On Monday, before Moscow’s Meshchansky District Court actually rendered its sentence, Russia’s Attorney General announced that Viktor Zakharchenko, the father of former Interior Minister Dmitry Zakharchenko, had been sentenced to five years in prison for embezzlement. The newspaper Novaya Gazeta noticed the agency’s statement, which soon disappeared. Not only was the Attorney General’s announcement early, but it was also inaccurate: the Meshchansky District Court later sentenced Zakharchenko Senior to four years in prison and fined him 800,000 rubles ($12,390).
April 25 marked the centennial of the Bauhaus. The design school Walter Gropius founded in Weimar in 1919 went on to change how we think about what a modern building should look like on the inside and the outside and, more importantly, what principles should guide its construction. We asked Dmitry Khmelnitzky, an architect and historian of architecture, to explain how not only Bauhaus but Western architecture as a whole became Soviet Russia’s signature style in the 1920s. He also wrote about how designers from abroad helped modern architecture blossom under the early Bloshevik regime before before those same designers faced political ruin in the Stalinist 1930s.
Russian officials in Arkhangelsk have filed the country’s first police report against an individual for spreading illegal “fake news.” According to the news website 29.ru, the activist Elena Kalinina used her VKontakte account to promote an unpermitted protest against a local landfill. Police officers reasoned that demonstrations shouldn’t take place without city permits, meaning that Kalinina’s information about the unpermitted protest’s time and location amounts to “fake news.”
A military court in Moscow has jailed the head of a local Federal Security Service (FSB) office for two months, pending the results of a criminal investigation. Colonel Kirill Cherkalin was arrested on April 25 and faces up to 15 years in prison on charges of receiving tens of millions of rubles in bribes. The details of the case haven’t been disclosed, and journalists only learned about Cherkalin’s arraignment after it happened.
Russian president Vladimir Putin has signed an order that contains criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of the country’s regional governors. The document contains a list of indicators, the first of which is the governor’s level of faith in the government and in the president specifically. Productivity, income, environmental conditions, infrastructure, and population growth are also among the 15 points on the list. The Russian presidential administration plans to develop and present the methods it will use to evaluate governors’ performance according to those criteria by June 1.
A week after low-quality Russian petroleum was first reported in Belarus, Russian investigators have opened a criminal case to look into the matter, Interfax reported. The Russian company Transneft argued that the contamination of petroleum in the Druzhba pipeline was intentional, saying that an organochlorine compound was added to the pipeline at the Samaratransneftterminal junction in Samara. An investigation is ongoing in several private offices in the city.
St. Petersburg’s Dzerzhinsky District Court released Mikhail Tsakunov from a pretrial detention center after he signed a pledge not to leave the city. Tsakunov was arrested after the “He’s Not Our Tsar” protests in May 2018.
Federal Security Service (FSB) employees and police officers have prevented a terrorist attack planned for the Kabardino-Balkar Republic’s capital city of Nalchik, FSB representatives announced.
Experts polled by the news website The Bell estimate that Vladimir Putin’s decision this week to simplify the path to citizenship for millions of people living in Ukraine’s separatist-controlled Donbas region will cost Moscow at least 100 billion rubles ($1.6 billion) in additional annual social-security payments.
Last year, investigative journalists at Bellingcat and The Insider made international headlines by identifying the two Russian “tourists” suspected of carrying out a nerve-agent attack in Salisbury, England, as Russian military intelligence operatives. Part of that sleuth work relied on private data grabbed from government records in the “Rossisskii Passport” database. According to the website Rosbalt, the discovery prompted Russia’s intelligence community to launch a manhunt to track down the source of the leak. The journalists deny buying this information (Bellingcat says the spies’ passport data was provided by someone with access to the records), but there is an entire black market in Russia where scammers, private detectives, and even jealous spouses can pay hard money for anyone’s personal records. In a new report for the BBC Russian Service, Andrey Zakharov managed to buy his own phone and bank information, learning how this illegal industry operates in Russia. Meduza summarizes what he discovered.