Real Russia Today

Real Russia Today is a news digest with the most important human rights news from Russia.

RUSSIA IN THE WORLD

The Russian Laundromat

Three years ago, OCCRP exposed the “Russian Laundromat” - an immense financial fraud scheme that enabled vast sums to be pumped out of Russia. The money was laundered and moved into Europe and beyond through bribery and a clever exploitation of the Moldovan legal system … "The Russian Laundromat Exposed" - a new project which reveals far more about how the scheme worked and where the money went. The stories [in the link] explain how more than $20.8 billion was taken out of Russia and laundered, who got the money, and why some of the world’s largest banks failed to shut the scheme down.

Document: Russia uses rigged polls, fake news to sway foreign elections

In the run-up to presidential elections in Bulgaria last year, the country’s opposition Socialist Party received a secret strategy document proposing a road map to victory at the ballot box, according to five current or former Bulgarian officials. Among its recommendations: plant fake news and promote exaggerated polling data. The source of the roughly 30-page dossier, intercepted by Bulgaria’s security service, was a think tank connected to the Kremlin, according to the officials. It was delivered by a former Russian spy on a U.S. sanctions list, three of them said.

Brazen murder in Kiev chills Russian dissidents in Ukraine

Voronenkov, a former Russian parliamentarian and Kremlin loyalist, had fled to Ukraine in October 2016 after losing his bid for re-election and being named in connection with a large-scale property fraud case. Under increasing pressure from Russian investigators and with his parliamentary immunity about to expire, Voronenkov left the country, quickly becoming a vocal — and unexpected — critic of President Vladimir Putin.

A Ukrainian filmmaker imprisoned in Russia just won a Freedom to Write Award

The filmmaker vociferously denied the charges and said he was tortured in prison; he had the bruises to prove it. But investigators dismissed the marks as the the result of a supposed penchant for sadomasochistic sex. The main witness recanted his claims in the courtroom, telling onlookers that evidence was extracted under torture.

INSIDE RUSSIA

In protests, Kremlin fears a young generation stirring

The weekend anticorruption protests that roiled Moscow and nearly 100 Russian towns clearly rattled the Kremlin, unprepared for their size and seeming spontaneity. But perhaps the biggest surprise, even to protest leaders themselves, was the youthfulness of the crowds. A previously apathetic generation of people in their teens and 20s, most of them knowing nothing but 17 years of rule by Vladimir V. Putin, was the most striking face of the demonstrations, the biggest in years.

What Russia's latest protests mean for Putin (Julia Ioffe)

Sunday’s protest was different. Unlike the rallies in Nemtsov’s memory or even the 2011-2012 protests, this one did not have a permit from the Moscow city authorities. Over the weekend, the mayor’s office warned people that protestors alone would bear the responsibility for any consequences of attending what they deemed an illegal demonstration … What was most remarkable, though, was that the protests happened not just in protest-loving Moscow, but in over 90 cities across the country.

Putin should fear a new generation of protesters (Leonid Bershidsky)

In the 2000s, the Kremlin generously financed pro-Putin youth organizations that were supposed to create "social elevators" for young people loyal to Putin, giving them visibility, access to training and financial resources. Nashi, or Our People, was the best known of the groups. In 2012, however, Vladislav Surkov, the Kremlin official responsible for setting up these organizations, fell out of favor with Putin because he'd failed to prevent the mass protests. He was moved to a job in the cabinet and stripped of responsibility for shaping the political landscape. Nashi ceased to exist almost immediately, and no project of that magnitude emerged out of its ruins. Evidently, Surkov's successors didn't consider it important to target the young: It was enough for them to control television and make sure no protest leader could operate freely. Sunday showed that was a major mistake on their part: Now, they're forced to play catch-up in a game Navalny can play better. The under-20 generation's heroes are now more likely to be opposition activists than loyalists.

First, the “teenage rebellion” is a myth … Of the 1,500 people detained then by the police in Moscow on Sunday, there were only a little over 40 protesters under the age of 18 — approximately four percent of the total … Nevertheless, Russia’s public officials have reason to be concerned about another “lost generation”. Russia’s schoolchildren really are slipping through the state’s fingers. The state is trying to monopolise everything. It’s desperate to control people’s thoughts. It imprisons citizens for reposts on social networks, and beats them over the head with television propaganda with no less zeal than a police baton charge. It comes out with absurd bans on activity on the internet. It comes into schools with “lessons on patriotism”, the Ministry of Defence’s Youth Army movement and plans to storm an exact copy of the Reichstag … But all these measures will miss their target. The television, with its endless propaganda shows, just sails straight past children — they simply don’t watch it … Take the now infamous conversation in a rural school in Bryansk between pupils and the principal, the rebellion of 10th graders in Samara region after they refused to give their teachers money for school repairs without a receipt (this is how the fight against corruption really looks), and, of course, those teenagers who came out into the streets on Sunday — they came out against lies and against injustice. Sure, they’re not yet the majority of the protesters. But they’ll come out on the streets again.

Russian teen says police threatened her for 'paid protester' confession

A teenage girl detained by police during Sunday's anti-corruption rallies has accused officers in the Russian city of Krasnodar of threatening her with criminal charges if she did not pose as a paid protester.

Anti-corruption protests take lustre off Putin’s planned coronation

While the EU and the US state department called on Russia to release the demonstrators, the Kremlin’s response has so far stopped well short of a full crackdown. Although police ransacked Mr Navalny’s office, seized all the electronic equipment and made arrests, most detainees have only been charged with misdemeanours. Nor does Mr Medvedev appear to feel threatened: he told an Instagram commenter that he spent his Sunday skiing, and added a winking emoji sticking its tongue out.

Russia protests: this time it is different

The prime minister may not be able to maintain his habitual aloofness for long, however. Sunday's events could well represent a major shift for Russian civil society that not even Bolotnaya accomplished. If we consider their potential for long-term impact, there are four ways these protests differ from previous protests in Russia.

Hear no evil, see no evil, report no evil

At the height of the Moscow protest, when police started dragging people away by the hundred, the top story on RIA’s new website read: “Freedom-Loving Cow in U.S. Escapes Cops in a Dramatic Chase” … More disturbing was the behavior of Yandex-Novosti, the country’s largest national news aggregator. Yandex, a private company, has long been under pressure from Russian authorities looking for ways to suppress unwanted coverage and promote pro-Kremlin stories.

Truck drivers in Russia continue strike against road tax

Hundreds of Russian truck drivers continued their strike for the third day, demanding the government repeal a road tax they say is onerous and ineffective.

Russia's Jehovah's Witnesses fight 'extremist' label, possible ban

"The main problem that we face now is misuse of the anti-extremism law," says Yaroslav Sivulsky, vice chairman of Russia's Presiding Committee of Jehovah's Witnesses. "In the whole world, Jehovah's Witnesses are known as peaceful, obedient, respectful citizens. We respect government, and we are politically totally neutral." Sivulsky says the accusation of extremism is based on a false understanding of the Jehovah's Witnesses' assertion that theirs is the only true religion. Prosecutors have alleged that means they are promoting "religious discord."

"And of course, it's totally wrong," Sivulsky says, "because every religion feels that they have the only true religion. This is the nature of any religion, otherwise, why are you following a false religion?"

ANALYSIS / OPINIONS

Waking Up with Sam Harris No. 69 - The Russia Connection (with Anne Applebaum)

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Anne Applebaum about Russia’s meddling in the U.S. Presidential. Anne Applebaum is a columnist for the Washington Post and a Pulitzer-prize winning historian. She is also a visiting Professor at the London School of Economics where she runs Arena, a program on disinformation and 21st century propaganda.

\We do not fact check every claim, but we do analyze each article for balance, credibility, and proper use of sources.*

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