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The Real Russia. Today. Maria Baronova takes a job at ‘RT,’ a Russian YouTuber leaves his comfort zone to talk pension reform, and Dmitry Kiselyov screws over his nephew

Source: Meduza

Thursday, February 28, 2019

This day in history: 93 years ago today, on February 28, 1926, Svetlana Alliluyeva was born in Moscow. The youngest child and only daughter of Joseph Stalin and Nadezhda Alliluyeva, Stalin's second wife, Svetlana defected to the U.S. in 1967 and adopted the name Lana Peters. In 2011, she died in Wisconsin at the age of 85.
  • Known for her colorful anti-Kremlin activism, Maria Baronova explains why she just took a job with ‘Russia Today’
  • A Russian YouTuber tries his hand at analyzing the country’s pension reforms
  • German court hands down prison sentence to pro-Kremlin TV pundit's nephew after he claimed in an interview that he fought with separatists in eastern Ukraine
  • Investigators open second criminal case following dysentery outbreak at schools catered by Prigozhin-linked business

She just wants to serve her country 🙏

Maria Baronova, known for her past activism as an anti-Kremlin oppositionist, has accepted a new job at RT, the state media outlet formerly known as Russia Today. Baronova, who previously served as an aide to State Duma deputy Ilya Ponomarev and supervised former-oil-tycoon-turned-dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s human rights movement “Open Russia,” is now a managing editor at RT’s Russian-language edition, where she will head up a new charity project, the name of which borrows from a famous Soviet rock song that translates roughly to “We’ll Take It From Here.” RT says the initiative will exist on social media and messenger platforms. Meduza special correspondent Ilya Zhegulev spoke to Baronova to learn more about her plans at RT, and to find out how one of the most visible activists of Moscow’s 2011–2012 street protests came to work at a state propaganda outlet. Zhegulev also asked if Baronova has changed her views on Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Vladimir Putin.

Read Meduza's interview here: “Known for her colorful anti-Kremlin activism, Maria Baronova explains why she just took a job with Russia Today

Damn you, math 🧓

The Russian YouTube personality BadComedian recently reviewed a film starring the rapper Basta. The online critic, who typically confines himself to trashing films on the grounds of their own quality, spent the final third of this particular 45-minute review criticizing Basta for his politics. The rapper has publicly supported the Russian government’s pension reform proposal, which includes an unpopular increase in the country’s retirement age. Like Russia’s political leaders and federal TV anchors, Basta has framed the reforms as a difficult but necessary measure, telling those who disagree to “find themselves an economics textbook and a calculator.” BadComedian took up the challenge and tried to use statistics to prove that pension reform was unnecessary. The next day, Basta gave in to the YouTuber’s position and apologized for his political advocacy. However, there are serious flaws in BadComedian’s economic analysis. Meduza asked Maxim Buyev, an economist and leading administrator at Russia’s New Economic School, to analyze the video blogger’s misconceptions and explain why Russia’s pension system really does face a series of slow-acting but serious problems.

Read Meduza's report here: “A Russian YouTuber tries his hand at analyzing the country’s pension reforms”

Thanks a lot, Uncle ⚖️

A court in Munich has convicted Sergey Kiselyov (the nephew of pro-Kremlin TV pundit Dmitry Kiselyov) of undergoing military training in St. Petersburg in August 2014 and planning to join separatist combat operations in eastern Ukraine, and sentenced him to two years and three months in prison. Sergey Kiselyov was found guilty of threatening state security and illegally possessing weapons — crimes punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

According to the Russian television network RTVI, the judge in the case said the prosecution failed to prove definitively that Kiselyov underwent training to fight in Ukraine, though the photographic and video evidence suggests as much. Kiselyov admits that he was waiting to be sent to the Donbass, but he denies any paramilitary training. Kiselyov says he did eventually go to eastern Ukraine, but he insists that he never killed anyone. If German officials later decide to prosecute him for direct combat operations, the case would go to federal court.

The criminal case was launched in Germany after Sergey’s uncle, Russian TV star Dmitry Kiselyov, mentioned in an interview in 2016, that his nephew from Germany was fighting in eastern Ukraine. Police in Bulgaria arrested Sergey in 2018 at the request of the German government.

You had one job, Zhenya 🥫

Russia’s Federal Investigative Committee has opened a second criminal case in response to an outbreak of dysentery in Moscow caused by contaminated food supplied to local schools, according to the news agency Interfax. A source says the new investigation was launched after 67 teachers and students at seven different schools in the city’s Eastern Administrative Okrug suddenly fell ill. The victims consumed meals prepared from food supplied by the “Vito-1” company. An inspection reportedly found that the business violates multiple sanitary regulations.

Previously, Anti-Corruption Foundation activist Lyubov Sobol reported that investigators opened a criminal case against Vito-1 after a mass outbreak of dysentery at kindergartens in Moscow’s South-Eastern Administrative Okrug. The kindergartens received their food from the Concord company, which is owned by catering magnate Evgeny Prigozhin, who is notorious for his close ties to Vladimir Putin and billions of dollars in state procurement deals. Journalists have also linked Vito-1 to Prigozhin.

The outbreak of dysentery occurred in December 2018 at schools and kindergartens throughout Moscow. Concord denies any wrongdoing, but Prigozhin has nevertheless stated his readiness to offer financial assistance to the victims.

Zone out: Sitting in court today, where a Moscow judge refused to remove American investment manager Michael Calvey from pretrial detention, Financial Times correspondent Max Seddon tweeted, “One of the reporters near me is already writing a ‘Calvey held without bail’ story.’” This was before the no-bail decision had been reached.

Yours, Meduza