Russia on the Ground – September 2019

Vladivostok, Russia is currently developing as a transport hub and investment seat for Russia's Far Eastern District.

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.



Most Russians Don’t Believe in a Better Future
A majority of Russians believe that conditions in their country make it hard to plan for the long-term future, according to a state-funded survey published on Tuesday.

Sixty-three percent of Russians say proud of state symbols
Most Russians polled by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM) say they have positive feelings towards state symbols (the flag, the national emblem, and the anthem of Russia).

1 in 5 Russians Believe They Can Influence the Government
One in five Russians believe that they can affect their government’s decision-making processes, according to a new poll that sociologists link to growing public discontent with the authorities in Russia.

Most Russians Don’t Believe ‘Western Meddling’ Is to Blame for Moscow Protests
A majority of Russians don’t believe in the authorities’ claim that Western powers are to blame for election protests in Moscow this summer.

More than a third of all phone calls in Russia are now made via messengers
An overwhelming number 83% of Russians have installed WhatsApp on their phones followed by Viber and Skype.

Xenophobia Is Still On the Rise in Russia
Anti-migrant attitudes have risen for a second consecutive year in Russia, according to a new independent survey’s results that experts link to the country’s economic woes.



Empty pockets for a rainy day? Study shows over half of Russians have no savings
Among Russians who have a nest egg, most have socked away money from salaries and pensions

Russian Population Decline in Spotlight Again
Last week, in a meeting with top advisors, Russian President Vladimir Putin lamented the population decline in the country’s Far East, saying it falls in an “alarming, red zone.”

Domestic Violence Affects 1 in 3 Russians
Nearly one-third of Russia’s population has come face-to-face with domestic violence in their own families or among acquaintances.

Russian Women Are Getting Married 8 Years Later On Average
Marriage rates in Russia hit their lowest point since 2000 last year, according to Federal Statistics Service (Rosstat) data, and researchers don’t expect rates to begin rising again until the mid-2020s.



Russia’s slow embrace of recycled plastics
Russian companies have begun to embrace the environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics because exchanges (where companies are presented), their investors and customers are demanding it.

What happens when permafrost melts?
What does permafrost smell like and why are scientists afraid that it will thaw?

Locals Overwhelmingly Oppose Landfill in Russia’s North
An overwhelming majority of residents in northern Russia oppose the construction of a controversial waste dump that has catalyzed protests in the region for over a year.

Seventy Wildfires Still Active In Russia’s Siberia
Wildfires engulfed more than 400,000 hectares in Siberia overnight on August 25-26.

Russia signs off on Paris accord, sets itself an easy CO2 target
Russia has signed off on the Paris climate accords and promised to reduce its CO2 emissions by 70% from the 1990 level, but that is a low bar.

Scientists from 17 countries onboard icebreaker leave for year-long Arctic expedition
Scientists for more than 350 days will conduct monitoring of the Arctic nature.



Big growth in Russian Arctic ports
Practically all the major ports along Russia’s northern coast are experiencing a significant increase in goods volumes. In Sabetta, the new port in the Yamal Peninsula, the year-on-year growth for the first 8 months of the year is as big as 100 percent.



Putin’s 20 years on the job in numbers
Since Putin took office in 2000 the economy has grown in size from $200bn to $1.8bn, but in recent years has started to stagnate

Russia’s CBR makes third rate cut in 2019 to pre-Crimea 7%
The board of the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) cut the key interest rate by 25bp to 7% at the policy meeting on September 6, in line with wide consensus expectations cutting the key rate for the third consecutive time this year.

Russia’s net public debt falls to zero
Russian President Vladimir Putin has a bee in his bonnet about debt. Having lived through the 1998 crisis when Russia’s financial system was wiped out for the want of a few billion dollars to meet the government’s obligations, there has been a strong “never again” meme that has run through the Kremlin’s financial policy.

Over $9 billion invested in Russia’s Far East since 2015 
Government support for Russia’s Far East has resulted in significant growth of the region’s industrial production which is three times higher than in the rest of the country.

Russian industrial robots market grows 42% in 2018 but remains negligible
The market for robots in Russia remains negligible with 5 robots per 10,000 employees versus a global average of 99.

Charges against US fund manager Michael Calvey in Vostochniy case start to fall apart
A Russian judge ruled that Barings share transfered as part of its debt payment obligations were worth several million dollars, not the $9600 the funds’ former partners claimed. The case against US fund manager Michael Calvey seems to be falling apart.

Russia’s grain exports to exceed 47mn in 2019-2020 season
Grain production will reach 121mn tonnes in the 2019-2020 agricultural season and grain exports from Russia will exceed 47mn tonnes.

Why Is Russia So Unproductive?
Analysts say a toxic cocktail of state capitalism, corruption and low investment curbs output.

Russia’s Biggest Companies Account for More Than 80% of GDP
The RBC 500 shows concentration increased at the top in 2018.

Russia Offers Simplified E-Visas to Visitors of St. Petersburg
Tourists and businesspeople from 53 countries will be able to visit St. Petersburg on a simplified electronic visa starting this fall under President Vladimir Putin’s new orders.

    – Business

Russian Aquaculture fishing major boosts sales 16-fold in 1H19
Russian Aquaculture boosted its turnover 16-fold year-on-year to RUB4.9bn ($73.6mn) under IFRS and emerges as a major player in the sector after only three harvests.

Russian e-commerce market grows 26% in 1H19
Russian e-commerce market expanded by 26% y/y to RUB725bn ($11bn) in 1H19 with 191mn purchases made online.



Russia’s Finance Ministry seeks broader criminal investigation powers for Customs
Russia’s Finance Ministry has developed a bill aimed to empower the customs authorities to carry out investigations of a range of criminal cases related to smuggling of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products, documents published on the Federal Portal for Draft Legislation read on Tuesday.

Opposition parties score big wins in closely-watched Moscow elections
The ruling United Russia party suffered a blow from three opposition parties whose candidates claimed nearly half of Moscow City Council’s seats during a contentious vote in the metropolis of 12 million people.

Medvedev Shreds Huge Stack of Soviet Laws, Propopes Big Changes at National Dialogue Meeting!
National projects — a shorter working week, higher living standards, and available life-saving medicines — were discussed.

Russia cuts legal ties with Soviet past: Most bizarre old laws will be axed
From banning sofas and soft carpets in offices to seizing property from political emigrants, old Soviet laws have been hampering Russia’s development for decades. But now 20,000 outdated acts will finally be made obsolete.

United Russia Officials Meddled in St. Petersburg Vote
Ella Pamfilova said members of the ruling party had “directly intervened in the electoral process.”


Civil Society

Russia is a land of protests and activism. Really.
Now, people no longer trust the authorities, and instead of simply demanding change, would rather take control and become elected officials themselves. This is a fundamentally new stage in the development of Russian civil society — one that promises much for the future.

Thousands March In Moscow Protest Defying Authorities
Thousands of Russians defied authorities and marched in central Moscow, ignoring officials’ warnings and pressing demands to let independent candidates run in upcoming city council elections.

Russian investigators drop charges against 5 protesters
Five protesters who were arrested and charged with rioting connected to recent anti-government rallies walked free on Tuesday after Russian investigators dropped the charges against them.

Policy and Conflict Post SovietCourt Reinstates Navalny Team Leader In St. Petersburg To Municipal Vote Ballot
Aleksandr Shurshev, the head of the local chapter of Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, has been reinstated on the list of registered candidates for upcoming municipal elections.

What Appeared to Be a United Opposition During Moscow’s Vote Protests Is Fraying— Again
A sudden switch in strategy by core opposition leaders has left some supporters confused.

Head of Moscow CPRF office Rashkin thanks Navalny for ‘smart voting’
CPRF candidates used all opportunities in order to win in the Moscow City Duma elections, including opposition activist Alexei Navalny’s “smart voting” tactic.

Sending blank election monitoring forms to Navalny’s campaign was criminal
The Central Election Commission (CEC) is looking into how blank election monitoring referrals, signed by a senior Communist Party member, ended up at the campaign office of the opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

Anti-Kremlin candidate wins Moscow assembly seat with help of army votes
An anti-Kremlin opposition candidate has won a rare seat in Moscow’s legislature with the help of some army votes, election data showed, suggesting that discontent over falling living standards may have reached parts of the military.

Long-time IT consultant for Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation quits, accusing management of corruption
A long-time IT consultant for the Anti-Corruption Foundation has accused the organization of lying to constituents and mismanaging its volunteer labor force.

Court bounces fraud case against Russian director Serebrennikov, lifts travel ban
Embezzlement charges against acclaimed Russian stage director Kirill Serebrennikov have been returned to prosecutors by a Moscow court, a significant step toward the possible dismissal of a case that has stalled for two years.

Moscow court rules to release anti-government protester
A Moscow court on Wednesday ruled to release a protester, who was facing years in prison for assaulting police, following a mounting public campaign in support of anti-government activists and even bystanders caught up in an opposition rally.

Unorthodox Appeal: Russian Priests Defend Moscow Protesters
An open letter written by Russian Orthodox priests in defense of those imprisoned over recent protests in Moscow is that rare case when the use of the word “unprecedented” is no exaggeration. It’s the first time ever that the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church have taken collective action that was not sanctioned by the church authorities.

Beyond the Choice of Change vs. Status Quo in Russia: One More Thing About the Elections
Russian municipal elections jumped into the Western news mix this summer when thousands of protesters hit the Moscow streets to demand fair elections.

Russia’s North Rallies Against Dump for Moscow’s Trash Exports
Around 2,000 people have staged an authorized protest in the northern Russian city of Arkhangelsk on Sunday demanding the government drop plans to create a giant landfill in the remote Shiyes railway station.



150,000 march in St. Petersburg cross procession
In the northern Russian capital of St. Petersburg, two cross processions took place yesterday to commemorate the transfer of the relics of St. Alexander Nevsky, with over 150,000 people participating.

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.