The Real Russia. Today. Meduza remembers Lyudmila Alexeyeva, Kolokoltsev tries to fool Wikipedia, and Zolotov has his hands full now
Monday, December 10, 2018
This day in history. On December 10, 1877, Russia captured the city of Plevna (now Pleven) after a five-month siege. The victory would prove decisive for the Russian coalition in the war and the Liberation of Bulgaria.
- Meduza remembers Lyudmila Alexeyeva
- Russian Interior Ministry tries (and fails) to purge Wikipedia information about Minister Kolokoltsev illegally attending a political party congress
- Two federal agencies are now investigating the Russian National Guard for corrupt procurement deals flagged by Alexey Navalny's research group
- Sverdlovsk youth policy official loses job and entire agency after telling women that the government owes parents nothing
- ‘Penza Case’ torture investigation against FSB officer is reopened
Late on December 8, Russian human rights icon Lyudmila Alexeyeva passed away at the age of 91. Since the mid-1990s, she led the Moscow Helsinki Group, earning the respect of both state officials and the anti-Kremlin opposition. Alexeyeva worked with everyone equally in pursuit of her mission: the protection of people’s rights by all means available. Meduza’s Andrey Kozenko looks back at her extraordinary life.
Read our full obituary here: “Meduza remembers a Russian human rights icon”
Russia’s Interior Ministry (MVD) has tried but failed to purge from Wikipedia reports that Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev possibly broke the law over the weekend by attending United Russia’s annual congress.
Based on the edit history for Kolokoltsev’s Russian-language Wikipedia page, users first added information about the interior minister’s political party activity on December 9 at 2:17 p.m., Moscow time. The next day at 6:09 a.m., according to the Twitter bot @RuGovEdits (which monitors anonymous edits on Wikipedia from IP addresses owned by the Russian government), someone using an MVD IP address deleted this entire section from Kolokoltsev’s page. Three minutes later, the same anonymous user added a discussion note arguing that Kolokoltsev’s attendance doesn't violate any laws. One minute later, a Wikipedia bot undid the deletion automatically, citing nonconstructive edits. The Interior Ministry Internet user then tried the whole thing a second time, leading to identical results.
At the time of this writing, Kolokoltsev’s Wikipedia page still has a special section devoted to his attendance of United Russia’s annual congress. The text notes that human rights lawyer Pavel Chikov believes Kolokoltsev’s presence at the event violates articles 25 and 26 of Russia’s federal police law (which prohibits police personnel from participating in the actions of political parties). The Wikipedia text also summarizes statements from the MVD’s spokesperson and United Russia’s party leadership, who argue that Kolokoltsev was only a guest and not a participant, and therefore broke no laws.
Last month, Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) launched an investigation into food purchases at inflated prices by the National Guard, sources tell the magazine RBC. The Federal Security Service (FSB) apparently told FAS about the possible violations this May, recommending an audit of the company “Friendship of the Peoples,” the National Guard’s sole supplier of food products.
The FSB reportedly believes the company and its subcontractors illegally raised its prices on sausages and hot dogs by 3.4 million rubles ($51,300) in a procurement contract worth 8 million rubles ($120,720). The Russian Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office is also investigating the Friendship of the Peoples company, but sources say the audit won’t be complete before the contract is fulfilled (and it’s currently about halfway done).
In August, Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation published an investigative report making similar allegations against the National Guard and its only food-products supplier. Navalny’s group also says the Friendship of the Peoples company belongs to someone with close ties to Viktor Zolotov, the head of the National Guard. Zolotov famously challenged Navalny to a fistfight afterwards. Navalny counter-offered to debate him on live television, but Zolotov refused.
In early November, Sverdlovsk Regional Youth Policy Department Director Olga Glatskikh fielded a question about insufficient public funding for children’s projects, telling a room of women that the government owes parents nothing. “The state didn’t ask you to have kids,” Glatskikh said.
A month later, not only has she been removed from her top spot at Sverdlovsk’s Regional Youth Policy Department, but the department itself no longer exists. On December 10, the region’s governor issued an executive order restructuring the agency into the Education and Youth Policy Ministry. It’s unknown if Glatskikh will be invited back to this new agency, but the governor’s office has said the restructuring is intended to reduce staff and raise the “qualifications and responsibility” of personnel who aren’t toast.
The Federal Investigative Committee’s Military Investigations Department in Penza has reopened the case against FSB investigator Valery Tokarev, who is accused of torturing one of the suspects in the supposedly terrorist “Network” group. The group comprised several leftist activists in Penza and St. Petersburg. According to federal agents, members plotted terrorist attacks ahead of the 2018 presidential election and FIFA World Cup. Four suspects say they were tortured into signing confessions.