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The Real Russia. Today. CSTO troops begin withdrawal from Kazakhstan

Source: Meduza

Thursday, January 13, 2022

  • International: CSTO troops start to leave Kazakhstan, OSCE talks don’t go Russia’s way, Moscow awaits written responses from U.S. and NATO, and a forthcoming Navalny documentary
  • Public policy: The scoop on Russia’s ‘non-citizen passports,’ QR codes for public places may be postponed indefinitely
  • Society: (Opinion) Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan say Russia’s liberal intelligentsia has lost its connection to Ukraine


🛡️ CSTO troops to complete withdrawal from Kazakhstan by January 19 (Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu confirmed that Collective Security Treaty Organization peacekeeping forces began withdrawing from Kazakhstan today. Putin says they’ve fulfilled their task and it’s time to go home. You can read more about the mission here.)

🕊️ Russia ‘disappointed’ with the results of today’s OSCE Permanent Council meeting (Moscow’s permanent representative to the OSCE told journalists in Vienna that the talks weren’t the “substantive, in-depth discussions” Russia had expected. He also said that OSCE partners didn’t give an “adequate response” to the Kremlin’s proposed security guarantees.)

Moscow expects written responses to security demands from the U.S. and NATO within a week (According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, both Washington and NATO promised to put their “counter-proposals” down on paper. Moscow is expecting “point-by-point” responses to its proposals.)

🎥 CNN Films and HBO Max announce documentary about Navalny (This “documentary thriller” was shot during Navalny’s months-long recovery in Germany after his near-fatal poisoning in August 2020, and follows his team’s attempts to piece together the plot to assassinate him, reports Deadline.)

Public policy

🛂 Russia has started issuing ‘non-citizen passports.’ What does that mean? (2.5-min read)

On January 11, Eva Merkacheva, who sits on the Presidential Council for Human Rights, told RIA Novosti that Russia had granted its first ever “non-citizen passport” to Yakubdzhan Khakimdzhanov, a stateless person originally from Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The 53-year-old immigrated to Astrakhan at the age of five, but never received Russian citizenship. Later, Elena Burtina of the migrants’ rights organization Civic Assistance Committee clarified to Meduza that authorities in Moscow began issuing “non-citizen passports” in December 2021. Other Russian regions began issuing these identity documents even earlier, with roughly 600 people obtaining them last year.

Questions asked and answered: What is a “non-citizen”? Is this a legal term in Russia? How does a person end up stateless? Why do stateless persons need “non-citizen passports”? Why does Russia make these exceptions for stateless persons?

🤷 Draft legislation on QR-code vaccine passes for public places may not reach the State Duma floor again (Lawmaker Sergey Mironov says he has “good reason to believe” that the bill’s next reading “will be postponed indefinitely.” He attributed this to “the population’s unwillingness to accept this law.”)


😢 (Opinion) How Russia’s liberals became out of touch with Ukraine 

Center for European Policy Analysis non-resident fellows Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan write that the prospect of another Russian invasion of Ukraine has failed to provoke the degree of public outcry from Russia’s liberal intelligentsia seen in 2014–2015. Back then, Russian liberals took to the streets and to social media to voice their objections over the annexation of Crimea and to express support for Ukraine. Today, Moscow’s intelligentsia still condemn Putin’s warmongering, but they’re generally out of touch with the situation in Ukraine itself. 

According to Soldatov and Borogan, Russian liberals now feel closer to civil society in Belarus, as most connections to Ukrainian civil society have been lost over the course of the last seven years. At the same time, liberal commentators and journalists in Russia have become increasingly hesitant to write about Ukraine, supposedly for fear of being accused of insensitivity. It’s also become more difficult for Russian journalists to travel to Ukraine, and the only Ukrainian journalist accredited to work in Russia left the country earlier this month (citing safety concerns). All of this has created a dearth of information that has left Russia’s intelligentsia with little understanding of contemporary Ukrainian politics and culture. The intelligentsia in the two countries no longer look to each other “for an example or inspiration,” Soldatov and Borogan say. They fear this may be the case forever.

Yours, Meduza