Friday, August 12, 2022

Moscow's Repressive Policies Behind Decline in Russian Nationalist Violence over Last Decade, Verkhovsky Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 19 – Violent actions by Russian nationalist groups rose between the mid-1990s given the high level of violence in society as a whole and the popularity of neo-Nazi ideology, and then this number declined “mainly due to successful repressive policies” by the Russian government, Aleksandr Verkhovsky says.

            No other factor played a significant role either in the rise of fall of ideologically motivated violence by Russian nationalist groups, the head of the SOVA Center which monitors extremist groups and government policies in response to them says ( and

            A major reason that this shift could happen so quickly and so dramatically, Verkhovsky says, is that most Russian nationalists given to violence are younger than 25 and constantly being renewed. “As a result, the young and radical part of the movement more rapidly reacts to various factors than does the more moderate and older one.”

            Thus, “the use of force in Russian nationalism was transformed quite quickly,” with it being a central driving force before 2007 and an ever more marginal one after that time. Before that date, Russian nationalists often engaged in violence; after that, they rarely did, with court cases about violent crimes in the first period and extremism in the second.

            And this decline in the level of violence as a result of the government’s repressive approach also helps to explain why the flow of ultra-right Russian nationalists to fight against Ukraine in 2022 has been an order of magnitude smaller than was the case only eight years ago when many Russian nationalists went to fight in the Donbass.

            At present, the Russian government has put violent Russian nationalists back in the bottle by adopting a harsh line to any such action; but as Verkhovsky acknowledges, its success could change rapidly to failure precisely because of the replacement of one group of young nationalists by another who are less impressed by the widespread use of police power.

Global Warming Could Overwhelm Russia with Migrants from World Hot Spots, Expert Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 17 – There is broad agreement that global warming will help Russia in the short and medium term even though it will likely lead to the collapse of existing infrastructure in part of the North. But in the longer term, global warming may play an evil trick on the country when tens of millions of people from places so hot as to be unlivable seek to enter its territory.

            That is the judgment of Yevgeny Kuznetsov, a futurologist who has founded the Orbita Capital Partners. Noting that in the next 50 years, one to three billion residents of the earth are likely to find themselves in places where global warming has made their lives impossible (

            Russia is one of the few places where the climate is likely to improve and where there is sufficient vacant land for people to move into. As a result, somewhere between 20 and 200 million of those displaced by global warming are likely to try to move to the Russian Federation, Kuznetsov says.

            How the country will cope with this influx, he continues, is a question for which he has no answer. But one thing is clear: if Russia has a positive image by that time, it may attract the most highly skilled of those displaced by climate; if it doesn’t, it may see a concentration of unskilled or low skilled workers on its territory, a development that will hold back development.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

‘Ethnic Enclaves Becoming a Reality in Russia,’ ‘Nezavisimaya Gazeta’ Says

 Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 18 – Russian officials and following them Russian scholars have long insisted that there are no ghettoes or “ethnic enclaves” in the cities of the Russian Federation even though the influx of migrants from Central Asia, the Caucasus and parts of the Russian Federation has made their denial increasingly unsustainable.

            (On the history of fights over the use of these terms in Russia over the last decade, see,,,, and

            Now, Yekaterina Trifonova of Nezavisimaya gazeta has admitted there is no basis for denying the obvious and openly concedes that “ethnic enclaves are becoming a reality in Russia” ( whether other Russian writers will follow her lead or whether the protectors of Russia’s reputation will attack and silence her.

            She makes this acknowledgement during a discussion of what share of crimes migrants are responsible for, a frequently cited and extremely sensitive figure that politicians across the political spectrum fasten on without always understanding what kinds of crimes are involved, where they take place, and who are the victims.

            Because migrants are concentrated in a few cities and absent in most of the country, the four percent increase in crimes among them now regularly cited by the media is like “the average temperature in a hospital,” Mikhail Burda, an instructor at the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service, says. It doesn’t tell much about conditions in the big cities.

            Nor does this number or others like it speak to the way that crimes by immigrants affect the level of tension in society or the way that it predisposes immigrant workers and their families to live together in order to protect themselves from the anger of others, he continues. And it ignores that many immigrants are illegal and thus producing crime by their mere presence.

            Georgy Fedorov, head of the Aspect Center for Social and Political Research, says this alone causes the migrants to seek out others of their kind and to form “ethnic enclaves” where they can run their lives according to their own rules rather than be subjected by the rules of Russian law enforcement – and that too adds to their reported “criminality.”

            In commenting on the situation, Aleksey Yegorkin, a civic activist, argues that many of the crimes arise from fights among immigrants for territory and status or from clashes with the indigenous ethnic Russian majority. To deal with this, he calls for taking steps to promote “forced assimilation” of certain categories of immigrants.

            If his advice is heeded, that alone will likely lead not only to more conflicts between migrants and the majority population but also to their desire to live separately in ethnic enclaves if they in fact want to remain in the Russian Federation at all.

Uzbek Constitutional Changes about More than Term Limits and Karakalpakstan’s Right to Secede, Experts Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 18 – Most analysts have focused only on two aspects of proposed constitutional changes in Uzbekistan, their potential to zero-out term limits on the current president and thus allow him to rule for life and their plan, since reversed, to drop a provision which gives Karakalpakstan the right to seek independence via a referendum.

            But as the Central Asian Bureau for Analytic Research points out, there are more changes being proposed and the process by which they will likely be adopted raises important questions about politics in that Central Asian country (

            Some of the proposed changes are entirely welcome such as introducing a permanent ban on the death penalty and limiting the ability of the authorities to control the Internet or confiscate property without court orders. But in most cases, these are steps the authorities could have taken legislatively without constitutional amendment.

            What is most important, the CABAR analysis says, is that Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev decided that the population must be involved via a referendum after the various proposals were reviewed and collected in a single document. The date for that vote has not yet been announced, but it is expected to take place before the end of the year.

            What is clearly going on, analysts like Temur Umarov and Yury Sarukhanyan say, is that Mirziyoyev wants to look good internationally by staging a referendum even though it is already clear that he will get the approval of a majority of anything he offers even though Uzbeks won’t be allowed to pick and choose about the various innovations.

            Sarukhanyan for his part suggests that this may mean that a struggle is still going on behind the scenes about how the next Uzbek succession will occur. Mirziyoyev may not be certain about all the players and so is using the amendment process including a referendum to find out  more. 

Russian Security Council Proposal Opens the Way for Oppression of All but Traditional Faiths, Some Religious Leaders Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 18 – Experts at the Russian Security Council are calling for broad new investigations into the foreign ties of religious groups lest the latter be used by foreign governments against Russia, an appeal that some religious leaders say opens the way for a witch hunt against members of such groups.

            Moreover, they add, it divides Russians into two groups, those who are members of the four traditional faiths the Russian government recognizes as such plus those who are not members of any church and those who are members of denominations the government views as having foreign ties (

            The former will be fully protected, the advisors to the Russian Security Council say; but the latter will be subject to intense legal scrutiny because in the words of Roman Lunkin, a specialist on religion at the Moscow Institute of Europe, no one should be allowed to engage in attacks on the government under a claim of constitutionally-established religious liberty.

            According to Roman Silantyev, a specialist on Islam long rumored to be close to the FSB, this long-overdue step will help the government combat a situation in which some religious minorities are fighting against the regime not only with words but even with arms in their hands in Ukraine.

            Konstantin Bendas, bishop of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians, however, disagrees. He says that what the Council is urging sets the stage for a witch hunt among religious people in Russia and that the definition in law of terms like “traditional religion” and “religious extremism” will only make the current situation worse.

            “I won’t be surprised,” the bishop says, if this proposal is followed by one calling for the creation of some kind of special state organ with its own budget and broad authority” that the Russian leadership will then deploy against any religion it doesn’t like or threaten to, thus spreading fear through all who aren’t passive followers of whatever the Kremlin wants.

Russians May Not ‘Want War’ in the Abstract But They View It as an Entirely Legitimate Way to Achieve Their Goals, Pastukhov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 18 – Russians may not “want war” in any abstract sense, but they are more than ready to engage in it if their leaders call for war because they view such action as an entirely legitimate way to achieve their goals, Vladimir Pastukhov says. And that means they are predisposed to war just as some people are more at risk of catching this or that disease.

            Putin and his team in the Kremlin understand this far better than do anti-war Russian intellectuals, the London-based Russian analyst says.  Indeed, “the Russian intelligentsia is much more isolated from the realities of Russian society than the vaunted Russian ‘political leadership’” (

            Putin recognizes as the intelligentsia does not that the Russian people are predisposed to war and that all they need is someone to trigger than impulse. In the current context, he is the trigger; but the underlying cause is the attitude Russians as a nation have long had about how they can and should deal with others.

Only Four Percent of Ukrainians Still Identify as Followers of Moscow Orthodox Church, Survey Finds

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 7 –The share of Ukrainians identifying as members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate has fallen from 18 to four percent over the last year while those that of those saying they are followers of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine has risen from 42 percent to 54 percent, the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology says.

            Those poll figures are a better measure of the relative standing of the Russian church and the autocephalous Ukrainian one than the number of parishes and bishoprics of the two, numbers that remain far closer and are regularly cited (

            To be sure, some of this decline in the number of adherents to the Russian church reflects the fact that the survey could not be conducted in areas in the eastern portion of Ukraine now under the control of Russian aggressors. But the shift is still impressive and means that the autocephalous church is now vastly larger and more important in Ukraine than the Moscow one.

            At the same time, the survey by the authoritative Kyiv polling agency found that the share of Ukrainians identifying as atheists rose over the past year from four percent to 17 percent, an apparent contradiction of the widely held view that there are now atheists in the foxholes of a country at war.

Putin Regime Ignoring Problem of Human Trafficking in Russia, Gracheva Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 8 – Moscow over the past 20 years has ignored the problem of human trafficking and modern-day slavery within the borders of the Russian Federation, saying that there are few complaints about it and preferring instead to treat it as something only other countries suffer from, according to Vera Gracheva.

            But the president of Partnership in Action, an NGO devoted to struggling against human trafficking and other forms of violence, says there is no reason to think that Russia is somehow immune to this crime or that the numbers of cases there is as small as the authorities are inclined to suggest (

            As of last year, Gracheva says, the Global Organized Crime Index reported, human trafficking had surpassed narcotics and all other forms of trans-border crime, something that most countries including many of Russia’s neighbors have recognized and acted upon. But not the Russian Federation.

            According to the activist, victims of this crime, including women, children, and the mentally handicapped, are often afraid to complain to the authorities about their status either because they fear the powers that be will do nothing or even return them to those who are victimizing them who will then punish them severely.

            Fighting this crime also requires the kind of international cooperation that Moscow increasingly avoids being part of. Those who orchestrate the seizure of people and their being sold into conditions of slavery often use the Internet and operate in one country while their victims and their “customers’ live in others.

            But unless Russia finally shows some political will in this case and stops ignoring reality, Gracheva concludes, there is every likelihood that it will become a center of this kind of crime.

Rich Make Money on War while Poor Lose Their Children, Russians Reflect

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 18 – If and when Putin’s war in Ukraine ever ends, a new and bitter Russian anecdote suggests, the powerful will celebrate their triumph, the rich will count their profits, but poor Russians will only be able to commune with their children by going to cemeteries where they will be interred.

            This is only one of the latest jokes and anecdotes Russians are now telling that have been collected by Moscow journalist Nataly Pushkaryova ( Among the best of the rest are the following:

·       Putin says Europeans are non-traditional in all things not just sexual but in energy production as well. But Russians are traditional in everything and will continue to rely on gas rather than wind.

·       Putin complains about the so-called “golden billion,” ignoring the fact that he has managed to promote himself and 100 of his friends into its ranks.

·       The Night Wolves, a biker band Putin has befriended, are at risk of losing their wealth abroad. Police there are raiding their palaces. Who could imagine that they had anything more than guns and drugs?

·       A St. Petersburg resident has been arrested for carrying a sign, “Putin, take your pills and not decisions.” The man has been charged with discrediting the Russian army.

·       Coca-Cola is “just chemistry,” Putin says. Does it follow that Boeings, Toyotas and Mercedes are “just physics” – or are we going to have to go back to riding horses before that happens?

·       Putin also says that Russians often don’t know their rights. What rights are these? The right to places in morgues? The right to receive some kind of treatment in prison hospitals? Or the right to watch rich Russians drive about in luxury cars?


Wednesday, August 10, 2022

As Local Conflicts Multiply, Danger of a Major War Increases, Gorevoy Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 17 – Military conflicts and the threats of them are literally increasing every day, Ruslan Gorevoy says, with major powers, including Russia, drawn into them both because of their direct interests and because of the impact of the enormous refugee flows such clashes are already producing or may soon produce.

            In addition to Ukraine, the Versiya commentator says, such conflicts are occurring or at least are on the horizon in the Taiwan straits, Qarabagh in the South Caucasus, Serbia and Kosovo, and Karakalpakstan in Central Asia, any one of which could soon explode (

            Some of these involve major powers directly, others will force major powers to get involved because of their clients, and still others will do so because of the refugee flows, unprecedented in size, they will produce, Gorevoy says. In the case of Ukraine, for example, more than ten million of its residents have already moved abroad because of the fighting.

            Three aspects of his argument make it noteworthy. First, more than most analysts, he suggests that conflicts are additive, that conflicts in one place make conflicts in others more rather than less likely, and that as a result, what appear to be clashes at the margins can become the cause of a major war.

            Second, Gorevoy says that in many cases, these wars are being provoked by one side to draw in others, something that together with his argument makes the current situation even more dangerous. And third, far more than most, he argues refugee flows are going to become a casus belli not only in Europe but in the Far East with millions moving in the case of a Taiwan conflict.

Russian Science Under Putin Likely to See Rise of New Lysenkos, Kabanov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 17 – Putin’s policies are not only leading to the degradation of Russian science, leaving it ever more isolated and backward, but also making it more likely that the country will become the victim of frauds like the notorious Trofim Lysenko who promoted the idea in Stalin’s time that acquired characteristics could be inherited, Aleksandr Kabanov says.

            The corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences who now teaches at the University of North Carolina in the United States documents just how far behind Russian science has fallen because of both sanctions and the isolation from the world the Putin regime has promoted (

            The USSR on average was about ten years behind the West in scholarly work, but now Russia is “already 20 years behind,” Kabanov says. And tragically after the situation changed sharply following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, “there do not remain any hopes for a change to the better.”

            “There is no reason to think that a country isolated in all regard will be able to more successfully work in science than a country which isn’t isolated,” he argues. The USSR was isolated but less so than Putin’s Russia because it was larger and more diverse, invested more in science, and had leaders who listened to scientists and scholars more than Putin does.

            Russian scholarship still has some resources, but its limits were on view during the pandemic. Russian researchers were able to come up with a vaccine against the coronavirus, but they were not able to produce enough or convince the population to use it because they did not enjoy the full backing of the country’s leaders.

            And Kabanov says he foresees more problems ahead, including the rise of charlatans who will exploit the ignorance and isolation of the country’s leaders to boost themselves to positions of power. Such people will find it easy to do so given the isolation and super-patriotic rhetoric now on view in Russia.

            As a result, he says with regret, “I fear that we will again see new Lysenkos in [Russian] science.”

Moscow Blocks Russians from Visiting ‘Indigenous Russia’ Site to Prevent Northern Peoples from Knowing Their Rights

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 17 – Without giving a specific explanation, Moscow has blocked the access of residents of Russia to the Indigenous Russia portal (, although it is still accessible to those living abroad or those in Russia who make use of Virtual Private Networks (VPs).

            The reason behind this action, portal editor Dmitry Berezhkov says is that “the authorities want Russia’s indigenous peoples to know nothing about international law and hos they can use it to protect their rights” (

            Now in forced exile in Norway, the editor says that his website will continue to publish information about exactly that “our small team of editors and correspondents strongly believes that such work is essential both for Russia and its indigenous peoples as well as for the international community.”F

            And Berzhkov adds that “we will continue operations using new tools. We have already established Telegram and YouTube channels and now are studying other possibilities including those used by outlets like the Barents Observer and Sibir Realii and Sever Realii of Radio Free Europe.”

Tatars Ignoring Putin’s Orders and Intentions and Thereby Corroding His Authority

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 17 – The working assumption of most analyses of Russian political life is that living under Putin will obey his orders and even his intentions until they become so fed up that they explode. That is certainly the case most of the time, but it is not so in all. Instead, some who object to the Kremlin leader’s orders and desires may simply ignore him.

            Over time, such a response can be even more corrosive than the direct attacks on his position that most associate with opposition behavior because it highlights the reality that even the powerful Putin regime is not strong enough to insist that its position be followed on all things all the time. And that is not a message that the Kremlin can afford to live with for long.

            Two developments in Tatarstan highlight this reality, one having to do with Putin’s insistence that the head of that Middle Volga republic not be called president and the other his clear desire that young people should choose to study Russian rather than their native languages in school.

            In the first, Ramiz Latypov, editor of the Internet portal, says pointedly that whatever Putin and Moscow do, Tatarstan has a president. “By the constitution of Tatarstan, it is a state with its own attributes, a coat of arms, a flag, a hymn, a State Council and a President” (

            Moscow may order people to call the president of Tatarstan the head of a republic, but that doesn’t mean that Tatars must do so. As citizens of Tatarstan, we have a president, Latypov says; and we must continue to call him that regardless of what Putin wants or the government in Moscow decides – and regardless of whether the incumbent goes along or not.

            Mintimir Shaymiyev has said he will because “Tatars are a law-abiding nation,” but even he adds that this decision was made against the wishes of his people.

            And in the second, the Tatarstan education ministry reports that 63 percent of the pupils in the republic have declared that they want to study Tatar as a native language. Only 33 percent want to study Russian in that way (

            This means that slightly more children in Tatarstan will study in Tatar than there are Tatars in the republic and slightly fewer Russians than their number there will study in Russian, a clear victory for those pushing for the survival of Tatar and a loss for those who want all the non-Russians to give up their native languages.

            Since 2018, Putin has pushed hard to have non-Russians study Russian. But this is a clear indication that his campaign has run into a roadblock he himself created. Because he gave parents and children the right to make a choice, he now faced a decision where in Tatarstan, they have chosen to stay with Tatar rather than go over to Russian.


For Russia’s Neighbors, August Not April has Long Been the Cruelest Month

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 17 – No month of the year is without horrific anniversaries for those fated to live near or within the current borders of the Russian Federation, but August is an especially cruel one. As already noted, this month is the eighth anniversary of the shooting down of the Malaysian jetliner; but it is also the 14th of Russia’s invasion of the Republic of Georgia.

            That campaign, generally recognized as the first war in Europe in the 21st century, remains important in its own right and as a demonstration of the readiness of some in Moscow to engage in similar actions on the basis of false analogies -- and the failure of many in the West to connect the dots, instead treating each conflict as it if had little to do with any other.

            That is a serious lapse in judgment because it means that the West has failed to take in the bigger picture, learning from what Russia has done up to now but also failing to see the trajectory of Russian aggression that gives every sign of continuing unless and until it is finally defeated. 

            What is especially concerning is that Russian leaders, albeit in Alice-in-Wonderland fashion, routinely and explicitly connect the dots between what Moscow did in Georgia in August 2008 and what it has been doing in Ukraine first in 2014 and now in August 2022.

               Dmitry Medvedev, former Russian president and the great hope of many in the West and now the deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, says that Russia’s actions in these years and these places are all connected, a legitimate response in his view to Western aggression against Russia ( and
tagainst Russia” using Russia’s neighbors against it despite Russia’s warnings that Moscow would respond forcefully to any such attempts. Despite these warnings and despite Russia’s actions in 2008, the West is doing the same thing again. 
        Like so much coming out of Moscow these days, this contains a dollop of truth – Russia did warn that it would so something if the West provided support and encouragement to Georgia and Ukraine –contained in a mountain of lies. It was Russia which attacked  both countries, killing civilians and engaging in a variety of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
               Tragically, there have been some in the West who have been willing to swallow and even defend this outrageous rewriting of history, constantly trying to present Russia in the best possible light and to blame the victims, first Georgia and now Ukraine, in order to be able to cooperate with the stronger but aggressive power.
               Just as there is a long history of such arguments coming from Russia, so too there is a long history of this Western response to dictators in other countries and even in Russia, although that response was limited by an overarching anti-communism during the cold war. Now, that constraint is gone.
               In this month of sad anniversaries, it is important to remember and oppose both of these trends because if that does not happen, there will be many more unhappy Augusts in the future of Eurasia.  

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

America’s ‘Fatal Miscalculation’ since Cold War has Been to Insist on a Rules-Based Order but Exempt Itself from the Rules, ‘Nezavisimaya Gazeta’ Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 17 – When the Cold War ended, Washington decided “the former approach to international relations through the prism of geopolitical interests was out of date,” the editors of Moscow’s Nezavisimaya gazeta say. Instead, the US called for a rules-based order but miscalculated in a fatal way by exempting itself from the rules it insisted others behave.

            It is remarkable for Moscow’s leading independent newspaper to feature a lead article “on the fatal miscalculations of US policy since the cold war; it is even more remarkable for what the newspaper’s editors say is Washington’s mistake, adopting rules for all but not living according to them (

            According to American leaders, “the world should be constructed via the affirmation of universal values, important for all, including human rights, fighting climate change, free trade and the universal distribution of common institutions,” the editors say. And it has taken “approximately 30 years” for the fundamental flaws in the American approach to become apparent.

            Those flaws arise not from these universal ideas but rather from the fact that again and again the US has imposed its ideas on others but, when the chips are down, has exempted itself from their being applied to it. Those Washington was giving orders to not surprisingly resented this, and now they are taking their revenge by ignoring what the US is saying.

            Again and again, the editors say, the US showed that the rules it wanted everyone to follow were not rules it was prepared to live under itself. For all those who had been told what to do by Washington, it became clear the idea of “’a world based on rules’ was a euphemism” meaning the US will set the rules but not live according to them when it doesn’t want to.

            This American mistake involved not only economic issues but political values as when first Trump and then Biden showed themselves quite willing to ignore the principles of free speech, free information, the presumption of innocence and honest political struggle” when it suited their purposes.

            “It has become obvious that the West is not in a position to maintain a world ‘based on principles’ either in the world as a whole or in its own borders.” And the final nail in the coffin of that hope, the Moscow paper says, is what is going on in Ukraine where the US is following the principles of geopolitics rather than of a rule-based order.

            Clearly, Nezavisimaya gazeta says, “Fukuyama’s end of history has been put off for an indeterminate time.”

Putin Views Iran as a Possible Refuge if He has to Flee Russia, Some Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 17 – There are likely many reasons why Vladimir Putin has chosen to go to Iran just now, but perhaps the most important one is something few are talking about: he is considering it as a place he and other members of his regime might flee if things get too hot in Moscow, some Russians say.

            In their view, Iran has every chance of becoming for the Putin ruling class something like Argentina for Nazis after they lost the war. To be sure, the ayatollahs may require them to convert to Islam, but that’s hardly a problem for real Russian patriots! After all, their main concern is hardly democracy or human rights.

            That is just one of the anecdotes Moscow journalist Tatyana Pushkaryova offers in her latest collection ( Among the best of the rest are the following:

·       Fruit sellers in Russia’s south are now listing the prices of their goods for each half kilo. People think that the price is for a whole kilo and rush to buy. When they discover their mistake and complain, the sellers respond that they shouldn’t complain: after all that is what the powers that be in Moscow have been doing for a long time.

·       Kremlin media re reporting that because of difficulties, the British are having to give up eating meat and fish because of rising prices. “Hurrah,” they say, “we have at last become British.” 

·       The most obvious enemy of Russia has been in power in the Kremlin for 20 years. He has reduced the population to poverty and siphoned and sold all the resources. Then to avoid responsibility, he has invaded neighboring countries, accusing them of his own misdeeds.

·       Russians may soon lose access to the Internet, a most serious restriction in their rights and freedoms. But thank God, they say, we Russians have Crimea and Donbass at least for the time being. But perhaps in a year, we will have to lose to do without them as well.

·       A man who was given a car for the loss of his son in Ukraine noted that he has two other patriotic sons and plans after their service to start a taxi business. In the past, Russians put stickers on their cars declaring “Thank you grandfather for Victory!” Now, they will put ones up instead which say “Thank you son for the car!”

·       There are many questions for which there is no clear answer, but there is one thing Russians should always do: stockpile buckwheat so there will be something to eat.

·       A Russian health official has assured Putin that the government has the flu situation under control. After all, “thanks to the efforts of Russian doctors, there is enough flu for everyone.”

·       Russians first had to get used to “gray” salaries. Then, after sanctions, they learned about “gray” paper for printers. “If bleach doesn’t arrive soon, then they may have to learn to live with “gray” snow.