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NEWS  / NEWS ON SOCIAL ISSUES, JUNE
15.07.2008


Russian Society
June, 2008

The following resource is meant to quickly introduce the reader to everyday life in Russia: how Russians live, earn, spend, study, relax, and worship. 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.

 

Language and Education
"Protecting" Language; Education Reform
 

How to Call a Russian Citizen
The Russian language sometimes considers the mixture of the words Rossiysky and Russky as an insult.

A success story in Moscow
Although she describes progress in her long academic career… as "natural", the fact that so few women scale the heights of academia in Russia makes her exceptional.

Softer Russian Power
Moscow once extended its reach through schools and language. No more.

Russian Language Still Needs Protection
People are using less literary Russian in their everyday communication, the influence of foreign languages is growing and obscene language is spreading.

President's alma mater in quality dispute
A row has broken out at St Petersburg State University following the failure of more than a third of students to pass their examinations.

Reformer Andrei Fursenko
I am very glad that Andrei Fursenko will be in the new government, again as head of the Ministry of Education and Science.

 

History
History, Historical Figures, and What Russians Think 

Papers of Repressions Period Declassified
They show that approximately one million convicts had toiled in the forced labour camps of Kolyma, Chukotka and Northeast Yakutia during the period from 1932 to 1956

President Praises Freedom, Chirac On Russia Day
Medvedev focused on individual freedom as a key to Russia's future.

Stalin in Russian Ideology and Public Opinion
This article examines the views of today's Russians toward one of the blackest periods of their relatively recent history, the years under Stalin.

Long parting with the ghosts of the past
In the past the ratio between supporters and opponents of Lenin's reburial was approximately fifty-fifty. Now, according to the Public Opinion Fund (POF), it is 46% to 29%.

Homage to Pasternak, With Piano and Poetry
Fans of the Russian writer gather every year.

Gorbachev calls for purge museum
Mr Gorbachev said the special museum should be set up inside what was one of the most notorious Soviet detention centres, the Butyrka prison in Moscow.

Gorbachev: Lenin should be moved from Red Square
"We need to overcome the lack of historical memory, we need to strengthen democracy and freedom."

Russia's communists condemn Gorbachev's calls for Lenin reburial
Communist Party members in St. Petersburg have demanded that Gorbachev have his Nobel Peace Prize taken away for his statements.

 

Science and Technology
Internet Gains Ground; New Funds Founded

Let the web work in Cyrillic
Dmitry Medvedev has said he will make it a personal priority for web addresses to be able to be written in Russian.

Biotechnology in the Investment Forefront
According to E&Y's Dmitry Khalilov, Russia's share in the world market for biotechnology production is less than 1 percent.

Billionaire plans science foundation
Mikhail Prokhorov, one of Russia's richest men, is planning to set up a foundation to support scientific research and innovation.

TV Losing Audience to Internet
Russians with access to the Internet watch 17 percent less television than those without access. In Moscow, that figure is 26 percent.

Scientific ties boosted by co-funding initiative
Russian and European Union scientific ties and collaboration are set to be boosted following the first meeting of a high level political body set up to create a programme of joint study projects.

Putin vows spending spree on drained sciences
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin promised to spend $25 billion on science institutions in Russia between 2008-10.

Academy Votes Against Putin's Friend
In an apparent show of independence, the Russian Academy of Sciences failed to grant full membership to a government-connected academic who had been widely tipped as the Academy's next head.

 

Sports
Russian Takes Third in Soccer Finals

President Meets with the Russian Football Team
The Force is with us. As you know, Russia has found its focus. The whole country is focused and has broken through in all sorts of areas.

Putin wants Olympics changes
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin wants to move some venues planned for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, saying ecological concerns are more important than costs.

Euro 2008: Russian soccer team revives nationalism
As Russia's hitherto underdog national soccer team has stormed to a series of unexpected triumphs over the past two weeks in the Euro 2008 championship finals, the country's mood has visibly soared.

Dazzling star of Russia
Andrei Arshavin has come from almost nowhere to dominate Euro 2008, but could his exhilarating talent survive the journey to the West?

Moscow proud of trouble-free Champions League final
Police reported no significant problems with the more than 40,000 fans of Chelsea and Manchester United who made the journey to Moscow.

 

Health and Demographics
Poor Health, Falling Population Problems

Russia Becomes Country Of Happy People – Poll
The center said that the share of happy Russians had grown from 60% to 77% while the number of unhappy citizens had decreased from 25% to 15%.

Russia's middle class fears "apocalypse": poll
Half of Russia's emerging middle class do not believe in the stability delivered by former President Vladimir Putin, fear a crisis may loom and would like to emigrate.

Russia loosens drink driving laws
Traffic laws will loosen a little, with a .03 blood alcohol limit coming into play

Abortion Remains Top Birth-Control Option In Russia
Russia was the first country to legalize abortion. Aortion remains the country's main method of birth control.

Movement Against Cancer Launches Awareness Campaign
Movement Against Cancer (MAC), cancer patient advocacy group in Russia, will conduct a public education campaign to urge people in Russia to undergo early screening tests.

Demand for American Husbands Falls
Russian women are applying for American visas for marriage in ever decreasing numbers. "There were 1945 granted in 2006, 1575 in 2007 and 616 this year."

Muscovites to Smoke As Usual on World No-Tobacco Day
According to statistics, 65 percent of men and 30 percent of women smoke in Russia. Some 63 percent of non-adults are smokers. Each second pregnant woman smokes.

Russia's 'hypermortality'
It jumps from the first page of the U.N. Development Program report entitled "Demographic Policy in Russia."

 

Xenophobia, Minorities
Status of Women, Racial and Religious Minorities
 

Attempts To Build Places Of Worship Trigger Russians' Protests
Most such conflicts are resolved in favor of the Russian Orthodox Church, which, as a rule has the backing of local authorities.

Why Russia's wealthier women are still reluctant to go Dutch
Billboards across Moscow advertising a women's magazine are raising female consciousness by asking Russia's fairer sex: "Are you ready to pay half to be independent?"

Russia Looks for Ways to End Isolation, Invisibility of Disabled
It is a rare event to see a person in a wheelchair or a blind person or someone with Down syndrome out and about on the streets of a Russian city.

Video Draws Attention to Growing Violence Against Minorities in Russia
They have identified Mr. Odamanov, 24, as the man beheaded in a video of a double killing apparently carried out by members of a Russian neo-Nazi group last year.

Fresh Details, But No Leads in Video Execution
Russia's Prosecutor-General's Office has confirmed the authenticity of an Internet video showing neo-Nazis killing two non-Slavic men execution-style.

Race Death Count Mounting, As Nationalists Close Ranks
It is undeniable that hate crimes are on the rise. The question is why.

Russia's old enmity
The country's antisemitism cannot be blamed on the ruling elite: it is deeply entrenched within the population, impeding democracy.

 

Religion, Morality
Russia Continues to Be a Conservative Society
 

Russia Mulls Legislation To 'Save' Its Youth
Russian lawmakers say they have a plan to save the country's youth, starting with curfews, a Halloween ban, and a lot fewer nose rings. But who does the legislation really aim to save -- the nation's vulnerable youngsters, or a critical Kremlin fan base?

Russian Orthodox Church Sets Tone On Human Rights
"The Basic Principles of the Russian Church Teaching on Human Dignity, Freedom, and Rights," was adopted on June 26 following two years of discussion.

Russia's Outlawing of Khomeini's "Testament" an Extreme Step
The work amounts to "an incitement to violence and reprisals, dangerous now for Russian citizens."

Russian parents make no apologies for being 'hyperprotective'
Russian TV and newspapers today play up scary stories about crime, traffic accidents, terrorism, and – most frightening of all for parents – reports of kidnapping and other child-victim crimes.

Religion in Russia and Russia With Love
Based on my own experience in that country, I am quite disturbed by the rather unbalanced picture you present of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Russia and Islam
This issue of the Russian Analytical Digest examines Russia's approach toward Islam.

 

Economy
Poverty, Inflation High; Consumer Boom

Russia: poverty-line blues
A young journalist lived for a month spent living on what the state says is the official minimum required for subsistence.

Poverty Stays High as Inflation Rises
In 2007, the state statistics service recorded 18.9 million people living in poverty, or 13.4 percent of the population.

Food Prices to Remain High
The growth in food prices will slow down for a few years, but the prices will remain very high.

Small Businesses Lack Confidence in Future
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) under-invest into development because entrepreneurs are not confident about their future.

In Siberia, Shopping Malls Are Sprouting All Over
Malls in this area are even poaching managers from as far away as California.

Russia's new revolution
Bankers were thought to be facing tough times after the credit crunch. But in Moscow, where business is booming, Brits are being attracted by soaring salaries.

Queues return to Russia
"For $2,000 more I got my car three months earlier. I know it's a kind of illegal business for many but for me it was just an opportunity to receive my wheels ahead of time. Why not?"

Russians Expect Property Value Rise
The vast majority of Russians, 82 percent, think that prices for real estate in their town will grow, and 60 percent of them expect significant growth.

Russian Firms Need More Workers, Demand Government Raise Quotas
Last week, the Federal Migration Service announced that Moscow and several other regions had already – in less than five months -- used up their immigrant quotas for 2008.

Russia Has 5m Unemployed
The number of unemployed in Russia grew by 4.2 percent on year to 5 million in April, which accounts for 6.6 percent of the economically active population.

Fat Cats get Top Dollar in Russia
Russians have become accustomed to paying top ruble for most products and when it comes to attracting top executives, the rules are no different.

For more on Russia's economy, see
Economic News in Review, developed in conjunction with the USRCCNE

 

Media
eXile Closes, Reopens; Support for Censorship

The Media: Get Happy!
Would-be censors have another weapon to use against critical media: the public.

Foundation says state TV doesn't reflect reality
Russian TV news has little relation to real news agendas, a meeting of leading editors and political analysts has stated.

Gazeta.ru Gets in the Soup
Kommersant Publishing House has received 50 percent of Sup, which owns the Russian-language LiveJournal service, while Sup has received 100 percent of gazeta.ru.

Russian journalists sued for defamation 3,500 times a year
"This figure is higher than the total for similar cases in all other countries put together"

It Isn't Magic: Putin Opponents Are Made to Vanish From TV
On a talk show last fall, a prominent political analyst named Mikhail G. Delyagin had some tart words about Vladimir V. Putin. When the program was later televised, Mr. Delyagin was not.

Some Russian Readers See Censorship, While Others Defend Their Government
Some Russians declared that the Kremlin had a right -- or even an obligation -- to bar opposition politicians from the nation's television networks.

Putin's Puppet Press
During Vladimir Putin's presidency, tight control of the mass media evolved as one of the Russian leadership's key political resources. It will be equally indispensable to newly inaugurated President Dmitry Medvedev.

Reading the TV Tea Leaves in an Age of Mediacracy
(mē'dē-ə-krə-sē) 1. (n.) Government, usually indirectly, by the popular media; often a result of democracy going awry.

Russia scraps arrest warrant for media campaigner
Russian investigators on Monday scrapped an arrest warrant for the head of a media charity, effectively ending a prosecution that rights campaigners said was a Kremlin attack on civil society.

Murdered Russian Reporter's Family Slam Media Leaks
The family of murdered Russian reporter Anna Politkovskaya have demanded an inquiry into media leaks they say risk scuppering efforts to prosecute her killers.

 

Government on Media 

Speech at the Opening of the X World Russian Press Congress
We are currently in the process of developing our political system. Our immutable guiding lines in this work (are)… respect for human rights, freedom of the press and freedom of speech and, of course, ensuring the supremacy of the law.

Putin pledges support for Russian-language press abroad
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin pledged on Wednesday the government's support for Russian-language foreign press.

Medvedev pledges action against Russian media restrictions abroad
Russia's president said on Wednesday that Moscow would take action to defend Russian-language media facing closure in countries with Russian speaking minorities.

Moscow Mayor Luzhkov outraged by pressure on newspaper
The problem of the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper's lease contract will be resolved with fairness.

Medvedev sinks tougher media libel law
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in effect sank proposed changes to the law on Monday that would have given courts the power to close media outlets suspected of libel.

 

eXile

The eXile Relaunches
The eXile has relaunched in a web-only version located on a new site eXiledonline.com.

Official probe scares irreverent Moscow expat newspaper into shutting down after 11 years
"The eXile," a brash monthly that criticized the Kremlin and the West in its pages — often seeking to offend — was subject to a June 5 audit, said Mark Ames, its American editor.

A Troublesome Visitor
The eXile's editor speaks out about the investigation into his paper.

 

Travel and Regions
Russian, American Travel Spots

Tomsk Journal. A Fresh Take on a 19th-Century Gingerbread Village.
Here would stand an example of how Tomsk could defend an architectural heritage that is as charming as it is unexpected.

American author explains why rural Russia is home
"It's not the life I would ever have imagined for myself," Williams told Reuters. "But now I can't imagine another one."

Free and Flush, Russians Eager to Roam Abroad
Yelena Kasyanova booked her trip at a local travel agency in about as much time it takes to drop by the market for a few groceries.

Dacha Getaways
As for me, I regard the dacha as a place worth visiting a few times in the summer, but not for working - just relaxing.

Dacha Rental Prices Reach Record High
The cost of renting out-of-town cottages (dachas) in popular areas surrounding St. Petersburg for the summer has grown by between 50 and 100 percent this year.

Living on the edge - of Russia
The Russians have been in Chita since 1653 when the Cossack adventurer Pyotr Beketov extended the czar's empire deep into Asia by founding this and other settlements out here.

Train service from Sheremetyevo to Moscow opens for public
Passengers flying into Moscow's main international airport will no longer have to queue for expensive taxis or wait for buses to take them to the city centre.

 

Art and Film
Local Art, Film Booming

Patriotism leads comeback of Russian filmmaking
Russia's film industry is attracting large sums from the government and private investors.

Russians Snap Up Home-Grown Contemporary Art
Moscow's World Fine Art Fair has opened its doors with more Russian galleries displaying work than ever before.

Tretyakov Gallery today: comprehensive or eclectic?
The gallery jubilee brings Dostoyevsky's phrase to my mind: "We Russians are incredibly broad-minded. We'd do better with a narrower mind."

Modern art's kudos and glamor lure Russia's rich
Wealthy Russians who can't spare millions to buy headline art from Europe and the United States are snapping up cheaper contemporary works in Russia.

The Pushkin Museum Plans A Questionable Expansion
The museum will close next year and reopen in 2012, when the renovation is complete, in time to celebrate its centenary.

Indiana Jones makes Russian communists see red
Russian Communist Party members condemned the new "Indiana Jones" film on Friday as crude, anti-Soviet propaganda that distorts history and called for it to be banned from Russian screens.

 

NGOs, Rights, Activists
Latest from Amnesty, British Council

Medvedev passes law to protect prisoners' rights
There the weekly visits began. Zubrilin says three men in prison officers' uniforms would enter his cell, lock the door and leave only once he'd been beaten unconscious.

Dear President Medvedev
In three coordinated bombings of apartment buildings in Moscow and Volgodonsk in September 1999, 292 people were murdered, including our mother Lyubov Morozova.

British Council faces back-dated tax demand
The bill – for monies Russian tax authorities say were not paid between 2004 and 2006 – is disputed by the council as incorrect.

New Report Finds Exercise of Freedom in Former USSR Can Be Risky
Amnesty International in Moscow is highlighting the abuse of human rights in Russia and other former Soviet republics as part of the organization's effort to improve basic freedoms worldwide.

Amnesty International: Russian Federation
Government representatives and state-controlled media repeatedly accused human rights defenders and members of the opposition movement of working for foreign interests and being "anti-Russian".

Russia does not need accusations from Amnesty International
Anatoly Kucherena, a member of the Russian Public Chamber, a legal expert, believes that Russia does not need unfounded accusations from outside.

Kremlin Urged to Free Russian Political Prisoners
Russian human rights activists are urging President Dmitri Medvedev to act on his call for legal reforms by freeing individuals considered to be political prisoners.

 

Ecology
Global Warming Could Hit Russia Hard

Most Russians believe global warming real
Two thirds of respondents believe the climate has become warmer in recent years, while 86% of those polled "had heard about global warming occurring on the Earth."

Russia Could Save a Bundle by Conserving
By raising the effectiveness of its energy use, Russia could reduce consumption of primary energy by 45 percent.

Russia wins new greenhouse gas emissions rights
Russia has won rights to emit or sell licences for extra greenhouse gases equivalent to France's total annual output.

North of Russia Will Suffer from Warming
Destruction from the thawing of permafrost may affect the airports through which the main deliveries of cargo to the North take place and the natural underground reservoirs of oil.

City Ranks Among Most Polluted in Russia
St. Petersburg placed 85th out of the country's 89 regions in a newly released rating by the Russian Independent Environmental Monitoring Agency.

Russia swings to openness on Kyoto, clean energy
Russia this week pledged budget funds for clean energy and called for limits on greenhouse gas emissions in a reversal of the country's earlier reluctance.

Environmental bill should be submitted to Duma by Oct
"We need to draft a complete system on acceptable levels of environmental impact," Dmitry Medvedev told a Kremlin meeting.



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