Please love us again? United Russia and Putin ramp up efforts to win back voters with pension-reform amendments, ahead of September 9 regional elections

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 wants to build an ‘Orthodox Vatican’ outside Moscow

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.

New poll says Russians’ social panic hasn’t spiked so sharply since eve of 1998 financial collapse

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.

Putin has a special ‘sensory room’ at his presidential residence to relax and stave off depression

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.

Russian Instagram model is sentenced to 18 months in prison for attacking a traffic cop

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.

The Real Russia. Today. London says ‘Alexander Petrov’ and ‘Ruslan Boshirov’ tried to kill Sergey Skripal, Russia braces for tougher U.S. sanctions, and a feminist faces felony hate speech charges

“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.