Staunton, Sept. 3 – 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 Doesn’t have a Smartphone … The Kremlin leader has acknowledged that he doesn’t own a smartphone (znak.com/2021-09-03/prezident_rf_vladimir_putin_priznalsya_chto_u_nego_vse_eche_net_smartfona
2. …but He Does Have Lots of Streets Named for Him. A journalist has pointed out that he can take comfort in having many streets named after him, the first of which was in Ingushetia in 2002 and not later in Chechnya (zen.yandex.ru/media/varandej/gde-i-kak-v-rossii-vpervye-poiavilas-ulica-v-v-putina-610c98c4b1980043b64c1c96).
3. Moscow Reports Finding Location of Two Nuclear Reactors from Soviet Sub. Russian researchers have identified the precise location of two nuclear reactors from the Soviet K-19 submarine. They are damaged and likely leaking, two of a much larger number of such Soviet castoffs in the Arctic that will have to be cleaned up (ria.ru/20210902/reaktor-1748353777.html and k-politika.ru/kapitan-1-ranga-rasskazal-o-kladbishhe-atomnyx-submarin-v-karskom-more/).
4. Moscow Ignoring Russians in China. Moscow has failed to provide Russians in China with updated passports, some of their number say, putting them at risk of losing their jobs and being expelled and creating a new point of tension between the two countries (theins.ru/opinions/kizilov/244626).
5. Russians Cutting Back on Food and Going More Deeply in Debt. Because of the deteriorating economic condition in many parts of the Russian Federation, a third of its people are cutting back on food, many parents are going into debts they fear they cannot repay to get their children ready for school, and are fearful that the rising tide of inflation will only make their situations worse (finanz.ru/novosti/lichnyye-finansy/kazhdy-vtoroy-zaemshchik-v-rossii-ne-uveren-smozhet-li-pogasit-kredit-1030764492, vedomosti.ru/finance/articles/2021/08/30/884394-molodie-rossiyane, sovross.ru/articles/2165/53430, sovross.ru/news/53416, finanz.ru/novosti/lichnyye-finansy/bessmyslennaya-i-besposhchadnaya-inflyaciya-v-rossii-ustanovila-novy-5-letniy-rekord-1030774782, dailystorm.ru/hayp/inflyaciya-na-primere-konfet-s-portretom-putina and ng.ru/economics/2021-08-29/1_8237_economics1.html).
6. Russian Spending on Foreign Technology has Skyrocketed under Putin. Over the last 20 years, Russian spending on foreign technology has risen 12.2 times (ehorussia.com/new/node/24182). In an effort to limit future increases, the government has prohibited its components from purchasing notebook computers and related products from abroad (forum-msk.org/material/news/17384558.html).
7. Forest Fires Covering 20 Percent More Area This Year than Last, Forest fires in the Russian Federation this year cover 20 percent more area than they did last year. Many have been caused by human actions, something that makes many Russians concerned ab out the Kremlin’s plan to lease more of the forests to private interests for 99 years (sibreal.org/a/ploshad-lesnyh-pojarov-vyrosla-na-20-procentov-v-sravnenii-s-proshlym-godom/31441675.html and sovross.ru/articles/2166/53464).
8. Government-Sponsored Poll Finds Russians Opposed to Chinese-Style Monitoring of Population. Forty-two percent of Russians told a government-sponsored poll that they opposed the introduction of Chinese-style monitoring of the population. Only 27 percent said they support the idea (rbc.ru/politics/02/09/2021/6130f1b09a794751f34f618).
9. Russian Typographies Now a Chokepoint for Book Publishing. Since 1991, typography companies have had much unused capacity and competed with each other to attract business from book publishers. Now, many typographies have closed, and those still open are operating in a seller’s market where they can afford to raise prices, putting a further crimp in Russian book publishing (kommersant.ru/doc/4968002).
10. Moscow Police Expand Cellphone Monitoring and Facial Recognition Technology. Police in the Russian capital now are expanding their use of cellphone monitoring and facial recognition technology to monitor meetings (kommersant.ru/doc/4967500).
11. Russian Government Blocks Six More VPN Services. In another move intended to cut Russians off from the Internet, the Russian government has blocked six additional VPN services offered by foreign companies that allow users to avoid some kinds of monitoring (dailystorm.ru/news/v-rossii-zablokirovali-eshche-shest-vpn-servisov).
12. Lavrov Says Aleksandr Nevsky His Model. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says that Aleksandr Nevsky who allied himself with the Mongols to oppose German and Roman Catholic expansion into Russian lands is his personal role model as Moscow’s chief diplomat (rusk.ru/newsdata.php?idar=89773).
13. Russian Guard Reports Killing 250 Militants in North Caucasus Since 2016. While Moscow has promoted the notion that it has pacified the North Caucasus, the Russian Guard has now announced that its officers and men have killed 250 militants there over the last five years (capost.media/news/obshchestvo/rosgvardiya-za-pyat-let-unichtozhila-250-boevikov-v-skfo/).
14. Russian Schools Begin Special Classes to Attract Pupils to Ranks of Siloviki. This school year, for the first time ever, Russian schools now have special courses designed to attract students to careers in the FSB, the police and the Russian Guard (znak.com/2021-09-02/v_rossiyskih_shkolah_otkrylis_specklassy_fsb_policii_i_rosgvardii).
15. Because of Environmental Problems, Russia Faces Loss of 11 Rare Animal Species. Russian experts say that climate change and human contamination of the environment mean that Russia is at risk of seeing 11 rare species disappear in the near future (m.gazeta.ru/social/2021/09/02/13942766.shtml).
16. Russian Men Want Russian Women to Initiate Relationships But Not Ask for Marriage. A majority of Russian men say they like it when Russian women initiate relationships, but only one in three wants the women to ask if they want to get married (superjob.ru/research/articles/113037/davaj-pozhenimsya/).
17. Vladivostok Cancels Play on End of USSR in Advance of Putin’s Visit. In order not to offend the Kremlin leader or remind others of what happened in 1991, officials in Vladivostok have postponed plans for the launch of a play on the end of the USSR (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/09/02/nakanune-priezda-putina-vo-vladivostok-rukovodstvo-mestnogo-teatra-vynudili-otmenit-spektakl-pro-raspad-sssr-news).
By His Largesse, Putin Wants to Suggest He’s Buying Votes Rather than Stealing Them, Kagarlitsky Says. The money that Putin has been handing out to members of various groups in the population is intended to distract attention from what is really going on: his theft of votes via falsification, commentator Boris Kagarlitsky says (apn-spb.ru/opinions/article33918.htm
19. Putin’s Tours to the Regions Remind Russians of How He has Restored Soviet Practices. Commentator Yury Khristensen says that Putin’s tours around the country in advance of the elections may be backfiring because he is being treated as Soviet leaders were with governors reprting to him about crops and industrial production. That won’t help his or United Russia’s ratings (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=612A70BB8A3E4).
20. Russians Opposed to Immigration Hope to Use Afghan Threat to Introduce Visa Regime for Central Asians. Russian politicians who oppose immigration especially from Central Asia hope to use the threat from Afghanistan following the victory of the Taliban to push through a visa regime for all coming from Central Asia into Russia (svpressa.ru/politic/article/308607/).
21. Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Group Shuttered as Corruption in Russia Hits Eight Year High. Aleskey Navalny’s Foundation for the Struggle against Corruption has been closed down just as Russian officials have acknowledged that corruption in Russia has hit an eight-year high (meduza.io/news/2021/09/01/fond-borby-s-korruptsiey-ofitsialno-prekratil-suschestvovanie nakanune.ru/news/2021/8/31/22617791/).
22. Ninety-Five Percent of Russians have No Idea How Much Government Takes from Them in Taxes. Because Moscow uses so many different ways to hide its taxation of the population, 95 percent of Russians tell pollsters that they have no idea just how much of their incomes are going in taxes. Experts say it is more than a third (finanz.ru/novosti/lichnyye-finansy/bolee-95percent-rossiyan-ne-znayut-skolko-nalogov-sobiraet-s-nikh-gosudarstvo-1030770769).
23. Orthodox Activist Want More than 500 Additional ROC MP Churches in Moscow. The organizers of the movement to build 200 Russian Orthodox churches in Moscow now say the want not 200 or even 500 but even more, setting the stage for NIMBY conflicts in the Russian capital and complaints by Muslims and other faiths of the lack of religious centers in their cases (rusk.ru/newsdata.php?idar=89760 and rusk.ru/newsdata.php?idar=89759).
24. Russians Defacing United Russia Posters. Russians opposed to the ruling United Russia party are now defacing posters that party has put up with the words, “Don’t be fooled!” in the hopes that voters will elect to cast their ballots for others (znak.com/2021-09-01/rossiyane_kleymyat_plakaty_edinorossov_skryvayuchih_svoyu_partiynuyu_prinadlezhnost).
25. 600,000 Russians Fought in First Chechen War. The Meduza news agency estimates that some 600,000 Russians fought in the first post-Soviet Chechen war, driving down the number of terrorist incidents but transforming Chechnya into a place still almost completely supported by Russian taxpayers (meduza.io/slides/rovno-25-let-nazad-zakonchilas-pervaya-chechenskaya-voyna-glavnoe-chto-nuzhno-znat-o-posledstviyah-konflikta-na-severnom-kavkaze-v-pyati-grafikah).
26. Two Court Cases Arise from Plans for Muslim Village Near Moscow. The Russian authorities are investigating Aminovka, the Muslim-only village near Moscow that has sparked controversy. But they aren’t the only ones going to court. The Aminovka organizers are bringing suits against Russian media for their coverage of its arrangements (nazaccent.ru/content/36558-podmoskovnaya-aminovka-podast-v-sud-na.html and credo.press/238760/).
Japan Refuses to Give Political Asylum to Russian who Swam from Kuriles. Tokyo has decided not to give political asylum to the Russian who attracted international attention when he swam from the Kuriles, now controlled by Russia, to Japan (znak.com/2021-08-29/yaponiya_otkazala_rossiyaninu_priplyvshemu_s_kuril_v_politicheskom_ubezhiche
28. Kremlin Dismisses Street Fights as Nothing New. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says clashes among immigrant groups are nothing new and don’t require any response. His words come as the number of such clashes has risen sharply in recent weeks and some Russian parliamentarians are pressing for tougher punishments of those involved (http://www.sovsekretno.ru/news/v-gosdume-predlozhili-povysit-shtrafy-za-draki-/, nazaccent.ru/content/36555-v-federacii-migrantov-obyasnili-uchastivshiesya-draki.html and nazaccent.ru/content/36531-oni-byli-vsegda-v-kremle-ne.html).
29. Criminal Attacks on Russian Businesses Again on the Rise. After a five year decline, the number of criminal attacks on businesses threatening their existence has risen dramatically forcing the authorities to bring additional criminal charges (finanz.ru/novosti/aktsii/chislo-ugolovnykh-del-protiv-biznesa-v-rossii-dostiglo-rekorda-za-6-let-1030767994).
30. Biggest Difference between Putin Regime and Soviets is that He’s Made Leadership Personal, Gozman Says. In Brezhnev’s times, the Soviet leadership was as a whole anonymous; now, Putin has made it personal in the extreme, opposition politician Leonid Gozman says, something that means anger at the system and anger at the leader are one and the same thing (rosbalt.ru/posts/2021/08/30/1918690.html).
31. Committee Against Torture Reports 2902 Cases of Police Abuse This Year, 40 Percent of Whom were Given Suspended Sentences. The Committee against Torture says that in the last 12 months, there were 2902 reported cases of torture inflicted by police. Of those who were charged and faced trial, 40 percent were let off with suspended sentences (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=612C904C428E0 and sibreal.org/a/uslovnyy-srok-poluchili-43-siloviki-osuzhdennyh-za-pytki/31436365.html).
Defendant without Hands Convicted of Manhandling Siloviki. A court in Kabardino-Balkaria convicted a local man who has no hands of manhandling police during a fracas there (doshdu.com/udushil-bez-ruk-v-kbr-osudili-invalida-1-j-gruppy-za-primenenie-nasilija-k-sotrudniku-policii/
33. Dialects Help Languages to Develop and Shouldn’t Be Opposed. Tatarstan experts say people and officials should not be opposed to the appearance of dialects but rather see them as a way of enriching languages by drawing on regional variations (milliard.tatar/news/poyavlenie-dialektov-neizbezno-no-eto-povod-ne-dlya-separatizma-a-dlya-vzaimoobogashheniya-898).
34. War and Peace Edges Out Master and Margarita in Russians’ Assessments of Best Russian Novel. According to a SuperJob poll, 12 percent of Russians think Tolstoy’s War and Peace is the greatest Russian literary work; but 11 percent say that Mikhail Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita deserves that ranking (regnum.ru/news/cultura/3356664.html).
35. Buryat Duma Candidate Says United Russia Should be Declared an ‘Extremist’ Organization. As the Duma election heats up, some candidates are not holding back on their assessments of others. One in Buryatia, for example, says that the entire ruling United Russia Party should be declared “an extremist organization” (sibreal.org/a/kandidat-v-gosdumu-iz-buryatii-predlijil-priznat-edinuyu-rossiyu-ekstremistskoy-organizaciey/31430668.html).
Russians Upset with New Law Banning Many Yard Decorations. A Russ9ian law passed in July bans the use of plastic figures in the lawns of Russians. That has offended many who like rubber swans and other animal figures (meduza.io/feature/2021/08/28/chtoby-bylo-krasivo
37. Debate over Possible Return of Nationality Line in Passports Heats Up. Calls for the restoration of the nationality line in Russian passports have sparked a vigorous debate, with opponents now insisting that such support for ethnic identities could be exploited by Russia’s enemies in the event of a hybrid war (vpk-news.ru/articles/63626).
38. Russian Siloviki Continue to Harass, Arrest Associates of Shaman Gabyshev. The authorities have confined the anti-Putin shaman to a psychiatric prison but are extending their campaign against him and his supporters by harassing and arresting some of his closest associates (znak.com/2021-09-02/policiya_zaderzhala_pisatelya_egorova_iz_otryada_shamana_gabysheva_prizvavshego_svergnut_putina).
39. Buryat Journalist, a Victim of Racist Attacks and Author of Clip on Russian Racism, Threatened with Criminal Charges. Russian investigators have called in Yevgeniya Baltatarova, who was attacked earlier this year in the streets of Moscow for her “non-Slavic” appearance and who then prepared a YouTube clip on racism in Russia, has been called in by investigators and told a case may soon be lodged against her for extremism (babr24.com/bur/?IDE=218356).