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.
Photo Of The Week:
(Image source: Zona.media)
On May 15, Moscow's Tverskoi District Court sentenced Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny to 30 days behind bars for repeated violations of Russia's laws on public assemblies. Meduza.io reported: "Navalny was detained on May 5 in Moscow at Pushkin Square, where he organized an unpermitted demonstration against Vladimir Putin's fourth presidential term. Police detained about 700 protesters in Moscow on May 5 and more than 1,600 across the country. Navalny also faces separate charges of disobeying police orders during his arrest on May 5." (Meduza.io, May 15, 2018)
The Tweet Of The Week
Lyubov Sobol, a member of the Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, announced on her Twitter account that Navalny's supporters launched a new party, called Russia Of The Future, on May 19. The party still needs formal registration.
(Twitter.com/SobolLubov, May 19, 2018)
(Source: Twitter.com/SobolLubov, May 19, 2018)
The Facebook Post Of The Week
Alexey Lebedinsky (Source: Facebook.com/ProfessorLebedinsky)
On May 9, 2018, Russian singer and adman Alexey Lebedinsky, known as Professor Lebedinsky, now living in Miami, wrote a strong post against Russian President Vladimir Putin. In his post, he calls on the opposition to start shooting. In 2017, journalist Arkady Babchenko also posted a similar message on his Facebook page: "I will definitely return to Moscow as I have one more thing to do there. I will be sticking out of the hatch of an Abrams tank that will be rolling down Tverskaya Street under the NATO flag. The grateful Russians will forget the Crimea - they will be throwing flowers to their liberators and asking for humanitarian army meats."
Below are excerpts from Lebedinsky's depressing post:
"My dear friends and fellow interpreters of reality,
"I will once again answer questions as to why I fell silent, why I stopped tearing my soul apart about Russian horrors. There are many reasons. I will list some:
- "Writing is ABSOLUTELY useless. This is just toothless drooling. It's high time to start shooting. To respond to the state terrorism against people with the people's terrorism against the lowlifes, who seized power. If we cannot do so ourselves, then ask the civilized world to save the Russian people from its tyrants; plead, confess to ourselves and to the world that we don't have the balls, and that the government is strong, merciless and immune to punishment.
- "You have to be honest and not one-sided. I'm a big baby who still believes in fairy tales, and that's fine. But the beautiful Ukraine, where I stayed for 5 and a half consecutive months, is really in a much worse situation than meets the eye. I know a lot of facts that ought to be voiced as openly as those about the Russian reality. But, as a citizen of the country that attacked Ukraine and brazenly grabbed a part of its territory, I have no right to write about this.
"The degree of nonchalance about the country, the degree of greed, corruption and vulgarity is exactly the same as in Russia. Same stealing everything that isn't nailed down, be it from the state or from neighbors. The only difference is that there is no terrible brain-destroying propaganda like in Russia, there is no powerful centralized authoritarian government, but there are several forces that shred money and power in the country to pieces, and hence more cowardice of officials and gangsters, more freedom of speech, although they are also trying to clamp down on it, there is more hope and courage in the hearts of people who are really worried about the future of their country.Purer, more open souls -- these are excellent qualities of Ukrainians whom I know and see. As a matter of principle, I do not surround myself with other people, whether in Ukraine, or in Russia, or in America as well. So it would be dishonest to write about what is unfair in Russia and to keep silent about what is unfair in Ukraine, the country I am equally worried about as there are also a lot of beautiful people suffering from the impunity of jerks in powerful positions, lawlessness and poverty. And I can see all this with my own eyes.
- "It is becoming increasingly obvious that peoples get the rulers they deserve, and so I feel less and less sorry for human herds as a whole, but at the same time sorrier and sorrier for specific people who understand their helplessness in trying to change anything and so wish to get out, but are unable to do that.
- "The opposition is essentially a big fat zero. Nobody is interested in uniting forces in order to seriously fight for the regime's overthrow and prepare a new future for the country. I'm tired of trying to unite efforts; I'm disappointed in many people, even those who say the right things. For the most part they work for themselves -- they make a name for themselves, they gobble up grants, they are hoping for positions in some utopian "future government of Russia" or simply live at the expense of network regulars, beautifully describing the horrors of the situation, but not shifting the positions of the monstrous criminal Russian authorities by even a millimeter. All this is distinctly foreign to me. They managed to push through sanctions against our thieves -- thanks if it could somehow help simple hard-working Russian people, which I very much doubt.
- "I am tired.
- "At this point I almost do not believe.
- "It does not bring any happiness, just nerves and worries for those who the hell do not need it. So let them shift for themselves.
- "Let it all take a flying fuck. Life is short.
- "See #8.
Putin is a motherf**er. His buddies are animals. They all deserve to be judged and harshly punished. However, I alone cannot do anything to help that. Forgive me kindly. And do not push me alone to the barricades with a shovel - I may not be a genius, of course, but I am not totally fucked in the head either. Call me when you are ready. And meanwhile I eat mangoes in Florida, sitting in a 20-meter "broom closet", nothing like my 250-meter home in Moscow, which I abandoned. And I'm better off here. Hugs and love to all of you, good folks."
(Facebook.com/ProfessorLebedinsky, May 6, 2018)
In The News:
On May 15, the State Duma unanimously adopted in the first reading a draft law on criminal liability for complying with Western sanctions on Russian soil.
(Tass.com, May 15, 2018; Read the full article)
The governing board of the Russian Association of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, representing the Forbes 100 Russian companies, has harshly criticized the draft legislation imposing criminal responsibility for the implementation of foreign sanctions:
"Following discussion on the draft, the Board has reached the conclusion that this draft's adoption is categorically inadmissible. The Board noted that the draft legislation contradicts the policy of the Russian Federation's President on abandoning superfluous criminal liability while creating further conditions for administrative pressure upon business.
"The draft's envisaged countersanctions are also excessive. The criminal liability should not imply sanctions against persons, including foreign nationals, who are legally obliged to observe a decision by the foreign state to limit some transactions, while nonfulfillment of such legislation means the application of sanctions against such individuals in conformity with the relevant foreign countries.
"Forcing Russian business enterprises, including state owned and state led companies, to commit economic actions that contravene sanctions introduced by the U.S. and other foreign governments may lead to extending secondary sanctions against such companies, limiting their ability to work in the global market and eventually exerting an even greater negative influence on the Russian economy…
"In general the draft creates risks for an unjustified criminal prosecution against Russian citizens and foreign nationals, limits the cooperation with foreign investors, lowering motivation for investing in Russia and aggravating the business climate."
(Rspp.ru, May 16, 2018)
Following the criticism, the Duma fleetingly postponed the second reading of the draft.
(Kommersant.ru, May 17, 2018)
However, on May 17, the State Duma passed the counter-sanctions bill in its second reading. Before the second reading all mentions of specific industries, goods and services had been removed from the bill and the list of likely counter-measures was reduced from 16 to six. The third and final reading will take place on May 22.
(Tass.com, May 17, 2018; Read the full article)
- Russia is considering a ban on imported French fries from the US and other Western countries that have imposed sanctions against Moscow. Russia imported 94 percent of its French fries in 2017 but has bought the necessary equipment to produce it locally, Russia’s National Horticultural Union head Sergey Korolev told RT. The new equipment allows production of 110,000 tons a year, while the market is 106,000 tons. (Rt.com, May 16, 2018; Read the full article)
News In Brief:
- Russia’s embassy in London has accused London of acting in violation of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms following the incident in which former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned in Salisbury, the U.K. in early March. (Tass.com, May 14, 2018; Read the full article)
- Russia's ambassador to London, Alexander Yakovenko, complained that British MPs accept what the UK secret services say regarding the alleged poisoning of the former Russian intelligence officer and British spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on blind trust, while they distrust Russia’s position. (Tass.com, May15, 2018; Read the full article)
- Russia’s UK ambassador Alexander Yakovenko said that The Russian Embassy in London is gathering and analyzing information on unwarranted checks and questioning of Russian citizens in UK airports and will raise this issue at the official level if the discriminatory nature of such practices is confirmed. (Tass.com, May16, 2018; Read the full article)
- The Cossack groups present at the anti-Putin protest in Moscow on May 5 have reportedly 'flogged' those in their ranks responsible for attacking demonstrators with whips, according to Vasily Yashchikov, who's been cited repeatedly in the Russian media as a 'Cossack blogger.' Yashchikov says the Cossack groups held a joint meeting and decided to punish the individuals who used whips on May 5. (Meduza.io, May 16, 2018; Read the full article)
- Lawmakers from leftist opposition party Fair Russia have proposed setting salaries of State Duma deputies at the level of the average national income, which would mean an effective monthly salary reduction from 350,000 to about 35,000 rubles. The draft was prepared by the party's leader Sergey Mironov and MP Oleg Nilov. In a note attached to the bill they wrote that pegging the salaries of federal lawmakers to the nationwide average income would stimulate them to work on boosting the country’s economy and increasing the incomes of ordinary citizens. (Rt.com, May 15, 2018; Read the full article)