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The Real Russia. Today. Monday, April 22, 2024

Source: Meduza

Russian politics

  • 🧠 Time to revisit Kant, that ole Russian war trophy: In remarks on Immanuel Kant’s 300th birthday, Kaliningrad Governor Anton Alikhanov said the German philosopher’s legacy must be “revisited” in light of attempts by Russia’s enemies “to hide behind Kant's legacy.” Alikhanov also described Kant as a “Russian trophy, like everything you see in the Kaliningrad region,” referring to the USSR’s capture of the region in WWII. In February, Alikhanov told a group of political strategists that Kantian philosophy is directly related to the “global chaos” and “global reorganization” now facing Russia.
  • 🚨 Official calls for investigation into torture allegations from Russia’s worst prisoners: The country’s human rights commissioner has asked the Prosecutor General to investigate a report from Presidential Human Rights Council member Eva Merhacheva claiming that guards at “Black Dolphin Prison” are torturing inmates. Merhacheva says she forwarded information received from inmates’ relatives to Commissioner Tatiana Moskalkova and federal prosecutors and investigators. The allegations describe painful stress-positions, beatings, and electrocutions. “Black Dolphin” houses roughly 700 of Russia’s worst prisoners, all sentenced to life for various violent crimes.
  • 🚨 Heels dug in over Chechen official’s DUI: Regional police officials have confirmed that the head of Chechnya’s Emergency Management Agency attacked arresting officers when he was pulled over for drunk driving on April 14 on a highway between Chechnya and Dagestan. Ramzan Kadyrov has defended Alikhan Tsakaev, claiming that he is being framed for a DUI. The Chechnya governor has called on the head of Dagestan to dismiss the case, but Governor Sergey Melikov has vowed to defend his own republic’s police force.
  • ☢️ Activists fear uranium leak during flooding: Environmentalists warn that satellite images indicate that recent flooding in Russia’s Kurgan region spilled into the uranium mining wells of a Rosatom subsidiary, potentially releasing a radioactive uranium solution into the Tobol River and creating possible health risks for local residents. According to spokespeople for Rosatom, however, the flooding did not affect its Dobrovolnoye uranium deposit. Journalists at Agentstvo spoke to activists who could not agree if the rising waters reached active mines.

🩺 Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov reportedly suffering from pancreatic necrosis (3-min read)

Chechnya Governor Ramzan Kadyrov is suffering from pancreatic necrosis, a condition that entails part of the pancreas dying, Novaya Gazeta Europe reported on Monday. The outlet says the Russian authorities have conducted a “PR campaign” to divert attention from Kadyrov’s health problems and that the scandal sparked by a video of Kadyrov’s teenage son beating up a prisoner in September 2023 was part of this effort. Now, according to the report, the Kremlin is preparing for the worst-case scenario by searching for a successor. 

  • Following Novaya Gazeta’s report, Ramzan Kadyrov’s Telegram channel released its first video in five days, sharing a four-minute clip showing Kadyrov meeting with his cabinet to the region’s role in the invasion of Ukraine. In the heavily edited footage, Kadyrov’s speech is slurred, he barely moves, and he appears to be looking into empty space while talking.

Russia is turning to people with disabilities to fill its labor shortage. But deep-seated accessibility issues are undermining its efforts. (8-min read)

Since the start of the full-scale war in Ukraine, over 300,000 Russian men have been pulled out of the workforce and sent to fight. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of people have fled Russia out of fear they could be mobilized or face repression. All this has created a historic labor shortage — one the authorities are looking to fill in any way possible, lest the fragile wartime economy reach a tipping point. One potential untapped source of labor is the disability community. Russians with disabilities have long faced discrimination and a lack of accommodations in the workplace. With a shortage of qualified workers, employers are becoming more open to the idea of hiring people with disabilities. However, this doesn’t mean that companies truly understand what that entails or are willing to accommodate people’s needs. The independent outlet Verstka looked at the numbers and talked to job seekers with disabilities to find out how the situation has really changed. 

The war in Ukraine

  • 🛂 Ukraine’s consular crackdown: Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry has reportedly ordered all consulates of the country to suspend virtually all services offered to men between the ages of 18 and 60, pending clarification from the government on the provisions of a law expanding mobilization that enters into force next month. Effective April 24, the only consular service available to men in the age group will be the preparation of documents for returning to Ukraine, according to a letter sent from First Deputy Foreign Minister Andrii Sybiha‎. At the time of this writing, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry has neither confirmed nor denied the report.
  • 📺 Kharkiv TV tower cracked in two by missile: A Russian airstrike in Kharkiv destroyed a major television tower, disrupting the city’s digital TV signal. No one was reportedly injured in the attack. Russia’s state media claims that the Ukrainian military had installed air-defense communications on the tower.

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Law, order, and political freedom

  • ⚖️ Five years of penal labor for serving up some vox pop: Moscow man convicted of spreading ‘disinformation’ in street interview with RFE/RL
  • ⚖️ Meta’s hate-speech allowances result in prison sentence for spokesman: A military court in Russia sentenced Meta communications head Andy Stone (in absentia) to six years in prison for supposedly “justifying terrorism online” in a March 2022 tweet where he explained that Facebook and Instagram would begin allowing violent speech aimed at Russian combatants in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine. Less than two weeks after Stone’s announcement, a Moscow court declared Meta to be an illegal “extremist organization.” \
  • 🏳️‍🌈 Too gay for the printed page: AST, one of Russia’s biggest book publishers, says it will stop selling several books by Vladimir Sorokin, Michael Cunningham, and James Baldwin after an “expert review” found that the work in question violates Russia’s expanded ban on “gay propaganda.” The books getting the axe: Sorokin’s Heritage, Cunningham’s A Home at the End of the World, and Baldwin’s Giovanni's Room.

As the world turns

  • 🇩🇪 German firm to abandon Russian subsidiary with 4,000 employees: The German construction materials company Knauf said in a press release on Monday that it plans to transfer its Russian business to local managers. According to spokespeople, the deal would require the Russian government's approval. Journalists recently reported that Knauf and other German companies are involved in the reconstruction of Mariupol, which Russian troops virtually destroyed in 2022. Moscow has made it a major propaganda priority to rebuild the occupied city. Later on Monday, the German media reported that German prosecutors are conducting a preliminary review of Knauf and WKB Systems for their reported involvement in occupied Mariupol’s reconstruction — a potential violation of Western sanctions against Russia.
  • 📺 TV Rain gets a new CEO: Former CEO Mark Ten is taking over Natalia Sindeeva’s duties as CEO of the exiled independent television network Dozhd, Sindeeva announced on Monday during a fundraising telethon. “It’s clear that Dozhd at some point had to transform from a family business into a company with a normal business process,” she explained. While Ten will become one of the network’s co-owners, Sindeeva will remain Dozhd’s majority shareholder and chair its board of directors.
  • 🇺🇸 What it took to convince Trump to stand aside: The Wall Street Journal reports that Donald Trump “didn’t sink Mike Johnson’s Ukraine-aid bill” because “some strategic outreach by Republican senators, a high-profile visit by Johnson, and a small but politically significant change to the package” convinced the former president to clear the way. The “key change” in the House bill was making $9.5 billion in economic aid into forgivable loans, not grants, which embraces Trump’s “transactional approach” to foreign policy.

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