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memri
August 8, 2019 No.
8217

Russia This Week – Focus On Protests In Russia – August 8, 2019

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.

Photos Of The Week


(Source: Novayagazeta.ru; August 3, 2019)


(Source: Novayagazeta.ru; August 3, 2019)

In The News:

  • Demonstrations In Russia

Novaya Gazeta: Terrorize And Conquer. How Muscovites Were Intimidated Before The rally On August 3

Moscow Mayor Sobyanin: The Organizers Wanted To Drag Protesters Into Disorders

Russian Analyst Sukhov: The Protests Call Into Question The Comfort Associated With Private Welfare

  • Recession

  • Statement By The President Of Russia On The Unilateral US Withdrawal From The Treaty On The Elimination Of Intermediate-Range And Shorter-Range Missiles

  • For Further Reading:

The Rise And Fall Of An FSB-Run Money Laundering Empire;

Why Russia's Defense Industry Complex Can't Pay Off Its Debts;

  • News In Brief: Russia-Italy Relations; Russia-China Relations; Nord Stream 2; Sanctions

Demonstrations In Russia


(Source: Novayagazeta.ru; August 3, 2019)

On August 3, 1001 people were detained in Moscow at the "Bring back the right to election” action.

(Novayagazeta.ru. August 4, 2019)

Novaya Gazeta: Terrorize And Conquer. How Muscovites Were Intimidated Before The rally On August 3

The newspaper Novaya Gazeta lists propaganda techniques designed to dampen civil mobilization, which became most noticeable on the eve of the August 3 demonstration.

1. Did not serve - do not protest

On the eve of August 3, the Investigation Committee distributed information that at the rally on July 27 "special groups" revealed 134 draft dodgers among the detainees... For some of them, a pre-investigation inquiry is already being performed. An attempt to "avoid" the army is considered a criminal offense and is punished, inter alia, up to two years of imprisonment.

2. Video streaming about the harm of protests

On the evening of August 2, residents of Moscow returning home by public transport discovered that the TV channel "Moscow 24" was constantly broadcasting video clips with week-old mass arrests on metro monitors. The video was accompanied by textual commentary on criminal liability for "riots".

3. Respected people do not advise

Before 3 of August, the "city's finest people" were called up to the propaganda front: artists, directors, musicians — they all tried to explain with maximum conviction on social networks and on the pages of Moscow magazines why going "out to the streets" is unnecessary.

4. Headless protest

Most of the leaders of the protest were "neutralized" by placing them under administrative arrest for periods ranging from 8 to 30 days at the very beginning of July 27.

5. Combat sociology and threats

On the eve of August 3, the State Sociological Service - VTsIOM - published the results of a poll, according to which 61% of Muscovites and 69% of Russians surveyed supported harsh crackdowns on uncoordinated actions in the center of Moscow. However, parallel surveys of other, independent sociological structures do not confirm these figures, and journalists caught VTsIOM at manipulating the respondents' opinions. The question was framed as follows 'Do you agree or disagree with the opinion that in similar situations the authorities should act in accordance with the law even it is necessary to take harsh measures."

6. Faces of the protest

The media structures supervised by the "Kremlin chef," Yevgeny Prigogine, began to actively advertise the website "Ugolovka-info", which contains photos from the social networks of those people who were seen on uncoordinated actions. The site headline provides an alert on the punishment for participating in the "riots"

(Novayagazeta.ru, August 3, 2019)


(Source: Novayagazeta.ru; August 3, 2019)


(Source: Novayagazeta.ru; August 3, 2019)


(Source: Novayagazeta.ru; August 3, 2019)

Moscow Mayor Sobyanin: The Organizers Wanted To Drag Protesters Into Disorders

Moscow mayor Sobyanin: "It is clear that not all those ending up in the action expected evens to develop in this fashion, but the organizers apparently wanted to drag them into disorders… this was not for the good of people but for the sake of some narrow political purposes."

(Rbc.ru, August 4, 2019)

Russian Analyst Sukhov: The Protests Call Into Question The Comfort Associated With Private Welfare

Commenting on the protests in Moscow, Russian analyst Ivan Sukhov wrote in Kommersant:

"[In Moscow] there is a background - in fact, a very old and very Moscovite one - of a successful metropolitan complacency: the urban environment is changing, largely for the better, and with a scale that is impossible nowhere else in the country ...

"Against this background, there are relatively few who are ready to consider the speakers for the registration of unauthorized candidates at the MCD (Moscow City Duma) elections as fighters for the common good, and not a hindrance to the flow of life. Dozens of new subway trains can impress even those who last went there twenty years ago, and the crowd on the boulevard yesterday prevented [Muscovites] from entering the restaurant. ...

"The elections to the MCD compared to this are almost yuck, not to mention a few candidates who were not allowed to participate in them. ...

"But events such as the mobilization and use of the police and the Rosguards on July 27 and August 3, just call into question the comfort associated with private welfare… If momentum [of a calm life] is violated, the entire list of questions in the background that both the authorities and the Muscovites dismiss as an annoying fly can turn into a list of political demands."

(Kommersant.ru, August 4, 2019)

Read More:

  • Russia's new resistance 'Meduza' analyzes the rise of a new wave of protest movements. For three weeks in a row, Moscow residents have taken to the streets to demand fair elections for their City Duma. The Russian capital's government has done its best to ban the protests, and police have dispersed them as violently as ever, but that hasn't stopped thousands of people from taking part even when the marches aren't protected by a permit. The Moscow City Duma election protests were preceded by a number of others: In early June, pickets and marches put pressure on Moscow officials to free Ivan Golunov, a Meduza correspondent who was falsely accused of drug distribution. In mid-May, Yekaterinburg residents put up a fierce fight against plans to build a new cathedral in one of the city's few green areas. All in all, it's clear that Russia's protest movements have reached a new stage of development in the last two or three years. Meduza analyst Dmitry Kartsev set out to explain, point-by-point, what about those movements has changed. (Meduza.io, August 7, 2091; read the full article)

  • Lies and logical fallacies How Russian state TV covered Moscow's election protests for the first time. (Meduza.io, August 5, 2091; read the full article)

  • Hundreds of arrests, and a whole new felony investigation. The results of Moscow's August 3 protests for free elections. (Meduza.io, August 4, 2091; read the full article)

  • 'We were just walking home' How Moscow police violently arrested hundreds of protesters and bystanders on August 3. (Meduza.io, August 4, 2019; read the full article)

Recession

A technical recession can hit Russia already in 2019. According to the state statistical service, the GDP grew by 0.5% in comparison with the analogous period of the previous year. According to the opinion of specialists, economic growth will allow only the success of big enterprises and the state sector. Small and middle business activity will fall.

Oleg Fillipov of the Stolypin Institute of Economic Growth said "This half year in a series of sectors, and this is clearly visible, is the worst since the 1998 crisis. The citizens are about to become more insolvent.

(Lenta.ru, August 5, 2019)

Statement By The President Of Russia On The Unilateral US Withdrawal From The Treaty On The Elimination Of Intermediate-Range And Shorter-Range Missiles


(Source: El-murid.livejournal.com)

The following is Russian president Vladimir Putin's statement on the unilateral US withdrawal from the INF Treaty: "On February 1, 2019, the United States of America launched a procedure to withdraw from the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles. The six-month period set forth in the Treaty’s withdrawal clause has expired. When one of the parties withdraws from the Treaty, it ceases to have effect automatically. Therefore, as of August 2, 2019 the INF Treaty no longer exists. Our US colleagues sent it to the archives, making it a thing of the past.

"It is with regret that Russia states that the unilateral withdrawal by the United States from the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles under a far-fetched pretext and the dismantlement of one of the last fundamental arms control treaties creates major complications for world affairs and brings about serious risks for everyone. Let me emphasize that all the responsibility for what has happened rests with the United States. Instead of engaging in a meaningful discussion on international security matters, the United States opted for simply undercutting many years of efforts to reduce the probability of a large-scale armed conflict, including the use of nuclear weapons.

"Russia cannot ignore the current state of affairs or satisfy itself with hollow peace-loving declarations made by its American colleagues or their allies.

"In this context, considering the current situation, I instruct the Defense Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and the Foreign Intelligence Service to monitor in the most thorough manner future steps taken by the United States to develop, produce and deploy intermediate-range and medium-range missiles.

"If Russia obtains reliable information whereby the United States completes the development of these systems and starts to produce them, Russia will have no option other than to engage in a full-scale effort to develop similar missiles. Of course, this will take time. Until the Russian army deploys these weapons, Russia will reliably offset the threats related to the withdrawal by the United States from the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles by relying on the means that we already have: the X-101 and the Kinzhal air-launched missiles, the Kalibr sea-launched missile, as well as future weapons systems, including Tsirkon-class hypersonic systems. At the same time, Russia maintains the unilateral commitments it has assumed, and will act only when it has to respond. This applies to developing, producing and deploying land-based intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles. We will not deploy them in any given region until US-made intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles are deployed there.

"Despite the recent developments, Russia still hopes that common sense prevails, and that our US colleagues and their allies have a sense of responsibility toward their people and the entire international community. It is our belief that the actions taken by the United States that brought about the dismantlement of the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles will inevitably devalue and shatter the foundations of the global security architecture, including the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

"This scenario could signal a new start for an unfettered arms race. In order to avoid chaos with no rules, restrictions or laws, we need to once more weigh up all the dangerous consequences and launch a serious and meaningful dialogue free from any ambiguity.

"Russia considers that it is necessary to revive without delay meaningful talks on ensuring strategic stability and security. We are ready to engage in these efforts."

(Kremlin.ru, August 5, 2019)

Read More:

  • Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov’s opening remarks at the briefing on the termination of the INF Treaty, Moscow, August 5, 2019. Ryabkov said: "The US is entirely to blame for this. It was the American side that buried the INF Treaty by launching and completing the procedure for its unilateral withdrawal, while Russia consistently protected the treaty until the very end. In fact, it is completely incorrect to say that Russia has also withdrawn from the treaty and shares the responsibility, as some foreign officials and several media do." (Mid.ru, August 5, 2019; read the full statement)

  • The Russian Foreign Ministry commented on the withdrawal of the United States from the INF Treaty and its termination: "We have already introduced a moratorium and will not deploy land-based intermediate-range or shorter-range missiles, should we acquire any, in the regions where the United States will not deploy its intermediate-range or shorter-range missiles." (Mid.ru, August 2, 2019; read the full statement)

Further Readings

The Rise And Fall Of An FSB-Run Money Laundering Empire. As the head of the banking oversight department at Russia's domestic intelligence agency, Colonel Kyrill Cherkalin wielded immense power: with a click of his fingers, he could cause bankruptcy or give a zombie bank a new lease of life. But then it all went wrong: earlier this year he was arrested on fraud charges and 12 billion rubles ($180 million) in cash and jewelry was found in his apartment and other places linked with him and his colleagues. The Bell and investigative website The Project looked into how Cherkalin became a key figure in the money laundering business, how he ran his financial empire, and why it all fell apart. (Thebell.io, August 3, 2019; read the full article)

Russian police are reportedly planning felony charges against top anti-corruption activists. Russia’s Investigative Committee is preparing to charge top executives at the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) with money laundering and tax evasion, according to a new report by the website Proekt, which cites a source in law enforcement and internal police case files. Journalists say the authorities have examined the bank accounts of Leonid Volkov, Alexey Navalny, former FBK director Roman Rubanov, Ruslan Shaveddinov, and other staff at the foundation. (Meduza.io, August 2, 2019; read the full article; Proekt.media, August 2, 2019; read the full article in Russian)

Why Russia's Defense Industry Complex Can't Pay Off Its Debts. Russian expert Alexander Golts wrote: Enterprises in the defense industry complex (DIC) have two trillion rubles ($31.78 billion) of debt. There is no way they can pay off this debt: they'll write it off and then hush it up. (Khodorkovsky.com, July 22, 2019; read the full article)

News In Brief

Russia-Italy Relations

  • Italian vice premier Matteo Salvini at a party meeting in Milano Marittima said: "Putin is a great president and I say so because this is what I think and not because they pay me as some newspapers think." (Lenta.ru, August 4, 2019)

Russia-China Relations

  • China may switch to the Russian market due to the worsening trade dispute with the US, Russia’s Economic Development Minister Maksim Oreshkin said. (Tass.com, August 7, 2091; read the full article)

Nord Stream 2

  • Construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline has been71% completed the Russian gas holding company Gazprom announced. (Tass.com, August 1, 2019; read the full article)

Sanctions

  • A second round of US sanctions imposed on Russia over the Skripal case shows the trumped-up nature of the investigation, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a televised interview on the Rossiya’1 channel. (Tass.com, August 4, 2091; read the full article)

  • Zakharova also stated: "The United States continues to use last year's staged poisoning of the former British agent and his daughter in the UK to aggravate relations with Russia. This blatant provocation, whose participants have been protected from exposure, again serves as the pretext to impose sanctions on Russia under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 and a special executive order recently signed by the White House. It should be noted that, in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention, Russia eliminated its stockpiles a long time ago (international inspectors had the chance to verify this on more than one occasion), while the United States has such an arsenal today and is in no hurry to part with it." (Mid.ru, August 2, 2019; read the full statement)