Russia’s Pension Fund spends roughly 100 million rubles a year on car rentals, according to the latest investigative report by Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation. In late June, the agency signed an agreement leasing six BMWs, 22 Toyota Camrys, and 14 cheaper vehicles. The Pension Fund also bought leases on another 51 cars for its regional branches.
Natalia Timakova, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s longtime press secretary, confirmed on September 6 that she is stepping down and taking job with Vnesheconombank. Oleg Osipov, the deputy chief editor of the Rossiya Segodnya state news agency, will replace her on Medvedev’s team.
In what appears to be timed to win back voters ahead of Sunday’s regional elections, United Russia unveiled two populist initiatives on September 6 that seek to mitigate some of the damage done to the party’s reputation by unpopular draft legislation that will raise the country’s retirement age. Andrey Turchak, the acting secretary of the party’s General Council, proposed allocating money seized in corruption prosecutions to Russia’s Pension Fund, claiming that officials have confiscated more than 1.2 billion rubles ($17.3 million) in such cases over the past six years.
The Russian Orthodox Church hopes to erect an “Orthodox Vatican” in Sergiyev Posad, just outside Moscow, that would require the demolition of several downtown buildings, according to the BBC Russian Service. Journalists learned about plans for an “open-air temple” at the walls of the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius with a platform stage that would allow the church to hold outdoor mass.
Following the British government’s announcement on Wednesday that it has identified two Russian suspects in the attack on Sergey Skripal, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova went on state television and ridiculed the published evidence, calling it “God-level trolling.”
Russia’s Natural Resources Ministry is making a push to lead the government on climate-change policy with its new doomsday-scenario report on national security threats posed by global warming.
A new national survey by the independent Levada Center indicates that social tensions across the country are rising at levels not seen since the eve of Russia’s 1998 financial collapse. Seventy-two percent of Russians say they worry about rising prices, 52 percent cited growing impoverishment, and 48 percent say one of the nation’s biggest problems is unemployment.
The magazine Sobesednik has a knack for reporting stories about Vladimir Putin’s private life. It was one of the first outlets to write about his ex-wife’s remarriage, the first to discover a warning from Russia’s Justice Ministry to a nonprofit created by his younger daughter, and it was reporting on both his daughters years before it became common with other publications. On September 4, Sobesednik released its latest insider scoop: Putin’s presidential residence at Valdai has installed a “sensory room” to facilitate the commander in chief’s relaxation and prevent him from slipping into depression.
A Moscow court has sentenced the popular Instagram model Kira Mayer to 18 months in prison for attacking a traffic police officer. No evidence was presented at trial, as Mayer fully confessed to the charges. In late May, 24-year-old Mayer was pulled over while driving a Mercedes on a suspended license. When the officer began writing her a ticket, Mayer tried to grab it from his hands and then started hitting him.
“Today marks the most significant moment so far in what has been one of the most complex and intensive investigations we have undertaken in Counter Terrorism policing; the charging of two suspects — both Russian nationals [aliases: Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov] — in relation to the attack on Sergey and Yulia Skripal. I would like to thank the Crown Prosecution Service for their independent assessment of the evidence in this case.” Read the whole statement by Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, national lead for Counter Terrorism Policing, in relation to the Salisbury and Amesbury Investigation.