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Modern Russian Society
Sept 2007

The following resource is meant to quickly introduce the reader to social issues in Russia - ranging from civil society to art. This news review is part of SRAS's monthly "obzor" publications. For more reviews, see the newsletter for this corresponding month.

To receive the free monthly newsletter and obzori by email, simply sign up.  


50 years after Sputnik, Russia revives space ambitions
As Russia commemorates the 50th anniversary on Thursday of the launch of Sputnik 1 and the start of the Space Race, there is a sense of cautious optimism among its space scientists, says Igor Lysov, an expert with monthly magazine Space Industry News.

The Fallout from Sputnik
Few Americans have heard of Sergei Pavlovich Korolev. But he is the reason that NASA was created and that we went to the moon.

Introduction of "Foundations of Orthodox Culture" Resisted in Public Schools
"This will permit the establishment of uniform requirements for the curricula. Thus, nobody will be deprived of the right of Chechnya to teach the foundations of Islam, but graduates of the local schools will have to take the same examinations as residents of other Russian regions. Let them make the choice themselves," Yury Sentiurin explained to a "Gazeta" correspondent.

11 Years in School Now Mandatory
The new ruling comes amid a series of measures aimed at boosting education nationwide, including a new high-tech school in Moscow - one of several nationwide.

Russia drops spy probe against scientists
The investigation had caused an outcry among rights advocates, who said investigators were classifying information that was already in the public domain as secret material, including extracts from an encyclopedia.

Is Russian Language Dying Out In Former Soviet Republics?
Experts say in many former Soviet republics, where Russian used to be widespread, the language is starting to fall out of use.

Gorbachev Warns of History Whitewash
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev warned Wednesday against whitewashing the crimes of dictator Josef Stalin, stressing that Russia cannot move forward without facing the truth about its bloody past.



EU-Russia Human Rights Dialogue Must Be More Public, Include NGOs
Russian human rights activists have proposed changing the format of talks on human rights between Russia and the European Union. The next round of talks is scheduled to be held in Brussels in early October.

Only 36 per cent of Russian NGOs Reported to Government as Required by Law
Only 36% of 216,000 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) registered in Russia have reported to the Federal Registration Service the results of their work, Sergei Vasilev, head of the Federal Registration Service, said at a briefing in "Rossiiskaya Gazeta" on September 11, according to Itar-Tass. "According to the law, which came into force in 2006, all the NGOs were to submit reports on their work by April 15, but less than 20% of them submitted reports by that date. After that the deadline was moved to June 1, 2007 (28 per cent of NCOs submitted reports by that date), and later to September 1, by which date the reports were submitted by 36% of NGOs," Vasilev said. "Some 64% of the NGOs just ignore the Russian legislation, after which they tell journalists about oppression on the part of the state." According to Vasilev, NGOs fail to submit reports because many of them exist only on paper and do not work at all, and others are trying to conceal the results of their work, primarily the spending of money.

Russian NGOs Preparing To Apply For State Grants
The chairperson (M. Slobodskaya) of the Civil Society Committee of the Public Chamber expects that Russian NGOs will be able to obtain grants as early as November.

Kremlin Raids More NGOs
A seizure of computers at the Tolerance Support Foundation was followed by a raid on an independent newspaper in Nizhni Novgorod.



A Second 'Russian Cross' – Fewer Russians, More Migrants
More regions of the country showed a natural increase in the population, 18 this year versus 13 a year ago. But as in the past, all the leaders in this area are non-Russian regions: Chechnya, Ingushetia, Tyva, Daghestan, and Khanty-Mansiik.

Skinhead Russia
Russia's skinhead movement appeared in the early 1990s, amidst that era's social and economic turmoil. As often happens, a subculture that comes from the West changes beyond recognition in Russia, and that was true for the skinheads.

Open-Air Markets Become Rarer
Material prepared by the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade for the government commission on regulating foreign labor migration indicates that about 4000 markets will be left by yearend. These markets were once a basition for employment of immigrant labor.

New data on Russia race attacks
A respected Russian human rights group says 38 people have been killed in racist violence this year.

Skinhead Violence Rising in Russia
The big question here is whether the rise in skinhead violence is a strictly organic phenomenon or whether it is being manipulated or even encouraged from above.

Russia Targets Georgians for Expulsion
The Russian government undertook a deliberate campaign to detain and expel thousands of Georgians living in Russia in October and November 2006, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

Gunmen target ethnic Russians in south
"Clearly, in a very blunt and inhumane way, people are trying to prevent the return of Russians to the republic," Putin's envoy, Dmitry Kozak, told news agencies.

Russia's Chechnya imposes Islamic dress code
Female civil servants must wear Islamic headscarves or be fired, the maverick head of Russia's Chechnya region said on Tuesday, an edict that may put him at odds with his secular masters in Moscow.

Dagestan: Russia’s Eternal Problem
During the last few years, all of the ethnic republics of the Northern Caucasus – Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachaevo-Cherkessia and Adygeia – have undergone changes in their leadership.



Russia Home to Some of World's Dirtiest Cities
Norilsk and Dzerzhinsk - as well as two cities in the former USSR - are among the 10 most polluted cities in the world, a controversial report by the New York-based Blacksmith Institute has found.

Moscow's Noise Pollution Reaches Dangerous Levels
The sound of ordinary life in Moscow is being drowned out by the noise of heavy traffic, aircraft, and round-the-clock construction work.

Receding permafrost is a bone-hunters' bounty
One day, climate change could cost the earth. For now, it is a nice little earner for Russian hunter Alexander Vatagin.

Global warming ruining the tundra
The creation of the world's first Pleistocene Park with a self-sufficient ecosystem is an unprecedented project. The Americans are following the Russian example in the Great Valley Region. Both have a chance to succeed if the global warming does not stop them.



Church Critical Of Idea To Affirm Political Rehabilitation Of Nicholas II
Appeals for the political rehabilitation of the last Russian royal family are senseless, deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate's External Church Relations Department Bishop Mark of Yegoryevsk told Interfax

Russia says U.S. Religious Freedom Report biased
It also said the state has to intervene when the activity of a certain religious organization moves outside the law and threatens people or society.

Russian Orthodox Church wants more control over Solovki
The Russian Orthodox Church is stepping up its bid for more control over the Solovki islands in the White Sea.

Russian Orthodox church battles for future in N.J.
The tiny congregation is facing eviction because they disagree with their parent church's decision to reconcile with the Moscow Patriarchate in Russia.

Catholics see Russia as "mission" terrain: Patriarch
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Alexiy II, told an Italian paper that a first meeting with Pope Benedict would only make sense if the Vatican gave up any missionary ambition to spread Catholicism in his country.

More news on Religion in Russia from Stetson University



Russian province holds 'Conception Day'
Bureaucrats in Russia's Ulyanovsk province urged residents Wednesday to do their patriotic duty and make love, with prizes for anyone producing a child on the country's constitution day in exactly nine months.

Birth Rate Hits 15-Year High in Russia
Deputy Prime Minister Dimitri Medvdev say the population will grow to 142 mln by 2015, and 145 Mln by 2025.

Crash Course   
Each year, some 197,000 traffic accidents are registered nationwide, with 25,000 fatalities on the road, according to Traffic Police statistics.

The Government Will Defeat Death
Minister of Health and Social Development Mikhail Zurabov credited the Motherhood Capital program, which pays 250,000 rubles for the birth of a second child, and the Health national project for improved demographic indicators.

Russians' Perceptions of Health Contrast Reality
Men die younger than women, but are more likely to be satisfied with their health.

Health and Demography in the Post-Soviet Space
An Interview with Nicholas Eberstadt, Henry Wendt Scholar in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute.



In a benchmark verdict,  Russian court convicts 5 in reporter’s murder
"Justice has been served in a journalist murder for the first time since President Vladimir Putin took office in 2000," CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said.

Politkovskaya's Colleagues Dispute Official Investigation
Russian Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika says foreign-based enemies of the Kremlin were behind the October 2006 murder of reporter Anna Politkovskaya. But the crusading journalist's colleagues have been conducting their own probe into the killing - and accuse Chaika of pl aying politics instead of solving the crimes.

The Curious Politkovskaya Case
Russian prosecutors announced on Monday that 10 suspects have been arrested in the death of Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian investigative journalist who was shot and killed Oct. 7, 2006.

Helping Russia's Media Move Toward More Freedom
The media in virtually all the former communist countries have been going through a transition.

Russia: Media Clampdown Sees Blogs Flourish
Russians frustrated at television reports they see as having a pro-Kremlin bias are turning to blogs and Internet forums to debate political issues.

Time of the Strikebreakers
It is difficult to write about Putin’s Russia, something one does reluctantly.

Novaya Gazeta Hits the Internet in English
The newspaper, known for its investigative reporting, started posting translations of select articles on the web site Thursday.

Editorial board of the Novaya Gazeta: How Anya was killed
The publication of the frames fixing all this, made by someone and passed to the journalists, prejudiced the investigation very much.



After 50 Years, Passions Persist Over the Publication of Doctor Zhivago
Pasternak's son heaps scorn on some of D'Angelo's warm recollections. But much of the animosity between the battling octogenarians stems from an old sore: Who benefited financially from Pasternak's masterpiece?

Move over Tolstoy: detective tales of Tsarist era take Russia by storm
Author who spotted a gap in the market sells millions of novels to country's emerging middle class.



The Russians are coming
Moscow's film executives are plotting a big-budget film revolution to outflank Hollywood. Phil Hoad goes on the set of Russia's biggest blockbuster ever and witnesses the carnage.

Putin praises Soviet dissident theatre
Founded in 1964, Moscow's Taganka Theatre was a venue for relative dissent in the Soviet Union, staging banned plays which lead author and Taganka's founder Yuri Lyubimov to exile and temporary loss of his Soviet citizenship.

Russia's Jury System, Cross-Examined in "12"
In "12," a Russian remake of Sidney Lumet's classic "12 Angry Men," the flawed jurors seem to be called to this panel to purify their own souls.

Laying Down the Law
His film switches back and forth between the jury room and war-torn Chechnya, the accused's home, to visceral and devastating effect. Mikhalkov's film is not just a Russian-accented copy, but a movie that also drives home the terrible brutality of the Chechen wars.

Still Married, With Children, But Trading Insults in Russian
In fact, the show is an authorized copy of the American sitcom "Married With Children," with a Russian cast and dialogue but scripts that hew closely to those of the original.

New Cronenburg Flick on Russia Mob
...The diary, written in Russian and translated for her by her former KGB-agent uncle (Jerzy Skolimowski), leads Anna to a restaurant whose kind, welcoming owner, Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl), also happens to be a ruthless boss in the Russian mob. The more Anna tries to find out about the dead girl, the more a dangerous liability she becomes for Semyon.

Films By Jove Sells Award Winning Animation Library Rights to Russian Magnate
Prestigious Russian animation distributor, Films By Jove, which for the past 15 years has been the exclusive distributor of much of Moscow's acclaimed Soyuzmultfilm animation library outside the former USSR, has sold its rights in the animation library to Russian metals and media magnate Alisher Usmanov.

KinoKultura issues 18th installment
This free, online magazine focuses on Eurasian film.



Slava's Art Collection Heading Home; Benefactor Will Return Works to Russian State
Steel magnate Alisher Usmanov preempted a Sotheby's auction by buying the collection, reportedly for more than the $40 million it was expected to fetch. He said he will turn over the entire purchase to the state.

Contemporary Russian Art Newsletter No. 10 Now Online
The latest in contemporary Russian art!

Old Russia, Young Voices
The Moscow Sretensky Monastery Choir visits the U.S. This appearance was the choir's first stop as it tours the U.S. and Canada through Sept. 14, before heading off to Australia and Europe.

Stalin's music master, died on August 14th, aged 94
HAD he been born in Iowa, Tikhon Khrennikov might have enjoyed a modest fame.



Russian Tennis Hits US
Roger Federer and Nikolay Davydenko meet in a repeat of last year’s US open semifinal, which Federer won in straight sets. The Russian has taken just one set off Federer in their last six meetings, and has lost all nine of his previous match-ups with the Swiss.


Russia: Reconsider Use of Youth Group Volunteers to Conduct Police Functions
Letter to Minister of Interior Affairs
We are writing to express our concern over recent reports in the media about the planned use of volunteer citizen’s groups for public policing, and we strongly urge against this and call on you to reconsider.
October 5, 2007    Letter
Also available in  russian 
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Russia: Rethink Use of Youth Groups to Police Protests
Russian police should rethink the use of police volunteers from pro-Kremlin youth groups, Human Rights Watch said in a letter sent to the Minister of the Interior today. At a minimum, the police should ensure accountability for the volunteers’ actions before proceeding with their use.
October 5, 2007    Press Release
Also available in  russian 
Printer friendly version

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