Russia Digested 27.11

Russia may leave the Council of Europe. Thorbjørn Jagland, serving Secretary General of the Council, said it will be a big step back both for Europe and Russia. At the end of June Russia stopped contributing money to the Council’s budget due to former’s absence from Parliamentary Assembly. Russian delegation in PACE had been deprived of authority following the Crimea Annexation in 2014. Jagland stated, this could result in voluntary exit of Russia or its exclusion from PACE by vote.

Vladimir Putin has dismissed Vladimir Dorohin, the Russian Ambassador in Azerbaijan, who served as such from February 2009.

Former Minister of Finance, Alexei Kudrin, has made a few statements over the last three days. He disapproved of the law passing on mass media acting as foreign agents. The law was passed on November 25, following the US Department of Justice demand for pro-Putin Russia Today channel to register as a foreign agent. The law covers all mass media receiving finance from abroad, which by the way includes Radio Liberty – one of the enemy voices in Soviet times.

Also Kudrin declared that he’s not running for President in 2018. Regarding the candidates, he said Alexei Navalny must run (since he’s now a well known public figure), but in accordance with the necessary procedures and law. Navalny started his presidential campaign back in 2016, and since then was twice declared by the Court to not be eligible for registration due to two conditioned sentences (“KirovLes” and “Yves Rocher”). Although all of that is happening outside federal channels, and for two years there has been no word “Navalny” on screen. He is what Harry Potter fans would call “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”.

Opposition representatives have applied for an action “Constitution Defense” on December 10. The participants are Ksenia Sobchak, members of “For Human Rights” and “Open Russia” movements and “People’s Freedom Party” (PARNAS), “Civil Initiative” (GRANI) and “December 5” parties. Also invited are Alexei Navalny, Dmitry Gudkov and “Yabloko” (Grigory Yavlinsky) party.

Sofia Apfelbaum, head of the Russian Academic Youth Theater (RAMT), has been released from prison today, but will stay under house arrest for an indefinite period of time. She is charged with embezzlement of budget funds that were dedicated to director Kirill Serebrennikov, who is also under arrest right now. Many see this trial as a pressure on liberal artists. Recently Konstantin Raikin, head of the Satirikon theater, has publicly confronted Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky, who allegedly undermined the theater’s work by interfering with the building renovation and sending revision teams five times this year.

Ramzan Kadyrov, Head of the Chechen Republic, has expressed his wish to resign, saying “it is his dream”, and that “there are people who could 100% run the republic without him”. Whether this is connected to Putin’s announcement for entering the presidential race is not yet known.

Another five Russian athletes were disqualified for life by the International Olympic Committee for using doping. Their results on 2014 Olympic games were annulated, and so Russia has lost 3 gold and 2 silver medals. Even before that Russia has already lost the first place by disqualification of ten athletes in November. According to Richard McLaren’s report, more than a thousand of Russian athletes were using doping, and that system was supported by the government. Russia may be disqualified from participating in the 2018 Olympic Games, the decision on that will be known in the beginning of December.

Igor Sechin has yet again not arrived for the hearings on Ulukayev, former Minister of Economic Development, this time referring to his trip to Rome. That is the fourth time Sechin dismissed the calling.

Reports have surfaced on mobilizing the schools of Krasnodar region as according to wartime. The Ministry of Education of Krasnodar region document has been leaked online. The representatives claim this is an annual procedure, and Alexei Kleshko, Vice-Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Krasnodar region, has called the discussion around it “hysterical”. 5 days ago Vladimir Putin declared that all large and strategic industrial enterprises, no matter state or private, must be ready to promptly ramp up military production. Of course, such a coincidence is not weird at all.


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