Russia on the Ground – November 2019

Vladimir Putin at the opening of the M11 Moscow-St Petersburg highway on November 27, 2019

This resource serves to track domestic news inside Russia – focusing primarily on demographics, public opinion, economy, and major domestic political events inside Russia.

It is intended to give students who are otherwise following major issues and events within Russia greater context from which to view those issues and events. This resource lists useful but often under-reported information that can help build a pragmatic and objective view of Russia’s domestic situation.

 

Polls

Only one-third of Russians feel people’s unity
Only one in three Russians (37%) believe that there is people’s unity in Russia, while more than half of respondents (54%) have an opposite stance.

Russia’s happiest people employed in medicine, civil service
The happiest people in Russia are working in medicine, the pharmaceutical industry and civil service.

Russian Kids Are Patriotic, Apolitical and Tolerant of LGBT People
Russian schoolchildren are largely unwilling to participate in political protests but are concerned about the environment and tolerant of LGBT people.

Popularity of Russian regional governors reaches all time high
The popularity of Russia’s regional governors reached an all time high of 65% in October, only 3 percentage points behind the popularity of President Vladimir Putin.

More than half of Russians trust police
Overall, one-third of the respondents view police work in their region in a positive light.

China tops list of Russia’s most friendly countries
Among 1,600 respondents over 18 years old by telephone interview, 45 percent of those polled thought that China is a country with which Russia has established the strongest friendly relations.

Almost 70% of Russians are concerned about growth of social injustice
Russians are also worried about the risk of possible falling income, rejection or the possibility of refusals in getting free medical care, along with rising costs on ordinary goods

Russia’s Born-Again Citizens and Their Discontents
The year 2019 saw numerous signs of Russian society awakening from its post-annexation-of-Crimea slumber.

Poll Shows Sharp Rise in Number Of Russians Valuing Freedom Of Speech
A series of one-person pickets were held in Moscow in October to support Konstantin Kotov, a jailed opposition activist convicted of taking part in unauthorized rallies.

Most Russians Now Want ‘Decisive’ Change in Country
Nearly six in ten Russians want “decisive and full-scale changes” in the country amid growing discontent with the authorities over living standards.

 

Demographics

Russia’s Natural Population Declines for 4th Straight Year
Russia’s total population dropped for the first time in a decade in 2018, totaling 146.8 million at the end of last year as migration numbers hit record lows.

Experts say baby boom vital to fight Russia’s demographic decline, not migrant influx
A demographic expert cautioned against the principle of helping only poor, disadvantaged families

Most Russians prefer to save money for future, not ready for big-budget purchases
Two thirds of those polled, or 68%, said they preferred to save for the future and spend as little money as possible

 

Infrastructure

Russia Currently has Fewer than 350 Miles of High-Speed, Multi-Lane Highways
An article intending to show that Russia’s roads are better than Russians think and therefore should rank higher on international ratings than they do in fact confirms just how far behind the West that country despite being the largest on earth lags in developing high-speed, multi-lane roads.

Russian Railway To Start Selling Train Tickets To Crimea Across New Kerch Bridge
With a length of 19 kilometers, the bridge cost $3.7 billion to build and is Europe’s longest.

‘They keep stealing in hundreds of millions’: Putin outraged by ongoing fraud at Vostochny Cosmodrome construction
Dozens of people have already been put in prison over the massive embezzlement during the construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome, but somehow it hasn’t been enough to set things straight there

New Moscow-St. Petersburg Highway Emblematic of Russia’s Road Problems and Much Else
By the end of November, the new M-11 superhighway between Moscow and St. Petersburg is scheduled to be opened for traffic, a move that will significantly shorten the time for travel between the two capitals.

Toll road connecting Russia’s two largest cities to be unveiled next week
The route from Moscow to St. Petersburg via the new highway is expected to take about 5.5 hours or less

Build build build: Russia’s national projects get underway
Two thirds of spending on Russia’s 12 national projects will go on infrastructure and two thirds of that will go on roads.

Vladimir Putin approves Russia’s next mega infrastructure project, a $1.3bn bridge across river Lena
Vital link uniting east and west of the country will realise a long-held dream.

 

Environment

Arctic islands 8 degrees warmer than normal
The Russian archipelagos of Franz Josef Land and Severnaya Zemlya experienced the warmest ever October on record.

 

Economy

Russia’s growth driven by agriculture and wholesale trade in 3Q19
Russia’s basic sectors output rose by 2.9% y/y in September, compared with 2.4%, as the economy picks up some steam.

Draft law limiting foreign ownership of Russian tech companies softened to set 49% cap
The draft law limiting foreign ownership of Russian tech companies to 20% has been soften and now capped at 49%.

Russia’s Small Businesses Feeling the Pinch
Confidence drops as small and medium-sized businesses hit by cost-cutting customers.

Russian Banks More Stable and Transparent Than Ever
Six years and $80 billion into a mammoth clean-up drive.

Russian Oil Production Among Most Expensive in World
Saudi analysis finds Russian oil production has one of the highest break-even prices in the world.

For Wall Street, Russia Has Become ‘Bulletproof’
Sorry, haters, Putin’s securities market is better than Xi’s, better than Trump’s. It’s Europe’s fault.

Russian Ruble Least Volatile Since 2015
Macroeconomic stability and a lack of new U.S. sanctions have created a period of calm for the ruble.

Russia’s consumer demand is back after incomes tick up in October
After four years of stagnation consumer demand is finally back as a main driver of Russia’s economic growth. An uptick in real incomes in October has fed through to retail sales which expanded by 1.6% year-on-year.

Baring Vostok cancels plans for $1.3bn sixth fund
Baring Vostok cancels plans for sixth $1.3bn fund because of uncertainties caused the jailing of its senior managers

    – Business

Lenta posted its first ever drop in revenues in 3Q19 but none of the leading supermarket chains are doing well.
Russian supermarket chain Lenta reports first ever fall in revenues as organised retail hits a rough patch

Russian Yandex sells out its smartphone, unveils delivery robot
Russian internet major Yandex has sold out of its pilot smartphone model Yandex.Phone, which has proven to be a rare dud for the company

Yandex sets up NGO to hold its golden share, changes governance to reassure government and investors
Founder and CEO Arkady Volozh of Russia’s top tech company Yandex Arkady Volozh has changed the corporate governance rules to allay both investors’ and government concerns.

Norilsk Nickel target price upped by a quarter as climate crisis to send the cost of nickel and palladium soaring from 2020
The climate crisis induced stricter emission rules for cars, ballooning electric car sales and the lack of palladium mean prices could soar in 2020.

Russia’s Sberbank moves to acquire another stake in Mail.ru internet major
Russia’s largest bank and tech giant wannabe Sberbank followed up on previous announcements and signed a non-binding agreement to acquire a 35% stake in MF Tekhnologii from Gazprombank as well as a 1% stake from Rostec state agency in the same company that is the owner of 58.3% of the voting interest in Mail.ru internet major.

Norilsk Nickel to ramp up capex into increasing production and cutting emissions
Norilsk Nickel plans to invest billions of dollars into increasing production and cutting emissions over the next 10 years to meet the anticipated dynamic changes in the market

Chinese flock to Lake Baikal on holiday
Russia has become a favourite holiday spot for the newly affluent Chinese middle class, as they find it inviting and cheap.

Rosatom rolls out the small modular reactor: a mini-nuclear power station to solve some big problems
Rosatom’s small modular reactors typically produce 50MW, are cheaper to build and more flexible to operate.

 

Policy and Conflict Post SovietCivil Society

Accessing Internet in Russia by passport violates rights
Earlier, the proposal to discuss introduction of mandatory passport registration to obtain Internet access was sent to leadership of both chambers in the Russian parliament.

“Where Is Our Land?”: Challenges for Indigenous Groups in the Russian Arctic
In a new development in the long-simmering conflict between the Moscow authorities and representatives of the indigenous peoples of the Russian North, one of the organizations providing support for the far-flung nomadic groups was ordered shut by a Moscow court.

Russian Parliament’s Upper Chamber Approves ‘Foreign Agents’ Bill That Threatens Journalists With Libel
The bill approved by Russia’s Federation Council on November 25 says that individuals may be listed as foreign agents if they collaborate with foreign media organizations and receive financial or other material support from them.

Russia’s State Duma restricts use of Nazi symbols in art, literature and media
The State Duma adopted a bill banning the use of Nazi symbols in literature, art and media for educational purposes in the third and final reading on Tuesday, according to a statement of the parliament’s lower house.

Russian University Sets Up Domestic Violence Research Center After Gruesome Murder
The university earlier this week fired a prominent professor, 63-year-old historian Oleg Sokolov, after he confessed to shooting and killing his 24-year-old girlfriend.

 

Culture

“Russia Marks National Unity Day as Nationalists Organize Marches
Nov. 4, 2019”

Most Russians have a day off Monday as the country marks National Unity Day, a national holiday aimed to promote patriotism and tolerance between ethnic and religious groups in Russia.

Treasures at Siberia synagogue which thrives in freezing cold
During the five-year restoration process after 140-year-old synagogue burned down in 2004, many old treasures were found in the rubble.

Russia makes progress in science subject rankings
Five Russian universities have reached world top 100 positions in Times Higher Education’s latest series of subject rankings.

About the Author

Tanya Tanyarattinan
Tanya Tanyarattinan is a third-year, Thai international student at the University of Denver, double majoring in International Studies and Economics with minors in Russian and Japanese. She is currently studying Society, Business, and the Arts in St Petersburg with SRAS’s Home and Abroad Scholarship. With an interest in pursuing a career in politics, she travels to see how the world works from different perspectives. Her next stop is Berlin where she will complete her study abroad year. In her free time, she likes to play games and try new food.