On September 28, Ingush leader Yunus-bek Yevkurov and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov signed an agreement formally establishing the boundaries between their two republics. Technically, the boundary between Ingushetia and Chechnya had been in limbo since 1992, when Chechnya tried to secede from the Russian Federation. On October 4, the parliaments of Ingushetia and Chechnya adopted special laws approving the deal.
Promoting their new book, “Authoritarianism and Democracy,” Higher School of Economics professors Elena Lukyanova and Ilya Shablinsky spoke to Novaya Gazeta this week. In the interview, the two legal scholars argue that Russia’s current Constitution represents a “narrow democratic portal for the future transit to democracy.”
State television pundit Dmitry Kiselyov says he will organize a three-day rap music festival at a nudist beach in Crimea in August 2019. “You can’t ban rap anymore than you can ban obscenities. It’s a cultural phenomenon that we face,” Kiselyov told the radio station Govorit Moskva on December 6. The pro-Kremlin pundits says he will stage the concert next summer as a response to the “hype” generated by his December 2 evening TV broadcast, where he defended rappers against Russia’s ongoing police crackdown on live performances.
Russia’s Constitutional Court has upheld a controversial agreement between Ingushetia and Chechnya that surrenders disputed territory to Grozny. During the trial, representatives for both Ingush leader Yunus-bek Yevkurov and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov told the court that their agreement complies with Russia’s Constitution.
Vadim Ampelonsky is off the hook. On December 5, police dropped embezzlement charges against the spokesman for Roskomnadzor, Russia’s federal censor. In October 2017, he and two colleagues were placed under house arrest on charges of large-scale fraud. Investigators later reclassified the charges to embezzlement (lowering the damages caused from 23 million rubles to six million rubles — almost $90,000), but he still faced up to 10 years in prison. In May 2018, a Moscow district court also seized Ampelonsky’s property.
On December 2, an entrepreneur in St. Petersburg named Andrey Veselov wrote on Facebook that he’d interviewed more than 45 candidates for a sales manager position and found only one suitable applicant, “but she’s a girl,” so he decided not to hire her, he stated openly.
On December 5, Moscow’s Tverskoy District Court sentenced 77-year-old “For Human Rights” executive director Lev Ponomaryov to 25 days in jail for repeated violations of Russia’s laws on public assemblies.
On December 3, folklorist and anthropologist Alexander Panchenko announced on Facebook that he was fired from St. Petersburg State University. He says the school’s administration kicked him off the faculty back in August without any explanation. One of Russia’s leading specialists on folk Orthodoxy and Russian mystical sects, Panchenko believes he lost his job because he gave expert testimony in a trial against representatives of a Pentecostal church, “essentially shattering the prosecution’s case.” Meduza spoke to him to learn more about the circumstances of his dismissal and to find out why the Russian state fights against religious groups.
On December 3, an activist in the “Pedagogue” inter-regional education trade union named Andrey Demidov wrote on Facebook that a 10th grader in St. Petersburg is trying to form a student union at his high school. When the school learned about the boy’s plans, administrators allegedly threatened to expel him and alert the police. The young man’s name is Leonid Shaidurov, and Meduza spoke to him, to find out more about what he hopes to accomplish with a student union.
On November 20, the website 7×7 published online correspondence between Anna Vlasova, a woman living in the town of Suoeki, and Artur Parfenchikov, the governor of the Republic of Karelia. Vlasova wrote to her governor to complain that her town has no kindergarten, explaining that she has no one to care for her children, while she’s at work. Parfenchikov’s response was harsh: he told the woman to “work something out with the grandmothers” or “hire a nanny, like everyone does.” When these messages found their way to Russia’s news media, the governor rushed to Suoeki to meet Vlasova in person and “solve the problem.” Vlasova’s situation isn’t unusual, however. Thanks to the “optimization” initiative underway in Karelia and other regions across the country, officials are shutting down kindergartens, schools, and hospital wards, and laying off staff. In a special report for Meduza, Petrozavodsk Govorit correspondent Georgy Chentemirov takes a closer look at the fallout from these budget cuts.