Staunton, Sept. 17 – 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 Calls on All Russians to Vote But His Aides have to Explain How He Managed To. Vladimir Putin called on all Russians to vote in the Duma elections, saying it was essential to have a legislature representing everyone. But because he is self-isolating, he had to vote online. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a cellphone and so his aides had to arrange for him to vote via his computer, something other Russians can’t do (kremlin.ru/events/president/news/66699 and znak.com/2021-09-17/v_kremle_obyasnili_kak_putin_smog_progolosovat_onlayn_esli_u_nego_net_telefona).
2. Duma Campaign Gets Nasty. Dirty tricks against candidates, mostly among the opposition and apparently carried out by groups linked to the government, escalated in the last weeks of the campaign with fire bombings and death threats in many places (themoscowtimes.com/2021/09/17/in-russias-parliamentary-vote-spoiler-parties-and-dirty-tricks-abound-a75071 and ehorussia.com/new/node/24273). Some attacks were less violent but more politically nasty: one of the duplicate candidates running alongside Boris Vishnevsky issued a call for all taxes on Jews to be eliminated, clearly hoping that this would cost the real Boris Vishnevsky votes (znak.com/2021-09-13/u_vishnevskogo_poyavilsya_dvoynik_v_socsetyah_on_prizyvaet_k_otmene_nalogov_dlya_evreev).
3. Moscow Continues Crackdown on Opposition Groups. The justice ministry has accused an organization defending prisoner rights of insulting the country b modifying the state coat of arms (nazaccent.ru/content/36670-minyust-obvinil-nepravitelstvennuyu-organizaciyu-v-nadrugatelstve.html). Activists who put up a banner calling for “freedom for Navalny and prison for Putin” in Kaluga were arrested (graniru.org/media/282589.html). And a man in Chelyabinsk who put up a sign saying the FSB is “the main terrorist” was given 30 months in prison for his action (https://zona.media/article/2021/09/10/fsb-terrorist).
4. Milonov Calls for Adding LGBTs, Vegans, and Feminists to Foreign Agents List. Duma deputy Vitaly Milonov, notorious for his authoritarian impulses, now wants LGBTs, Vegans and Feminists to be charged as foreign agents and thus limited in their ability to function in Russia (ura.news/articles/1036282965).
5. US Company Plans to Bring Back Mammoths to Siberia. Colossal, an American company, plans to use genetic engineering to bring back mammoths to Russia’s Siberia (polit.ru/article/2021/09/15/ps_colossal/).
6. MGIMO Said Failing to Train Diplomats for Work in Muslim Countries. The Russian foreign ministry’s primary training academy, MGIMO, is failing to provide the kind of cultural and religious expertise needed by diplomats and others who are to work in Muslim majority countries, according to one educational specialist (centrasia.org/news.php?st=1631300280).
7. Pskov Residents have to Call Estonia for Medical Help. Because of an absence of hard-surface roads and telephone lines in the western part of Pskov oblast, residents there often have to call Estonia to get ambulances and other medical assistance (severreal.org/a/v-prigranichnyh-derevnyah-net-svyazi/31450614.html). The region got more than the usual amount of coverage because Putin and Patriarch Kirill travelled there earlier this month to dedicate a statue to Alexander Nevsky, but much of the coverage was negative because local residents expressed resentment as to how they were treated as the monument was put up (interfax-religion.ru/?act=dujour&div=135 and zona.media/article/2021/09/10/exegi-monumentum).
8. Russian Media Outlets Repeat German Paper’s Argument that Russia Illegally Took Land from China. Regional and local media outlets east of the Urals have given prominent coverage to a statement in Die Welt that Russia in the 19th century illegally seized lands that had belonged to China (govoritmagadan.ru/v-germanii-nazvali-dalnij-vostok-nezakonno-prisoedinjonnoj-zemljoj-kitaya/).
9. Officials Shut Down – Briefly – Website of Sverdlovsk Paper that Made Fun of Bribes. Investigators shut down the website of Oblastnaya gazeta after the paper posted an article which took a humorous look at the state of bribery in that region (zona.media/news/2021/09/11/oblgazeta). Meanwhile, the Center for Research on Corruption and Organized Crime stopped work in Russia after being subject to pressure from the authorities (sibreal.org/a/center-po-issledovaniyu-korrupcii-i-orgprestupnosti-prekratil-rabotu-v-rossii/31461329.html).
10. Most Russian Rivers are Heavily Contaminated with the Volga and Ob Being the Worst. Russia’s natural resources and environment ministry says that most Russian rivers are now heavily contaminated. Topping the list are the Volga and the Ob (trtrussian.com/novosti-rossiya/volga-i-ob-okazalis-samymi-gryaznymi-rekami-rossii-6567356).
11. ‘Let Russians Eat Oysters,’ Official Says, Infuriating Many. Russians who can no longer afford to purchase ordinary food were outraged when the head of Russian fishing celebrated the fact that Russia is now producing enough oysters for everyone to eat (mk.ru/economics/2021/09/10/khvastovstvo-ministra-pro-obespechenie-rossiyan-ustricami-vyzvalo-sarkazm.html).
12. One Russian in Seven Changes His Cellphone Whenever a New Version Appears. Like many people elsewhere, Russians want to have the very latest cellphones. Consequently, even if they have to cut back on other things, 14 percent of them say they will immediately buy a new model when it comes out (superjob.ru/research/articles/113054/kazhdyj-sedmoj-rossiyanin-menyaet-telefon/).
13. If You Want to Interact with Russian Designers, Use Facebook; if with Guards, VKontakte. According to Superjob, Russian designers prefer to use Facebook to communicate; marketing specialists, Instagram; sales people, YouTube, and guards, VKontakte (superjob.ru/research/articles/113051/dizajneram/).
14. Apartment Explosion Season Opens in Russia. Every year, in the early fall when people begin to turn on the heat, apartment blocks across Russia begin to suffer explosions, some destroying buildings but many leading to injuries and deaths (ng.ru/economics/2021-09-09/1_8248_gas.html).
15. Woman Dumps Body of Her Sister on Regional Government HQ when She Can’t Pay 120,000 Rubles for the Funeral. A woman in Balashikha protested the rapid increase in prices for funeral services by dumping the body of her sister on the regional government office building when she was told she would have to pay 120,000 rubles (1700 US dollars) for her sister’s internment (snob.ru/news/zhenshina-privezla-grob-s-telom-sestry-k-administracii-balashihi-na-kladbishe-usopshuyu-soglasilis-horonit-tolko-za-120-tysyach-rublej/).
16. Government Goes after Website Criticizing Employers. The Russian consumer affairs agency shut down the Antijob portal because one of the companies someone had criticized on a post on that site complained (https://t.me/proly_slil/2059).
17. Capital Flight from Russia Continues to Accelerate. After doubling between 2019 and 2020, capital flight from Russia has continued to rise, reaching 51.5 billion US dollars during the first eight months of this year ( capost.media/news/ekonomika/chistyy-ottok-kapitala-iz-rossii-znachitelno-vyros/).
18. Putin Protected from Having to Listen to Musicians who Oppose Him. Musicians who were scheduled to perform before Putin during Moscow’s City Day were removed from the program when it was discovered that they had opposition views (tvrain.ru/teleshow/vechernee_shou/pochemu_muzykantam_oppozitsioneram-537670/).
19. Russian Officials Going After Traditional Faiths. In addition to attacks on Protestant and Muslim groups, Russian officials are now focusing their attention on pagan groups, challenging those who have complained about Russian occupation and directly interfering with the practice of animist faiths (nazaccent.ru/content/36665-unizhenie-russkih-v-shkolnom-uchebnike-proveryat.html and mariuver.com/2021/09/14/presled-mari-religii/).idelreal.org/a/31454574.html).
20. New Medical Code in Vladimir Includes Ban on Criticizing Superiors. Doctors at the main hospital of Vladimir Oblast now have a new code of ethics which among other things includes a ban on criticizing any superiors of misconduct (sobkorr.org/news/613EEC2021C49.html).
21. Share of Russians Saying They Want to Live in Russia Rising. Between 2010 and now, the share of Russians who say they would choose to live in Russia even if they had the opportunity to live elsewhere has risen from 23 percent to 41 percent (superjob.ru/research/articles/113053/esli-ne-rossiya/).
22. Putin Orders Siloviki Pay to Be Indexed Above Inflation. In a move clearly intended to win him continuing support from his most important prop in the population, Putin has directed that the salaries of Russian force structure employees will from now on be indexed above the rate of inflation, meaning their incomes will rise much faster than those of other groups (znak.com/2021-09-13/putin_poruchil_predusmotret_sredstva_na_indeksaciyu_zarplat_silovikov_vyshe_inflyacii).
23. Fraudsters Now More Active in Russia than at Any Time Since 1990s, Russians are increasingly likely to become victims of fraud, especially online, given that fraudsters are now more active than they have been at any point since the wild 1990s, Sovershenno-Sekretno says (sovsekretno.ru/articles/nazad-v-likhie-90-e/).
24. Moscow Said to Suffer Shortage of 200,000 Migrant Workers But Many Residents Don’t Want Those Already There. Experts say that the Russian capital needs at least 200,000 more immigrant workers to fill available jobs, but many Muscovites aren’t happy that there are so many of them there and have been protesting against their presence (newizv.ru/news/society/13-09-2021/v-moskve-otsenili-defitsit-migrantov-v-200-tysyach-chelovek and nazaccent.ru/content/36668-zhiteli-sela-v-podmoskove-vyshli-na.html).
25. Putin’s Favorite Churchman Says He Can’t Become Patriarch. Metropolitan Tikhon of Pskov, long viewed as the church hierarch Vladimir Putin is closest to and therefore widely expected to become head of the Moscow Patriarchate at some point, has pointed out in an interview that he can’t aspire to that post because he lacks the advanced theological education that ROC MP rule require (ahilla.ru/mitropolit-tihon-shevkunov-ya-ne-mogu-byt-patriarhom-po-ustavu-rpts/).
26. Two-Thirds of Russians Now Suffering from Pandemic Burnout. The stresses of life under pandemic has left two out of every three Russians suffering from “burnout” and leading them to try to find support from family members and close friends, ROMIR says (ng.ru/news/719924.html).
27. Moscow Metro Puts Up Exit Signs in Uzbek and Tajik. One indication of just how many Central Asian migrant workers there are in Moscow is that the operators of the city’s Metro have now put up signs in Uzbek and Tajik to indicate where exits are (forum-msk.org/material/news/17409005.html).
28. Russian Cities Appear to Be Waiting for Bolsheviks to Return. Many people have written about how many Soviet-era toponyms have been changed, but so many Soviet names remain on streets and parks that it appears, commentator Aleksey Roshchin says, that “the cities are waiting for the return of the Bolsheviks” (rosbalt.ru/posts/2021/09/13/1920951.html).
29. Russia Cancels Moon Rocket Program. In a move that likely means Russia will not put humans on the moon anytime in the next few decades. Roskosmos has cancelled the super-heavy rocket that it had planned to use to carry cosmonauts there (znak.com/2021-09-15/rossiya_ostanovila_razrabotku_sverhtyazheloy_rakety_dlya_poletov_na_lunu).
30. Transportation Ministry, Presidential Administration Considering Making All Federal Highways Toll Roads. One way to ensure that Russian roads are maintained, improved and extended is to make all federal highways toll roads, an idea that is said to have found favor with the transportation ministry and the presidential administration (https://krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/87756).
31. More than Half of Employed in Chechnya and Ingushetia are in the Shadow Economy. Two of the poorest republics in Russia, Chechnya and Ingushetia, have economies that are overwhelmingly in the shadow sector. As a result, employees there are more likely to work in the shadow economy than in the fully legal sector (doshdu.com/bolee-poloviny-zhitelej-ingushetii-i-chechni-rabotajut-v-tenevom-sektore/).
32. Russians Follow Saga of Lost Dog at Sheremetyevo Airport. The big story on Russian media last week was about a small dog who was lost during a transfer operation at Sheremetyevo Airport. Happily, after almost two days of being lost, the dog turned up, healthy and happy and has been restored to its owners (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/09/16/v-aeroportu-domodedovo-nashli-sobaku-propavshuiu-na-proshloi-nedele-vo-vremia-pogruzki-v-samolet-news).
33. Comic Interior Ministry Wanted to Expel for His Criticism of Powers Can Remain at Least for Now. Idrak Mirzalizade, a standup comic whom the interior ministry sought to expel from Russia because of his critical commentaries on the powers that be, appealed that order to the courts. A court of first instance has now ruled in his favor, allowing him to remain at least for now (sobkorr.org/news/6143113A9D454.html).
34. Foreign Minister Lavrov Corrupt, Important History Journalists Say. It had been widely believed that while Putin prefers his underlings to be corrupt so that he has leverage on them, that he allows a few who are so loyal to remain honest. One of those was thought to be foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. But now an investigation by Important History journalists concludes that he is massively corrupt but has hidden it better than many others (ehorussia.com/new/node/24296 and krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/87833).
35. More than Three Out of Five Russians Say Shoygu’s Cities in Siberia will Never Be Built. A survey conducted by City 812 found that 62 percent of Russians do not believe that the cities in Siberia defense minister Sergey Shoygu has called for will ever be built, Of these, a quarter say the project will be started but quickly run out of money, and another quarter say that this is all campaign PR and has no real change of even beginning (gorod-812.ru/62-ne-verit-chto-shojgu-postroit-goroda-v-sibiri/).
36. Programmers and Designers Don’t Get Professional Holidays Other Groups Do. Almost every occupation in Russia has its day, but two prominent ones do not, computer programmers and designers. As a result, they feel left out, Superjob suggests (superjob.ru/research/articles/113057/rezhe-vsego-s-profprazdnikami-pozdravlyayut-programmistov-i-dizajnerov/).
37. Tatarstan Presses for More Tatar-Language Schooling Outside the Republic. The government of the Republic of Tatarstan has joined activists and educators in demanding that the Russian government ensure opportunities to Tatar speakers beyond its borders to have access to Tatar-language schools (azatliq.org/a/31452541.html).
38. Police Seek to Discourage Those who Honor Udmurt Scholar who Committed Suicide to Defend His Nation. Siloviki in Udmurtia have been harassing those who place flowers on the site where Albert Razin, the senior Udmurt scholar burned himself to death in 2019 to protect what he viewed as the destruction of his nation’s language and culture by the Russian state (idelreal.org/a/31454574.html).
39. Decommissioning Soviet-Era Nuclear Subs Now a Major Problem for Moscow. As Soviet-era nuclear submarines are decommissioned, the Russian authorities must find a better way to deal with the radioactive elements of these ships than the Soviets employed when they dumped such things into the Arctic. Given that Moscow hopes to develop the Arctic, those wastes must be cleaned up rather than added to, despite what appears to be a enormous price tag for such a program (zen.yandex.ru/media/varandej/saidaguba-kak-utiliziruiut-sovetskie-atomnye-podlodki-613b136abf6d62328ed66c8a).
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