A Baker’s Dozen of Neglected Russian Stories – No. 11

November 24, 2015

Staunton, November 20 The flood of news stories from a country as large, diverse and often strange as the Russian Federation often appears to be is far too large for anyone to keep up with. But there needs to be a way to mark those which can’t be discussed in detail but which are too indicative of broader developments to ignore.

Consequently, Windows on Eurasia will present a selection of 13 of these other and typically neglected stories at the end of each week. This is the eleventh such compilation. It is only suggestive and far from complete – indeed, this week in particular, one could have put out such a listing every day, but perhaps one or more of these stories will prove of broader interest.

1. Moscow Puts Out Information on Terrorism Only When It Suits the Kremlin. Almost two years after the Sochi Olympics, Russian officials finally announced what many had suspected at the time: terrorists did try to disrupt the games but those efforts were blocked, another indication that Moscow times the release of such information to suit its purposes rather than the truth.

2. US Embassy has to ‘Edit’ Letter Faked by Russian Media. The US embassy in Moscow “edited” a letter purporting to be from the State Department published in Russian media. The fake was so inept that it probably was believed only by those who think that Putin like Mussolini is always right.

3. Post-Soviet States Should Copy Lithuanian Approach to Soviet-Era Statues, Shtepa Says. Vadim Shtepa, a Karelian regionalist, says that Russia and other former Soviet republics should do what Lithuania has done with the Lenin and Stalin statues that have long graced their cities. Rather than destroy these monuments, officials should assemble them in special parks so future generations can get some idea of what the Soviets were like.

4. Karelia Needs Its Own Loch Ness Monster, Republic Head Says. The head of the Republic of Karelia says he has launched a search for a Loch Ness-type monster in the lakes of that northern region in order to boost tourism.

5. Someone in Moscow Finally Recognizes that the Soviets Occupied the Baltic Countries. The Putin regime and its supporters continue to deny the obvious, that Stalin as a result of his deal with Hitler, occupied and annexed the three Baltic countries. But now one institution in Moscow has taken an honest position: the city’s Jewish Museum in an exhibit specifies that the Baltic states were “occupied.”

6. Will Hijab with Putin’s Picture on It Protect the Wearer from Russian Islamophobia? A Muslim designer has come up with a special hijab: it has a picture of Vladimir Putin on it, something that will certainly make some Russians uncertain how to view either the article of Muslim clothing or the Kremlin leader.

7. Russian Budget Contains More for Waste, Fraud and Abuse than for Education and Health, Duma Deputy Says. Oksana Dmitriyeva says that the amount of waste, fraud and abuse in the new Russian budget is greater than the amount spend on education and health, an indication of the Kremlin’s real priorities.

8. Russian Bases in Far East Go Dark Because They Haven’t Paid Electric Bills. Russian government institutions also increasingly lack the money they need for basic requirements. There are reports that some Russian army bases are now going without electric power because their commanders don’t have the funds to pay for electricity.

9. Russians Driven to Crime, Suicide by Economic Crisis. The economic crisis in Russia has led to a rise in crime, including attacks on postal workers to steal enough to buy clothes, protests with “mortgage” caskets floating down the Moscow River, and even suicides, measures of how the most desperate are responding. The situation is likely to deteriorate still further as the government cuts back even on the number of times Russians are allowed to go to the doctor each year. But some Russian experts are blaming the Russian people: they say that Russians are “less financially literate” that Zimbabweans.

10. Neo-Paganism Said Threatening Cohesion of Russian Army and Survival of Russian Nation. Neo-pagan cults in Russia, some Russian nationalist commentators say, threaten the cohesion of the Russian army and, if they spread, could contribute to the breakup of the Russian nation.

11. More than Half of Political Crimes in Russia Linked to Internet Posts. The Internet is becoming an increasingly dangerous place for Russians because according to new statistics, “more than half” of the political charges brought in Russian courts are linked one way or another to online postings. One reason: it is easier for Russian investigators to track down materials online than to search for real criminals on the streets.

12. A New Problem for Putin? Russian Railways are running out of refrigerated train cars, a development together with the strike by long haul truckers may present problems for many Russians including Vladimir Putin. That is because it may become harder for Russian suppliers to deliver Putin’s favorite desert, ice cream.

13. End of the Soviet Union WAS a Laughing Matter. It turns out that the disintegration of the USSR was a laughing matter: when Russians and others began laughing at their leaders and the absurdity of the system, that destroyed the links between them and the center and led to the demise of the empire, experts say.