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The Real Russia. Today. Meduza interviews a high-ranking legislator in Ingushetia, journalists tie Prigozhin to Madagascar’s presidential race, and what you should know about the ‘Set’ case

Meduza

Monday, April 8, 2019

This day in history: Russian accountant Sergey Magnitsky would have turned 47 years old today, April 8. Magnitsky died in a Russian prison on November 16, 2009, at the age of 37, after uncovering a vast tax-theft scheme that he said was sanctioned and executed by Russian officials.
  • Meduza interviews a high-ranking legislator in Ingushetia, where unusually persistent protests have broken new ground in Russian civil dissent
  • Journalists say Russian political strategists funded and advised at least six candidates in Madagascar’s 2018 presidential race
  • What you should know about Russia’s counter-terrorism case against leftist activists
  • Russian prosecutors blame mass cancellations of pop and rap concerts on concert organizers themselves
  • Moscow court frees stage director Kirill Serebrennikov from house arrest
  • Head of Russia’s Khakassian Republic files new lawsuit against Rosneft spokesman
  • 35 Russian regions reportedly decline to purchase antiretroviral drugs for HIV patients
  • Former Lithuanian ambassador to Russia arrested on allegations of helping Russian banker get Schengen visa

“It's very difficult to make a decision for the entire nation”

Mass protests have been ongoing in the North Caucasian republic of Ingushetia since the fall of 2018. At first, residents of the Russian federal subject were protesting a land trade that would shift some Ingush territories to the neighboring republic of Chechnya. When the Ingush parliament began considering a law that would repeal the region’s current referendum requirement for territorial changes, protesters shifted their attention to that amendment. In April, authorities began searching and arresting opposition leaders in Ingushetia, the local Internal Affairs Ministry leader resigned, and government officials stopped speaking with journalists. However, Meduza was able to speak with a vice speaker of the People’s Assembly of Ingushetia, Vasily Svetlichny. He told us that avoiding bloodshed and pursuing diplomacy are both very important but that he believes the protests were provoked externally, not that they emerged from a grassroots effort.

Read Meduza's interview here: Meduza interviews a high-ranking legislator in Ingushetia, where unusually persistent protests have broken new ground in Russian civil dissent”

Eat your heart out, U.S. RussiaGate 🗳️

This January, Madagascar inaugurated President Andry Rajoelina, who defeated 35 rivals in two rounds of voting. According to a new report by the BBC Russian Service, at least six of those candidates — possibly including Rajoelina — received campaign financing from Russia. BBC investigative journalists discovered that a large number of Russian political experts were involved in Madagascar’s 2018 presidential elections. The British news outlet doesn’t specify how many Russian consultants were active, but a report last month by the website Proekt cited a source who claims there were 15 to 20 strategists on the job.

Read Meduza's full summary here: “Journalists say Russian political strategists funded and advised at least six candidates in Madagascar’s 2018 presidential race”

Terrorists or terrorized? ⚖️

A court in St. Petersburg has begun reviewing the merits of a felony case that involves 11 left-wing activists from St. Petersburg and Penza, who are accused of plotting to overthrow the government by staging multiple terrorist attacks. One of the two antifascist suspects on trial in St. Petersburg has confessed to the charges, though his relatives say he only did so after repeated beatings in jail. The second defendant, meanwhile, maintains his innocence. Meduza reviews what we know about the hearings.

Read Meduza's report here: “What you should know about Russia’s counter-terrorism case against leftist activists”

“No reactive measures were taken” 🎤

At the end of 2018, official pressure led to the cancellation of more than 40 concerts throughout Russia. A handful of acts appeared to be targeted disproportionately, especially the pop groups IC3PEAK and Friendzone along with the rappers Husky and Eldzhey. Although government involvement played a key role in that wave of suppression, Russia’s youth parliament, which is tied to the State Duma, took the administrative initiative to ask regional prosecutors for reports explaining the causes of the cancellations.

Read Meduza's report here: “‘No reactive measures were taken’: Russian prosecutors blame mass cancellations of pop and rap concerts on concert organizers themselves”

News briefs

  • 🎭 Moscow’s City Court has freed three defendants in the “Seventh Studio” case from house arrest, releasing them on their own recognizance, overturning an April 2 ruling by the Meshchansky District Court that extended the suspects’ arrests until July 2019. The new ruling applies to stage director Kirill Serebrennikov, Russian Academic Youth Theater director Sofia Apfelbaum, and former Seventh Studio theater company general director Yuri Itin. Serebrennikov, the most famous of the three, had been under house arrest since August 2017. Read the full story here.
  • 🤬 Valentin Konovalov, the head of Russia’s Khakassian Republic, has filed a defamation lawsuit against Mikhail Leontiev, the spokesman for the Russian state oil company Rosneft. What's the beef between these two? Read the full story here.
  • 💊 Dozens of Russian regions have decreased their participation in purchase programs for antiretroviral therapy (ART) medications for people living with HIV. In 2018, 35 out of 85 regions declined to purchase ART drugs, Kommersant reported based on research conducted by the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition. In 2017, 21 regions did not purchase their own medications for HIV treatment. Read the full story here.
  • 🚨 Lithuania’s Special Investigation Service has arrested Rimantas Šidlauskas, the country’s former ambassador to the Russian Federation. The Lithuanian news outlet Delfi reported that the diplomat is suspected of “influence trading”: law enforcement agents believe that he promised to acquire a Schengen Zone visa for a Russian citizen in exchange for that individual’s efforts to “influence a particular group of people.” Read the full story here.

Yours, Meduza