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August 7, 2018 No.
7611

Russia This Week – August 5, 2018

Russia This Week is a weekly review by the MEMRI Russian Media Studies Project, covering the latest Russia-related news and analysis from media in Russia, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe.

Cartoon Of The Week

(Source: Ria.ru, July 30, 2018)

Trump is attempting to replicate "Kissinger's strategy", to split Moscow from Beijing.

Kissinger tells Trump: "Feed Russia with these cookies and it will become Ukraine."

Tweet Of The Week

Russia's MFA: Lavrov Is The International Healer

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (@MID_RF) posted the following tweet:

"This is a healing photo. Put it on the planet's sick places. In some geographic locations it may cause an exorcism effect."

(Twitter.com/MID_RF, July 31, 2018; see the post)

Poll Of The Week

On August 2, the Levada Center published a poll, conducted on July 19-25, 2018.

According to the poll 42% of the population feels well-disposed to the US, 40% feels ill-disposed and 18% said that it is difficult to answer the question. In May 2018, only 20% of the population felt well-disposed US, but in July the percentage more than doubled. In contrast the percentage of those ill-disposed to the U.S. declined in the same period from 69% to 40%.

See the full poll.

In The News:

Defense News

The Rosy Expectations For The Russian Navy


The main naval parade in St Petersburg (Source: Kremlin.ru)


Reception to mark Navy Day (Source:Kremlin.ru)

On July 29, during a reception marking a celebration of National Naval Military Day, President Putin told officers that the fleet is expected to receive dozens of new combat ships in 2018.

President Putin: "The high combat readiness and effectiveness of the naval forces is a major component of ensuring the country's military capability and its security, as well as the security of its citizens. And, of course, we will continue to implement measures aimed at strengthening and developing the Navy and better equipping its fleet.

"This year, the Navy has already received four surface vessels, one anti-terror boat, and three support ships. Overall, in 2018 the Navy will receive 26 new ships, cutters and vessels, including four ships with the Kalibr missile system.

"Rearmament and modernization is making good progress largely due to the workers of our shipbuilding industry and their professionalism and responsible attitude."

(Kremlin.ru, July 29, 2018; read the full transcript)

These optimistic predictions were subsequently belied by deputy prime-minister Yuri Borisov, who is in charge of Russia's military-industrial complex. He warned that the plan could be derailed due to industry's failure to fulfill military – naval building contracts for 2018. According to Borisov systemic breakdowns and shortcomings have been occurring since 2014, while some ship yards do not comply with the stipulated timeframes for providing vessels to the Navy.

(Ria.ru, August 1, 2018; read the full article in Russian)

Military Commentator Goltz: The Navy Has Been Supplied With Only 24 Vessels, A Lower Number Than What Putin's Promised To Provide In 2018

Military commentator Aleksandr Goltz writes:

"According to independent experts, during the last six years the Navy has been supplied with only 24 vessels, which is lower than the number that Putin's promised to provide in 2018. In 2017 the Navy has been supplied with two vessels only, while 'Ivan Gren', whose construction began 14 years ago and 'Admiral Gorshkov', whose construction started 12 years back, were registered as 'newest' vessels in the official documents".

(Ej.ru, July 30, 2018; read the full article in Russian)

Izvestia: Russia May Cut Production Of Its Ambitious Armata Main Battle Tank And Downgrade 5th Generation Su-57 Purchases


(Source: Iz.ru)

Moreover, Russia may cut production of its ambitious Armata Main Battle Tank, and downgrade 5th generation Su-57 purchases.

In a rare critical analysis, Izvestia citing the latest decisions by the deputy prime-minister Yuri Borisov, who oversees the military-industrial production and military supplies, is fearful that they may lead to Russian inferiority vis-à-vis a potential adversary.

The newspaper quotes deputy prime-minister Yuri Borisov:

"Why should we inundate the entire military with Armatas and Boomerang [heavy APCs]? Our T-72 tank is in huge demand on the market, everyone orders this model. In comparison with "the Abrams" [US MBT], "Leclercs" [French MBT] and "Leopards" [German MBT] our model is superior to all them in terms of cost-effectiveness, mission effectiveness and production quality".

According to the newspaper, in Borisov's view Armata MBT and Boomerang heavy APC are too expensive in production, and would be needed only in case the current models were inferior to the adversaries' armor.

The newspaper mentions that aside from the high price tag, the new models are not ready for serial production – initial serial production capability (at least 100 pieces a year) might be reached only in five years, while Russian army needs deep modernization of its armored divisions right away.

Ilya Kramnik, the article's author, explains that the rush to modernize existing equipment at the expense of purchasing new tanks is explained by unstable political situation in Central Asia along Russia's borders – the situation on the ground may lead to military conflicts, which may require more active participation from the ground forces than in the Syrian campaign.

As for the SU-57 5th generation fighters, Borisov said that it makes no sense to serially produce them, given the exceptional combat proven abilities of 4th generation fighters such as the Su-35 and Su-30SM.

The author writes in this context:

"Taking into consideration that this year the customers should receive 91 model F-35 [planes], and more than 100 of these machines during the next one, the delay in the production of Su-57 takes on a threatening character. Moreover, considering that the production rate of Su-35 is also low – for example: in 2019 the US and its allies will get twice as many F-35s as the overall number of Su-3s5 in the Russian air force…

"Naturally, Russia cannot and should not compete with the entire NATO bloc in the production scale field – the parity vis-à-vis the Alliance is guaranteed first, second and third of all by the nuclear missile potential. Yet, the danger of local conflict is quite high – including conflicts with technologically advanced countries – in order to make outfitting the forces with modern aviation equipment a first priority…

"200-250 Su-57 as a supplement to a few hundreds of SU35 and Su30 would provide the air force with the potential to feel confident in local conflicts including conflicts with the US or with the European members of NATO– especially when taking into consideration the slow pace of renovation in the Western European countries' air forces: 'Rafal' production rate does not exceed 15 jets a years, 'Eurofighters' are being delivered inside of 20-30 jets annually".

(Iz.ru, August 2, 2018; read the full article in Russian)

Russian Forces Celebrate Naval Day Off the Coast of Tartus, Syria

The Russian naval forces stationed at Tartus, Syria, conducted maneuvers on July 30 to mark Russian Naval Day, in the presence of Syrian and Russian commanders and Syrian government officials. General Hassan Hassan, Head of the Political Bureau in the Syrian Army, declared that "with the help of its friends and the fighters, Syria can destroy this terrorism." The report aired on Al-Manar TV.

See MEMRI TV clip No. 6696, Russian Forces Celebrates Naval Day Off the Coast of Tartus, July 30, 2018

Read more:

  • The Main Naval Parade in St Petersburg. This year, more than four thousand Navy personnel from the Baltic, Northern and Black Sea fleets and the Caspian Flotilla, as well as more than 40 ships and motor boats of various kinds, along with a Navy aviation group all took part in the parade. (Kremlin.ru, July 29, 2018; read the full report)

US-Russia Relations

Russian MFA Slams US Defense Bill For 2019

Commenting on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 passed by the US House of Representatives, the Russian MFA stated:

"… It seems, given US President Donald Trump's instruction to create the Space Force as an independent service branch separate from the United States Air Force, the preparations for creating the ABM space group is another step towards implementing the policy of America's dominance of outer space. These efforts are a direct confirmation that Washington does not intend to abandon the plans to use force in outer space proposed by the previous administration.

"Such actions by US lawmakers do not contribute to a constructive dialogue on strategic stability, or to a favorable atmosphere within the framework of the review process of the destabilizing effect on strategic stability and international security…

"We urge the American side to show good judgment and not repeat the mistakes of the past. Armed confrontation in outer space can have no less detrimental impact than the nuclear arms race unleashed by Washington back in the middle of the last century, with the whole world still failing to cope with its consequences…"

(Mid.ru, July 27, 2018; read the full statement)

Read more:

  • Deputy FM Sergey Ryabkov commented on the new US sanctions against "Agrosouz Bank." Ryabkov said that the US demonstrates its own helplessness, adding that Russia smiles at the American senators' and congressmen's "awkward demonstrations" to catch the voters' attention in the wake of mid-term elections. (Mid.ru, August 3, 2018; read the full statement in Russian)
  • On August 2, 2018 Russian Embassy employees visited Maria Butina, who was arrested by the U.S. authorities. (Washington.mid.ru, August 2, 2018; read the full statement)
  • Letter to the Editor of The Washington Post by Mr. Dmitry Polyanskiy, First Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN, with regard to the article entitled 
"A dispatch from the fight against Russian disinformation –
and a place where truth is winning" (Russiaun.ru, August 3, 2018; read the full open letter)

Russian Journalists Killed In Central African Republic

On July 31, the Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed the death of Russian journalists Orkhan Djemal, Kirill Radchenko and Aleksandr Rastorguev in Central African Republic.

The journalists travelled to the country on behalf of the Center for Investigative Journalism, supported by the former CEO of the Russian oil giant Yukos Mikhail Khodorkovsky, in order to prepare a documentary movie about Wagner, the Russian private military company, reportedly operating there.

The Wagner private military company, according to previous publication in the Russian and international press, has been involved in Eastern Ukraine and Syria and is connected to Evgeny Prigozhin, known as "Putin's personal cook".

Prigozhin is under US sanctions. The Internet research agency, Concord company group, as well as its employees, linked to Prigozhin, is currently under scrutiny of the US court following the accusation of meddling in US presidential elections.

Exiled Russian Opposition Figure Khodorkovsky: This Is Not The First Time That People With Whom I Have Worked Have Died In Dangerous Situations

Mikhail Khodorkovsky published on his website: "… The crew was working in cooperation with my project The Centre for Investigation on an investigation into Russian private mercenaries, in particular the Wagner group. These were brave men who were not prepared simply to collect documentary material, but wanted to 'feel' it in the palms of their hands."

(Khodorkovsky.com, July 31, 2018; read the full statement)

Later Khodorkovsky published in his social media accounts:

"Dear friends, over the past 24 hours since receiving information about the deaths of the journalists Orkhan Dzhemal, Alexander Rastorguev and Kiril Radchenko, I have received a number of questions which I feel it is important to answer.

"I certainly feel the burden of what has happened. This is not the first time in my life that people with whom I have worked or with whom I stood side by side have died in dangerous situations for which I was responsible. This is a difficult time and a hard role to play as the leader of a large team of people engaging in dangerous work. I will have to live with this…

"The best way to honor the memory of the dead is to prove that their death was not in vain; to make sure that the investigation is conducted right up until the end; to find out who killed them and why. I never give up and I do not intend to this time. I take the risk upon myself and I openly discuss the risks with those who work alongside me. The most valuable risk of all is the risk to tell the truth, and these brave people have my most sincere respect.

Regarding security: it would be strange on my part for me impose a solution to this problem on professional military personnel with extensive experience…

The answer to the question of my personal involvement in the “Russian Mercenaries” project: I provided the money. This is far from the only such project that I am supporting…

"In Russia mercenary groups are not regulated by law and neither are they transparent; in fact their existence is a criminal offence. Nevertheless, the main representatives of the state do not hesitate to express their approval of such practice, which makes the situation particularly dangerous…"

(Facebook.com/khodorkovskycenter, August 1, 2018; read the full post)

The Bell Website Reports About More Companies Connected To Prigozhin

According to The Bell website, the murdered journalists intended to film local Ndassima gold mines, which are operated by Lobaye Invest Company, belonging according to various information to the Russian M-Invest company, which is also reportedly connected to Mr. Prigozhin. According to The Bell, quoting Africa Intelligence Magazine, the Wagner private military company provides security to the Lobaye Company and its gold mines.

(Thebell.io, August 1, 2018; read the full article in Russian)

Official Newspapers Make No Mention That The Three Slain Journalists Were Investigating The Wagner Private Military Company

It is worth noting that the official press does not even mention that the journalists were on the mission after Wagner private military company.

TASS reported:

"A robbery assault remains the basic version of the murder of three Russian journalists in the Central African Republic (CAR) early this week, Russia's embassy to Bangui told TASS on Wednesday.

"'We are in close contact with the local law-enforcement agencies and they are providing us with all the necessary information,' a Russian diplomat said…

"'As of now, we know that the attack was carried out for the purpose of robbery. About 23 km from the city of Sibut, the vehicle with the Russian journalists was stopped by about ten armed men who started to take away their belongings. Meanwhile, the driver stood aside,' the diplomat said.

"'After that, gunfire began but it is not clear what provoked it. The driver who has survived continues to be questioned by the CAR gendarmerie,' the diplomatic mission said…"

(Tass.com, August 1, 2018; read the full article)

Russian MFA Zakharova: Lots Of Nonsense About Private Military Companies In CAR

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on her Facebook page that she hears and reads a lot of nonsense about private military companies in the Central African Republic. She added that "There is no sensation about the presence of Russian instructors in the Central African Republic, no one had hidden anything."

(Facebook.com/maria.zakharova.167, August 1, 2018)

Zakharova also wrote in her Facebook page on Wednesday that she will refrain from judging those who sent "three journalists to the Central African Republic under the guise of tourists."

She then added that one should inform the Russian Foreign Ministry, before sending journalists to difficult and dangerous regions.

(Facebook.com/maria.zakharova.167, August 1, 2018)

Read More:

  • Maxim Shevchenko calls for independent group of journalists to investigate death of Russian film crew in Africa. (Meduza.io, August 2, 2018; read the full article)

European Countries' Dependency On Russian Gas

The Spanish version of Sputnik (Mundo.sputniknews.com) has published a chart showing the European countries' dependency on Russian gas in 2016. In blue we have the country's annual gas consumption, while the yellow figure represents the percent of that total that is imported from Russia. For example, Germany imports 61.9 per cent of its consumption.

(See the full article in Spanish)

Domestic News:

Saint Vladimir

Russian Patriarch Kirill at the monument of Saint Vladimir, after having delivered a mass prayer on the occasion of celebrating the 1030th anniversary of Christianity in Russia, blessed Vladimir Putin with his "saint name day" (Saint Vladimir is credited with converting the Slavic tribes to Christianity). The Patriarch said that this is not a coincidence that Saint Vladimir and the Russian President share the same name:

"I don't think there are coincidences, especially when we talk about people who really change the world".

(Rg.ru, July 28, 2018; read the full article in Russian)

The Patriarch also added:

"When we recall the Grand Duke (Saint) Vladimir, we simultaneously recall and pray for our president Vladimir Putin, who bears the name of that prince ".

(Sobesednik.ru, July 28, 2018; read the full article in Russian)

Read more:

  • Putin joined a religious procession in Moscow marking the 1030th anniversary to the Christianization of Kievan Rus. (Interfax-religion.com, July 28, 2018; read the full article)
  • Putin sees the Christianization of Kievan Rus as the start of Russia's statehood. (Interfax-religion.com, July 28, 2018; read the full article)
  • Patriarch Kirill praises Ukrainian Orthodox Christians for staying loyal to Russian Church before 1,030th anniversary of Christianization of Rus. (Interfax-religion.com, July 27, 2018; read the full article)

Cossacks' Plans

Cossacks' Coordinator Talks About The Establishment Of A Registry Of "People's Enemies"


Cossack General Andrey Datsenko (Source: 7x7-journal.ru)

In the Central District, one of the Russian local Cossacks' organizations decided to establish a registry of "people's enemies" and provide the registry online. The project is budgeted at 60 million rubles. According to Valery Rozanov, who gathers information about the Cossacks in Ryazan, the "Patriot" database will include personal information about individuals "who profess liberal values or adhere to radical "Westernization".

Rozanov has written that Cossacks will not implement any restrictions towards the individuals in the registry – for example such designated individuals and their children will be able to study in state universities in case "they demonstrate their sincere intention to join patriotic forces". Moreover, Cossacks' internal security service will monitor contacts of such individuals with state and local officials. Based on the monitoring the state and local officials will be advised "not to spend budgets on such individuals", while private internet providers will be advised "to reject internet access for such individuals". The registry will also include information about upcoming protest activities.

According to Cossack General Andrey Datsenko, the pilot project has been implemented, while in the future the Patriot system will operate throughout Russia.

According to the same general, an individual will be defined as "people's enemy" if she/he: a) threatens regime change (coup), b) convicted of wartime treason or sabotage c) engaged in acts of economic sabotage, d) bribed officials, e) abused authority f) disseminated disinformation and g) stole funds from state's budget.

"People" are defined as those citizens, who trust the actions of the President, do not dispute their "noble sense," and fully support those actions, without "any biased discussions."

Considered crimes against "people" are the following:

  1. Disorientation of "the uneducated" masses and "tempting them into politically erroneous actions" by "malevolent criticism of governmental initiatives" or by "demands form the government to explain the motives behind its actions".
  2. Dissemination of information which is "trustworthy but different form information published in approved newspapers". "This information is capable – if it is widely discussed – to cause a decline in national spirit, doubts in rightfulness of governmental actions and thus consequently lead to a split in the society including mass disorders".
  3. Confusing public opinion by criticizing the governmental decisions, forming amongst 'uneducated masses' an open or covert resentment over governmental actions or causing doubts about the "purity of its intentions".

(Journal.ru, July 28, 2018; read the full article in Russian)

Cossacks' Leaders Zborovsky Denies The Plan To Establish A Registry

Later – one of the Cossacks' leaders, Alexey Zborovsky disassociated the Cossacks from the publication:

"This is a fake. I know the author. It's Valery Rozanov – he calls himself a magician, sorcerer an expert in neuro-linguistic programming and so on. This is the way that he tries to attract attention to his publications".

(Lenta.ru, July 30, 2018; read the full article in Russian)

New Izvestia Newspaper: If The Cossacks Will Create Such A Registry, A Civil War Will Start In Russia

Yet, Rozanov's post was treated seriously by the liberal press. The New Izvestia newspaper writes in this regard:

"If the Cossacks will indeed create a registry of "people's enemies", then the civil war in Russia in not far away. We don't have any other comments for those heinous "patriots".

(Newizv.ru, July 30, 2018; read the full article in Russian)

News in Brief:

Foreign News in Brief

  • Russian General Staff Chief has informed US side about situation in Syria in a letter. The letter expressed disappointment that the US side has failed to "observe agreements on making the contacts’ content public only upon consultation of both sides." (Tass.com, August 4, 2018; read the full article)
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense unveiled the details about the Chief of Staff's confidential letter to his US counterpart, regarding Syria. The ministry also expressed its dismay following an earlier leak of the letter to US media: "We expect from the American side to take measures in order not to allow any future breach of mutual understandings regarding various contacts". (Ria.ru, August 4, 2018; read the full article in Russian)
  • The Russian ambassador to the UK, Aleksandr Yakovenko, said that all pieces of forensic evidence in the Skripal case are being destroyed. According to Yakovenko, in case there is a need to double check the evidence, it will be impossible, since Britain is destroying the forensics. (Ria.ru, August 4, 2018; read the full article in Russian)
  • Steven Seagal has been appointed for an official post at the Russian MFA. Seagal, who has been previously granted Russian citizenship, was appointed special representative for "Russia-US humanitarian ties." He will be responsible for promoting bilateral relations in the humanitarian sphere. (Gazeta.ru, August 4, 2018; read the full article in Russian)
  • Comment by the Information and Press Department on the EU Council's decision to include a number of Russian companies in the EU sanctions list. "We consider deplorable the EU Council decision of 30 July 2018 on expanding EU illegitimate unilateral restrictions to a range of Russian companies involved in the construction of the Kerch Bridge [linking the Crimean peninsula to mainland Russia]," read the statement. (Russiaeu.ru, July 30, 2018; read the full statement)
  • Press release on Russia's FM Sergey Lavrov's meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. (Mid.ru, August 2, 2018; read the full press release; See also photo of the meeting posted by Russian MFA Spokesperson Maria Zakharova in her Facebook page)
  • ASEAN's Foreign Ministers met on August 2, in Singapore. Commenting on the summit, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov stated: "I think that this Greater Eurasian Project is more of a goal, and we invite all the countries located in this vast geopolitical space to pool their resources and identify ways to achieve it. Also, let's not forget that the EU is part of the same space. We have always emphasized when we talked about establishing cooperation between the EAEU, the SCO and ASEAN, that the doors are open to the EU as well, if it's interested. I think, no one doubts that the EU should be interested if you think about purely pragmatic economic interests," (Mid.ru, August 2, 2018; read the full press statements)
  • Lavrov's opening remarks at a meeting with Foreign Minister of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif on the sidelines of ASEAN events. (Mid.ru, August 2, 2018; read the full remarks)
  • Lavrov's opening remarks at a meeting with Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi, Singapore, August 2, 2018: "Our strategic partnership is progressing. We remember the success of the state visit made by President of Russia Vladimir Putin to China." (Mid.ru, August 2, 2018; read the full remarks)
  • Final statement by Iran, Russia and Turkey on the International Meeting on Syria, Sochi, July 30-31, 2018. (Mid.ru, July 31, 2018; read the full statement)
  • Pro-Russian mercenaries were recruited in Italy to fight in Donbass. Three people were arrested in Milan, in the province of Avellino and Parma. Three others are wanted by the police. Seven searches also took place in the homes of other suspects. The law enforcement operation is part of an investigation into the Skinhead movement in the Liguria region. (Ilgiornale.it, August 1, 2018; read the full article in Italian). According to other sources, the Italian mercenaries were paid 400 euro per month. Among the mercenaries there are extreme right and extreme left activists and followers of the anti-liberal philosopher Aleksander Dugin. The common denominator that unites the mercenaries is the antagonism towards the US. (Ilfattoquotidiano.it, August 2, 2018; read the full article in Italian)
  • Russia-Denmark relations. The Danish newspaper Berlingske quoted in one of its articles Lars Finsen, chief of military intelligence Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste, who said: "Denmark seriously prepares for possible Russian meddling in the upcoming 2019 general elections" in the country. (Sclistok.com, July 26, 2018; read the full article in Russian) The Russian embassy in Demark replied in a tweet: "Since there is no difference in the Russophobic approach between #DK Government and opposition, meddling into DK elections makes no sense." Later, the embassy published an extended commentary on the article by the Russian Ambassador to Denmark M. Vanin: "Russophobic statements in the Danish media do not come as a surprise to us." (Denmark.mid.ru, July 24, 2018; read the full statement) Commenting on the tweet, Russian MFA Deputy Spokesman Artyom Kozhin said: "If you closely follow our posts on Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks, then, of course, you have comprehended our style and realize that we never cross certain boundaries. And, even if we are joking sometimes, we are doing this in an extremely well-cultured and refined manner." (Mid.ru, July 26, 2018; read the full statement)
  • Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin denies the Russian media reports suggesting Moscow may halt weapons supplies to Armenia under the loan agreement worth $100 million. (Panorama.am, August 3, 2018; read the full article)
  • On July 22, the Minister of Defense of Armenia, Davit Tonoyan stated that Russia completely provided to Armenia the weapons that were intended with the $200 million loan agreements. (News.am, July 22, 2018; read the full article)
  • Moldova is preparing for Patriarch Kirill's visit. (Interfax-religion.com, August 2, 2018; read the full article)

Domestic News In Brief

  • Anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny revealed on August 2 that the Russian government paid him and his brother "more than four million rubles" ($63,150) in July to compensate them for the "unjust verdicts" in the Yves Rocher case. (Meduza.io, August 2, 2018; read the full article; Navalny.com, August 2, 2018; read the full article in Russian)
  • Hunger Striker Sentsov Visited By Clergyman. Oleg Sentsov, Ukrainian film director and native of Crimea, is conducting a hunger strike for over eighty days. Following the annexation of Crimea, Sentsov was sentenced to 20 years on charges of arson and plotting terror activities. The prison authorities at penal colony No.8 at Labytangi permitted a visit by the cleric Bogdan Vasilyuk. The priest entered the medical part of the colony, where Sentsov is staying, and inquired about Sentsov's condition. The prisoner supposedly replied that "he felt normal and was under the supervision of medical workers". It was also stated in the report that Sentsov had no complaints about his prison conditions. The report also emphasized that the prisoner had refused confession. (Novayagazeta.ru, August 4, 2018; read the full article in Russian); Alisa Safina, an artist, has been arrested and fined by a Moscow court for picketing by herself alone in support of Oleg Sentsov. (Ovdinfo.org, August 4, 2018; read the full article in Russian)
  • Kadirov: Termikhanov Was Innocent. Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadirov attended the memorial for Yusip Temirkhanov, who was convicted for the June 2011 murder of Colonel Yuri Budanov (who had abducted and murdered a Chechen girl and sentenced to 10 years in prison) and announced that the deceased was innocent. Kadirov stated "that there was compelling evidence of Temirkhanov non-involvement" He was prepared to obtain a review of the "unjust" verdict. Kadirov clarified that Temirkhanov had died of natural causes. (Ria.ru, August 8, 2018; read the full article in Russian; see also Kadirov's article on Termikhanov)
  • More than 20 arrested in St. Petersburg for a demonstration in support of LGBT rights. (Vedomosti.ru, August 4, 2018; read the full article in Russian)
  • Pussy Riot activists were released from the police station. The court decided not to refer to their administrative charges and ordered a reinvestigation of the case due to "police flaws". (Interfax.ru, August 1, 2018; read the full article in Russian)
  • Barnaul police charge another 'extremism' suspect who mocked religious sentiments. (Meduza.io, August 1, 2018; read the full article in Russian)
  • Putin Signs Law On Film Festivals. President Putin signed into law new rules about the conduct of film festivals. The Ministry of Culture will now define their schedule and films unlicensed for rental may be screened no more than two times in festivals with a jury competition that lasts for no more than 10 days. Film industry representatives had asked Putin not to sign the law as it was counterproductive to popularizing films in Russia. The Ministry of Culture replied that they wanted to create equal playing conditions for Russian and foreign films and prevent a parallel rental market. (Tvrain.ru, August 4, 2018; read the full article in Russian)
  • Rise in Average Salaries. The average salary in Russia totals 42550 rubles ($672) based on figures for the first half of 2018 according Rosstat. This represents an 11% increase over the corresponding figures for 2017.In July Rosstat had reported that the poverty level had declined. (Kommersant.ru, August 4, 2018; read the full article in Russian)
  • Crimea Commemorative Day Signed Into LawPutin signed a law establishing April 19 as a commemorative day marking the adoption of Crimea, Taman and Kuban into the Russian Empire in 1783 under the Empress Catherine the Great. The Empress noted the occasion by issuing a supreme manifesto. The authors of the legislation pointed out that the March 16, 2014 Crimea referendum was the logical continuation of the history of Russian Crimea that had been launched by Catherine's supreme manifesto. (Novayagazeta.ru, August 3, 2018; read the full article in Russian)