1- Putin Unwittingly Explains Why His Policies Have Made Russia a Seedbed of Terrorism. Vladimir Putin says that poverty and enormous income inequality create “a seedbed for terrorism.” Given that his own policies have increased income inequality in Russia to unheard of levels and sent enormous numbers of Russians into poverty, the Kremlin leader thus unwittingly and certainly unintentionally provided an explanation for why the Russian Federation is breeding ground for terrorists, both home-grown and among gastarbeiter populations (ru/115567-putin-bednost-i-ogromnyy-razryv-v-urovne-razvitiya-stran-yavlyaetsya-pitatelnoy-sredoy-dlya-terrorizma.html). In other comments this week, Putin said that the Muslim world can always count on Russia (islamrf.ru/news/russia/rusnews/41956/) and that there should be an end to “militaristic rhetoric” around the world (nakanune.ru/news/2017/5/14/22469854/). Other Putin news included polls showing that young Russians support Putin even though they are angry about almost everything (gazeta.ru/politics/2017/05/15_a_10674545.shtml) and commentaries suggesting the Kremlin must do more in schools beginning in kindergarten to ensure that young people don’t turn their anger against Putin (newsland.com/community/4109/content/skoro-detskie-sady-budut-protiv-putina/5829649 and newsland.com/community/1039/content/kreml-presleduet-oppozitsiiu-dazhe-v-shkolakh/5830303).
- ‘Hold on, President Trump. Russia is With You!’ LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky who celebrated Donald Trump’s election with champagne only to denounce him as little better than Barack Obama earlier this year now says, in the face of investigations into Trump’s ties to Russia that the US president should “hold on” because he must know that “Russia is with you!” (net/132440-zhirinovskiy-o-travle-trampa-derzhis-donald-rossiya-s-toboy.html). Other Russian commentator continue to struggle to find just the right Russian analogy for Trump. One suggests he is the American Stalin (topwar.ru/115555-donald-tramp-kak-iosif-stalin.html), while another said that all of Trump’s problems arise because he thinks he is Putin and can act like the Russian leader (echo.msk.ru/blog/a_goldfarb/1983688-echo/). At least Trump can be pleased that no one in Moscow this week described him as “the anti-Christ,” a term that was applied to the new French president (ng.ru/news/581502.html). But while most Russian outlets backed Trump against criticism, at least one – Gazeta – suggested that there is a real basis for his impeachment (gazeta.ru/politics/2017/05/18_a_10680629.shtml).
- How Dire is Russia’s Economic Situation: Moscow TV Encourages Dumpster Diving. A Moscow television channel has encouraged Russians to search for food in the trash if they are desperate, an indication of just how bad Russia’s economic situation is, Vladimir Putin’s brave words notwithstanding (rosbalt.ru/russia/2017/05/17/1615785.html). Other bad economic news includes: predictions that the Russian government will use the pension fund to pay current expenses when the reserve fund runs out later this year (newsland.com/community/4765/content/siluanov-rossiia-k-kontsu-etogo-goda-ispolzuet-polnostiu-rezervnyi-fond/5834920), findings that one in seven Russians lives in poverty now with the number increasing constantly (newsland.com/community/5134/content/o-fenomenalnoi-i-shokiruiushchei-bednosti-po-russki/5834311 and lenta.ru/articles/2017/05/15/penury/), capital flight this year has doubled from the same period last year (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5915CDEF157B6), the government’s budget deficit has passed 500 billion rubles this year (lenta.ru/news/2017/05/15/deficit/), officials have stopped repairing roads in many places (regnum.ru/news/economy/2274713.html), employment by small businesses has fallen by 3.2 million jobs over the last six years (regnum.ru/news/economy/2274752.html), one quarter of Russians can’t afford to pay for communal services and food at the same time (ng.ru/economics/2017-05-17/1_6989_poor.html), and pensions are slated to drop from 33 percent of wages to 23 percent (newsland.com/community/129/content/pensii-k-2030-godu-sostaviat-lish-chetvert-zarplaty/5832357).
- Social Conditions in Russia Continue to Deteriorate. Living conditions for Russians of almost all kinds continue to deteriorate. Among the reports this week: officials announced that there is almost no money left for higher educational institutions in the North Caucasus (com/articles/kavkaz_ostalsja_bez_opory-33686/), Moscow has raised tuition at Chelyabinsk higher schools (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=591C5D77C6A32), parents in Irkutsk oblast have been told that there now aren’t any places for their children in schools (sobkorr.ru/news/5915BE3E9491F.html), infant mortality is now higher in Russia than in Belarus (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=591D3944DC80A), reductions in the number of medical personnel under Putin’s optimization program have led to higher death rates in many places (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=591C573507FD2), the number of scientists and scholars is slated to fall by 25 percent over the next three years (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=591A194351670), HIV infections are u by 5.3 percent this year (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5919A1B69058C), Russians in many regions don’t have access to safe potable water (newsland.com/community/5652/content/zhiteli-regionov-stradaiut-ot-nekhvatki-bezopasnoi-pitevoi-vody/5829684), and to add insult to injury, in the poorest major city of the country – Volgograd, all the deputies in the city legislature are millionaires (yug.svpressa.ru/society/article/146560/).
- Moscow Becomes Ever More Repressive, Isolationist and Just Strange. The Russian government has decided to keep the list of Russians freed from taxes because of sanctions a state secret lest there be an explosion (ru/russia/2017/05/15/1615188.html), the Duma is planning to legalize and license fortune tellers (newsland.com/community/4765/content/zakonoproekt-o-legalizatsii-koldunov-zadumali-vnesti-v-gosdumu/5828063), the government is creating a single data base to keep track of all residents of Russia (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5919FA0A631A6), officials have banned champagne and live music at wedding palaces in Moscow (kp.ru/daily/26679/3702557/), the government is spending 25 billion rubles (500 million US dollars) a year on government media (politsovet.ru/55324-gosudarstvennye-smi-poluchat-iz-byudzheta-esche-25-milliarda.html), the FSB has been given the right to confiscate land for government purposes (thebarentsobserver.com/en/security/2017/05/fsb-gets-right-confiscate-land-people), another rabbi has been expelled from Russia (nazaccent.ru/content/24081-iz-rossii-vydvoryayut-eshe-odnogo-ravvina.html), the culture ministry wants to charge higher prices for those who attend foreign films as compared to those who watch domestically produced ones (znak.com/2017-05-17/vladimir_medinskiy_vnov_vystupil_v_podderzhku_protekcionistskih_mer_dlya_rossiyskogo_kino ) and to ban drinking in movie houses (znak.com/2017-05-17/pravitelstvu_predlozhili_zapretit_pokazyvat_raspitie_alkogolya_v_kino_i_peredachah), a man has been threatened with four years in prison for stealing eight dollars worth of food (go32.ru/news/society/34286-v-komarichah-pensioneru-grozit-4-goda-za-krazhu-produktov-na-400-rubley.html), debt collectors have become more aggressive and the number of complaints against them has skyrocketed (newsland.com/community/4701/content/chislo-zhalob-na-kollektorov-uvelichilos-v-rossii/5832527), the government is now requiring cosmonauts to agree to propagandize Russian achievements in space as a condition of employment (rufabula.com/news/2017/05/17/space-propaganda), Moscow has estimated that tehre are now as many as ten million illegal immigrants in Russia (rg.ru/2017/05/16/rg-opublikovala-otchetnyj-doklad-ombudsmena-prezidentu.html 8-10) but says it has no money to deport many of them (ng.ru/politics/2017-05-18/3_6990_deportacia.html). Most distressing of all, some Russians are now talking about the death not just of villages and company towns but of entire oblasts (forum-msk.org/material/region/13213961.html).
- Kadyrov Could Become Russian President – or Face Trial in the Hague. Ramzan Kadyrov continues to be a focus of Russian discussions with speculation ranging from the possibility that he could succeed Vladimir Putin as Russian president or end his career by being charged at the International Criminal Court, two fates that of course are not mutually exclusive (blogspot.com/2017/05/blog-post_12.html and kavkazr.com/a/privlekut-li-kadyrova-k-sudu-v-gaaga/28493113.htm). Other “ethnic” developments in Russia this week: Buryats have announced a new campaign to speak only Buryat over the next month (infpol.ru/news/society/126902-zhiteli-buryatii-obyavili-narodnuyu-aktsiyu-mesyats-govorim-na-buryatskom/), Russian officials have “liquidated” a Tatar organization that no longer exists (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=59159A3A05B69), Buryatia may now license shamans (asiarussia.ru/news/16268/), tuberculosis has become epidemic in Daghestan (kavkazr.com/a/28490952.html), Russian scholars have found a non-Russian language they had decalred dead still has one speaker left (nazaccent.ru/content/24073-tomskie-uchenye-nashli-nositelya-hantyjskogo-dialekta.html), Bashkir activists attack what they say is Tatar historical imperialism (idelreal.org/a/28491480.html), antagonisms between Russians and Cossacks are on the rise (nazaccent.ru/content/24076-astrahanca-budut-sudit-za-razzhiganie-nenavisti.html), and the head of Daghestan has publicly compared himself to Imam Shamil (onkavkaz.com/news/1687-ramazan-abdulatipov-sravnil-sebja-s-imamom-shamilem-i-abdurahmanom-danijalovym-gluhota-moskvy-o.html?fromslider).