The Interpreter

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Igor Girkin (Strelkov) (L), former commander of 'Donetsk People's Republic' and Pavel Gubarev, 'people's governor' of DPR in 2014.

Russia This Week: Strelkov’s Followers in ‘Prostration’: Interview with Gubarev (August 11-17)

Updated Daily. 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. 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.

Last 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 Ukraine actually go back to ultranationalist groups in Russia active in the last 20 years, says Russian expert Vladimir Pribylovsky.

Stories in the previous week’s issue: A group seeking greater autonomy for Siberia found its web page, VKontakte community and Twitter account censored as well as an interview with its leader in slon.ru. A rally organized by Russian ultranationalists in support of the separatists fighting in southeastern Ukraine had a very low turnout. Young Russian men cheered a Russian tank convoy on its way to the Ukrainian border. Opposition leader Alexey Navalny expressed intolerance for Muslim labor migrants in Russia. Muslims in Russia celebrated the end of the holy fasting period Ramadan, with plenty of police in attendance. The British government announced the opening of a Public Inquiry 31 July into the poisoning death of defector Alexander Litvinenko.

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