Staunton, Aug. 27 – Below are 39 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. Putin Angers Russians by Declaring Economy is Growing. Vladimir Putin has boldly said that the Russian economy is now growing again, something that Russians can see on the basis of their own lives is not true given that they can afford to buy fewer things as a result of falling incomes and rising prices. Indeed, many of them are choosing to convert what money they have into foreign currency to protect themselves against a further decline in their situation (regnum.ru/news/3351231.html, rbc.ru/technology_and_media/25/08/2021/61250b3c9a7947dfdc3f1b1c, levada.ru/2021/08/24/rossiyane-o-roste-tsen/, realtribune.ru/indeks-kartoshki-v-2020-godu-dohody-grazhdan-rossii-upali-na-26-6 and trtrussian.com/novosti-rossiya/rossiyane-rezko-narastili-sberezheniya-v-inostrannoj-valyute-6404528).
2. … And Most of Those He’s Promising One-Time Payments Will Never See the Money. The Kremlin leader’s effort to win support by handing out one-time payments to some in the population is backfiring. Not only are many saying that what Russians need is not handouts like this one but real opportunities, but it now turns out that most of those to whom the money is nominally being given will never see it. Instead, their banks will simply take the money and use it to cover the debts that such people have amassed (nakanune.ru/articles/117481/ and mk.ru/economics/2021/08/24/u-bednykh-semey-zabrali-za-dolgi-putinskie-10-000-na-detey.html).
3. As a Result, His Approval Rating Continues to Fall. As a result, Putin’s approval rating continues to fall and his disapproval rating rise, with the two figures being the largest for the past year and near the highest for his entire rule (znak.com/2021-08-27/opros_chislo_rossiyan_odobryayuchih_rabotu_putina_upalo_do_minimalnogo_znacheniya_za_god).
4. Russia Suffered More Plane Crashes This Summer than Any Country in the World. Ten planes and helicopters crashed in Russia over the last three months than anywhere else in the world, and the number is likely to rise given that carriers there are finding it ever more difficult to hire experienced pilots and Russian domestic airplane manufacturers are suffering from ever more problems in the course of trying to ramp up production (charter97.org/ru/news/2021/8/27/434860/, https://echo.msk.ru/blog/echomsk/2892092-echo/ and charter97.org/ru/news/2021/8/27/434772/).
5. Sixty Percent of Russian Companies Won’t Hire Pensioners or Those Near Pension Age. A survey of Russian employers finds that 60 percent of them won’t hire anyone near or above pension age despite laws against such age discrimination (ura.news/news/1052500735). But just how serious a problem this is and how many other problems Russia faces with its aging population is likely to be obscured by a decision by Rosstat to stop publishing regular reports on pensioners (thinktanks.by/publication/2021/08/26/rosstat-nachal-skryvat-chislennost-rossiyskih-pensionerov.html).
6. Internal Migration in Russia Fell Dramatically Last Year. During the pandemic year of 2020, only 3.5 million Russians moved from one federal subject to another, a figure far lower than in recent years. The highest rate of outmigration was from three northern regions, Chukotka, Magadan and Komi (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/08/25/rosstat-vnutrenniaia-migratsiia-okazalas-minimalnoi-za-deviat-let-news).
7. Russia Marks Ukraine’s 30th Independence Anniversary in Its Own Way. Russian media replayed the fake stories they put out seven years ago, including the long-debunked one about the supposed crucifixion of a boy in Ukraine, a Russian court gave a suspended sentence to a Russian calling for Ukrainians to be killed, and siloviki rounded up a group of pro-Ukrainian activists in St. Petersburg (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/08/26/i-malchiki-raspiatye-v-glazakh, nazaccent.ru/content/36481-v-saratove-muzhchina-poluchil-uslovnyj-srok.html and rusmonitor.com/v-peterburge-zaderzhali-aktivistov-piketiruyushhih-v-chest-dnya-nezavisimosti-ukrainy-i-v-zashhitu-smi.html).
8. Moscow Officials Worry about Maintaining Corridors around Neighboring Countries. Concerned about the possibility that neighboring countries will block transit between Russia and the outside world, Moscow is now focusing on what some call its “Plan B,” ensuring that it has corridors it can turn to if the routes it is now using are blocked. The first of these is in the Altai which some say Russia will use to maintain ties with China if Kazakhstan blocks Russian transit (regnum.ru/news/economy/3355679.html).
9. Rosneft Found to Be Worst Oil Company as Far as Leaks are Concerned. Of the 68 oil companies working in the Khanty-Mansiisk AD, a study concludes, Rosneft is far and away the most frequent source of environmentally damaging leaks (sobkorr.org/news/6128E1385EB65.html).
10. Russians Outraged by German Map Showing Kalinigrad as German But May be Happier with Norwegian Sign. A poster being used by a German political party shows Kaliningrad to be part of Germany, an outrage as far as Russians are concerned. But they may be happier with a Norwegian sign at the Russian border telling people they risk being fined if they pee in the direction of Russia (stoletie.ru/lenta/v_frg_razvesili_plakaty_s_kaliningradskoj_oblastju_v_sostave_strany_172.htm and thebarentsobserver.com/en/borders/2021/08/dont-pee-russia-it-will-cost-you).
11. Moscow Finally Focuses on Regional and Local Roads. The Putin administration has focused almost all of the attention it has given to highways on federal ones, those that link various parts of the country together. But now, it is allocating 157 billion rubles (2.2 billion US dollars) to the far larger and less-well developed and maintained regional and local network (realtribune.ru/husnullin-otmetil-polozhitelnuju-dinamiku-v-stroitelstve-dorog).
12. Rumors are Swirling that Putin will Disband Federal Districts. The Rosbalt news agency is reporting that rumors are circulating in Moscow that Vladimir Putin has decided to disband the federal districts because he has achieved the centralization he wants and views them as potential obstacles to his ability to run the entire country directly from Moscow (rosbalt.ru/russia/2021/08/27/1918190.html).
13. Putin Lashes Out at ‘Kvas Patriotism.’ Vladimir Putin has made patriotism the center of his regime’s ideology but now he is speaking out against one of the developments accompanying increases in his favored brand of patriotism, “kvas patriotism,” the crude and often viciously xenophobic nationalism that Russians have long linked to those with low educations who drink kvas rather than more sophisticated alcoholic beverages (business-gazeta.ru/article/520030).
14. Moscow Patriarchate has Its Priests in Chuvashia Study Chuvash. The Moscow Patriarchate has decided that its priests working in Chuvash, an historically Christian Turkic republic in the Middle Volga, must study Chuvash so as to be better able to compete against the return of animist faiths (idelreal.org/a/31426080.html).
15. Russia Now Running Short of Arthritis Remedies. Because most medications Russians use to treat arthritis are imported, serious shortages have emerged because of the sanctions and counter-sanctions regimes. For an aging population, this is no small tragedy and will have serious consequences for public health and even economic activity (znak.com/2021-08-26/v_rossii_nablyudaetsya_ostryy_deficit_importnyh_lekarstv_ot_artritov).
16. Russian Wives Now Often More Educated than Their Husbands. A major shift has taken place in Russia: women are now more likely to get higher educations than men, and men are increasingly choosing not to go to universities but rather directly into the workplace or to trade schools. That is upsetting the traditional family arrangements in Russia and this year has led to a significant decline in the number of Russians enrolling in the first class of universities (newizv.ru/article/general/26-08-2021/tsifra-dnya-uroven-obrazovaniya-zhenschin-v-strane-prevysil-muzhskoy and znak.com/2021-08-26/v_rossiyskih_vuzah_nablyudaetsya_nehvatka_pervokursnikov).
17. Russian Government Told Advertisers to Avoid Using People of “Non-Slavic” Appearance. A Russian has posted on twitter his discovery that a Russian ministry told advertisers in 2015 not to use in their public presentations any images of “non-Slavic” people (svoboda.org/a/v-oformlenii-gosuslug-potrebovali-ne-ispoljzovatj-obrazy-ne-slavyan/31429043.html).
18. Eighty Percent of Russians Support the Revival of the Soviet-Era Komsomol. Almost 80 percent of Russians surveyed by VTsIOM say they favor bringing back the Soviet-era youth organization (https://www.sovross.ru/articles/2163/53334).
19. Four Non-Russian Areas have Poverty Rates Roughly Twice All-Russian Average. Tyva, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria and the Altai Republic have poverty rates two times or more that of the all-Russian average of 12.1 percent (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/87335).
20. Organized Crime and Corruption Takes Over Funeral Services, Trucking, and Public Toilets in Many Parts of Russia. Organized criminal groups, some within the government and some not, have effectively taken over funeral services, the trucking industry, and the operation of public toilets in many parts of Russia (trtrussian.com/magazine/dengi-ne-pahnut-kak-v-rossii-voyuyut-za-pravo-vladet-obshestvennym-tualetom-6431711 and znak.com/2021-08-24/dalnoboychiki_rasskazali_obchestvennikam_i_sk_o_summah_vzyatok_na_dorogah_moskovskoy_oblasti).
21. Moscow Metro Workers who Took Part in Navalny Protests Regain Their Jobs. As the result of a court case victory, those Moscow Metro workers who were fired from their jobs for participating in the Navalny protests last winter are back at their old positions (meduza.io/news/2021/08/25/sotrudnikov-moskovskogo-metro-uvolennyh-posle-utechki-bazy-storonnikov-navalnogo-nachali-vosstanavlivat-na-rabote-cherez-sud).
22. Russians Worried by Spread of Foul Language among the Young. Russian young people are increasingly using swear words, angering their parents and prompting demands that the educational system do something to correct the situation (kp.ru/putevoditel/sovety-dlya-roditelej/deti-rugayutsya-matom/).
23. Dedovshchina Still a Fact of Life in Russian Military. Despite official claims to the contrary, dedovshchina, the mistreatment of one group of soldiers by another, remains a serious problem, one that continues to spark stories by the Committees of Soldiers’ Mothers organization (dailystorm.ru/obschestvo/dedovshchina-tam-byla-v-komitete-soldatskih-materey-rasskazali-o-chasti-gde-nashli-poveshennogo-soldata).
24. Afghans who Studied in Russian Military Schools Appeal to Putin for Evacuation. More than 150 Afghans who studied in Russian military academies have appealed to Vladimir Putin for evacuation from their country and sanctuary in Russia (fergana.agency/articles/122783/).
25. Alternative Group Frees Two Belarusian Slaves in Magadan. Two Belarusians who came to Magadan to work on highways but who were then kept in conditions of slavery have been freed by the Alternative Organization which seeks to expose and correct incidents of modern-day slavery in Russia (govoritmagadan.ru/dvuh-belorusov-osvobodili-iz-rabstva-na-kolyme/).
26. Protest in Red Square against Moscow’s Crushing of Prague Spring Recalled. At a time when Russian journalists and others are demonstrating against the crushing of civil society and media freedom in Putin’s Russia, some are recalling that on August 25, 1968, eight (not seven as usually reported) brave Russians protested against Brezhnev’s decision to send in troops to Czechoslovakia to crush the Prague Spring (severreal.org/a/zhurnalisty-vyhodyat-na-pikety-i-miting/31423848.html and graniru.org/Politics/Russia/activism/m.282417.html).
27. One Russian in Four Believes Global Warming is a Hoax. Scepticism among Russians has spread from the coronavirus to the issue of global warming, with 25 percent of Russians saying that they don’t believe global warming is occurring, all the droughts and fires this year notwithstanding, according to a Superjob poll (superjob.ru/research/articles/113021/teh/).
28. Irkutsk Follows Yekaterinburg with Protests Against Plans for Cathedral. For the last five years, Yekaterinburg has been shaken by protests against the Orthodox church’s plans to build a cathedral in the center of the city eliminating a popular park there. Now, similar protests have broken out in Irkutsk over similar plans by the ROC MP (sobesednik.ru/obshchestvo/20210825-privet-ekaterinburgu-ziteli-irkutska).
29. FSB Caught Inserting Its Own People as Students at St. Petersburg University. The FSB, citing a shortage of specialists on the humanities in its ranks, has taken steps to insert its officers and allies into the humanities faculty at St. Petersburg State University, sparking concerns they will be used to monitor other students (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/08/25/kholodnaia-golova-i-chistye-ruchki).
30. Some Becoming Rich by Using Metal Detectors on Russian Beaches. One Russian said he had earned some two million rubles (30,000 US dollars) over the tourist season simply by using a metal detector to find things other Russians had left behind (kp.ru/daily/28320/4463622/).
31. Urban Legend Spreads that Non-Russians Form Majority in Moscow. Despite all the other news Muscovites are getting, once again this August as so often before at the end of earlier summers, rumors are spreading that the Russian capital no longer has an ethnic Russian majority because of the influx of immigrants (zen.yandex.ru/media/centralasia/pravda-li-chto-russkie-v-moskve-iavliaiutsia-menshinstvom-kto-na-pervom-meste-60fec50e8be31f52ac66d145).
32. Moscow Metro Re-Installed Sovetskaya Belarussiya Statue. In a move some may see as premature and others as long overdue, the Moscow Metro has restored the Sovetskaya Belorussiya statue that long stood in the station of that name but was removed when the station was redesigned two decades ago (msk.kp.ru/daily/28320/4463822/).
33. Experts Say New BAM Project will Cost Twice What Moscow Says. The Russian government says that the construction on the BAM railway will cost 97 billion rubles (1.6 billion US dollars), but transportation experts say that the real cost will be at least twice that even if the government uses military or prison labor (eastrussia.ru/news/eksperty-nazvali-stoimost-stroitelstva-chastnoy-vetki-bama/).
34. Defense Ministry Displays New Orthodox Church on Rails. The Russian defense ministry used the Army 2021 exhibition not only to show off new weapons but also to present its new Russian Orthodox Church on rails that can move with the troops in war or peace (sobesednik.ru/politika/20210824-xram-na-kolyosax-razveselil-manturova-mi).
35. Fewer than Two Percent of Russian Schools are Private. While they get a great deal of attention because children of the elite use them, fewer than two percent of Russia’s roughly 40,000 schools are in fact privately owned and operated (snob.ru/entry/237238/).
36. Best Not to Get Sick in Russia in August. Despite the pandemic, many Russian hospitals have let as many as half of their medical staff take vacations this year as in the past. As a result, in some places, there simply aren’t any doctors or nurses to treat people if there is a surge in cases (govoritmagadan.ru/v-magadane-luchshe-ne-bolet/).
37. Russia as Elder Brother of Slavs Disappeared in 2014 and No One has Replaced It. Commentator Marina Shapovalova says that one of the reasons for the problems Moscow has with Slavic peoples abroad is that its actions against Ukraine beginning in 2014 destroyed the image of Russia as “the elder brother” of all Slavs, a role that no one has filled since that time (newizv.ru/comment/marina-shapovalova/27-08-2021/starshego-brata-bolshe-net-kak-rossiya-dobila-slavyanskuyu-obschnost).
38. Putin’s Decision to Make Exceptions on Dual Citizenship Ban Riles Russians. For many, Vladimir Putin’s announcement that he will allow some officials with dual citizenship to continue to serve even thought a new law bans that practice may strike many as a minor matter, but for many Russians, it is one more sign that today, any rules Moscow makes apply only when the Kremlin wants them to, something that highlights the growing gulf between the elite and the population (znak.com/2021-08-26/zachem_putin_razreshil_dvoynoe_grazhdanstvo_chinovnikam_kotorye_ne_mogut_ot_nego_izbavitsya).
39. Russian Swims 20 kilometers from Russian Territory to Japan and Asks for Political Asylum. In a daring move that recalls several incidents during the Cold War, a Russian man has swum 20 kilometers from the Russian-occupied Kurile Islands to Japan and asked for political asylum (ria.ru/20210822/yaponiya-1746735022.htmlb).
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