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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russia Update: May 29, 2015

Publication: Russia Update
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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Blatter Wins Fifth Term as Challenger Concedes; Russia's Hosting of 2018 World Cup Now Likely Secured

Novaya Gazeta's Vladimir Mozgovoy asked yesterday whether the new leadership of FIFA would be "a friend to Russia."

Now we have the answer -- he's an old friend of Russia, Sepp Blatter, who has just won another term after already serving 17 years.

In the first round of voting, no candidate gathered enough votes to win, so a second round was held, and Blatter won, said RIA Novosti.

There's been a lot of commentary the last few days on the election, given the arrest of 14 FIFA and related sports officials.

Russian anti-corruption activist Aleksei Navalny tweeted a Coub (which is like a Russian version of a Vine) showing Russian sports official Vitaly Mutko, who was called in for questioning along with other FIFA executive committee members, saying "No criminality" in answer to a reporter's question, set to gangsta rap.


Translation: Cool.

The corruption arrests were widely seen as jeopardizing Russia's hosting of the World Cup in 2018, but with Blatter back, this seems assured again.

 Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, the brother of the King Abdullah of Jordan, withdrew his candidacy in the second round, ensuring Blatt's win.

One of the ways Blatter campaign for re-election was to say he supported the corruption probe, Lenta.ru reported.

As theweek.com commented with a headline, President Vladimir Putin and Blatter were a "perfect alliance of sleaze." Putin backed Blatter's re-election as he had been crucial to Russia's selection for the World Cup.

BlatterPutin.jpg?itok=Q7m1JtiL&resize=12

As Ryu Spaeth writes at theweek.com:

Really, it's hard to think of a more perfect alliance of sleaze. It goes beyond the fact that Russia, as host of the 2018 World Cup, has a vested interest in defending FIFA and its embattled president. The fact is that if FIFA were a country, instead of merely a corrupt international sporting organization, it would look a lot like Russia. And Putin calling attention to this parallel is doing no favors to Blatter.

The U.S. Justice Department's accusation that soccer officials were involved in a decades-long scheme involving $150 million in bribes has put a spotlight on how Blatter runs his operation. The billions of dollars in revenues that FIFA pulls in each year from corporate sponsors, which have long turned a blind eye to FIFA's unscrupulous practices and may have paid kickbacks themselves, trickles down to member nations that make up FIFA, ensuring they have an interest in voting to keep Blatter in power.

Sound familiar? That's because it bears remarkable similarities to how Vladimir Putin does business. Ever since the Russian state seized control of the country's biggest industries and handed them over to Putin's cronies, Putin has consolidated power by ensuring that his friends receive a steady stream of the profits that Russia makes from energy, mining, and more.


-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Kara-Murza, Jr. Still in Serious Condition; Toxicology Report Shows No Narcotics or Alcohol in His Blood

Novaya Gazeta reported this evening that after initial opposition, doctors at Pirogova City Hospital No. 1 were nevertheless allowing the family of opposition journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza, Jr. stricken with suspected poisoning May 26, to take his medical samples abroad for a second opinion.

Kara-Murza remains in serious condition, but stable. He is on kidney dialysis and a respirator and is in a medically-induced coma, his father said in an interview.

Ekho Moskvy reported that the family was prohibited from taking the samples at 21:33, but since they cited Novaya Gazeta, they may not have noticed the latest update. Ekho Moskvy added that a toxicologist's report indicates that no narcotics or alcohol have been found in the bloodstream of Kara-Murza, Jr., contrary to rumors spread by LifeNews, which claimed that he might have taken anti-depressants. This was discounted by his relatives.

That leaves in question what substance did in fact poison him. A source close to the family said that when Kara-Murza, Jr. was first hospitalized on Tuesday, medical personnel feared contamination of the hospital if it turned out that he had radiation poisoning, similar to the case of former intelligence officer Alexander Litvinenko, who was killed by polonium by 2006 and whose death is currently the subject of a British inquiry.

Since then, there has been no evidence that Kara-Murza, Jr. was subject of any radiation poisoning. Journalists have noted that his symptoms seem similar to those of Anna Politkovskaya, who fell ill from poisoning after a reporting trip to Beslan to cover the terrorist attack, two years before she was killed.

Kara-Murza, Jr. is the federal coordinator for Open Russia, the civic movement founded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He is also a member of the federal council of the opposition RPR-PARNAS party, co-chaired by Vladimir Ryzhkov and Mikhail Kasyanov. Boris Nemtsov was a co-chair before his assassination February 27.

Yevgeniya Kara-Murza, the wife of Vladimir, Jr. left yesterday for Russia from the US, where she lives with their three children, and is hoping to move her husband to a facility abroad. But doctors said today that he was not in a condition to travel, and an Israeli specialist brought in to examine him said that there was no need to move him as the equipment to treat him was already in place in the Moscow hospital. Doctors have neither confirmed or denied that he was poisoned.

(Note: The Interpreter is a project of the Institute for Modern Russia which is funded by Pavel Khodorkovsky, the son of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Kara-Murza.Jr. is a former staff member of IMR.)

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick


The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Three Salafists Missing in Dagestan; One Found Dead, Fate of Others Unknown as Police Report Killing 3 Militants

One of three missing persons in Dagestan has turned up dead and the fate of the others is unknown, says Memorial Society Human Rights Center.

Zamir Pashayev, born 1984, was found dead in Kurakh District of Dagestan; his mother was informed May 28 by a morgue worker in Makhachkala who asked her to identify the body. He was found in a camouflage uniform in a half-constructed home with a machine gun near him. His body showed bruises. Two other corpses were found but they were burnt beyond recognition and identification from DNA samples proved impossible.

According to local media reports, three fighters were "liquidated" by spetsnaz soldiers on May 27 in the village of Akhnig in Kurakh District. Police claimed the militants had attacked law-enforcers. A  machine gun, pistol, and explosives were found at the scene by FSB specialists. Pashayev is believed to be one of those three. His relatives believe that he was kidnapped, tortured, and then killed, and his body was placed at this scene.

The relatives had appealed to Memorial Human Rights Center, saying three men had disappeared on the night of May 18-19: Pashayev as well as Magomedzhavad Khizriyev, born 1968 and Davud Sarukhanov, born 1995. The three men, all friends regularly visited a Salafist mosque, which was on a watch list with law-enforcement. Unknown men had been following Sarukhanov, according to neighbors, several days before he disappeared.

Pashayeva's mother, Anakhanum Kadyrova said her son had left home at 8:30 am on the morning of May 18 to go to his plot of land in the village of Berekey in Derben District, 25 km from Derbent. He was building a house there, and had to finish the roof.

On the way to the site, he stopped at a building materials store and met with a carpenter named Akhmed who then went with him to the site. They were there for awhile, then Akhmed went to the town of Izberbash. Pashayev parked his car, a Lada Kalina near the plot of land. His mother called him at 11:00, and he said he was leaving soon to attend a funeral of a relative. But then he never came home after that nor telephoned. Then they could not reach him after that; there was no answer on one telephone and another phone he had was busy.

Akhmed returned to the site at 16:00 and did not see either Zamir or his car. He found tools scattered on the ground and the shed where the tools had been kept open. He called Pashayev's family and they came to the site and found Zamir's clothing, which he had taken off before donning work overalls. They also found both his phones. Neighbors said they had both seen and spoken to Zamir who was at the site until about noon.

Relatives immediately reported him missing to the Derben police precinct. They told Memorial that he was on a police list and was regularly questioned as a Salafist. He was asked to bring his wife to be registered with police and he refused. Police had already taken his photograph, fingerprints and DNA sample even though he was not charged with a crime and had no police record.

As for Khizriyev, his relatives said he took his daughter to school on May 19 in the morning, went to a butcher's shop at 9:00 am, took some purchases to his relative's home and then went to his job at a construction site. A classmate who called him at 11:15 am was unable to reach him as there was a notice that the number was disconnected. Two hours later, the number was working again but there was no answer, then a notice that it was disconnected came again. For the next two days, relatives kept calling the number but had no answer.

Khizriyev was also a devout Muslim, wore a beard and was considered a Salafist; he was also put on a police list although he had no police record. He had a wife and five children as well as nephews he supported.

His relatives declared him missing on May 21 at the Derben police precinct and made a written statement. Police came and checked their home and talked to his wife and daughter.

The brother of Davud Sarukhanov said when he left for home on May 19, his brother remained at the house at 15:00. When he returned home the next day, his brother was gone. Neighbors said that he had emptied the garbage outside at about 19:00 and did not see him after that.

Sarukhonov was also on the police list, after police detained him and others at his mosque, photographed and fingerprinted them. They believe he has been kidnapped, as neighbors also said they saw three men in a car come to the house several times and believe they were following Sarukhanov.

Practically every week, there is an official news story of armed militants or members of terrorist groups being surrounded in a house, and police "liquidating" them. In this story, the concern is that the scene was staged days after the Salafists were kidnapped and killed, then the building was set on fire.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
More than 20 Journalists Quit St. Petersburg 100TV After Pressure to Become like LifeNews

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Muscovites Debate Controversial Monument to Prince Vladimir by Moscow State University

A controversy has been raging in Moscow over a giant statue of Vladimir the Great, the prince who baptized ancient Rus' in the late 980s and who was made a saint in the Russian Orthodox church.

The statue, made by sculptor Salavat Shcherbakov of bronze, is planned to be 25 meters tall (or 24 by some accounts), which would make it shorter than the famous Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil, which is 30 meters high.

Du_MV9E79_tVFyynnaUHRw.jpg

Artist's rendering. Photo by Meduza.io.

Apparently Putin has already ruled that the statue must be placed on the Vorobyov Hills by Moscow State University, and the only change that might be made is to its height, if its foundation is made shorter.

But many people, particularly students and professors, have protested, both regarding the implications of having a religious historical figure imposed on the university, and also the dangers of the heavy statue causing a landslide on the hill.

According to Meduza.io, more than 50,000 signatures have been gathered against the statue and 1,000 academics from MGU have signed a petition against it as well.

None of this has had any effect as the project has gone forward as a state-organized "crowd-funding" where more than 20 million rubles ($382,274) have been collected from the public.

Translation: the Moscow State University rector has termed the issue of the place of the monument to Prince Vladimir to be debatable.
Translation: Vladimir Putin possibly may discuss the controversial memorial to Prince Vladimir today with the mayor.
Translation: "No hearings, no tenders, but the fences already are standing." Monument to Prince Vladimir: investigation.
Translation: Still and all we have a secular state -- Vsevolod Tverdislov, deputy chair of the department of biophysics is against the monument to Prince Vladimir on the Vorobyov Hills.

Translation: the height of the monument to Prince Vladimir on the Vorobyov Hills may be changed.

aPL0uayJaCb3dttaPjHDKA.jpg

Photo by Meduzio.io

Journalists were recently brought on an organized tour of the sculptor's studio. The monument is the result of a competition organized by the Russian Military Historical Society whose chairman is Vladimir Medinsky, minister of culture and on whose board sits Dmitry Rogozin, vice premier for defense and space, and Sergei Shoigu, defense minister, as well as Vladimir Kolokoltsev, interior minister, Dmitry Livanov, education minister and the oligarchs Viktor Vekselberg and Aleksandr Yevtushenkov as well as other generals and business people. The society quickly received land from the city near MGU for the monument.

Vladimir Kononov, executive director of the society, was unfazed by the petitions against the work, saying he could gather millions in favor. He discounted concerns about landslides saying that experts had studied the site and guaranteed that the multi-ton statue would stand.

According to a Meduza.io reporter who went on the tour, Shcherbakov, whose studio is filled with Lenin busts he is working on but also a statute that looks like environmentalist Yevgeniya Chirikova (who recently fled to Estonia), is known for his sculptures of Soviet Sergei Korolev, Soviet rocket scientist and spacecraft designer, and late Azerbaijan president Heidar Aliyev in Baku, as well as the famous Victory monument on Poklonnaya Gora adored by President Vladimir Putin.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick


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