Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Moscow’s Transfer of Metropolitan Tikhon to Crimea Part of Larger Russian Effort to Absorb Orthodox in Russian-Occupied Areas of Ukraine

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 30 – The transfer of Metropolitan Tikhon from Pskov to Crimea reflects not only Patriarch Kirill’s desire to get Putin’s favorite hierarch farther from the center of power but also an effort by the Moscow Patriarchate to take control of all of Orthodoxy in Ukrainian areas under Russian occupation.

            This process has been ongoing since 2014, but it has been slowed by the Moscow Patriarchate’s unwillingness to redraw canonical borders lest that strategy backfire on itself. But it has accelerated in recent weeks because the Kremlin even more than the Moscow Patriarchate wants to control the situation on the ground in advance of any negotiations.

            As RFE/RL’s Nikolay Berg reports, neither secular nor religious Moscow has been entirely happy with the churchman Tikhon replaces. Metropolitan Lazar who had been in that position since 1992 and described himself as part of the UOC MP (svoboda.org/a/anneksiya-tserkovnyh-territoriy-ukrainy-pravoslavie-v-okkupatsii/32655151.html).

            But the UOC at least formally has dropped its formal affiliation with the Moscow Patriarchate and thus is no longer what it was. And the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada is moving toward banning it because of the UOC’s continuing links with the Russian state. That Ukrainian move may have been the trigger for getting rid of Lazar and imposing Tikhon in his place.

            At the same time, the journalist notes, Moscow is moving to take control of church property throughout Crimea and to use the Orthodox church there as a major propaganda channel against Ukraine. Tikhon is a specialist in such propaganda, a sharp contrast to Lazar who was more passively involved.

            And as this is going on, the ROC MP, likely at the insistence of the Kremlin, is accelerating its efforts to gain control of congregations and bishoprics in other Russian-occupied portions of Ukraine, an effort that will certainly have the unintended effect of leading ever more Ukrainian politicians, officials and ordinary believers to accept a ban of what’s left of the UOC.

Containment Strategy on which the Current International Order Depends No Longer Works, Pastukhov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 30 – It remains unclear how Putin’s war in Ukraine or the conflict triggered by Hamas’ attack on Israel will end, but one conclusion, both “disappointing and dangerous,” is that the strategy of containment on which the international system has rested since 1945 “no longer works,” Vladimir Pastukhov says.

            That strategy is based on the proposition that an enemy won’t attack if he knows that he will be destroyed if he does so, the London-based Russian analyst says; and it worked well for most of the past 70 years. But now it is breaking down and with it the world order it supported (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=653F4E3E11EA4).

            In the months before Putin launched his expanded attack on Ukraine, Pastukhov says, “the US and the West used exactly this argument in every possible way: do not attack Ukraine becaue our response will be too expensive for you. But that didn’t work,” perhaps because Moscow did not think in long enough terms.

            “Israel’s strategy in Gaza was the same,” the analyst says, “but much more fundamental: don’t attack us or we guarantee that we will destroy you. Nonetheless, Hamas attacked anyway,” in one sense a miscalculation but also a reflection of the sense among its leaders that the old verities are no longer true.

            That has happened before and with disastrous consequences that led to World War I. In the lead up to 1914, Pastukhov points out, the general staffs in European countries “suddenly reached the crazy conclusion that with new weapons, the attackers had the advantages” and thus could safely ignore “the established deterrence mechanism.”

            At present, this shift has led to a series of local or regional wars. But because it calls into question the strength of the current international order, there is a great risk that it could ultimately lead to a third world conflagration. 

Countries which Engaged in Lustration Escaped from Their Pasts; Russia which Didn’t Hasn’t, Analysts Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 28 – According to analysts surveyed by SeverReal, “the connection between lustration and democratization looks absolutely direct and immediate.” In those countries where lustration was carried out, there has been real progress; but in those like Russia where it hasn’t, the past lives on.

            As observers consider what Russia should do “after Putin,” the issue of whether or not a post-Putin regime should engage in lustration is heating up given this connection (severreal.org/a/v-schastlivoe-buduschee-odnim-bolshim-skachkom-lyustratsiya-35-let-nazad-i-poslezavtra/32653891.html).

            But it is not a simple one. Many people want to avoid the possibility of more bloodshed that such actions would involve. Others don’t see a possibility for an international tribunal to function in the Russian case. And still others say that it was easier to conduct lustration when the officials involved were viewed as occupiers or where the new state itself was occupied.

            Yan Rachinsky of Memorial says that whatever is done, one principle must be kept in mind: those considering whether to punish or at least exclude from public life anyone should consider personal responsibility rather than to think in terms of categories. Not everyone who worked in this or that agency was guilty of crimes and no one should assume otherwise.

Russian Judges Rarely Find Any Defendant Not Guilty, but in 75 Percent of Cases, They Don’t Impose the Maximum Sentence the Law Allows

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 28 – Russian courts are notorious for convicting more than 99 percent of those brought before them (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2023/05/acquittals-in-russian-courts-fall-to.html), but at the same time, Russian judges rarely impose the maximum sentences allowed by the criminal code on those convicted, the To Be Precise portal says. 

            That suggests, the portal continues, that the judges are more lenient than they are often viewed as being (tochno.st/materials/sudi-v-rossii-pochti-nikogo-ne-opravdyvayut-no-v-75-sluchaev-vybirayut-myagkie-nakazaniya-po-krayney-mere-po-merkam-uk-rasskazyvaem-pravda-li-sudy-v-nashey-strane-bolee-gumannye-chem-kazhetsya-na-pervyy-vzglyad).

            And it highlights the fact that Russian judges rarely get in trouble for such actions but can very easily find themselves in difficulties if they were to find someone not guilty entirely, Yelena Yurishina, an analyst for the Command Against Torture organization, says in reviewing the statistics assembled by To Be Precise.

            Drawing on the research of others, Yurishina says that those who engage in so-called victimless crimes or in white collar crime are less likely to be sentenced as heavily as the law allows while those who are involved in violent acts against others or whose cases attract public notice are likely to be sentenced to the maximum allowed.

            None of this means that the sentences judges hand out are “really humane,” she cotinues. “The average length of incarceration in our country compared to European measures is very long, although this may be connected with a higher level of force in society” inside the Russian Federation than in European countries.

            However, “the good news is that if pressures from above are removed, Russian judges are not particularly harsh in the sentences they hand down.”


Monday, October 30, 2023

Putin Regime having Problems Shifting from Exploitation of Migrantophobia to Ingratiating Itself with Migrants, Polozova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 28 – The Putin regime has exploited xenophobic attitudes among Russians about immigrants to keep itself in power, but now that the number of migrants has fallen and Moscow has become more dependent on those who remain, Russian officials are seeking to ingratiate themselves with the immigrants without losing the support of indigenous Russians.

            That is no easy task, Novaya Gazeta commentator Anna Polozova says, especially as official exploitation of migrantophobia has worked so well. But now, the Kremlin has made a sharp turn away from that because it desperately needs to prevent more immigrants from leaving and wants to use them in various ways, including as soldiers in Putin’s war in Ukraine (novayagazeta.eu/articles/2023/10/27/po-zovu-moskvy).

            Whenever a government makes such a shift from a longstanding policy to its opposite, officials face problems because many had become accustomed to the old message and lack credibility both among the immigrants and also among the indigenous population when they try to deliver a new message, the commentator says.

            Some like Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin have been relatively skillful in making this sharp turn; but others, like Kaluga Oblast Governor Vladislav Shapsha, have not; and their fumbling and scrambling has shown just how difficult it is for any official, no matter how much support he or she may enjoy from the top, to make such a sharp turn without losing face.


Russians have Focused Too Much on the Future or on the Past rather than on the Present, Andrey Sinyavsky’s Son Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 28 – In Soviet times, the communist leadership sought to have Russians focus on the future rather than the present or past; now, the Putin regime presses them to focus on the past rather than the present or future. But what is critically important, Yegor Gran says, is that they begin to focus first and foremost on the present.

            In an extensive interview with RFI’s Russian Service, the son of Soviet-era dissident Andrey Sinyavsky and the author of numerous books since he moved to France in 1973, says that a focus on the present is one of the many advantages that most countries have over Russia (rfi.fr/ru/общество/20231027-егор-гран-для-„меня-великая-русская-культура-это-гулаг).

            According to the Franco-Russian writer, “the colossal difference between the mentalities of the West and of Russia today is that Western civilization draws its strength from the present. People improve that present in small steps: the door doesn’t close; I’ll fix it. An elderly woman cannot get across the road, I’ll help her.”

            “In Russia, however, it’s the other way around: The door doesn’t close but we have Peter the Great and compared to him, a door that doesn’t close is irrelevant,” just as in Soviet times, the communist regime insisted that an ill-fitting door was irrelevant given what the regime was building for the future.

            “Of course,” Gran says, “knowing the truth about Stalin’s rimes is very important; but that is still far removed from daily life. Because in response to words about Stalin’s crimes, people will be told that this isn’t true or it’s an exaggeration or ‘that how it must be’ because while Stalin was a criminal, he was a great criminal.”

            “All this happens because people aren’t interested in the peeling paint on the door of their own toilets,” he continues. “When they begin to take an interest in that” rather than to obsess about the past or the future alone, then and only then “will life in the country begin to improve significantly.”

Ethnic Russian Men Disappearing in Heartland and Being Replaced by Immigrants, Demographers Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 28 – Indigenous ethnic Russian men are disappearing from villages in central Russia both as a result of outmigration and lower life expectancies, but this trend has been hidden in demographic statistics because in many cases, they are being replaced by immigrants from Central Asia and the Caucasus, two demographers say.

            Tamara Rostovskaya of the Moscow Institute of Sociology and Natalya Rychikhina of Ivanovo State University offer as evidence of this what is happening in Ivanovo Oblast, one of the traditionally most ethnic Russian areas of the country, according to Russian commentator Pavel Pryanikov (publizist.ru/blogs/117734/47041/-).

            In the bulletin of the Semashko National Research Institute on Public Health (in Russian; no. 3 (2023), the two point out that life expectancy for men in Ivanovo Oblast is now 64.03 years, below the retirement age of 65. Men are dying at earlier ages because of alcoholism and other unhealthy behaviors.

            But while ethnic Russian men are dying earlier or leaving to work elsewhere, Rostovskaya and Rychikhina report, “the male population of the Ivanov region is in fact increasing as a result of the influx of migrants” from Central Asia and the Caucasus, “most of whom are men.”

            Regional officials are trumpeting their success in growing the male population but ignoring the fact that it has been achieved only by the replacement of ethnic Russians with non-Russians, Pryanikov says. And they have ignored the demographic consequences of that development.

            On the one hand, it is likely to depress the birthrates in these villages; but on the other, it may lead to a fusion of two or more nationalities, with some of the new arrivals into the region being Russianized and Russified but with perhaps many of the children of ethnically mixed marriages either left undefined in ethnic terms or even becoming less Russian as a result.   


Sunday, October 29, 2023

Unlike Western Countries, Russia ‘Aging from Below’ rather than ‘Aging from Above,’ Russian Central Bank's ECONS Group Says

            Staunton, Oct. 26 – Economists are concerned about the way in which aging populations are putting a brake on growth because there are now fewer workers to support the growing number of elderly who have pensions, but those fears have been stoked by the data the economists use in measuring the two groups, Russian Central Bank ECONS experts say.

            Generally and up until recently almost exclusively, economists measured the size of the elderly population in terms of the number of people over a certain age, typically 60. But the survival rate of people reaching that “threshold of old age” now is far higher than it was in the past (ng.ru/economics/2023-10-26/1_8863_age.html).

            In most countries of the West, the population over the age of 60 has risen dramatically because of improvements in lifestyles and healthcare, a very different situation than in the Russian Federation where increases in life expectancy have occurred largely “from below” as a result of lower birthrates than “from above” as a result of improved survivability.

            If one uses an alternative definition of the old, that of those reaching an age where they can expect on average to live another 15 years, the economic consequences of this difference between Russia and the West are enormous. In the West, in recent years, survival rates for those reaching 65 are jumped, while in Russia, they have remained almost flat.

            That means that efforts to save the economy by boosting the retirement age are unlikely to work as expected. Indeed, Russians and especially Russian men whose life expectancy figures lag far behind those of Russian women are not likely to have on average 15 years more of life at ages even below the newly boosted figures.

            The experts at the RCB who publish their findings on the ECONS do not speak for the bank as such, but their conclusions are likely to be taken up by those who oppose boosting the retirement age in the coming years and also by those who argue that Russia can improve its life expectancy figures only by improving medical care and life styles of the population.

            At the very least, the new report should warn those in the West from accepting without criticism the Putin regime’s pension age arguments because such arguments might be appropriate for Western countries, they aren’t in the case of his Russian Federation. 

Russian Officials Wrestling with Spread of Increasingly Lethal Violence in Russian Schools

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 25 – Tragically, the United States has been the site of increasing violence in its schools, the result of cultural changes and the easy availability of guns. But Russia is not that far behind, even though it regularly suppresses any media reporting about them and christens those the media do cover “Columbines,” a reference to the most infamous American case.

            As a result of these policies, the exact amount of such violence in Russian schools is unknown; but there are clear indications that it is growing and results in lethal outcomes ever more often (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2021/05/russia-now-has-not-only-columbines-but.html and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/12/russians-using-guns-ever-more-often-to.html

            The response of officials has been first to deny the problem and then to seek to improve security at schools; but the education ministry admitted last year that only about half of Russia’s schools have any security arrangements in place and it is unlikely that there has been significant progress in that regard (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2022/07/only-half-of-russias-schools-are.html

            Russian parents are both angry and increasingly inclined to accept the arguments of those who say that such crimes are the works of migrants, contributing to growthating migrantophobia in Russian society, up to and including the expulsion of migrants. But others are now saying that the schools themselves must change to deal with the increasing availability of guns and an internet culture that celebrates their use.

            In a new commentary, Kirill Shulika says that migrants can hardly be blamed for many of the cases of violence because most of them are between students who are not from the migrant communities. Instead, the schools must take a more active role in promoting the idea that using guns to settle disputes is not the way to go (rosbalt.ru/piter/2023/10/25/1997087.html).

            Unfortunately, the increasing militarization of schools themselves and messages on the Internet undercut the schools’ ability to present such an alternative message; and the schools themselves are staffed by people who continue to operate with a vision of education that may have been appropriate in Soviet times but isn’t now.

            But deaths from such violence cannot be ignored, Shulika says; and so the schools working with the courts and other authorities must do what they can to end the Columbines now occurring in Russian educational institutions.

Russian Military Personnel Committing Dramatically More Rapes, Murders and Other Crimes Now than In Earlier Years, Court Statistics Show

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 26 – Reflecting both the increase in the number of uniformed personnel because of Putin’s war in Ukraine and the psychological problems participation in that war are generating, Russian military personnel are committing ever more rapes, murders and other crimes now than at any time in the last five years, court documents show.

            Rape and other sex crimes have been increasing across the board in Russia in recent years, but the number of military personnel charged in this connection has “at a minimum” almost doubled (verstka.media/analiz-sudebnoy-statistiki-pokazyvaet-rost-ubiystv-iznasilovaniy-i-del-o-gosizmene).

            The increase in the number of Russian soldiers charged with murder has gone up even more dramatically, from 15 and 21 during the first nine months of 2022 and 2021, to 147 during the same period this year. Soldiers committing murder are more likely to be intoxicated and to use knives as well as guns, at least some from their military service.

            This is just one of the ways that Putin’s war in Ukraine is coming home to Russia, a way that may have more dramatic consequences at least in part because the state media does cover such crimes even as it suppresses information about war losses and the funerals of those who have died in the campaign. 

Russia’s Demographic Crisis Part of Its Civilizational One, Pastukhov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 26 – Russia’s demographic decline, one that has reached crisis proportions, is directly related to its civilizational crisis because traditionally Russia has relied on the growth of its population and often its territory to power its development, Vladimir Pastukhov says.

            “From the very beginning until today,” the London-based Russian analyst says, “Russian civilization has been and remains extensive, that is, it has been able to develop only through continuous and often territorial expansion which requires a constant and rapid growth in the population to guarantee” (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=6538E5038AD89).

            Now that it is losing population, Pastukhov continues, Russia “can no longer develop in the same way,” not only in competition with other civilizations “but also because the quantitative and qualitative degradation of the titular ethnic group does not allow Russia to retain and develop in a normal fashion the territories it already has.

            Instead, Russians today are having “to live in ‘a de-energized country,” and “Russian civilization, because of this chronic energy deficit, is beginning to shrink. This recalls the evolution of a dying star: when the plasma energy runs out, first there is a sharp expansion (the Soviet empire) that is replaced by an equally sharp and catastrophic contraction (Russia now).”

            If that continues, to use this analogy, it is “most likely” that the result will be the transformation of Russia into ‘a red dwarf’ or even into ‘a black hole.’” The only way to avoid that is to find some new source of energy and restart the engine. Everything else is a vain attempt to deceive oneself and others,” however promising its short-term alternative tactics may be.

            “Subconsciously,” Russians realize how deep this crisis is and want salvation, Pastukhov says. But no one in the opposition is talking about this. Indeed, the only serious program, albeit a false one, is being offered by Putin. He suggests that the country can be rescued by engaging in war.

            Given that no one else is offering a serious answer to the question of “what will save Russia,” the Kremlin leader views his answer as “the only possible and correct one.” But of course, he is destroying Russia’s future by suggesting that the only way it can proceed is by turning back to the past.

Russians Stockpiling Contraceptives Fearful that Moscow will Soon Remove These Medications from Stores or Even Ban Abortions

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 26 – Despite Putin’s call for Russians to have more children, citizens of his country are buying up contraceptives out of fear that these products will soon disappear from stores in Russian cities and towns, exacerbating a trend that began six years ago, Moskovsky komsomolets reports.

            Part of the increase in purchases of oral contraceptives reflects an attempt by Russians to get away of rapid price increases in this sector, but medical officials say that even with the rises in prices for birth control pills, Russian women have been using them despite calls for them to give birth to more children (mk.ru/social/2023/10/26/rossiyane-rinulis-za-kontraceptivami.html).

            But a larger part, medical experts say, reflects a fear that the Russian government will extend its ban on “day after pills” to other forms of birth control. That ban doesn’t go into effect until September of next year, but reports about it have led many Russians to conclude that it has already happened.

            Also playing into such fears is the government’s effort to restrict abortions to government clinics. Many Russians fear that this is only a first step toward banning abortions more generally, and therefore they are purchasing birth control medications in order to avoid being forced into an untenable position.

            In short, the newspaper says, trying to force people to have children when they don’t want to has started to backfire. Russians are trying to find ways to ensure that they won’t have to have children regardless of what the Kremlin says and that they assume that any steps the regime takes now are on a path of even greater restrictions in the future.

            And this is a warning for the future: the Putin regime may as the Stalin regime once did ban legal abortions, but it won’t prevent people from seeking prophylactic measures or from getting illegal ones if those fail or aren’t available.

Putin Claims Half of Russians who Left after Start of Ukrainian War have Returned but New Study Finds Only a Few More than 15 Percent Have

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 26 – Much has been made of a report in the Financial Times that slightly more than 15 percent of those Russians who had moved abroad following Putin’s launch of his expanded invasion of Ukraine, but many of the reports have failed to note that these returnees may not be permanent and that their share of the total is far less than Putin has claimed.

            In June, the Kremlin leader said that 50 percent of those who had moved abroad had in fact changed their minds and moved back to Russia (ria.ru/20230616/uekhavshie-1878755617.html). But that figure has been called into question by new research by the European University Institute in Florence (forbes.ru/society/499179-issledovateli-soobsili-o-vozvrasenii-v-rossiu-bol-se-15-relokantov).

            That study, conducted by Emil Kamalov and Ivetta Sergeyeva, found that fewer than a third of those Putin suggested had returned have and that even among that number, many may have come back only temporarily to settle their affairs or see relatives (ft.com/content/5e6bcce9-7bda-4b29-b1b7-f7df6e879fd9).

            And that figure suggests that Russia is likely to be without many of those so-called “relocators” until Putin leaves the scene and Moscow’s policies change and that their number may even swell if there is the threat of mass mobilization or more talk about penalizing those who have gone abroad but seek to return. 

Russia has Been At War for Two-Thirds of Its Post-Soviet Existence, Gudkov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 26 – For two-thirds of the post-Soviet period, Russia has been at war, first in Chechnya, then in Georgia and Syria and since 2014 in Ukraine, Lev Gudkov points out, a result of Russia’s failure to reform the basic institutions of society, with the exception of the economy.

            “The army, the special services, the legal system and the educational sector have remained on the whole Soviet,” he continues, and “after Putin’s coming to power, these [unreformed] institutions became the chief supports of the regime,” allowing Putin to create “an imitation totalitarianism” (ehorussia.com/new/node/29806).

            By the end of the 1990s, Gudkov says, the democratic transformation of Russia had failed. “Since that time, the centralization of the state and society has increased as has the influence of the military and security agencies who have fed on disappointments about the results of privatization and democracy.

            And that in turn has contributed to “a nostalgia for past greatness” to compensate for “feelings of belonging to a failed country” not only among them but in the population as a whole, the sociologist says. As a result and because censorship has kept Russians from learning the truth, support for Putin’s war has been remarkably high and stable.

            Another reason, he suggests, is that the Kremlin has provided so much money to get Russian men to fight for it in Ukraine that villagers and rural residents see the war as economically beneficial despite the rising tide of inflation. As of now, few contact the war with inflation but that may change.

            Indeed, Gudkov points out, the share of those who support continuing the war to a victorious conclusion is “slowly declining and now stands at about 38 to 45 percent.” That may change as well given the Putin regime’s decision to continue the war as long as possible so as to force talks that will give it at least the appearance of a victory.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Anti-War Graffiti Work of Russia’s ‘Semiotic Partisans,’ Activists Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 26 – Shortly after Putin launched his expanded invasion of Ukraine, Russians began expressing their opposition to his war with graffiti of various kinds. Aleksandr Arkhipova, an anthropologist, collected almost 500 examples from across the Russian Federation; and others have followed in her wake.

            Such graffiti has spread because it is often difficult for the powers to identify who is responsible and punish them and because of the conviction of its perpetrators that by using graffiti, they can break the notion promoted propaganda that opponents of the war are few in number (zona.media/article/2023/10/26/streetfight).

            The organizers of a recent collection of such street art describe those behind them as “semiotic partisans,” who “like real partisans who blow up trains … are traying to undermine the information blockade about Russians” and to “show that support for the war is not the position of the majority.”

            According to Arkhipova, those who use graffiti to express their views come from all age groups. What unites them, she suggests, is that “the majority of them act as individuals” rather than as part of this or that group and that they direct their messages less to the powers that be than to other Russians, calling on them to “leave their comfort zones” and opposite the war.

Friday, October 27, 2023

Russian Forces in Ukraine Ordered to Take More Losses So UN will Ask Kyiv to Stop the War, Some Russians Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 24 – Russians have come up with an explanation as to why the Russian army has recently lost so many men in Ukraine. The reason is simple, they say. Moscow has ordered commanders to ensure that Russian losses go up so that the UN will feel compelled to ask Ukraine to end the war.

            This is just one of the recent anecdotes Moscow journalist Tatyana Pushkaryova has assembled showing how the man and woman in the street in Russia is attempting to explain what is going on (https://publizist.ru/blogs/107374/47029/-). Among the best of the rest are the following:

·       When Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says something being reported about Putin isn’t true, Russians know that his words are confirmation of just the opposite.

·       There are now three signs of a revolutionary situation: the rulers can’t, the lower classes don’t want, and the Jews are leaving.

·       Russians know that the only news they can count on comes from reliable sources such as conversations in the kitchen and the talk of grandmothers on park benches.

·       A Russian calls for an ambulance because people around him feel bad. Asked to specify his address, the man says simply “Russia.”

·       Russian Rail says it will “cannibalize” older trains to keep newer ones running, a remarkable use of terms that says far more than Moscow can possibly want to admit.

·       Russians regret that they will never be on their knees again. After all, when they were, the dollar was worth only 36 rubles, gasoline was cheap, the media weren’t full of foreign agents, and political prisoners were remembered only occasionally.

Cohort of Those who Came of Age in 1990s Now Triggering Rehabilitation of that Decade, Stashkov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 24 – The Kremlin and its mouthpieces in the media still continue to denounce the 1990s as a wild time in which everything was bad for Russians, but the aging of those who came of age during that decade is leading to an outburst of nostalgia about those years among them, according to St. Petersburg commentator Gleb Stashkov.

            Now approaching 50, he says, that “nostalgia for my youth” has swept over him just as it often does among those who have reached that age. And he notes that “a lot of materials about the ‘90s  have appeared in the pop sector of the Internet: ‘Music of the ‘90s,’ ‘Stars of the ‘90s,’ and even ‘Creepy Fashions of the ‘90s’” (gorod-812.ru/nachinaetsya-reabilitacziya-90-h/).

            While such materials are presented in ideologically correct ways, Stashkov says, behind these “stock phrases … are love and nostalgia,” because these programs allow people of his cohort to recall their youth and even show their affection and nostalgia for a period they are told to despise.

            “Maybe,” he says, “the rehabilitation of the ‘90s is beginning …simply because the time has come to fall into nostalgia for the generation whose youth fell in the ‘90s.” Such a trend would be consistent with what happened earlier when those who grew up in the 1970s reached a certain age and thought positively about Brezhnev’s times.

            So far, this is all taking place below the political level; but it does represent “the natural change of the generations which are falling into nostalgia.”


Russia’s Conventional War in Ukraine has Made Its Hybrid Warfare against Others ‘More Dangerous,’ Kulkepp Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 24 – In the years before Vladimir Putin launched his expanded kinetic war against Ukraine in February 2022, most Western analysts argued that his regime was a “post-modernist” one, committed to “exercising power less through direct coercion and more through propaganda and behind-the-scene political technology,” Mart Kuldepp says.

            But the Estonian historian at University College of London points out that since that time, has both discredited that notion and reduce the attention that Western researchers have given to Russia’s use of hybrid warfare around the world (upnorth.eu/russias-war-against-ukraine-and-its-hybrid-war-against-estonia/).

            Kuldepp argues that “Russia also continues its sub-Article 5 aggression against its other neighboring countries, and the West in general. In fact, it is now even more dangerous than before, because Ukraine’s prospects for success are directly linked to the support it receives from its partners, and this is something that Russia hopes to undermine with its hybrid measures.”

            These Russian moves thus continue to merit attention, and they must be responded to in “bold” wars. Unless the West shows itself prepared to respond to them, it will be in trouble. And those countries, like Estonia that are on the front lines, must “make sure that together with our allies we will have the last word in this exchange.”

Centralized Russian Art Scene ‘Exoticizing’ Work of Artists from Russia’s Regions, ‘7x7’ Reports

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 24 – Almost half of all the art galleries in the Russian Federation are in Moscow and St. Petersburg, with 59 in the two capitals and only 61 in the entire rest of the country. As a result, artists in the regions often move to those cities or at least seek to ensure that their work is displayed there.

            The movement of artists to Moscow has long been noted, but the 7x7 news portal calls attention to one of the unexpected aspects of the desire of artists in the regions to have their production selected for display there – the “exoticization” of work from the regions and republics (semnasem.org/articles/2023/10/24/moskva-i-ponaehavshie).

            Curators and gallery owners in the capitals often select works from regional and republic artists only if they are radically different from what is being produced in the capitals. This restricts the natural development of art in the former by leading artists outside the two cities to cultivate ethnic or regional characteristics – or at least those the center sees as typically theirs.

            While some in the regions and republics may be pleased with this because it leads to the continued cultivation of ethnic and regional brands, others are horrified because it keeps artists in these places from trying out new forms and developing personally as artists, something they can’t do if they want to exhibit at the center.

            This is a new form of colonialism, some regional artists and curators say, with the center deciding what art is appropriate for this or that region – and having the power  to impose it because in many regions, only those who have exhibited in Moscow are viewed as real artists, just as in Moscow, only those who exhibit abroad have that status.

            The 7x7 report, the first in a promised series of articles about the dependence of regions and republics on Moscow, says there is one segment of the art world where this hyper-centralization is not true: street art. The reason is simple: No city in Russia has the TV monitoring of public spaces that Moscow does, and so the others are freer.

            That is, street artists say, in Moscow, the authorities can quickly track the appearance of street art and take action against it while in other places, the people in power often do not have any regular means of monitoring such art; and so those who choose to engage in street art are much freer.

Debts of Russian Regions Projected to Rise Even Further as Officials There are Forced to Borrow Privately at Ever Higher Interest Rates

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 24 – Since Vladimir Putin launched his expanded war in Ukraine and shifted additional burdens to regional governments, 51 of those more than 80 governments have seen their debt skyrocket; and that rise will only continue as ever more of them are forced to borrow not from the central government but from private banks.

            That will transfer still more money into the hands of Putin’s supporters who own these banks and force regional officials to cut services to their already hard-pressed population, thus exacerbating tensions between the population and governments at both levels (nemoskva.net/2023/10/24/zhizn-vzajmy/).

            In the past, the central government loaned money to the regions directly and at special and lower rates. But the demands on the budget to finance the war appear to have led the Kremlin to stop that practice and thus to put the regions more on their own and forced to deal with the higher interest rates private banks charge.

PMC Controlled by Russian Defense Ministry Now Recruiting Women for Combat Roles

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 24 – The Borz Battalion, a Chechen PMC under the control of the Russian defense ministry, is now recruiting women for combat roles, a reflection of Russia’s demographic difficulties and a possible indication of where the Russian army is headed as a whole as Putin’s war in Ukraine grinds on.

            Up to now, Russian women have been recruited into military formations primarily in traditional “women’s roles,” that is as nurses or cooks, but not as combat soldiers (vedomosti.ru/politics/news/2023/03/07/965566-shoigu-nazval-chislo-uchastvuyuschih-v-svo-zhenschin-voennosluzhaschih).

            Now, however, the Borz Battalion, which is part of the Redut PMC and uner the command of the GRU, has become accepting Russian women to take part directly in combat (istories.media/news/2023/10/23/sozdani-ne-tolko-dlya-supov-i-detei-rossiiskii-zhenshchin-nachali-verbovat-na-boevie-spetsialnosti-dlya-uchastiya-v-voine-viyasnili-vazhnie-istorii/).

            Given the declining size of the draft-age cohort of Russian males, it is perhaps no surprise that some in Moscow may see the use of women in combat roles as a solution; but if so, such use of women in combat will change the nature of the Russian military, by challenging the dominance of men in senior positions whose attitudes are anything but progressive on this point.

            And that in turn will create yet more fracture lines not only within the military but also between the high command and the Kremlin, developments that may keep this innovation from spreading lest it split the military and the political elite.    

Russian Police Raids on Mosques to Impress Muslims into Army are Discouraging Faithful from Attending Services There and Radicalizing Believers

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 24 – It is uncertain how many Muslims have been impressed into military service as a result of the recent spate of police raids on mosques undertaken in the name of that goal, but one thing is clear: the number of Muslims attending services has dropped and their trust in the authorities reduced, the Muslim Spiritual Directorate of Moscow says.  

            The Moscow MSD says that it is also concerned that these raids are reducing the differences Russians in general have between Russian citizens who are Muslims and Muslim immigrants and thus promoting the notion that all Muslims are second-class citizens in Putin’s Russia (t.me/rtvimain/86400 and newizv.ru/news/2023-10-24/luchshe-molitsya-na-rabote-migranty-izbegayut-mechetey-iz-za-oblav-voenkomatov-422173).

            If what the MSD is saying is true, the police raids on mosques are already backfiring, leading Muslims not to attend mosques and prayer rooms registered with the authorities and thus monitored closely but to go to underground mosques where the messages are far more radical and anti-Kremlin than in the official ones.

            And this in turn will radicalize many Muslims in the Russian Federation who weren’t radicalized before, a development that the Kremlin cannot possibly want but that it has no one to blame but itself.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Rising Tide of Anti-Immigrant Sentiment Sparking New Growth in Russia’s Extreme Right

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 22 – The police raid on a Muslim prayer room on October 20 and the impressment of Muslims into the Russian army attracted widespread attention (newizv.ru/news/2023-10-22/posle-namaza-v-boy-migrantov-s-rossiyskim-pasportom-massovo-zabirayut-v-armiyu-422016 and dialog.tj/news/v-podmoskove-omon-ustroil-oblavu-v-mecheti-i-zabral-prikhozhan-v-voenkomat).

            But this raise was only the tip of the iceberg of a rising tide in such actions, The Insider says; and coverage of it ignored three important things: the growth in xenophobic attitudes among Russians about migrants, the recovery of organizations of the extreme right who feed on that, and the ways in which these groups cooperate with the police (theins.ru/obshestvo/264590).

            According to the portal, dozens or even hundreds of such raids “have been taking place on the initiative of special detachments of nationalist snitchers who cooperate with the government’s siloviki. They became more active over the last summer and already now form a special subculture” that has prompted Muslims to organize in response.

            The most prominent of these groups, the Russian Community, 40 by 40, and the Northern Man, are growing rapidly, The Insider says, attracting tens of thousands of followers on the Internet and working closely with the police who can use them to attack Muslims when the authorities want to maintain a fig leaf of official non-involvement.

            To date, these links and the activation of the extreme right have passed largely under the radar of Moscow and Western media which have tended to assume that the passions of Russian nationalists are focused on supporting Putin’s war in Ukraine. But anti-immigrant and especially anti-Muslim attitudes are changing the situation and deserve more coverage.


Putin Today Relies on Those Worried about How to Survive but Won’t have Their Backing During a Crisis, Loshak Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 23 – There is a simple explanation for why it appears Putin has so much support, Andrey Loshak says. “When people are thinking only about survival, one can do with them whatever one wants.” But the deference they show him now is not support and would evaporate in the case of a political crisis: They won’t come into the streets to defend him.

            The opposition filmmaker says that by keeping more than 20 million Russians in real poverty and using the country’s force structures indiscriminately to instill fear, Putin has achieved apparent support; but in fact, people are simply acting rationally by not opposing him (reforum.io/blog/2023/10/23/kogda-lyudi-dumayut-tolko-o-vyzhivanii-s-nimi-mozhno-delat-vsyo-chto-ugodno/).

            Impoverished Russians don’t protest because they fear that doing so will attract the attention of the powers that be and they will end up even worse off. And those slightly better off are currently dominated by people who accept a Social Darwinist explanation for why those poorer than themselves are.

            As a result, there is not the kind of empathy and social cohesion necessary to cause people to unite and take part in protests. But the absence of protests does not mean such people support Putin; and in the event of turbulence at the top of the Russian political system, they would not support him and might even come together to oppose what he represents.

            Such attitudes and approaches are the product of Russian history and especially the Soviet period, Loshak says. “No nation has ever conducted such an experiment on itself and such auto-genocide could not pass without a trade.” Unfortunately, perestroika “did not bring freedom: it just fell on our heads.”

            “There was no leader who understood the importance of the fork in the Road Russians found themselves at and who was prepared to take full responsibility for moving in the right direction,” he continues. Instead, “the jungle began: predators age herbivores, and those who had been ordinary law-ability citizens became predators.”

Russia Now Ranks Third in the World in Terms of Income Inequality, Sparking Demands for Levelling of Differences, Grashchenkov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 22 – According to the UBS Global Wealth Report, Russia ranks third in the world in terms of income inequality, behind only the United States and South Africa. Such inequality is dangerous because it generates demands for radical means to reduce the differences and those in turn restrict economic growth and social stability, Ilya Grashchenkov says.

            The Russian commentator says that some income inequality is useful because it leads people to work harder and more innovatively to rise through the income pyramid, but if differences become too great, it sparks dangerous demands for radical leveling (realtribune.ru/rossii-pora-zadumatsya-nad-preodoleniem-socialnogo-neravenstva-ilya-grashhenkov/).

            Those demands in turn can lead to revolts and revolutions which if they succeed can stymie economic growth, Grashchenkov continues. What is needed, he suggests, is a policy which prevents income inequality from becoming so great but does not eliminate it entirely. Coming up with such a balance isn’t easy, but it is something Moscow now must think about.

            If it fails to come up with such a program, he says, there is a great danger that there will be another revolution that will bring to power people like the Bolsheviks who will level the playing field to such an extent that growth without increasing repression will be almost impossible. 

Tashkent Wants to Open Uzbek Schools for Children of Migrant Workers in Russian Federation

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 22 – Kakhramon Kuranbayev, an advisor to the president of Uzbekistan, says that Tashkent has asked Moscow for assistance in opening Uzbek-language schools and kindergartens in the Russian Federation because the children of Uzbek immigrant workers there often have difficulty getting an education.

            The proposal, reported at kommersant.ru/doc/6283598, has sparked outrage among many Russian commentators who point out that Russia doesn’t have ethnically defined schools and does maintain schools to teach the children of immigrants who do not know Russian well (e.g., forum-msk.org/material/news/18217778.html and tsargrad.tv/news/diaspora-oplatit-rossii-predlozhili-otkryt-detsady-i-shkoly-dlja-migrantov_891288).

            It is unlikely that the Uzbek proposal will go anywhere, but it is a remarkable turnabout in the former Soviet space. Non-Russian republics have long had to maintain Russian-language schools for Russians and non-Russians who know Russian, but it is striking that now one of them, Uzbekistan, wants schools in Russia to support its national language.

            At the very least, this is likely to add fuel to the fire about support for and the survival of non-Russian languages both among migrants and indigenous peoples. It could even lead some of the latter to try to piggyback on the idea and use schools for Turkic immigrants to help support their own Turkic languages.

Belarusians Overwhelmingly Patriotic But Only a Bare Majority Proud of What Their Country has Achieved or Ready to Defend It, New BISI Poll Finds

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 23 – Eighty-four percent of Belarusians consider themselves patriots of their country, but only 55 percent are proud of what their country has done and only 56 percent are prepared to defend during difficult times, according to a new poll in Vitebsk Oblast by the Belarusian Institute of Strategic Studies (BISI).

            The poll, which was supported by the Braslav district government, will give both those who see Belarusians as increasingly consolidated around their country and its institutions and those who think that they would not be prepared to defend it against Russian moves to bring it under Moscow’s rule (thinktanks.by/publication/2023/10/23/belorusy-schitayut-natsionalnyy-yazyk-i-kulturu-glavnym-proyavleniem-patriotizma.html).

            BISI analyst Natalya Buchneva says that almost three-quarters of those surveyed think of patriotism in terms of their district, city or village rather than in terms of Belarus as a country, an indication that nation building still has a long way to go there. But slightly more identify it in terms of national traditions and language, giving hope for the future.

Moscow Denounces 2012 Cooperation Agreement with Finland, Removing Last Vestige of ‘Finlandization’

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 22 – Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has signed a decree cancelling the 2021 accord between Moscow and Helsinki on bilateral cooperation, the latest and most radical break in relations between the two countries since Finland joined NATO earlier this year.

            The move ends a program in which both sides were heavily invested in promoting cultural cooperation, environmental protection, business development and infrastructure expansion over the past decade (publication.pravo.gov.ru/document/0001202310200049 and thebarentsobserver.com/ru/obshchestvennost/2023/10/rossiya-rastorgla-soglashenie-o-prigranichnom-sotrudnichestve-s-finlyandiey).

            It follows Moscow’s closure of the Finnish consulate in St. Petersburg and the withdrawal or at least suspension of Russian participation in most of the key Arctic forums in which Finland also participates. This Russian action isolates Karelia and seriously reduces bilateral tourism and trade.

            But perhaps most importantly, it ends the former cooperation between Helsinki and Moscow that was for many years called “Finlandization.” Other countries may cooperate with Russia because of Muscovite pressure, but not Finland, which is now more cut off from its neighbor to the east than at any time since the 1930s. 


FSB Moves to Decapitate Erzyan Movement as Group Calls on All Non-Russians to Seek Independence and on Russians and the West to Support Them

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 23 – On October 17, the FSB sought to decapitate the Erzyan independence movement by arresting and bringing charges against its most senior leaders; but two days later, the Erzyan movement showed no signs of backing down and called for all non-Russians to seek independence from Moscow and Russians and the West to support them.

            More than 10 of the top leaders of the Erzyan national movement, the most active and radical of such movements among the Finno-Ugric nations within the borders of the Russian Federation, were arrested (idel-ural.org/archives/v-mordovii-massovye-oblavy-na-doma-erzyanskih-aktivistov/#more-21697 and ria.ru/20231023/delo-1904628415.html).

            But instead of intimidating the Erzya as Moscow intended, these arrests appear to have further radicalized the movement which issued a sweeping appeal to the Erzya, other non-Russians and the West. Below is the text of the appeal (abn.org.ua/en/liberation-movements/appeal-from-the-council-of-elders-of-the-erzyan-people/):

Erzyans! Friends!

The Russian government, which started a war against Ukraine in 2014, is today waging a war against the entire civilized world and understands that it is not capable of winning it. In addition, she understands that losing the war guarantees the Russian government not only political death, but also the Verdict of the International Tribunal. Russian leaders will be tried as war criminals, so Putin and his gang decided to go to the end and drag as many countries and peoples into this war as possible. Hundreds of thousands of people died! Millions may die, but the Kremlin rats don’t care. Today they are in a hurry to put the economy on a war footing. This means that soon children will have to stand at the machines and adults will go to war and war will come to every Russian home! This despite the fact that no one attacked Russia.

In order for the war to end and for people to stop dying, it is enough to withdraw Russian troops from foreign territories. No one is going to pursue them to Moscow or to the Urals. It is pointless! The end of the war will bring relief to the entire population of the Russian Federation, but the Russian authorities are awaiting the International Tribunal. That’s why today she is trying to share responsibility for her crimes with every Russian. Hence these wild calls: “Become Russian”! To realize their criminal plans, the authorities need an obedient population, they need people who are afraid. Only this can explain the arrests and detentions that have swept the Russian Federation. The regime is afraid of disobedient people who are capable of drawing people’s attention to the lies and atrocities of the authorities!

We appeal to those who have experienced repression by the security forces: do not be afraid! First of all: you are not to blame for anything! To want the continuation of life for your people, to preserve your language is not a crime, but a dignity! The desire to be free is not a crime, it is a natural quality of Man! Stay Human! Secondly: the authorities themselves are afraid and with your fear you feed the executioners’ sense of impunity. They are afraid of proud people! And thirdly: -this power is not forever. Even if the ruling regime today seems indestructible. Few people believed in the collapse of the Soviet Union also. Very soon, fair people’s courts will bring to justice those who today scare your children, interrogate and judge the innocent. We appeal to all nations whom satraps force to carry out Moscow’s will. In fact, Moscow and its local minions are afraid of us! We are the very needle in which the death of the Russian Koshchei lies! He is not immortal at all. He is mortal, he is afraid and therefore he is in a hurry to turn us into Russians! It’s disgusting when people, spitting on the ashes of their ancestors, dancing on their graves, bleat like sheep: “I’m Russian”! In order to survive, we need fearlessness! We must unite, look for allies and, most importantly, we need to understand that the Russian government is our enemy! Not an adversary, not a rival – an enemy!

We turn to the civilized world!

We often hear voices advocating the preservation of the Russian Federation, who express concern that the collapse of this monster will lead to unnecessary troubles! You are “concerned” about the fate of our executioner! But what about democratic, universal principles and values? What about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Russia will collapse anyway, and it will be sooner rather than later. But we realize that she will have enough time to destroy many of us. Your concern does not extend to the powerless existence of millions of non-Russians. Over the past ten years, there have been 200,000 fewer Erzyans alone. The price for your “peace of mind” is the lives of our nations, and it is growing rapidly! You can, you are strong, you are fair, pay attention to our position, unless your conversations about principles and values ​​are pompous but empty declarations!

We appeal to Russian employees, officials, and security forces. Think about your future. Don’t let yourself be put in the same dock as Russian war criminals. You will need to move on with your life, work, and raise your children. Do not darken your future with today’s crimes, and only then will it be bright for you!

            For background on the Erzya, a nation that Moscow views as part of the Mordvin nation, and its recent activism, see windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2023/05/erzya-national-movement-most-active-and.html,windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2023/01/putin-pursuing-russification-only-as.html, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2022/11/erzyan-national-movement-recognizes.html, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2022/10/erzya-congress-calls-for-pursuing.html, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2022/09/russian-repression-forces-finno-ugric.html, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2022/08/erzyan-emigre-leader-calls-on-west-to.html, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2021/04/erzya-can-survive-pandemic-but-not.html, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/03/as-mordvins-approach-majority-status-in.html  and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/10/ethnic-divisions-among-those-moscow.html.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Putin Result Not Cause of Russia’s Civilizational Crisis, Pastukhov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 22 – Many like to believe that Vladimir Putin is the cause of Russia’s problems and that when he leaves the scene, the country’s situation will be more or less automatically be healed, Vladimir Pastukhov says. The Kremlin leader has certainly exacerbated Russia’s problems, but it is wrong to view him as their exclusive cause.

            According to the London-based Russian analyst, Russia’s civilization was in deep crisis “already at the start of the 20th century.” The revolution that grew out of that was viewed by many as “a civilizational solution.” But in fact, that “transit” arrangement simply postponed the addressing of Russia’s civilizational problems (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=6536096CEC681).

            “Since its fundamental causes were never eliminated,” Pastukhov says, Russia’s civilizational problems “continued to accelerate” even after the USSR was “reformatted” as Russia. To be blunt: “the crisis of Russian civilization began long before Putin and even after he departs he historical scene, it will not end and may even intensify.”

            It is certainly the case that Putin isn’t about overcoming the crisis; and he will be assessed historically not because he consolidated power but because he used the practically unlimited power that fell into his hands to benefit himself rather than to solve the Russian civilizational crisis and help the Russian people, he concludes.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Russia’s Problem is that Those Building Capitalism There Lived Under Communism, Some Russians Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 22 – Some Russians are now saying that one of the most important problems their country now faces is that those who say they are committed to building capitalism earlier lived under communism and so are approaching their new task using all the tools and assumptions they had earlier.

            That is just one of the anecdotes Russians are telling each other this week that have been collected by Moscow journalist Tatyana Pushkaryova (publizist.ru/blogs/107374/47004/-). Among the best of the rest are the following:

·       Russians are now being reassured that their current problems will eventually end because none of them or us is eternal.

·       Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has told Russians they should vacation in North Korea, but Russians say there is no reason to do so because given when Putin is doing, they will soon be able to have all the same experiences while remaining in Russia.

·       The Russian expert community increasing resembles a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. Each declares that he or she is an expert and hasn’t said anything the bosses dislike for at least six months.

·       Putin told Russians to install table tennis tables if not in their apartments then on the landing. But Russians say they can’t do it in their apartments because there is room there only for a tennis chair.

·       People aren’t leaving villages because of their names, despite what the Duma believes. They are leaving because there are no roads, pharmacies or medical centers. It isn’t going to keep them in the villages by renaming these places Paradise or Kingdom of Heaven.

·       Russia’s degenerates object to the increasing tendency of Russians to refer to politicians as degenerates. That is an insult to all degenerates, they say.

·       In the new Russian language textbooks, Svoboda (“freedom”) will now be shortened to its first three letters, SVO, which of course stand for the special military operation in Ukraine.

Rosstat Predicts Russian Population Will Fall by More than Seven Million by 2046, Challenging Kremlin Predictions that It will Begin to Grow Again in the 2030s

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 20 – Earlier this month, the Russian state statistical agency predicted that the population of Russia, not including the Ukrainian territories it has occupied, will fall by three million by 2030, undoubtedly a disappointment to the Kremlin but not a prediction that challenged the Kremlin’s insistence that the population will begin to grow again after that.

            But now Rosstat has issued a new prediction certain to infuriate the Putin regime. It says the population of the Russian Federation, not including the residents of the Ukrainian territories Moscow has occupied, will fall by 7.68 million by 2046, 5.3 percent fewer than now and a figure comparable to the RSFSR in 1981 (moscowtimes.ru/2023/10/20/rosstat-prognoziruet-sokraschenie-chisla-rossiyan-pochti-na-8-mln-chelovek-k-46g-a110719; cf. windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2023/10/rosstat-now-says-russias-population-to.html).

            In addition to annoying Kremlin propagandists, the prediction of such a decline means that the number of working age Russians will decline from 83.47 million now to 79.79 million in 2045, while the share under 18 will fall from 18.5 percent to 15.6 percent and that of pension age persons rise from 24.5 percent to 26.9 percent.

            Rosstat also predicted that the number of births each year would fall from 1.245 million now to 1.140 million in 2027 before rising, as the Kremlin has predicted, to 1.426 million in the mid-2040s. But even with this rise, the total population of the Russian Federation will continue to fall, exactly the opposite of what Putin wants and has said will happen.

Russians Still in Non-Russian Republics of the North Far Closer to Titular Non-Russians than to Russians who have Left and May Become Part of a New Community

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 20 – The sizeable movement of ethnic Russians from the north to the south and from the east to the west has left many of the non-Russian republics in the far north of the country far more non-Russian than they were three decades ago, a development that has received widespread attention and sparked alarm in some quarters and hope in others.

            But a related phenomenon has not gotten the attention it deserves – namely, the fact that the ethnic Russians who remain are very different than the ethnic Russians who have left, not just older and thus less mobile but also more adapted to local conditions and having better relations with the titular nationalities.

            A rare discussion of this pattern is provided by ABN in a discussion of the relations between the Slavic and predominantly Russian groups who remain in Lapland as compared to those who have left that northern region in recent decades (abn.org.ua/en/liberation-movements/lapland-identity-of-the-kola-peninsula-and-the-west-of-murman/).

            The commentator says that the remaining Slavs are “very passionate and enterprising, more similar in spirit and culture to the Pomors, Sami, Karelians, Finns and Scandinavians, who have gone through centuries of northern selection. Also, despite the abundance of closed military camps, Murmansk residents are very free people, which also unites us with the nations of Northern Europe who do not know serfdom.”

            And that leads him to the following conclusion, one that the commentator says is “self-evident: free Lapland is born, then a new community will be born. These people will be united not only by a common place of residence and a passport but also by common cultural characteristics, values, traditions and way of life.”


Russian Courts Handed Down Far More Sentences for Military Crimes This Year than Last

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 20 – During the first seven months of 2023, Russian courts found 1270 people guilty of crimes against the military code, 2.5 times the number (543) they found guilty of such violations for the same period a year earlier, according to data released by the Russian Supreme Court.

            Russian military personnel also were found guilty of 40 percent more crimes of all kinds between that period in 2022 and the same period this year (t.me/mozhemobyasnit/16339 and spektr.press/news/2023/10/20/rossijskih-voennyh-v-shest-raz-chasche-stali-osuzhdat-za-umyshlennoe-ubijstvo-mozhet-obyasnit/).

            Among the military crimes for which people were sentences are desertion, failure to obey orders, AWOL, faking illness to avoid service, and surrendering voluntarily without orders to do so. Among non-military crimes, there was a sharp jump in the number of sentences for murderes and for narcotics use.

            Other news agencies have reported similar trends for especially serious non-military code crimes (spektr.press/news/2023/10/18/voennye-v-2023-godu-sovershili-rekordnoe-kolichestvo-tyazhkih-prestuplenij-protiv-lichnosti-mediazona/ and t.me/svobodnieslova/3062).

            Obviously, at least part of the increase in military crimes reflects the situation among Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine, and some of these criminal actions may represent a kind of desperate protest against being forced to fight a war there. 

Russia’s Statistical Agency Frequently Changes Its Economic Data but Typically Only in One Direction and without Explanation, New Study Finds

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 20 – Government statistical agencies frequently correct their initial economic statistics, but Russia stands out because it does that more often than most, typically makes adjustments to suggest that the situation is better than it earlier reported, and does not explain carefully why it has made those changes, a new study says.

            Prepared by the To Be Precise portal and the Russian Economics School, the study says that this pattern reduces the confidence people have in Russian government statistics (tochno.st/materials/rosstat-postoyanno-peresmatrivaet-dannye-zadnim-chislom-i-obychno-v-storonu-povysheniya-znachit-li-eto-chto-rossiyskaya-statistika-priukrashena-vmeste-s-resh-my-sobrali-bazu-korrektirovok-chtoby-otvetit-na-etot-vopros).

            Some the changes Rosstat makes are undoubtedly simply an effort to be more accurate, the usual motivation for the actions of the statistical agencies of other governments. But the frequency and occasional size of Rosstat changes, the fact that they almost all go in one direction, and that they aren’t explained creates suspicions about the quality of reporting.

            Again, the study insists, some of those suspicions are warranted; but some of them are not. Instead, it suggests, the slowness and low quality of reporting by various industries and ministries explains what is going on much of the time rather than it being the product of outright falsification as many think.