Staunton, March 25 -- The flood of news stories from a country as large, diverse and 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 presents a selection of 13 of these other and typically neglected stories at the end of each week. This is the twenty-fifth such compilation. It is only suggestive and far from complete – indeed, once again, one could have put out such a listing every day -- but perhaps one or more of these stories will prove of broader interest.
Even Putin Admits There are Massive Human Rights Violations in Russia. In a measure of both just how bad things are in Russia and how duplicitous Vladimir Putin is about that and everything else, the Kremlin leader says that there were 3.2 million violations of human rights registered in Russia during 2015 alone (news.mail.ru/politics/25226329/?frommail=1rufabula.com/news/2016/03/21/levada
2. Russian Arrested for Wearing Putin Mask, Others to be Jailed for Insulting Russian President. One Muscovite has been arrested four times now for wearing a Putin mask as a form of protest (grani.ru/Politics/Russia/activism/m.249904.htmlby24.org/2016/03/16/russians_will_be_jailed_to_6_years_for_insulting_of_putin/).
Moscow Moves from Closing KGB Archives to Destroying Them. In its effort to control the past in order to control the future, the Kremlin has fired archive directors, persecuted authors for articles and books which offer a view of the Soviet past it doesn’t like, and routinely presented an alternative reality unfamiliar to those who have actually studied Russia’s history. Now, the Kremlin has taken the next step to ensure that only its version of history will survive: it has moved from closing archives about the Soviet security police to actually destroying portions of them (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=56F177488783E
8. Chechen Capital Rated ‘Most Secure City’ in Russia. Grozny has been rated “the most secure city” in the Russian Federation, a reflection either of the duplicity of Ramzan Kadyrov and Vladimir Putin’s willingness to go along with it or the result of the Chechen leader’s increasingly repressive rule (dsnews.ua/world/stolitsa-chechni-priznana-samym-bezopasnym-gorodom-rf-21032016165800).
9. Russia Air Routes Now Even More Moscow-Centric than in Soviet Times. One of the sad if comic aspects of Soviet life was that residents of one oblast who wanted to fly to a nearby one often had to travel via Moscow, thousands of kilometers out of their way. Now, after the collapse of most regional carriers and the closing of nearly a thousand airports, experts say that situation has returned and that the Russian air travel map is now even more Moscow-centric than it was (facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1097842363600086&set=a.101578849893114.588.100001229974500&type=3&theater).
10. Two Percent of Pregnant Urals Residents HIV Infected. Doctors say that one in every 50 pregnant women in the Urals is HIV infected (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=56F3A1549DDD0ura.ru/articles/1036267370).
Russians Say Doping Scandal a Western Conspiracy Against Their Country. As ever more Russian sports stars are found to have violated international doping rules, Russians tell pollsters they view the whole thing as nothing but a Western conspiracy designed to keep Russians from winning (ruskline.ru/news_rl/2016/03/24/zagovor_protiv_rossii_ili_borba_za_chestnyj_sport/regions.ru/news/2575423/
Fears of Islamic State, Not Mistreatment Driving Russians Out of Central Asia. Most commentators have suggested that ethnic Russians are leaving the five Central Asian countries primarily because of the increasingly nationalist approach of the governments there, but a new study concludes that most Russians departing from the region are now doing so because of fears about the actions of ISIS (kavpolit.com/blogs/martiale/25303/
Transfer Payments Home by Tajik Gastarbeiters Fall by Another Two-Thirds. Tajikistan’s problems have been compounded by the fact that transfer payments from its gastarbeiters in the Russian Federation, already lower in 2013 and 2014 fell by another two-thirds last year, yet another example of how Russia’s problems are spreading to other former Soviet republics (centrasia.ru/news.php?st=1458717540