President Vladimir Putin has finally weighed in on the finished U.S. Justice Department investigation into Russian election meddling and collusion in America’s 2016 presidential race, telling reporters on Tuesday, “The mountain gave birth to a mouse,” referring to one of Aesop’s Fables.
A court in Astrakhan has sentenced Vitaly Kurskov and Igor Poplevko, two former regional lawmakers from United Russia, to 24 years and 16 years in prison, respectively, for sexual crimes against minors. The two ex regional Duma deputies were convicted of committing rape and sexual abuse against minors and producing child pornography.
Mass protests have been ongoing in the North Caucasian republic of Ingushetia since the fall of 2018. At first, residents of the Russian federal subject were protesting a land trade that would shift some Ingush territories to the neighboring republic of Chechnya. When the Ingush parliament began considering a law that would repeal the region’s current referendum requirement for territorial changes, protesters shifted their attention to that amendment. In April, authorities began searching and arresting opposition leaders in Ingushetia, the local Internal Affairs Ministry leader resigned, and government officials stopped speaking with journalists. However, Meduza was able to speak with a vice speaker of the People’s Assembly of Ingushetia, Vasily Svetlichny. He told us that avoiding bloodshed and pursuing diplomacy are both very important but that he believes the protests were provoked externally, not that they emerged from a grassroots effort.
This January, Madagascar inaugurated President Andry Rajoelina, who defeated 35 rivals in two rounds of voting. According to a new report by the BBC Russian Service, at least six of those candidates — possibly including Rajoelina — received campaign financing from Russia.
At the end of 2018, official pressure led to the cancellation of more than 40 concerts throughout Russia. A handful of acts appeared to be targeted disproportionately, especially the pop groups IC3PEAK and Friendzone along with the rappers Husky and Eldzhey. Although government involvement played a key role in that wave of suppression, Russia’s youth parliament, which is tied to the State Duma, took the administrative initiative to ask regional prosecutors for reports explaining the causes of the cancellations.
Lithuania’s Special Investigation Service has arrested Rimantas Šidlauskas, the country’s former ambassador to the Russian Federation. The Lithuanian news outlet Delfi reported that the diplomat is suspected of “influence trading”: law enforcement agents believe that he promised to acquire a Schengen Zone visa for a Russian citizen in exchange for that individual’s efforts to “influence a particular group of people.”
Dozens of Russian regions have decreased their participation in purchase programs for antiretroviral therapy (ART) medications for people living with HIV. In 2018, 35 out of 85 regions declined to purchase ART drugs, Kommersant reported based on research conducted by the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition. In 2017, 21 regions did not purchase their own medications for HIV treatment.
Valentin Konovalov, the head of Russia’s Khakassian Republic, has filed a defamation lawsuit against Mikhail Leontiev, the spokesman for the Russian state oil company Rosneft.
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has added the “Set” (Network) community to its list of terrorist organizations, citing a decision by the Moscow District Military Court on January 17, 2019, which entered force on March 14.
Moscow’s City Court has freed three defendants in the “Seventh Studio” case from house arrest, releasing them on their own recognizance, overturning an April 2 ruling by the Meshchansky District Court that extended the suspects’ arrests until July 2019. The new ruling applies to stage director Kirill Serebrennikov, Russian Academic Youth Theater director Sofia Apfelbaum, and former Seventh Studio theater company general director Yuri Itin. Serebrennikov, the most famous of the three, had been under house arrest since August 2017.