Tuesday, July 6, 2021

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

Paul Goble

Staunton, July 2 – 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.      Polar Bears Disappearing Faster in Russian North than in Other Arctic Countries. Because of climate change, polar bear populations in the Russian North are plummeting, and experts say that there won’t be any left in Russia in 50 years, although some may be left in Canada and Greenland (thebarentsobserver.com/ru/klimaticheskiy-krizis/2021/07/belym-medvedyam-na-shpicbergene-i-v-rossiyskoy-arktike-grozit).

2.      Russian Court Imposes Prison Term on Woman Who Tried to Extract Money from Stalin Relative. Anastasya Belyanina was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for her role in a scheme designed to force a relative of Stalin to pay her more than three million rubles (40,000 US dollars) (kommersant.ru/doc/4887395).

3.      Malenkov’s Son Exposes Khrushchev’s Machinations after Death of Stalin. The son of Georgy Malenkov whom Nikita Khrushchev elbowed aside after the death of the dictator has provided new details on the lengths Khrushchev went in order to oust his rivals and win power (kp.ru/daily/28299.5/4438463/).

4.      Red Square Demonstration for Same Sex Marriages Lasts 15 Seconds. Russian police wasted no time in shutting down a protest against Russian laws that do not allow same sex marriages in that country. They told the demonstrators they had 15 seconds to disperse (svobodaradio.livejournal.com/5562695.html).

5.      Centenary of Russian Orthodox Church Abroad Marked in Moscow-Controlled Donetsk. Few in the Russian Federation marked the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, but activists in Moscow-controlled Donetsk, Ukraine, did. The activists also put up a statue to St. John of Shanghai (rusk.ru/newsdata.php?idar=89509).

6.      Washington Warns Americans Not to Travel to North Caucasus. Saying the situation in the North Caucasus is dangerously unstable, the US Department of State recommended that Americans not travel there at the present time (natpressru.info/index.php?newsid=12490).

7.      Russians without US Visas Coming to America via Mexico. Many Russians who want to move to the US but don’t have visas have adopted a two-stage strategy. First, they move to Mexico, and then they cross the US border and surrender to American immigration officials (theins.ru/en/politics/243201).

8.      Russian Irregulars in Central African Republic Caught Stealing Cattle. The Russian “private military companies” operating in the CAR have been caught stealing cattle from hard-pressed local people who are demanding that those responsible be expelled (humangle.ng/russian-mercenaries-accused-of-stealing-cattle-from-peul-herdsmen-in-central-african-republic/).

9.      Moscow Steps Up Campaign against Anime. Convinced that anime films encourage the cruelty, suicide, and non-traditional sexual relationships, the Russian government has expanded its campaign to ban the appearance of anime film clips on the Internet (roskomsvoboda.org/post/saratov-prokuror-zapretil-inuyashiki/).

10.  Siberian City Must Be Evacuated Because of Enormous Chemical Spill. Three years ago, a factory in Usolye Siberskoye released more than two million tons of highly dangerous metals, including mercury, that has contaminated the air and water there. Activists say that the authorities must clean up the mess and move the people out while doing so (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/07/02/neobkhodimo-prinimat-reshenie-pereseliat-zhitelei-ili-net).

11.  Putin’s People Couldn’t Even Run Direct Line Program Well. Commentator Abbas Gallyamov says that this year’s Direct Line program was the most poorly run from a technical point of view of all of them, a sign of the degradation of the Putin regime at the top (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=60DD4EB8A3E42).

12.  Fires Ravage Russian Far East. Forest fires are spreading across Siberia and the Far East, with so many right along the Chinese border that some Russians think Beijing is somehow involved ( plus-one.ru/ecology/uchenye-poteplenie-uvelichit-vdvoe-kolichestvo-lesnyh-pozharov-v-rossii and rbc.ru/rbcfreenews/60dd50b39a79472b2f7e7b91). Among the places closed down by fires is the Road of Bones in Kolyma, the site of one of Stalin’s most notorious camp districts (siberiantimes.com/other/others/news/kolyma-highway-in-yakutia-also-known-as-the-road-of-bones-is-on-fire-and-temporarily-shut/).

13.  You Too Can Soon Sleep Where Beria Did. The dacha of Lavrenty Beria, Stalin’s notorious secret police chief, has been sold to a developer who plans to reopen it as a first-class hotel (ekhokavkaza.com/a/31328340.html).

14.  Moscow’s New Tariffs on Export of Raw Materials Threatens Sector, Its Leaders Say. The Russian metals industry says that new export tariffs Moscow has imposed threaten its ability to continue to be profitable (znak.com/2021-06-29/konflikt_prodolzhaetsya_metallurgi_shokirovany_resheniem_pravitelstva_ob_eksportnyh_poshlinah).

15.  Psychologist Says Most Urban Russians are ‘Unhappy Neurotics.’ Ludmila Petranovskaya says that the majority of urban Russians are “unhappy neurotics. Becauses of that, new crisis centers are appearing to handle the psychological problems of people from all walks of life (newizv.ru/news/society/30-06-2021/psiholog-lyudmila-petranovskaya-bolshinstvo-gorozhan-sostavlyayut-neschastnye-nevrotiki  and dailystorm.ru/obschestvo/prihodyat-obychnye-menedzhery-i-dazhe-nachalniki-kak-v-rossii-rabotayut-krizisnye-centry-dlya-muzhchin).

16.  Another Newspeak Moment with Peskov. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov frequently engages in newspeak. Hie latest is priceless. He says that “judges in Russia are entirely independent from other branches of government and from anyone else.” Anyone saying otherwise must be charged with slander (forum-msk.org/material/news/17266310.html).

17.  Russian Courts Fine Ukrainian and Belarusian Pastors for Illegal Missionary Work. Russian courts are now applying laws restricting missionary activity without explicit permission to pastors from Belarus and Ukraine, imposing heavy fines on those who violate the Russian rules (credo.press/237934/).

18.  Defense Ministry Forming 1800-Man Unit to Work on BAM. The Russian military is now forming an 1800-man unit that will be dispatched to the Russian Far East to reconstruct the Baikal-Amur Mainline railway (tvzvezda.ru/news/2021630850-WHVi6.html).

19.  Russia Now in Bottom Five of 50 Largest Economies in Terms of Population’s Well-Being. Putin’s policies have plunged Russians to the bottom of the list of the world’s largest economists in terms of popular well-being, economists say (rusmonitor.com/vot-on-kakoj-plan-putina-blagosostoyanie-rossiyan-za-god-upalo-eshhe-na-96.html).

20.  Dozens of Duma Deputies have Never Proposed Legislation or Even Spoke in Debates. The Duma is dominated by a small number of deputies; most of the rest have never proposed a single piece of legislation during their tenure there or even taken part in debates (echo.msk.ru/news/2863794-echo.html). Ekho Moskvy says the Kremlin, not the election commission, decided to go over to three days of voting (realtribune.ru/reshenie-o-trehdnevnom-golosovanii-prinyato-v-administracii-prezidenta-a-ne-v-cik-rossii-venediktov).

21.  Cossacks Assume Police Role in Murmansk. Even though there is no Cossack tradition in the Russian Far North, Cossacks are now performing police functions in Murmansk as part of the Russian National Guard (thebarentsobserver.com/en/security/2021/07/whip-defies-baton).

22.  Russian Government Refuses to Impose Luxury Tax. Russia’s super rich have dodged the bullet: the Russian government has decided not to impose a luxury tax on the owners of yachts, private jets, and property valued at more than 50 million rubles (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/86419).

23.  Almost Half of All Russians have an Unhealthy Way of Life. More than 45 percent of all Russians do not eat right, consume too much alcohol, smoke and fail to get enough exercise, according to a new government report (bakdar.org/pochti-polovina-rossiyan-vedut-nezdorovyj-obraz-zhizni/).

24.  Family Violence in Russia Can Be Ended if Women are Taught Self-Defense. Recent horrific cases of abuse within families have sparked a debate on what to do. One proposal now apparently gaining traction is that family violence can be limited in Russia if women are taught the basic principles of self-defense (mk.ru/social/2021/07/04/nayden-sposob-snizit-uroven-domashnego-nasiliya-v-rossii.html).

25.  Russians Threatened with Loss of French Champagne. Vladimir Putin signed into law a new set of rules requiring that champagne be labelled sparkling wine. French producers were outraged and said they wouldn’t do that. Instead, they would stop selling their unique wine in Russia. Russian consumers were outraged, but business interests triumphed. After a week of back and forth, the French producers backed down and will sell their champagne with the hated words on the etiquette (graniru.org/Society/Law/m.282093.html and rfi.fr/ru/россия/20210704-moёt-согласился-маркировать-свое-шампанское-как-игристое-вино-в-россии).

26.  Foreigners Commit Relatively Few Crimes in Russia. The interior ministry says that foreigners and persons without citizenship committed only 3.5 percent of all crimes in the first five months of this year despite all the attention such actions attract (nazaccent.ru/content/36089-mvd-opublikovalo-statistiku-prestuplenij-sovershaemyh-na.html).

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