Russia on the Ground – March, 2017

Russia is aggressively developing infrastructure to boost the Northern Sea Route through the Arctic. Pictured here is the first shipment of LNG sent via that route recently by Gazprom. Photo from Gazprom.

Russia on the Ground
February, 2017

RASP-BlueThis 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.



Russia Is Running on More Than Just the Black Stuff
Russia’s economy is growing again with oil, gas, military spending as well as chemicals, agrobusinss, and machinery.

Banks Report Rise in Russians’ Financial Literacy
The lingering economic crisis has made Russians more careful in determining where to put their savings, and people are doing the necessary research before making serious financial decisions.

Russia’s Great Daylight Bank Robbery
Many of Russia’s banks were founded in the 1990s, when oversight was lax. Only now is massive fraud being uncovered and halted.

Russia Can Wait For $70 Oil Before Re-Entering Arctic Waters
“We estimate production costs for the Russian Arctic offshore in the range of $70 to $100 a barrel,” Energy Minister Alexander Novak said.

Are Russia’s Oil Wells In Danger Of Drying Up?
Russia’s economy is heavily dependent on the energy sector. Oil and gas alone are estimated to account for 16 percent of GDP, 52 percent of the federal government’s revenue, and 70 percent of the country’s exports. Russia’s future without oil is inconceivable, and would debilitate the country tremendously.

Can Russia Become A Vital Global Transport Corridor?
On the Northern Sea Route, Moscow-Kazan high speed rail, Moscow-StP toll road, and other Russian transport projects.

Russia to Invest $43 Bln in Europe-Asia Transport Corridor
Currently, the United Transport and Logistics Company (ULTC) of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan transports 100,000 containers from China to Europe. By 2020 there are plans to carry up to 1 million containers.

Nabiullina To Get Second Term at Central Bank (in Russian)
Russia’s current currency, inflationary, and banking policies likely to remain.

Russia’s Retail E-commerce Soars 20% to $15.7 Billion
Foreign online retailers account for a third of the Russian market, with China the leading company overall.

Russia to Face Steep Ag Tariffs in Major Market
Turkey is reported to have stopped the issuance of licenses for the duty-free import of Russian wheat, corn, and other agricultural goods, thus introducing a 130% tariff for wheat in one of Russia’s largest export markets.

Public Opinion

Poll: 86% Of Russians Believe Russia’s Global Influence is “Great”
In 2016, 75% of Russians said that Russia’s influence on international affairs was great, while in 2017, a record 86% thought so. Meanwhile, those who disagree have fallen from 18% to 10%.

Poll: 89% Of Russians Believe State Corruption Must Not Be Tolerated
The vast majority also believes that bribe givers and takers are equaly guilty.

33% of Russians Support Idea of Female President
Russia actually leads Europe in many gender equality issues – such as percentage of females in legislative and top management positions. Despite that, 54% of Russians polled say that the presidency should remain a man’s job.

“A Harsh But Just Ruler:” What do Russians Think About Putin?
A fascinating wide-spectrum look at the great diversity of political opinions held by Russians.

Sanctions Cost Each Russian $75 Per Year
Experts say sanctioned goods would on average be three percent cheaper if the restrictions were not in place.

More Than 75% Of Russians Think Moscow Should Not Fight On To Lift Sanctions
Some 57% of Russians said so in 2015. Only 18% of respondents today say that Moscow should work to abolish sanctions.

80% of Russians Oppose Efforts to Move to a Cashless Society (in Russian)
32% of Russians use cash exclusively, another 27% primarily. 80% oppose efforts to move to a cashless society.

Daily Life and Demographics

Should Muscovites Fear Muslims?
Over the past decade the Russian capital’s Muslim population has swelled to almost 2 million, or about 15 percent of the total population.

Russia is Shuttering its Ukrainian Library
Officially, what is happening to the library — its 52,000 books are being transferred to Russia’s main foreign language library — is “a change of address” not a closure.

The Displaced Ukrainians
A fascinating study of the Ukrainians who have been displaced by the war in Eastern Ukraine – who they are, what they are doing now, and what they think.

Reindeer Herders of the Yamal Tundra
Alexandra Terekhina and Alexander Volkovitsky, two anthropologists from St. Petersburg, spent a year roaming the tundra of the Yamal Peninsula with a family of deer herders. Here’s what they learned.

Forest Prayers With Russia’s Polytheistic Mari
The Mari people of central Russia speak a distinct language and practice a separate religion from their Christian neighbors.

Russia’s Exceptional Diaspora
Must diasporas send funds back to their homelands. Russia’s largely doesn’t.

Domestic Politics

Russia Detains Opposition Leader Navalny Amid Nationwide Protests
Opinion polls suggest the liberal opposition, which Navalny represents, have little chance of fielding a candidate capable of unseating Putin, who enjoys high ratings. But Navalny and his supporters hope to channel public discontent over official corruption to attract more support.

Rights Council Launches Probe into Unsanctioned Moscow Protests
The head of the Presidential Human Rights Council, Mikhail Fedotov, says both organizers and police are to be investigated over the incidents.

New Kids On The Block
Most participants at Russia’s latest round of protests were under 25.

Communist Election Agenda: Fighting Russophobes & Enemies of Soviet Rule
The fight against anti-Soviet activities, Russophobia and nationalism will be key campaign points for the Russia’s #2 political party, the Communists, in its 2018 presidential election agenda. However, the party has still not decided who it will put forward as a candidate.

How a Bank’s Collapse Sparked Russia’s Least Likely Street Protests
The collapse of one of Russia’s largest banks has thousands calling for the resignation of Tatarstan’s popular president.

Russia’s New Old Wave of Technocratic Governors
Putin recently replaced five governors. This article takes a look at the backgrounds and skill sets of the new appointees.


Pleistocene Park: an Ice Age Ecosystem to Save the World
This kickstarter project seeks to push forward the world’s largest “rewilding” project. It’s a private project based in Siberia.

Endangered Bison Population in Russia To Grow To 500 By End Of Year
Russia has been working to revive the endangered species since 2002.

Melting Glaciers Threaten Russia’s Far North and Siberia
Scientists say melting permafrost might lead to the resuscitation of dormant pathogens and the destruction of vital infrastructure within 20 years.

About the Author

Josh Wilson
Josh Wilson is the Assistant Director for The School of Russian and Asian Studies (SRAS) and Communications Director for Alinga Consulting Group. In those capacities, he has been managing publications and informative websites covering geopolitics, history, business, economy, and politics in Eurasia since 2003. He is based in Moscow, Russia. For SRAS, he also assists in program development and leads the Home and Abroad Programs.