“Rolf” founder Sergey Petrov, whom police charged on June 27 with illegally withdrawing money to an offshore company, has spent his whole life fighting against “the regime” in Russia and dreaming about liberalism’s ultimate victory. After becoming a leader of the country’s auto market, he joined the parliamentary opposition and started working to develop civil society. Meduza looks back at the career of one of Russia’s most successful entrepreneurs, who has no plans to return home, while threatened with felony criminal prosecution.
In the fall of 2019, 16 Russian regions will hold gubernatorial elections. The strangest and most widely discussed campaign among them is taking place in St. Petersburg, where voters will select new municipal legislators and the city’s governor. In dozens of precincts, local elections are being organized in secret, and groups of muscular men have stood in line at registration offices to make sure opposition candidates can’t turn in their paperwork. Russia’s Central Election Commission has threatened to cancel St. Petersburg’s local legislative races, and even the Kremlin doesn’t seem to believe in Alexander Beglov, the regime’s candidate for governor. Meduza special correspondent Andrey Pertsev has done his best to explain what’s going on in Russia’s cultural capital.
Russia’s Communications Ministry has developed a proposal that would amend Russian communication laws to mandate the pre-installation of Russian-made apps on mobile devices sold within the country. Vedomosti received a draft of the proposal and reported that it would soon be released for public comment.
We’re now halfway through the year, which is a good excuse to pause and take stock of the major news stories in Russia so far in 2019. Over the past six months, Meduza has reported on hundreds of current events, but some incidents and trends resonate and rise above the rest. What follows is hardly an exhaustive list of all the important things that have happened this year in Russia. This roundup is intended to highlight not just the biggest stories covered here at Meduza, but also the recurrent themes in the national news cycle.
The 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris will include four new events: breakdancing, skateboarding, surfing, and sport climbing. The International Olympic Committee announced that the new additions would support IOC plans for the expansion of the games and boost connections with “the younger generation.” Meduza asked sports journalist Anton Pilyasov to explain the merits of these new Olympic sports and analyze Russia’s chances at a medal in each.
On the morning of June 27, investigators began searching a number of car dealerships belonging to the company Rolf in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other regions of Russia, Fontanka reported. Rolf, founded in 1991, is Russia’s largest car dealership franchise: its revenue in 2018 was 229.7 billion rubles ($3.6 billion). In addition to the searches at Rolf dealerships, law enforcement officers also searched the company’s headquarters on Altufyevskoye Highway in Moscow. According to Interfax, the office closed as a result. Kommersant discovered that the searches involved both employees of Russia’s Investigative Committee and operatives for Division “K” of the FSB, which is responsible for financial investigations. The St. Petersburg branch of the FSB confirmed that its agents were involved in searching a large car dealership company but did not name the firm.
Sources close to Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, the embattled former governor of Ingushetia, have said Yevkurov will receive a federal government post in place of the regional one he quit yesterday. The sources told Kommersant that Yevkurov has been appointed as a deputy to Sergey Shoigu, Russia’s federal defense minister.
Ruslan Miroshnichenko, a student at Siberian Federal University (SFU), told the outlet KrasNews.com that he has been unable to defend his thesis, which addresses the increasing government debts of Krasnoyarsk Krai, since 2017.
In mid-June, Russia’s Investigative Committee released its final draft of the charges against Krestina, Angelina, and Maria Khachaturyan. In a case that has lasted about a year so far, the sisters are facing charges of murder committed by a conspiracy of multiple individuals: they stabbed their father after surviving years of constant abuse at his hands. The statute that was used to charge the Khachaturyans carries a sentence of eight to 20 years in prison. The sisters’ attorneys have submitted an appeal to Investigative Committee Director Alexander Bastrykin. They argue that the Khachaturyans committed an act of “necessary self-defense” against their father, Mikhail, to escape confinement, potentially fatal assaults, and rape. In Russian jurisprudence, this means they should be charged with a lesser crime that carries a far lower sentence. An international campaign for the sisters has accompanied the case, with protesters around the world joining artists like Armenian-American musician Serj Tankian in calling for the Khachaturyans to be released. Meduza special correspondent Sasha Sulim discussed the case with attorney Mari Davtyan, who co-authored a bill to prevent intimate partner and family violence that activists are still pushing Russia’s government to consider.
Meduza: Today is the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. Kommersant published a poll conducted by the Levada Center in which one in 10 Russians surveyed said they had encountered torture at the hands of law enforcement officials. Has the Kremlin familiarized itself with the results of the poll? Is it planning to take any measures to respond?