‘There’s no money. You shouldn’t come here.’. Russian doctors and families are fighting to access the medicine sick children need to survive

A little girl from Russia’s Penza Oblast received a rare diagnosis: a genetic disorder that causes increasingly severe epilepsy, limiting the girl’s life expectancy to her teenage years. An effective treatment for her condition exists, but only outside Russia: within the country, the medication she needs is not officially registered. The girl’s parents used established laws to request government funding for the drug and even took government officials to court in the process, all to no avail. They are not alone: many Russians need lifesaving medications that have not been registered in Russia and cannot be sold in pharmacies there as a result. Accessing unregistered drugs requires incredible and sometimes even illegal efforts. Meduza correspondent Darya Sarkisyan reports on the lives of Russians who need unregistered drugs and explains what Russian residents do if they need immediate access to medications that cost several hundred thousand dollars a year.

When politics imitates TV. Russian city councilman faces felony charges for celebrating scene from police drama

A man shows his friend a YouTube clip from a Russian police drama where the hero guns down a corrupt cop. Take that, buster! Long live the USSR! A few months later, the man — a troublesome local city council member — is charged with the felony of “justifying terrorism.” He says he’s being set up, however. In a special report for Mediazona, correspondent Maxim Litavrin traveled to the Pskov region to learn more about an investigation that could be its own television drama. Meduza summarizes thе report below.

New report finds five-billion-ruble downtown apartment owned by Russian tech czar

Research conducted by the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) found that Sergey Chemezov, who leads Russia’s state-owned technology conglomerate Rostech, owns an apartment worth five billion rubles (just under $76 million). Alexey Navalny, the leading opposition politician who founded the FBK, revealed the results of the organization’s report on February 6. The most expensive apartment owned by a Russian state official had previously been thought to belong to Igor Sechin, who leads the energy conglomerate Rosneft and owns a property worth approximately two billion rubles ($30.4 million).

78 separate incidents. Two former United Russia lawmakers in Astrakhan face multiple felony charges for sexually abusing, raping, and filming children

In Astrakhan, court proceedings are underway against Vitaly Kurskov and Igor Poplevko, two former regional lawmakers from United Russia. The men are charged with heinous crimes against minors and the trial is closed to the public. Federal investigators cite 78 separate incidents where the suspects raped or sexually abused children. Kurskov and Poplevko filmed and photographed their crimes, as well. A 20-year-old woman who acted as an accomplice by bringing children to Kurskov’s apartment — including her own nephews — has already been sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Russian court sentences Jehovah’s Witnesses elder to six years in prison for ‘extremism’

A court in Oryol has sentenced a local Jehovah’s Witnesses elder to six years in prison for alleged extremist activity. Before hearing his verdict, Dennis Christensen, a Danish citizen, told reporters that he hoped Russia would observe his right to religious freedom. Prosecutors say he “used his authority as a religious leader” and “kept the [Oryol Jehovah’s Witnesses] organization operating, despite being aware of its prohibition.”

Russian court says opposition leader must retract investigative report about corruption in National Guard

A Moscow arbitration court has ordered opposition leader Alexey Navalny to take down an August report that pointed to insider negotiations between Russia’s National Guard and a Crimean meat processing company. Interfax reported that “Druzhba Narodov” (“Friendship of Nations”) sued Navalny after his Anti-Corruption Foundation accused the company of selling food to the National Guard at inflated prices after becoming its only food provider.

He said, he said. ‘Meduza’ fact-checks reports that ‘Putin’s chef’ met with opposition leader Navalny

“Evgeny Viktorovich [Prigozhin] said that one of the topics discussed was Alexey Navalny’s offer to put a stop to his [Anti-Corruption Foundation’s] attacks on the school lunch issue in exchange for loyalty to Navalny’s team in St. Petersburg’s municipal elections. Evgeny Viktorovich answered him by saying, “I wouldn’t trade a soldier for a marshal.”

Maria Stepanova wins national “NOS” Prize for much-lauded novel

The preeminent contemporary Russian poet Maria Stepanova won the 2019 “NOS” prize in a February 4 ceremony for her latest novel, whose title has been translated as In Memory of Memory or Post-Memory. Stepanova also received the “Big Book” prize, one of the two most-discussed mainstream literary prizes in Russia, in December 2018. Post-Memory will reportedly be published in Sasha Dugdale’s English translation by Fitzcarraldo Editions in the United Kingdom and New Directions in the United States.