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The Real Russia. Today. Remembering Mikhail Abramov, Alexey Venediktov's stroll down memory lane, and Dmitry Peskov's disbelief

Source: Meduza

Friday, August 23, 2019

This day in history: 30 years ago, on August 23, 1989, roughly 2 million people joined hands to form a 420-mile human chain across three Baltic states to mark the 50th anniversary of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact between the USSR and Nazi Germany. The demonstration was designed to draw global attention to independence movements in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
  • A colleague remembers Russian icon museum founder Mikhail Abramov, who died in a helicopter crash on August 20
  • Ekho Moskvy chief editor Alexey Venediktov lays out his storied career and insider insights
  • The Kremlin rejects anonymous reports by doctors that the military didn’t warn them about radiation risks after an engine-test explosion
  • More than 600 Russian scholars worldwide demand end to ‘rioting’ case against Moscow protesters

‘The entire museum community was in shock’ 🕯️

On August 20, a helicopter with Mikhail Abramov on board crashed near the Greek island of Poros. Abramov, the founder of the Museum of the Russian Icon, was “a true patron of the arts in the line of the Tretyakovs and the Shchukins,” leading ancient history scholar Alexei Lidov wrote following the crash. We asked another of Abramov’s colleagues, Svetlana Lipatova, to recount the curator and collector’s contributions to the rise of modern-day Russian museums and to the preservation of Orthodox Christian religious art. Lipatova is the assistant director of the The Central Andrey Rublev Museum of Ancient Russian Culture and Art.

Read Meduza's report here.

‘Putin could shut us down with one little finger’ 📻

On August 19, Ekho Moskvy editor-in-chief Alexey Venediktov granted a two-hour interview to Ukrainian journalist Dmitry Gordon, where the two discussed Venediktov’s storied career and various backroom insights into major political events in Russia over the past two decades. Meduza presents a summary of the exchange, broken down by subject.

Read Meduza's summary here.

‘Somebody wants to distort the truth’ ☢️

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov: I don’t know anything about this. I don’t know which doctors are in question.

Meduza: This concerns the Arkhangelsk regional hospital.

Peskov: I understand, but we need to know specifically who these doctors are. You see? We can’t discuss this case anonymously.

Meduza: And what if people are afraid of penalties, and that’s why they’re talking to journalists anonymously? 

Peskov: What kind of penalties? For medical work? That’s just stupid! You say, “according to Arkhangelsk doctors.” “Arkhangelsk doctors” is pretty abstract. Putin, meanwhile, is given concrete information based on instrument readings and on-the-ground assessments of the situation. It’s all highly professional. And there’s no reason to doubt this information. As for the opinions of these individual doctors, then of course we need to know what the opinions are and specifically whose opinions. I don’t think you have any right to ask me about what “Arkhangelsk doctors claim.”

Read Peskov's full exchange with journalists here.

More than 600 Russian scholars worldwide demand end to ‘rioting’ case against Moscow protesters

Russian scholars working in a range of countries around the world, Russia included, have published a statement demanding that charges of mass rioting against Moscow election protesters be dropped. The scientific and scholarly news portal Troitsky Variant posted the statement on August 22.

The scholars declared, “We demand that those who currently direct [Russia’s] governing apparatus cease their abuses of power, stop their political repressions, and begin adhering rigorously to the Constitution of the Russian Federation.” The statement’s signatories, who numbered more than 650 at the time of this writing, include a number of leading scholars in fields from mathematics to literary studies.

Yours, Meduza