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.
Vladimir Putin says he’s no fan of collective punishment, but it’s alive and well in Chechnya, where relatives of the teenagers who recently staged four coordinated attacks on police officers have reportedly been expelled from the republic.
The hole drilled into the Russian module on the International Space Station was made and plugged (unsuccessfully) before it was ever launched into orbit, three sources in Russia’s rocket and space industry told the news agency RIA Novosti. A commission assembled by the rocket and space corporation Energia, which developed and built the “Soyuz” module, has reportedly determined that the plating was damaged before the equipment was sent to the International Space Station. Sources say the panel was plugged with a special glue that unexpectedly didn’t hold.
Stanislav Kalinichenko can’t seem to catch a break. In early August, he was released from pretrial detention in Kemerovo after four months of incarceration on charges that were ultimately tossed out. What was Kalinichenko’s crime? He hit a cop while a group of them were beating and strangling him during an interrogation.
Russia’s Security Council thinks tougher U.S. sanctions are coming. According to the magazine RBC, the group has already collected action plans from Russia’s Finance Ministry, Economic Development Ministry, Industry and Trade Ministry, Central Bank, Vnesheconombank, Rostec, and other agencies.
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 that hasn’t stopped the Russian news website Fontanka from digging up everything it could find about men with these names.
Federal investigators in Omsk are pressing felony hate speech charges against a feminist activist over a dozen blog posts from 2013 to 2016. Lyubov Kalugina is accused of using Vkontakte to “incite hatred of men,” says the “Sova” human rights center. Officials first started building their case against her last year, following a complaint filed by an unnamed person living in Birobidzhan. Kalugina says she’s being tried for extremism “because of some jokes about asses, pussies, and intra-feminist debates.”