With more than 300,000 subscribers and each post averaging an audience of 184,000 views, StalinGulag is one of Telegram’s most popular politics channels in Russia. The author responsible for the content, which is often highly critical of the state authorities, remains a mystery. In July 2018, the magazine RBC reported that the channel belongs to Makhachkala native Alexander Gorbunov. (StalinGulag denied this claim.) There have been other theories about who runs the channel, as well. For instance, Vasily Prozorov, a former official in Ukraine’s National Security Service, said in March 2019 that Ukrainian intelligence officers are the ones behind StalinGulag.
Following the arrest of FSB Colonel Kirill Cherkalin, who faces up to 15 years in prison on major bribery charges, Russia’s Federal Security Service has fired 27 officers who worked with him, a source in law enforcement told the website Znak.com. “So far, they’ve established that all together they were pulling down about a billion rubles [$15.5 million] every month. These guys just didn’t know when to stop,” the source said.
The Russian release of the Hollywood blockbuster “Avengers: Endgame” features some tweaked dialogue in an early scene that could constitute censorship intended to avoid conflicts with Russia’s ban on so-called “gay propaganda.”
Eighty-six percent of the people living in Ukraine’s separatist-controlled Donbas region want Russian citizenship, according to Kirill Alizinov, the spokesman for the Russian Interior Ministry’s Central Office for Migration, citing a new sociological survey.
On April 25, 2019, police in Arkhangelsk charged an activist with illegally disseminating “fake news,” after she reposted information about a local demonstration against the construction of a new landfill site. Officials say Elena Kalinina spread false information about the rally, knowing that organizers didn’t have the city’s permission to march along the demonstration’s planned route. The authorities had already fined Kalinina for the same post on the grounds that it incited public participation in an unpermitted protest. Russian law prohibits double jeopardy, and though the rally Kalinina promoted did take place, she nevertheless faces another misdemeanor conviction.
On April 26, the final vote in Russia’s branch of the international franchise The Voice Kids, a song competition reality show, was announced. Ten-year-old Mikella Abramova won with 56.5 percent of viewers’ votes. Abramova is the daughter of the Russian singer Alsou and the banker Yan Abramov.
The first passport center in Russia set up to bestow fast-tracked citizenship to residents of the self-declared Luhansk People’s Republic is now online in the city of Novoshakhtinsk, in Russia’s Rostov region, federal officials told the news agency Interfax. The office is reportedly running according to “test mode,” as the Russian government evaluates the demand from LNR residents and decides how many other passport centers to open.
Meduza in English publishes stories about Russia, but much of what circulates in the Russian language — big names, TV shows, political news — isn’t Russian at all. This piece (and similar ones to come) will highlight how viral phenomena that seem fundamentally Anglophone take on new and unexpected meanings in the Russian-speaking world.
The Cheburashka Collective is a group of women and non-binary writers whose identity has been shaped by immigration from the Soviet Union to the United States. On April 27, 2019, six members of the group, which is named for a beloved Soviet cartoon character, gathered in Philadelphia’s Penn Book Center for a poetry reading. Meduza in English News Editor Hilah Kohen sat down with five of those poets before the event. They discussed what shared immigrant experiences can do for collectives, what collectivity can do for poetry, and what poetry can do for our world today. The “Cheburashki” also shared seven of their recent poems, which are reprinted below this interview with the kind permission of their publishers.
“Avengers: Endgame,” one of the most anticipated and profitable motion pictures of all time, is premiering in Russia only today, four days after its global release. According to unverified reports, the movie came late to Russia because the Culture Ministry wanted to protect a domestic film, “Billion,” from competing with the Hollywood blockbuster, enraging theater-owners across the country. The Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) now confirms that a formal complaint against the delayed premiere of “Endgame” was filed on April 26. The agency is required to respond within 30 days.