“Parnas” (the People’s Freedom Party) was built on the foundation of one of Russia’s oldest liberal political parties: the Republican Party of Russia. In the 1990s, RPR had seats in the State Duma, but in 2007 it lost its registration, not long after lawmakers imposed a minimum membership threshold on political parties that RPR couldn’t reach.
City officials in St. Petersburg have withdrawn a permit issued for a September 9 protest against the Russian government’s plan to raise the country’s retirement age. The mayor’s office says a nearby water main burst, flooding a roadway that leads into Lenin Square, where the demonstration is scheduled to take place. The authorities say organizers can hold their rally at Udelny Park (about five miles farther from the city’s center), but any attempt to stage the event at Lenin Square will be treated as an illegal public assembly.
The television presenter Oksana Marchenko (who’s married to the pro-Russia Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk) apparently owns a company that’s developing one of the biggest oil deposits in Russia’s Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug.
The Kremlin’s domestic policy machinations often lead the Putin administration down some strange PR roads. For example, Meduza has written before about the authorities’ hopes to recruit Elizaveta Gyrdymova — aka “Monetochka” (Lil’ Coin) — as the country’s next pop star. That initiative hit a bump in the road earlier this summer when Gyrdymova bowed out of a concert linked to the Defense Ministry, but the Kremlin’s efforts to build inroads with popular musicians aren’t limited to one talent.
On September 6, United Russia introduced federal legislation that would allocate money seized in corruption cases to the country’s Pension Fund. According to Andrey Turchak, the acting secretary of the party’s General Council, the scheme could raise more than 1.2 billion rubles ($17.3 million) over the next six years, if state confiscations since 2012 are any indication.
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 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.