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The Real Russia. Today.

Chechen police reportedly killed a Russian National Guardsman in their crackdown on gays; Putin’s “favorite chef” has a whole cartel winning defense deals; and police brutality is sadly commonplace.

Story of the day:

Chechen security forces have reportedly killed a Russian National Guardsman detained in the republic’s crackdown on gay men. The newspaper Novaya Gazeta says unnamed sources claim the trooper was killed along with two other men suspected of being gay, including one ethnically Russian man from the city of Izhevsk. Russia’s National Guard later released a press statement denying Novaya Gazeta’s report. Story in English

Context:

  • On April 1, Novaya Gazeta reported that Chechen security forces rounded up more than 100 suspected gay men in February and March, detaining and torturing them in secret prisons, forcing them to denounce other gay men. Independent reports by Radio Liberty, Meduza, and The Guardian confirm these allegations. Chechen authorities, however, have denied the charges, insisting that gay people do not exist in Chechnya, and accusing Novaya Gazeta of libel.
  • Meeting with President Putin on April 19, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said the reports were “provocative” and denied any mass crackdown. An organization called the Russian LGBT Network, however, says it’s helped at least 40 gay men flee Chechnya, some of whom have resettled abroad as political refugees.

By the way: Ramzan Kadyrov has 12 preadolescent children, two of whom boosted their 2016 incomes by 50 times against the previous year. In 2015, they each earned 200,000 rubles (about $3,500). In 2016, they each pulled down a whopping 10 million rubles ($176,000) — just $24,000 short of the $200,000 their father says he earned that year. Their income declarations do not indicate the source of this money making. Story in Russian

Also in the news:

  • Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation published its latest investigative work on Friday, revealing what it says is a cartel of businesses owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin and contracted by the Defense Ministry. Widely known as “Vladimir Putin’s favorite chef,” Prigozhin is a billionaire restaurateur with a history of catering to St. Petersburg’s elites and winning lucrative federal procurement deals. According to Navalny’s report, Prigozhin’s cartel has won more than 23 billion rubles ($405 million) in defense contracts. Story in English
  • For the Record: Evgeny Prigozhin, known as “the Kremlin’s caterer,” has an impressive biography. He spent nine years in prison, then opened St. Petersburg’s most elite restaurant (where Putin likes to entertain foreign dignitaries and celebrate his birthday), and is the winner of several enormously lucrative federal contracts. Prigozhin is also implicated in launching Russia’s infamous “troll factories,” which reportedly operate to flood the Internet with pro-Kremlin and anti-Western rhetoric on social media. A firm he allegedly owns in St. Petersburg reportedly hires Russians to post pro-government comments and memes on social media and Internet forums in 12-hour shifts. Prigozhin has also filed 15 different lawsuits against the Internet search engine Yandex, trying to utilize Russia’s now codified “right to be forgotten,” demanding that Yandex purge search results for his name that link to information he says damages his reputation. See Meduza’s detailed profile in English, published on June 13, 2016.
  • Russia’s National Guard is planning to train IT experts and specialists to monitor social networks, according to the first deputy commander of the National Guard, Sergei Melikov, who says more online monitoring will help prevent attacks, like one in Chechnya this March, when six soldiers were killed in an overnight raid by insurgents. Story in English

Figure of the day:

  • Almost a quarter of Russians have witnessed or experienced beatings carried out by police or medical staff.

Some 22 percent of people say they’ve seen police attacks firsthand, and 12.3 percent say they’ve personally experienced police brutality, according to a new survey carried out by the human rights organization "Public Verdict" and Moscow's Metodicheskaya Laboratoriya Foundation. Another 28.6 percent of Russians say their friends and relatives have witnessed brutality by police or medical staff. Data in Russian

Yours, Meduza