Stories from RuNet Echo from January, 2013
As if Russia's liberals were not already outraged enough about a proposed federal law banning "homosexual propaganda", the firing of an activist school teacher protesting this law has sparked a fresh wave of online indignation.
On the morning of January 17, Russian political refugee Alexander Dolmatov was found having hanged himself in a solitary cell of a Dutch deportation center. Dolmatov left Russia last summer, believing himself to be under observation by Russian security forces and in danger of arrest for participation in a May 6, 2012, Moscow rally that turned violent.
The Russian parliament's effort to defend the nation's children continues. In the last year, Duma deputies have labored feverishly to shield Russia's youth from child pornography and online enticements to drug use and suicide, and—more recently—they passed a law to put an end to the scourge of American adoptions of Russian orphans. Law-makers have now zeroed in on the next heinous threat: "homosexual propaganda."
Just Russia has always been a conflicted political entity. Nominally, it's a social-justice-oriented opposition party with members in the Russian parliament. During the past year, Just Russia has gained a reputation for rebelliousness, after several of its high profile members began moonlighting as leaders of the unofficial opposition. The party's leadership is now demanding an end to the rebellion.
Roughly 90% of Russian gas production originates in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, located in the northwestern corner of Siberia. In recent months, bloggers and Russian netizens have reacted to the latest in a series of changes to internal migration laws inside YaNAO that make it difficult for non-residents even to pass through the region.
In the days immediately following Kabanov's arrest Russian netizens experienced a rare period of introspection, liberally sprinkled with conspiracy theories.
No Russian opposition rally is truly over, it seems, until there has been an Internet flame war over the strength of its attendance. After the last protest march three groups have used independent approaches to produce a realistic headcount.
Humor is sometimes the only way to deal with a tragedy like the one that struck Russian Facebook over the weekend, when it turned out that Alexey Kabanov, chef and father of three, had allegedly strangled and dismembered his wife, Irina Cherska.
A Moscow chef, Alexey Kabanov, has allegedly strangled and dismembered his wife and mother of three small children, Irina Cherska. Kabanov and Cherska were tightly integrated into the protest-minded Russophone Facebook community.
Amid scandal and legislative controversy the RuNet is sidetracked by quirky recipes and celebrities.
The Internet, any way you slice it, is a strange place populated by strange people. In the last few weeks, the Russian Internet—often your typical den of online cliques and conspiracy theorists—has boiled over the levees of "strange" and flooded the RuNet with a new intensity of bizarre moral recriminations. In the six days since RuNet Echo first reported on this story, top blogger Rustem Adagamov's situation has developed rapidly.
For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past year: the Russian protest movement—which sprung to life in December 2011—has collapsed. Trusted demonstration speakers are selling toothpaste on TV, top bloggers are accused of pedophilia, and recent rallies have attracted smaller crowds. In other words, Russia's opposition—as it's been known throughout the Putin years—is back to usual.
St. Petersburg police have dispersed a snowball fighting flashmob in the city center. The RuNet is outraged.
On January 3, 2013, Vladimir Putin signed into law nine pieces of new legislation (mostly dealing with immigration) and one executive order to naturalize French actor Gérard Depardieu. Not shockingly, most Russian bloggers and journalists responded to the latter event, given how utterly bizarre it is indeed. In that daze, however, they missed something.
Last month, on December 18, students at the Russian State University of Trade and Economics (RSUTE) began a strike and blocked the main door of their alma mater. Controversy surrounds Sergei Baburin, the school's recently sacked chancellor, whose academic tenure overlapped with a long history of political activity.
As RuNet was preparing to celebrate the New Year, Tatyana Delsal, estranged ex-wife of popular blogger and Coordinating Council member Rustem Adagamov, has accused him of statutory rape.
Late last month, Vladimir Pozner—one of Russia's best known journalists—spoke out on his television show against the “Dima Yakovlev” law. He criticized the need for such legislation, condemning it as an unnecessary and improper retaliation against the American “Magnitsky Act.” In what caught Russian headlines and sent the RuNet buzzing, Pozner also took an uncharacteristically harsh shot at the federal parliament, quipping that it is a house of fools
While suspicions about money and sponsorship plague all Russian politics, the RuNet is a particularly contentious battleground. The rift between the oppositionist and pro-government camps is a hotbed of accusations about illicit funding, with each side desperately professing its own honesty and insisting on the other's deception.