The Business of Endorsing Navalny

This article was originally published on Global Voices here.

One of the mainstays of Russian politics for the last ten years has been that Russian business stays out of politics. Late last week, 37 Russian Internet-industry entrepreneurs tried to shatter that taboo, when they signed a public “social contract” endorsing [ru] Alexey Navalny’s run for mayor of Moscow. Continue reading ‘The Business of Endorsing Navalny’ »

4 Reasons Why Miriam Elder is Wrong about Putin and Gays

Over two hundred thousand people have viewed Miriam Elder’s August 1 column in BuzzFeed about how Vladimir Putin “turned against the gays” in order to save himself from political extinction. Elder argues that the Kremlin’s new anti-gay furor is a consequence of Russia’s 2011-2012 winter protests (events she witnessed firsthand in Moscow and catalogued for The Guardian), claiming that Putin’s new stand against homosexuals is a populist appeal to the country’s “heartland,” and—most importantly—an attempt to fill Russia’s post-Soviet ideological vacuum.

Read the rest of this article at Russia! magazine here.

Brutal Attack on Moscow Cop Reignites Russian Ethnic Tensions

This article was originally published on Global Voices here.

Thanks to shocking footage of a brief but brutal attack on a Moscow police officer last weekend, Russia’s capital city is again the site of ethnic tensions between native Muscovites and migrant workers. The incident took place outside a market last Saturday, July 27, 2013, when an entourage of uniformed and plainclothes police officers arrested Magomed Magomedov, a Dagestani, for the statutory rape of a 15-year-old girl. During the arrest, while non-uniformed officers held Magomedov against a van, a crowd gathered in protest, and at least two people—a man and a woman, later identified as relatives—started shoving and yelling. When uniformed police arrived and tried to detain the unruly man, the woman (his wife) set upon one of the plainclothes officers with her fists. Amidst the confusion, the man (her husband) broke free and tackled the officer, too. Police struggled ineptly for a few moments to break up the fight, as the husband and wife pummeled the downed cop with their fists and feet. Continue reading ‘Brutal Attack on Moscow Cop Reignites Russian Ethnic Tensions’ »

Russia’s Real Political Contest Isn’t in Moscow

Russia is about to witness a dramatic mayoral race in one of its biggest cities, featuring a challenger from the opposition whose local credibility as an activist and a “man of the people” make him a viable threat to the establishment’s hold on power. There are concerns that this candidate’s criminal record could disqualify him from running for office, but his supporters are confident that public pressure will compel the authorities to let him compete. In the past, this contender has gained popularity by appealing to Russians’ sense of ethnic unity, amidst criminal violence linked to racial minorities. Finally, and not insignificantly, he’s quite the fetching lad, to boot.

Read the rest of this article at Russia! magazine here.

Has Alexey Navalny Really Changed Russian Politics?

This article was originally published on Global Voices here.

Russians are waking up in a new country. Last week’s rollercoaster events—Alexey Navalny’s conviction, sentencing, arrest, and quick release, as well as a large street protest in his defense—are a watershed moment in the evolution of the Russian civil spirit. Indeed, of the Russian psyche. Yes, of all Russian politics! Continue reading ‘Has Alexey Navalny Really Changed Russian Politics?’ »

Russian Blood on the Asphalt, Armenian Hands on the Wheel

This article was originally published on Global Voices here.

It’s not every day in Russia that over a dozen people die in a single traffic collision, so when an Armenian national crashed a freight truck into a bus full of passengers last weekend, killing eighteen, it caught people’s attention. The incident was even captured on amateur dashcam video (see below). Two days after the accident, on July 15, 2013, a Moscow court sanctioned the arrest [ru] of the truck driver, 46-year-old Grachia Arutiunian, whom authorities had recently awakened from an artificially induced coma, which doctors decided was unnecessary, after determining that his injuries (while significant) were not life-threatening. The Armenian driver stands accused of negligent homicide and faces up to seven years in prison. Continue reading ‘Russian Blood on the Asphalt, Armenian Hands on the Wheel’ »

Crooks, Thieves, and the Independent Mayors Who Run Russia

This article was originally published on Global Voices here.

The mayor of Yaroslavl and several of his colleagues will spend the next two months behind bars on extortion charges. Evgeny Urlashov, a former United Russia member who ran as an opposition-friendly independent, won the mayor’s seat roughly a year ago in a highly publicized election that seemed to mark a highpoint in the 2011-2012-winter protest movement. In the midnight hours, earlier this week on July 3, 2013, federal investigators arrested Urlashov and searched his home [ru]. According to some reports, over half a million dollars [ru] was hidden in his neighbor’s apartment, though leaked scans [ru] of the police search records call into question this claim. Continue reading ‘Crooks, Thieves, and the Independent Mayors Who Run Russia’ »

The Kremlin’s Kitchen Serves Up Russia’s Free Press

This article was originally published on Global Voices here.

Novaya Gazeta, one of Russia’s oldest opposition papers, has implicated Vladimir Putin’s favorite restaurant owner, Evgeny Prigozhin, in a bizarre scheme to defame several of the country’s most prominent news publications. According to Novaya, Prigozhin’s Kremlin-connected [ru] catering company, “Concord,” has been involved in an elaborate conspiracy to plant false information in different Russian newspapers, disguised as advertisements, in order to convince the public that the news is for hire. Continue reading ‘The Kremlin’s Kitchen Serves Up Russia’s Free Press’ »