Staunton, July 16 – 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. Blocking Video in Polling Places Increases Chances of Fraud and then Protests. Moscow’s decision to end video surveillance of polling places during the upcoming Duma votes highlights the Kremlin’s fear of how the vote will go, opens the way to more falsification and makes it more likely that Russians will see the vote as fraudulent and vote (finanz.ru/novosti/aktsii/rossiyanam-zakroyut-dostup-k-video-s-izbiratelnykh-uchastkov-1030610061 and kasparov.ru/material.php?id=60EF46185F0A4).
2. Half of All Young Russian Scientists will Leave Their Fields. According to the Academy of Sciences, up to half of all young scientists trained in Russia will not work in their fields but shift to more remunerative professions (trtrussian.com/novosti-rossiya/do-poloviny-molodyh-rossijskih-uchenyh-uhodyat-iz-nauki-v-pervye-gody-raboty-6046112 ).
3. Russian Olympians Told How to Respond to Political Questions. Members of the Russian Olympic team have been told how they should respond to questions about controversial subjects. In most cases, they are to say “no comment.” The Kremlin has said it backs this idea but that athletes are free to ignore it at their discretion (vedomosti.ru/society/articles/2021/07/14/878085-olimpiitsev-nauchili-otvechat-na-voprosi and znak.com/2021-07-14/kreml_obyasnil_zachem_olimpiycam_vydali_metodichki_s_otvetami_na_provokacionnye_voprosy).
4. Russian Publishers Urge Books with Hitler on Cover Be Destroyed. Because of a new Duma law banning portrayals of Nazi leaders, the Russian Book Union has urged destroying all books with pictures of Hitler on their covers (znak.com/2021-07-13/knizhnyy_soyuz_rekomendoval_utilizirovat_knigi_s_gitlerom_na_oblozhke_v_kremle_podderzhali).
5. Russian Now Sixth Official Language of International Wine Association. Reflecting the growth of wine production in Russia and Moscow’s efforts, the international wine making group has made Russian its sixth official language (znak.com/2021-07-12/russkiy_stal_oficialnym_yazykom_mezhdunarodnoy_organizacii_po_vinogradarstvu_i_vinodeliyu).
6. Three Russian Families in Four Experiencing Financial Difficulties. A new survey finds that 76 percent of Russian families are experiencing financial difficulties. Another poll finds that 45 percent want to see a return to Soviet-style price controls (rbc.ru/economics/14/07/2021/60ed95119a794760d7c93081 and finanz.ru/novosti/lichnyye-finansy/pochti-polovina-rossiyan-zakhoteli-kontrolya-nad-cenami-kak-v-sssr-1030610028).
7. Despite Official Opposition, March Commemorating Murder of Imperial Family Proceeds. Russian officials, citing pandemic concerns, sought to block a march commemorating the Bolshevik murder of the Imperial Family in Yekaterinburg this year. But Russian Orthodox and nationalist groups proceeded with it anyway (mbk-news.appspot.com/news/v-ekaterinburge-provedut/ and rusk.ru/newsdata.php?idar=89572).
8. Russians Take Out 1.7 Million Loans to Take Vacations. Desperate to take vacations but facing economic hardship, Russians took out a record 1.7 million loans in order to be able to take vacations this year (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/86606).
9. State Companies Pay Government 55 Percent Less. The economic crisis has driven down the earnings of state corporations and the amount they pay the government by 55 percent year on year (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/86587).
10. Security Council Official Says West trying to Provoke Economic Crisis in Russia. Aleksandr Abelin, an assistant to the secretary of the Russian Security Council, says that Western countries are trying to provoke an economic crisis in Russia (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/86589).
11. Only One Russian Businessman in Four is Optimistic about the Future. A new survey finds that only 28 percent of Russian businessmen have an optimistic view about the future of the Russian economy (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/86585).
12. More than 10 Percent of Russian Post-Graduate Students are Foreigners. The share of foreigners studying in Russian graduate schools has risen from 4.6 percent in 2014 to 10.8 percent now, according to the Higher School of Economics, with 9500 foreigners now enrolled (iq.hse.ru/news/480745014.html).
13. Opera on Plutonium Poisoning of Litvinenko Opens in Britain. An English opera company has opened performances of a new opera about the plutonium poisoning of Aleksandr Litvinenko by Russian security operatives (echo.msk.ru/blog/day_video/2871492-echo/).
14. Banner Showing Journalists and Opposition Figures Killed by Regime Quickly Taken Down in St. Petersburg. A banner with the pictures of Russian journalists, politicians, and rights activists who have been killed in Russia put up in St. Petersburg on the 12th anniversary of the murder of Natalya Estemirova was quickly taken down by officials (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/07/15/geroi-dnei-minuvshikh).
15. Sakhalin Newspaper Told to Print Only Positive News. A newspaper on Sakhalin was told to print only positive news. To ensure that it does, officials replaced the editor (zona.media/article/2021/07/16/uglegorsk).
16. Deaths in Russia from Drug Abuse Rose 60 Percent in Pandemic Year. Rosstat reports that the number of Russians who died from drug overdoses in 2020 rose by 60 percent over the year before (zona.media/news/2021/07/18/rosstat).
17. Being Dead No Protection Against Being Tried for Extremism in Russia. A Jehovah’s Witness who was charged with being extremist died before his trial began; but instead of dropping the case, officials have decided to go ahead and try him anyway (idelreal.org/a/31359624.html).
18. Two More Organizations Dissolve after Being Declared Undesirable. Command 29, a human rights group, and Project, an investigative journalist body, have declared they will dissolve although some of their members say they will continue to work for the same goals (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=60F44DEEDA934 and t.me/wwwproektmedia/608).
19. In First Half of 2021, 4,000 Russian Businesses Closed Each Day. The severity of the economic crisis in Russia is reflected in the fact that 4,000 enterprises have gone out of business each day between January and June 2021 (rusmonitor.com/rezhim-putina-ubivaet-malyj-biznes-so-skorostyu-4000-predpriyatij-v-sutki.html).
20. Russian Citizen Held in Guantanamo Doesn’t Want to Be Returned to Russia. Declaring the incarceration in Russia would be “a thousand times worse” than that in the US prison in Guantanamo, a Russian citizen is trying to block his possible extradition to his home country (bbc.com/russian/features-57869187).
21. Life Expectancy Fell in All Russian Regions in 2020. Life expectancy from birth fell in all Russian regions in 2020 because of the pandemic and related medical problems. (Stavropol in Russian-occupied Crimea was the only exception.) The biggest decline was in Chechnya where the average lifespan fell 3.8 years or five percent (rbc.ru/economics/17/07/2021/60f027639a7947a3f63412cb).
22. Inflation in Industry Reaches Highest Level Since 1990s. In a sign that more inflation is going to hit Russian consumers soon, inflation rates in the industrial sector have reached more than 30 percent, a figure not seen in that country since the 1990s (finanz.ru/novosti/aktsii/inflyaciya-v-rossiyskoy-promyshlennosti-dostigla-maksimuma-s-nachala-veka-1030616192).
23. Corruption on the Rise. Russian prosecutors reported that losses to the economy from corruption have risen from 23.1 billion rubles to 26.8 billion rubles (3.2 billion to 4 billion US dollars) over the past year (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/86717).
24. One Russian in Three Against Four-Day Workweek Fearing Waves will Be Cut. A new Superjob survey reports that a third of Russians are against shifting to a four-day workweek because they are sure the government and business will use that to reduce their wages (ura.news/news/1052494953).
25. 97 Percent of Duma Legislation This Year Simply Reworking of Old Laws. A major reason why the Duma finds it so easy to issue new laws is that little of its legislation is wholly new. According to a new study, 97 percent of the measures the legislature approved in the past year was not new but rather a simple reworking and amending of earlier laws (iarex.ru/articles/81805.html).
26. UNICEF Says 400,000 Russians Living at Brink of Hunger. According to the UN agency, 400,000 Russians are suffering from an inability to purchase food and are close to starvation. More than nine million Russians do not have enough quality food to eat now (vrain.ru/news/junisef_bolee_devjati_millionov_rossijan_nedoedajut-533957/?from=rss).
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