Publications By Category

Publications By Type


In-House Bulletins


Policy Papers


Russia Reform Monitor - No. 2139

Russian culture... and political mobilization;
A scandal even Kadyrov can't hide

Edited by Amanda Azinheira, Tyler Russell and Philip Decker
June 23, 2017

May 23:

Russia's official Investigative Committee has authorized the search of Moscow's Gogol Center and the apartment of art director Kirill Serebrennikov without a court-issued warrant. The search is ostensibly part of an investigation into a 2015 fraud case involving the Platforma project, a contemporary music, dance, theater and media exhibition. The Committee claims it is looking into the misallocation of the 66.5 million rubles in funds provided to the effort by Moscow's Department of Culture. Russian law,
the Meduza news portal reports, permits such a warrantless search, if it's deemed necessary by investigators.

May 24:

Russia's Duma has passed legislation abolishing the use of absentee ballots in elections. Instead, citizens will be able to vote anywhere outside of their resident areas without registering, as long as they show up in person and provide a passport. The new legislation also increases the fine for issuing more than one ballot. Officials hope the new bill will increase voter confidence, and therefore voter turnout, in the country's upcoming elections,
according to the state-run Kommersant newspaper.

May 25:

The Moscow Times reports that Dmitry Popkov, a journalist and the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Ton-M in Minusinsk, Russia, was shot to death in a bath house near his home. In the past, state officials targeted Popkov - an outspoken anti-corruption crusader - on various grounds, accusing him of child abuse in 2012 and authorizing raids of his property on multiple occasions. Popkov's death follows the April murder of journalist Nikolai Andrushchenko and the arrests of three other reporters over the past six months.

May 26:

Has Kadyrov finally crossed the line? The Kremlin has authorized a formal investigation into reports of the torture, incarceration and killing of gay men taking place in the Russian republic of Chechnya, which is governed by Kremlin-approved strongman Ramzan Kadyrov. Kadyrov's draconian rule - involving widespread abuses of human rights, strict imposition of elements of Islamic law, and rampant lawlessness - has long been tolerated by Moscow. But the latest charges, first brought to light by the independent Novaya Gazeta but since amplified by foreign media, appeared to have spurred the Kremlin to action,
the Christian Science Monitor reports.

For his part, Kadyrov has pledged to cooperate with the investigation. However, the Chechen leader has rejected all charges as baseless, on the grounds that homosexuals simply don't exist in the Russian republic. "Chechen society does not have this phenomenon called non-traditional sexual orientation. For thousands of years the people have lived by other rules, prescribed by God," he has told Russian media.

According to Itar-TASS, Russia is increasing spending on military operations abroad by more than 500 million rubles (approximately $8.3 million). The state-run news agency repots that the increased spending will be used on the "deployment of army units [Russian military bases] on the territory of foreign states" as part of an updated budget put forth by Russia's Defense Ministry.

May 27:

Another protest has erupted in Moscow, adding to the growing list of anti-government demonstrations that have taken place in Russia. This time, protests took place outside the Gogol Center Theater after officials raided the theater and the home of its director, Kirill Serebrennikov. Serebrennikov had been accused of involvement in an embezzlement scheme that siphoned off $3.5 million in government funding. He is no longer considered a suspect in the case, however. Supporters of the theater believe the raids were meant to push Serebrennikov out of the theater, which has often had conflicts with conservative activists,
reports the Washington Post.

Related Categories: Russia; Russia and Eurasia Program; Ukraine

Downloadable Files: N/A