Skip to main content
  • Share to or

The Real Russia. Today. Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Source: Meduza

Help make Meduza better: Complete this short survey to share your thoughts about our work

Like many independent media outlets, Meduza does a lot of work with very limited resources. Our English-language edition is no exception: every day, our editors decide which news stories and reported features to prioritize and which ones we have to skip. But despite this, we want to keep growing and expand our reach. That's why we're asking for your help: we’ve prepared a short, anonymous survey that will allow us to better understand who reads Meduza and why — and inform our growth strategy.

The survey is available here (and it only takes five minutes).

The war in Ukraine

⛓️ At least 28 Ukrainian journalists are in Russian captivity. Here are some of their stories. (5-min read)

At least 28 Ukrainian media workers and citizen journalists are currently imprisoned in Russia or Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine, according to a new report from Ukraine’s National Union of Journalists. Some of these reporters were arrested in occupied Crimea prior to Russia’s full-scale invasion, while others were captured in Ukrainian territories that came under occupation after February 2022. In a recent report, Novaya Gazeta Europe profiled more than a dozen Ukrainian journalists who are currently in Russian captivity.

🚀 Meduza asks military expert Yuri Fedorov to explain the consequences of NATO members permitting Ukraine to strike targets inside Russia using Western weapons

In his interview with Meduza, Fedorov argues that Kyiv could gain a serious advantage against Russia’s invasion if it can strike Russia’s reserve forces, logistics centers, and major weapons stocks near the border with Ukraine, which have been crucial in the latest offensive toward Kharkiv. Ukrainian attacks on these targets inside Russia would be possible using Western-supplied HIMARS and especially ATACMs long-range, guided missiles. In addition to damaging military facilities, sustained attacks on Russian territory would force the Kremlin to reallocate air defenses to border regions, pulling those systems away from frontline areas inside Ukraine.

Moscow has threatened to respond to this escalation by the West with its own escalation, but Fedorov says Russia is running out of non-nuclear options. He suggests that the Kremlin might resort to targeting government buildings in Kyiv, possibly even the embassies of NATO members. According to Fedorov, there are almost no Russian troops currently in Belarus, and concerns that Moscow might open a new front from this direction are unfounded. He also says the Belarusian military is not trained or equipped to join the war itself, despite two years of improvements. In the meantime, Russian troops hope to advance close enough to Kharkiv to be within barrel artillery range of the city. This assault, however, is intended largely to divert Ukrainian soldiers away from the Donetsk region, where Russia hopes to reach the region’s administrative boundary.

Asked about Ukraine’s recent drone attacks on two Russian early warning radar stations, Fedorov reasons that Kyiv was sending a “very serious warning” by signaling its capacity to damage extremely important facilities in Russia’s strategic defense network. He points out that Moscow hasn’t officially responded to the attacks on its strategic deterrence, even though they technically trigger Russia’s doctrine on the use of nuclear weapons. “This means that Russia currently lacks the political will or technical or material capabilities to implement these provisions of the nuclear doctrine,” says Fedorov, adding that he believes the United States might respond with its own nuclear attack or a “devastating non-nuclear response” against Russian military targets, possibly even on Russian soil, he claims. Fedorov acknowledges that Moscow views Western consent to the use of its weapons for attacks inside Russian territory as NATO’s direct involvement in the war, but he says his own opinion is that this new weapons policy will strengthen the Ukrainian military, thereby reducing the need for more direct Western intervention.

We got The Beet. Don’t miss Meduza’s weekly newsletter (separate from the one you’re reading here)!

🧠 Experts interpret Alexey Dyumin’s appointment as State Council secretary

Vladimir Putin has appointed former Tula Governor Alexey Dyumin secretary of Russia’s State Council, an advisory body to the president that analysts have said could become Putin’s post-Kremlin landing ground if he ever steps down from elected office. Dyumin, Putin’s former chief security guard, will serve in the State Council and simultaneously in his new role as a presidential adviser. Journalists at Agentstvo Media spoke to several political experts about Dyumin joining the State Council. 

Alexander Kynev and Ekaterina Schulmann argued that the appointment is likely Putin’s attempt to add “checks and balances” by strengthening a rival to the National Security Council, thereby preserving his indispensability as an arbiter of elite politics. According to Alexander Morozov, the State Council’s functions remain “vague,” and Putin uses it to “retrain” former governors for other government tasks. Dmitry Oreshkin agreed that the State Council currently wields underwhelming influence, but he said Dyumin’s appointment as its secretary could make it a “launching pad” for a future career in higher-level politics if he manages to make something of the State Council in contrast to the National Security Council, which has weakened under diminished figures like Dmitry Medvedev and now Sergey Shoigu, reasoned Oreshkin.

💰 The fine print of Russia’s proposed tax hikes on personal income and corporate profits (8-min read)

Russia’s Finance Ministry has submitted legislation that would reintroduce progressive taxes on personal income. The progressive scale would begin with annual incomes exceeding 2.4 million rubles ($27,100). Journalists at The Bell break down how the proposed tax hikes will draw most of their funds (more than 2 trillion of 2.6 trillion rubles in total) from higher corporate taxes. The main revenue will come from increasing the corporate tax rate from 20 to 25 percent, but the ministry’s plan also features several “innovations.” Journalists at The Bell highlighted five of these changes, while Meduza’s Margarita Lyutova also explored seven aspects of the proposed reforms.

Meduza’s summary tackles the following insights:

  • IT companies will lose some perks
  • Personal income taxes on ‘CFCs’ will rise for many
  • It’s a mixed bag for small businesses
  • Higher mineral extraction taxes
  • Ditching fixed tariffs for larger property rights
  • Loopholes for progressive income taxes
  • Corporate profits and fair value capitalization will fall
  • The proposal has only a short window for revisions
  • The additional tax revenue generated by these reforms will be nothing to shake a stick at
  • It’s unclear how the federal and regional governments will share the new tax revenue
  • It’s unclear if these tax reforms will alleviate income inequality as promised
  • It’s also unclear how the Finance Ministry determined that its higher personal income tax rates will affect only 2 million Russians

🪦 Honoring Prigozhin

A monument has been erected in honor of Yevgeny Prigozhin in St. Petersburg at Porokhovskoye Cemetery, where the late mercenary leader and one-time insurrectionist is buried. The installation features a granite obelisk bearing Prigozhin’s name, the dates of his birth and death, and the symbol of his private military company, Wagner Group. There’s also a life-size bronze statue of Prigozhin depicting him with a three-star insignia on his chest. (In late June 2023, Prigozhin led Wagner Group on a brief but shocking mutiny against the Russian military after months of public disputes with the Defense Ministry over weapons and ammunition supply issues. He died in a plane crash on August 23, 2023, and was buried at Porokhovskoye Cemetery on August 29.)

No country can be free without independent media. In January 2023, the Russian authorities outlawed Meduza, banning our work in the country our colleagues call home. Just supporting Meduza carries the risk of criminal prosecution for Russian nationals, which is why we’re turning to our international audience for help. Your assistance makes it possible for thousands of people in Russia to read Meduza and stay informed. Consider a small but recurring contribution to provide the most effective support. Donate here.

  • Share to or