Staunton, Aug. 6 – 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. Moscow Begins Construction of New Command Plane for Running a Nuclear War. The Russian government has long had a specially outfitted plane in which the leadership will fly in the event of a nuclear war. It has hyped the announcement that it has begun constructing a replacement aircraft (znak.com/2021-07-26/v_rossii_nachalos_sozdanie_novogo_samoleta_sudnogo_dnya).
2. 50 Percent of Russians who Medaled at Tokyo Olympics in the Russian Guard. The Soviet government had a massive program to support athletes in training for international competition. That system collapsed along with the USSR. Now, as a substitute for it, Moscow has athletes become members of the Russian Guard, the military and the police and practice there. Indicative of this shift: half of Russia’s medal winners in Tokyo are employed by the Russian Guard (trtrussian.com/sport/50-rossijskih-nagrad-na-oi-2020-vzyali-rosgvardejcy-voennye-i-policejskie-6229408).
3. Marriages Down Dramatically in Russia Because of Low Birthrates in 1990s. The generation reaching adulthood and marriageable age is much smaller than its predecessors because it was born in the 1990s when birthrates plummeted. As a result, in St. Petersburg alone, there were 29 percent fewer weddings in 2020 than in 2014, and the number fell by another 30 percent in the first six months of this year compared to a year ago. As a result of falling marriage rates, it will be almost impossible to reverse the decline in the number of new births and thus stop the decline in Russia’s population (gorod-812.ru/v-peterburge-zamuzhnih-zhenshhin-bolshe-chem-zhenatyh-muzhchin/).
4. Only Two of 37 Navalny Regional Staff Heads have Escaped Persecution. The Putin regime has harassed, arrested, excluded from elections, and forced many of them to flee the country. Only two have managed to escape one or another of these outcomes up to now (znak.com/2021-08-06/kogo_iz_oppozicionerov_snyali_s_vyborov_iz_za_svyazi_s_alekseem_navalnym_spisok).
5. But to Make Things Look Good, Russian Officials Reverse Themselves and Allow Yabloko’s Lev Shlosberg to Run. After lower officials said the Pskov opposition figure could not run, more senior ones relented, clearly fearful that his prominence would attract more attention to the general repression against the opposition (mbk-news.appspot.com/news/lva-vosstanovili/
6. Commentators Still Amazed by Putin’s Ability to Escape Responsibility for Disasters. As problems in Russian society mount, one person who bears enormous responsibility for these trends still is managing to avoid being held responsible, according to numerous commentators. His Teflon coating appears just as thick now as at any time even though his ratings have declined (apn-spb.ru/opinions/article33781.htm).
7. Russian Government Readying New Restrictions on Issuing Foreign Passports. Under rules being developed by the Russian government, fewer Russian citizens will be able to acquire the passports needed for travelling to other countries (profile.ru/society/zagranica-tolko-snitsya-poyavyatsya-novye-osnovaniya-dlya-lisheniya-rossiyan-zagranpasportov-901910/).
8. Russian Government has Failed to Take Any of the Steps to Prevent Flooding It Promised. Large swaths of the Russian Federation are now under water, and analysts say that the reason the flooding is so bad this year is that the authorities have not taken any of the steps that experts had urged and the Russian officials earlier had promised to take (newizv.ru/news/incident/06-08-2021/dopotopnoe-soznanie-vlasti-ne-predprinimayut-mer-dlya-predotvrascheniya-navodneniy).
9. Putin Regime Drafts Son of Opposition Figure. Many have suggested that the authorities will use the military draft to punish anyone who takes part in a protest action, but now officials are using the draft in another way: calling to service in the military children of opposition figures in order to put pressure on their parents (newizv.ru/news/society/06-08-2021/eksklyuzivnyy-prizyv-voenkom-prerval-otpusk-chtoby-zabrat-v-armiyu-syna-oppozitsionera).
10. Moscow has Failed to Meet Its Promise to Provide Jobs for 50 Percent of Invalids. Several years ago, the Russian government promised to provide jobs for 50 percent of all those with physical or mental handicaps, but it has not kept its promise and unemployment among this category of Russians has soared (russian.eurasianet.org/россия-борьба-с-безработицей-среди-людей-с-инвалидностью-провалена).
11. Numerically Smallest Peoples Threatened by Loss of Spirituality. An activist speaking on behalf of the Kamchadals, a numerically small people of Kamtchata, has taken up the cudgels to defend a cultural monument there arguing that “if spirituality disappears, the people itself will, and you won’t save it by any preferences or benefits” (indigenous-russia.com/archives/14422).
12. Religious Specialist Says Moscow Must Allow for Construction of More Mosques. The Russian government is discriminating against Muslims but only hurting itself by not allowing the Islamic community in Moscow to open more mosques. At present, there are hundreds of Russian Orthodox churches but only six Muslim shrines in the capital (bakdar.org/pravoslavnyj-religioved-pochemu-dlya-cerkvej-mesta-est-a-dlya-mechetej-net/ ).
13. This Year’s Forest Fires Third Largest in Russian History. So far this year, fires have destroyed 13.4 million hectares of forested areas, and the season is not over. Consequently, 2021 mass surpass the damage of 2021 and 2003, the only years now ahead of this one. Significantly, all three have been under Vladimir Putin’s watch (greenpeace.ru/news/2021/08/03/2021-god-stal-tretim-s-nachala-veka-po-obshhej-ploshhadi-projdennoj-lesnymi-pozharami/).
Moscow Helping Only Just Over Half of the Country’s Federal Subjects. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has announced to much fanfare that Moscow will be sending additional funds to the regions. One third of the regions will get nothing from this new tranche, while those that two will get from 300 million rubles (four million US dollars) to two billion (30 million). The criteria are opaque and give the center yet another way to compel obedience by regional officials (https://regnum.ru/news/3337353.html
Global Warming Hitting Russia Harder than Most of the Rest of the World. Natural Resources Minister Aleksandr Kozlov says that the atmosphere in Russia is warming 2.8 times faster than that in the world as a whole, putting particular stress on its environment (regnum.ru/news/3338239.html
16. Dedovshchina Remains a Problem in Military, Soldiers Say. Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu says that dedovshchina, the name given to the mistreatment of some groups of soldiers by others, has largely disappeared. But soldiers tell journalists that it remains a problem and that many of them as a result have been reduced to the level of “slaves” (znak.com/2021-08-03/dedovchina_i_pobory_v_rossiyskoy_armii_pobezhdeny_ili_net_opros_desantnikov).
Moscow Attempts at Price Control Leading to Empty Shelves and Fears for the Future. The Russian government’s effort to control prices of foodstuffs has led to empty shelves, and that has sparked fears that the situation will only get worse, political analyst Ilya Grashchenkov says. And that in turn creates serious political risks for the Putin regime (rosbalt.ru/posts/2021/08/04/1914550.html
18. Russian and Belarusian Special Services Quite Prepared to Attack Opponents Abroad. As recent events in Ukraine and Europe show, the Russian and Belarusian special services are quite prepared to engage in violent attacks on those Moscow and Minsk view as enemies even if those people are living beyond the borders of these two countries, according to Dimitry Savvin, editor of the Riga-based Harbin portal (rusmonitor.com/savvin-blog.html).
19. Rogozin Says Russia Will Send Space Tourists into Orbit. Unlike Western billionaires who are satisfied with suborbital flights, Russian space chief Dmitry Rogozin says, Moscow is planning to create the possibility for space tourists to travel into orbit (mbk-news.appspot.com/news/rogozin-predlozhil/).
20. Moscow has Sold Two Million Carets of Diamonds So Far This Year. To meet its budgetary needs, the Russian government has sold some two million carets of diamonds from its reserves, an amount large enough to have a depressing effect on the world gem market (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/86998).
21. One Mustn’t Joke about Health, Politics or Religion, Russians Tell Superjob. A new poll finds that significant fractions of Russians believe that they shouldn’t tell jokes about health issues, politics, or religion (nazaccent.ru/content/36286-opros-rossiyane-nazvali-religiyu-odnoj-iz.html and nazaccent.ru/content/36282-protiv-komika-idraka-mirzalizade-vozbudili-administrativnoe.html).
22. Putin Not Pandemic Destroyed Russian Healthcare, El Murid Says. Anatoly Nesmiyan, who blogs under the screen name El Murid, says that Vladimir Putin destroyed the Russian healthcare system between 2021 and 2019 and that the pandemic only revealed what he had done (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/87011).
23. Forced to Study Russian, Many Non-Russians are Choosing to Study English Rather than Their National Languages. Many children in the non-Russian republics of the Russian Federation are now electing to study English as their second (to Russian) language rather than their national languages because of the career opportunities it offers (idelreal.org/a/31388286.html).
24. 20 to 40 Percent of Russian Consumer Goods Not Competitive with Imports. An HSE study concludes that between 20 and 40 percent of all Russian-produced consumer goods cannot compete with imports in terms of either quality or price (iq.hse.ru/news/480904168.html).
25. Russian Charged for Defacing Cossack Monument in Krasnodar. The increasing assertiveness of Cossacks and the Russian government’s solicitous approach to them has angered some Russians to the point that they are engaging in hooligan attacks on Cossack monuments. In Krasnodar, for example, a Russian has been charged with defacing a Cossack monument (sova-center.ru/misuse/news/persecution/2021/08/d44665/).
26. Even as Some Seek to Re-Instate Death Penalty, Officials Note that the Last Legal Execution in that Country was 25 Years Ago. The Russian justice system as opposed to the siloviki covertly has not executed anyone in 25 years, although many Russians would like to see that penalty restored and even extended to cover more offenses (govoritmagadan.ru/25-let-nazad-v-rossii-byl-ispolnen-poslednij-smertnyj-prigovor/