Staunton, Aug. 20 – 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:
August a Month of Sad Anniversaries. For Russia, April may not be the cruelest month. August seems to have claimed that spot, what with, among others, the failed coup in 1991, the crushing of the Prague Spring in 1968, the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939, and Boris Yeltsin’s decision to appoint Vladimir Putin his successor in 1999 (bbc.com/russian/in-depth-58230578
2. A Third of Russia’s Nuclear Delivery Systems Beyond Their Half Life and a Third of the Money to Fix Them Disappears into Officials Pockets. Several observers have suggested it is difficult to know which is more disturbing: that more than half of Russia’s nuclear warheads are on delivery systems that have exceeded their half life or that a third of the money the government allocated to bring them up date disappeared into corrupt hands in a single day (https://republic.ru/posts/101260).
3. Crime Jumps Almost 40 Percent This Year in Chechnya. Ramzan Kadyrov’s republic has long been viewed as a criminal one because of his actions and those of his goons. But now such observations are reinforced by a report that the number of crimes committed in Chechnya has risen almost 40 percent over the last year (doshdu.com/v-chechne-pochti-na-40-vyroslo-chislo-prestuplenij/).
4. 70 Percent of Russian Teachers Say Country’s School System Out of Date. A survey of educators found that 70 percent of them say that Russia’s schools are increasingly out of date and not delivering on the promise of high quality education (znak.com/2021-08-20/bolee_70_rossiyskih_uchiteley_nazvali_sistemu_shkolnogo_obrazovaniya_ustarevshey).
5. Muscovite Says He’s Naming His Daughter Psychosomatic but Then Backs Down. Many Russians like to pick out unusual names for their children, but one Moscow resident was roundly condemned when he chose the name Psychosomatic for his daughter. He has backed down and called her Ariadna (kp.ru/daily/28319/4461986/).
6. Record Forest Fires in Russia Now Cover an Area Larger than Latvia. Greenpeace Russia reports that a record number of hectares in forests are burning this year and that the fires cover an area larger than Latvia. Drought and the government’s systematic destruction of monitoring and firefighting capabilities are to blame (greenpeace.ru/news/2021/08/16/2021-god-stal-rekordnym-po-ploshhadi-pozharov/ and ej.ru/?a=note&id=36422).
7. First Railway Bridge Opens Between Russia and China. Russian officials are celebrating the completion of the first railroad bridge between their country and China, a link that will cut the time and distance goods passing between the two countries significantly and is projected to boost traffic by itself by 21 million tons a year (vz.ru/economy/2021/8/18/1114255.html).
8. Rising Russian Indebtedness Leads to New Interest in Pyramid Schemes. As Russian incomes have fallen, ever more of them are being taken in by pyramid schemes of the kind the country suffered from in the 1990s (sibreal.org/a/rossiyane-zadolzhali-bankam-rekordnuyu-summu/31418422.html and russian.eurasianet.org/россия-бедность-населения-питает-веру-в-финансовые-пирамиды).
9. Moscow Continues to Fight Corruption Rather than the Corrupt, Navalny Says. Imprisoned political leader Aleksey Navalny says that the Kremlin continues to fight corruption but not to go after those who are corrupt, an approach certain to fail even as it suggests those in power care about the problem (publizist.ru/blogs/33/40545/-).
10. Moscow Urged to Create New Agency to Bring All Russians Abroad Home. A Moscow commentator says that Russia’s efforts to attract Russians abroad to come back to their homeland has failed and that the government needs to create “an Agency for Repatriation” modeled on what Israel and Germany have done. “All Russian people, wherever they live must return, no more and no less,” he says (publizist.ru/blogs/113076/40534/-).
11. Daghestani MSD Challenged by Local Muslim Groups. The Muslim Spiritual Directorate in Daghestan is losing control over local parishes whose members are now engaged in open protests against orders coming from Makhachkala. If the MSD loses control over the parishes, the Daghestani government will lose a major tool it uses to enforce regime policies (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/367272/).
12. First Ever Monument to Soviet Muslim Troops in World War II Planned. Officials in Kaspiiisk, Daghestan, have announced plans to open a memorial to Muslim soldiers who fought in the Red Army during World War II. It will be the first such monument in Russia (trtrussian.com/novosti-rossiya/v-rossii-vpervye-otkroyut-memorial-voinam-musulmanam-6370541).
13. Troubled Russian Aircraft Carrier May Finally be Put in a Drydock – Next Year. The Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia’s only aircraft carrier and one that has been out of commission more than on duty in recent years, will finally be put in a drydock, naval yards officials say, but only next year (ria.ru/20210820/avianosets-1746613865.html).
Fewer Russians Feel Hostility to Other Nationalities. The Public Opinion Foundation finds that only 11 percent of Russians feel hostile to members of other nationalities, down from 32 percent in 2002 (nazaccent.ru/content/36425-luchshij-rezultat-za-20-let-rossiyane.html
15. Russia Now has More than 400 Political Prisoners. As a result of the result of the Kremlin’s latest crackdown, including against the media and Navalny staffers and supporters, the number of those human rights groups have identified as political prisoners has risen to 410 (znak.com/2021-08-18/v_rossii_chislo_politzaklyuchennyh_vyroslo_do_410_chelovek).
16. Only 23 Percent of Russians Say They Like Their Jobs and 80 Percent Say They’d Like to Become Bloggers Instead. A new survey of Russian employees found that only 23 percent of them say they like their jobs, and another poll found that 80 percent of all Russians say that they want to become bloggers (tass.ru/ekonomika/12131871 and tass.ru/obschestvo/12158237).
17. Tyva has Highest Alcohol Consumption Rates in Russia. Residents of the Republic of Tyva drink more per capita than do those of any other federal subject; and as a result, they suffer more deaths related to alcohol than any other, 56.3 per year per 100,000 population (sovross.ru/news/53187).
18. Finance Ministry Mulls Replacing Paper Internal Passports with Smart Cards or QR Codes. Russians may soon not be forced to carry internal passports but instead have smart cards or QR codes that would provide identifying information if a new finance ministry study is accepted (finanz.ru/novosti/aktsii/rossiyanam-zamenyat-pasporta-na-qr-kody-1030741148).
19. Moscow City Destroys Orthodox Church to Make Way for Elite Housing. Despite the assurances of officials in the Russian capital that they will respect Orthodox religious facilities, those in charge had no trouble deciding to tear down an Orthodox church to make way for a high-rent high rise building (realtribune.ru/meriya-moskvy-snesla-pravoslavnyj-hram-na-ego-meste-postroyat-elitnoe-zhile).
20. Russian Invalids Loose Many Benefits when They Turn 18. Even though people with disabilities can’t function without assistance in many cases, the Russian government takes away almost all the benefits they receive when they turn 18. The authorities are trying to obscure that by bringing charges against parents who don’t pay them child support (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/08/18/vozrastnaia-otbrakovka-18 and novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/08/17/vozmeshcheniiu-net-predela).
Russia Now has 4,000 Shamans and They Want Recognition as a Religion. Kara-ool Dopchun-ool, the chief Shaman of Russia, says that there are now some 4,000 shamans in Russia and that their number is increasing every year. For that reason, they are seeking recognition as an official religion (ng.ru/ng_religii/2021-08-17/9_513_status.html https://credo.press/238607/)
22. Russia Expels Nearly 9,000 Immigrant Workers in First Half of 2021. Despite Moscow’s efforts to attract back migrant workers who left during the pandemic, Russian officials are tightening the screws on those present in Russia now. During the first six months of this year, the authorities expelled 8600 foreign migrant workers (nazaccent.ru/content/36384-za-polgoda-iz-rossii-vyslali-okolo.html).
23. Russian Government Prepares to Collect Cyber Data on All Runet Users. On the basis o a law Vladimir Putin signed in July, the relevant ministries in the Russian government are preparing to collect data on all persons who use the Runet from now on (ehorussia.com/new/node/24060).
24. Researcher on Hyper-Sonic Weapons Charged with Treason. Prosecutors have charged an arrested Aleksandr Kuiranov, who has conducted research on hyper-sonic weapons, and charged him with treason. He is the third such head of a research institute to be so charged since Putin came to power (govoritmagadan.ru/ugolovnye-dela-o-gosizmene-v-otnoshenii-rukovoditelej-rossijskih-voenno-nauchnyh-organizacij/).
25. Pandemic has Sparked Explosion in Number of Criminal Cases Filed Against Doctors. Lawyers say that ever more Russian doctors are being charged with medical malpractice, often for their work or lack thereof in treating coronavirus victims (ura.news/news/1052499271).
26. Levada Center Reports Sharp Decline in How Russians Evaluate the Country’s Present and Future. Russians have become significantly more pessimistic about where Russia is now and where it is heading than they were two months ago (levada.ru/2021/08/19/obshhestvennye-nastroeniya-letom-2021/