31320136.html and svobodaradio.livejournal.com/5517168.html).

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) (capost.media/news/ekonomika/v-rossii-uvelichilas-zadolzhennost-po-zarplate/).

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 (kommersant.ru/doc/4867795).

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 (sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/racism-nationalism/2021/06/d44451/).

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 (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/365331/).

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 (nakanune.ru/articles/117173/). 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 (znak.com/2021-06-24/vciom_okolo_40_rossiyan_nazvali_onlayn_golosovanie_bolee_udobnym_chem_tradicionnoe and iq.hse.ru/news/480089149.html).

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 (kavkazr.com/a/31322493.html).

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