Russia This Week: Leonid Martynyuk, Opposition Author and Video Producer, Arrested in Krasnodar (18-24 August)

August 24, 2014
Leonid Martynyuk via Facebook

Updated Daily. Chechen Leader Ramzan Kadyrov joined the “Night Wolves,” a bikers’ gang that Putin has favored. Russian press and social media mined the popular social media network VKontakte for information on Russian paratroopers said to be killed or captured in Lugansk Region in Ukraine; oddly, some pictures were removed of armored vehicles and a draft notice, and some accounts were deleted. Four Russians were placed under house arrest pending trial for a stunt involving the painting of a Stalin-era building’s star in the colors of the Ukrainian flag; mystery painters then struck again. Moscow authorities have closed four McDonald’s restaurants ostensibly for sanitation violations, sparking a lot of social media commentary. Pro-Kremlin propagandist Konstantin Rykov used a fake photo in Ferguson commentary on Twitter.Chechen ruler Ramzan Kadyrov ordered 1,000 guests at a state function interrogated after an entertainer lost her phone. While Siberian autonomy demonstrators were banned and arrested, bikers promoting Russian fertility were allowed to ride through Novosibirsk. Protesters seeking greater freedom for Siberia were arrested in two cities, and received solidarity from some Ukrainians but hate messages from fellow Russians.

For last week’s issue, go here. Siberian activists were denied a permit for a rally. New reports of a Russian battalion with Chechens and others from the North Caucasus surfaced and videos were found to confirm their involvement. The followers of Col. Igor Strelkov, the charismatic separatist leader who resigned from the “Donetsk People’s Republic” were distraught. The trial of opposition leader Alexey Navalny in the Yves Rocher East case resumed. Prime Minister Medvedev’s Twitter account was hacked with a claim he was resigning in shame and protests against the Crimean annexation and robbing of pensions to pay cost of forcible annexation; a hacker’s group called Shaltai Boltai took credit for the unauthorized access, then claimed to leak his e-mail, which they found “boring.” Following confusion and wishful thinking that new regulations regarding Internet access will not be so restrictive, Russia’s Minister of Communications clarifies that ID of some form if not a passport will be required to access wi-fi and will be recorded. A pro-government Anti-Fascist Committee was formed to fight Western influence. South Stream pushes forward as EU gas dependence makes it hard to take strong action on Ukraine. If Russian “humanitarian convoy” enters Ukrainian territory, this will validate a Russian military presence in Ukraine.

For the previous week’s stories: Ultranationalist Zhirinovsky threatens annihilation of Poland, Baltics if West retaliates against Putin’s aggression in Ukraine. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev sprang two restrictive Internet decrees on providers and users this week, one requiring presentation of domestic passports to use public Internet cafes or wi-fi, and the other mandating operators of social media to collect more user data and make it available to Russian intelligence agencies. Russian leakers’ site blocked after hackers exposed hardliner’s emails. Russia offers bounty for cracking Tor, Snowden’s favorite tool. Snowden’s resident permit was extended, but it’s not political asylum and he must rely on the kindness of strangers. Mysteriously, a group calling itself the “Initiative Group of Moscow Students” gained access to the heavily-guarded area by the US Embassy in Moscow — and also got on the roof of the Kiev Station — to unfurl racist and obscene banners against President Obama and Ukrainian President Poroshenko. Kharkiv Mayor Gennady Kernes installed two Russian businessmen as “honorary citizens” by a city council decree, sparking concerns of instability as Russian troops mass nearby on the border. A Moscow ultranationalist who tried to join the separatists in the “Donetsk People’s Republic” was jailed and tortured on suspicion that he was a spy, but still supports the cause. Aleksandr Prosyolkov, a long-time Russian ultranationalist activist from Rostov-on-Don was killed outside Krasnodon in Lugansk Region by separatists he was trying to help with a load of humanitarian aid. The roots of the pro-Russian separatist leaders fighting in southeastern Europe actually go back to ultranationalist groups in Russia active in the last 20 years, says Russian expert Vladimir Pribylovsky.

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