On September 5, British counter-terrorism officials put names and faces to the two suspects they blame for carrying out the March 4 “Novichok” nerve agent attack in England against Sergey Skripal and his daughter. London says “Alexander Petrov” and “Ruslan Boshirov” are likely pseudonyms for military intelligence agents, but on September 12 Vladimir Putin claimed that Russian officials have located these two men, and he insists that they’re both civilians.
The independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta has published drone surveillance footage of two mansions in Barvikha (a wealthy town outside Moscow) owned by the son and son-in-law of Viktor Zolotov, the head of Russia’s National Guard. According to the newspaper, Roman Zolotov’s 9,690-square-foot property and 7,535-square-foot home are worth roughly 700 million rubles ($10.1 million), while Yuri Chechikhin’s 129,170-square-foot property is worth an estimated 800 million rubles ($11.6 million).
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov is furious about a story published by the newspaper Kommersant citing an unnamed source at Roscosmos who claims the Russian space agency now suspects American astronauts aboard the International Space Station of sabotaging a module last month, supposedly in order to expedite the return of an ailing colleague.
Viktor Zolotov, the director of Russia’s National Guard and Vladimir Putin’s former longtime head of security, says he wants to beat Alexey Navalny into a bloody pulp. Responding in a YouTube video to recent allegations by Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, Zolotov has challenged the opposition leader to a fight.
The Russian government has drafted legislation that would prohibit members of the armed forces from sharing on the Internet any information about themselves, their fellow soldiers, or the military itself. The bill has already been submitted to the State Duma for consideration by federal lawmakers. Russia’s Defense Ministry has long advocated similar measures, in response to information shared on social media that prompts public discussions of military actions that the authorities would prefer to keep a secret. Here are a few examples.
Viktor Zolotov addressed Alexey Navalny publicly in a YouTube video, accusing him of insults and defamation, demanding “redress in single combat.” In his remarks, Zolotov referred to officers’ tradition, stating, “From time immemorial, scoundrels have had their faces smashed and been called to duels.” He specified no terms, offering merely to fight Navalny “in the ring, on the judo mat, or wherever.” Zolotov also promised to make “juicy mincemeat” of his opponent. Navalny, meanwhile, is currently in jail, serving a 30-day sentence for staging an illegal protest in January. In his YouTube video, Zolotov repeatedly insults Navalny, calling him a “scoundrel” and a “coward,” and he threatens to “mop the floor” with him while the whole National Guard staff watches.
Russia’s ruling political party is learning that it won’t be easy to silence Natalia Poklonskaya, the former Crimea attorney general now serving in the State Duma, and the only United Russia deputy to vote against controversial draft legislation that would raise the country’s retirement age.
The Russian government has drafted legislation that would prohibit members of the armed forces from sharing on the Internet any information about themselves, their fellow soldiers, or the military itself. The bill has already been submitted to the State Duma for consideration by federal lawmakers.
Vladimir Putin has awarded Russia’s Order of Courage to Nikolai Tutevich, the head of the team that investigated the February 2015 assassination of former Deputy Prime Minister turned opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. Five Chechen men were later sentenced to between 11 and 20 years in prison for carrying out the murder, but police never identified the person responsible for ordering the attack, though lawyers for the Nemtsov family believe it was Ruslan Geremeyev, the deputy commander of the “Sever” Chechen battalion.
The Kremlin is supposedly urging acting Khahassia Governor Viktor Zimin to drop out of his reelection race, after he failed to win a first-round election on September 9. Sources close to the Putin administration told the newspaper Vedomosti that the situation in Khakassia has become “unmanageable,” complaining that the regional government has run out of money to pay civil servant salaries and needed outside intervention. “Let anyone take over, so long as it’s not him,” a source said.