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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Russia Update: August 22, 2016

Publication: Russia Update
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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Novaya Gazeta and Ekho Moskvy Journalist Yuliya Latynina Attacked En Route to Work

On this past Saturday evening, August 20, unidentified attackers hurled a bucket of feces at Irina Latynina, Novaya Gazeta reported.

Latynina said on an Ekho Moskvy program that she was on her way to host her radio show Kod Dostupa ("Access Code") when the incident occurred. She parked her car about 3 kilometers away from the studio as she usually does because she enjoys walking through New Arbat. She believes the attackers knew her route and waited for her. A man in a motorcycle helmet -- so that she couldn't see his face -- approached her and dumped the bucket on her, drenching her from head to foot. Despite carrying a heavy bag, she tried to run after him but he jumped on the back of another man's motorcycle and they escaped. It took her a half an hour to wash off the feces.

Apparently someone was offended on behalf of Mr. Prigozhin. I don't know, who. I can't imagine who could be offended on behalf of Mr. Prigozhin. But I know for sure...I think Mr. Gromov and Mr. Peskov and even Vladimir Putin personally know the name of this person who was offended on Prigozhin's behalf.

Dmitry Peskov is spokesman for the presidential administration and Andrei Gromov is first deputy chief of staff of the presidential executive office.

Latynina, an outspoken radio host and columnist who works for both Ekho Moskvy and Novaya Gazeta, believes the attack could be related to Novaya Gazeta pieces and several Ekho Moskvy shows in which she discussed the attacks on bloggers and opposition people in St. Petersburg near their homes which was believed to be connected to a site that leaked their personal addresses discovered to be tied to Dmitry Prigozhin, the owner of the "Troll Farm" and President Vladimir Putin's personal chef.

Novaya Gazeta said in a statement about the attack on Latynina:

We have not yet been able to connect the attack on our columnist Yuliya Latynina with the name of the "Kremlin chef" Yevgeny Prigozhin specifically, as there is no direct evidence. But we cannot help but note the trend whereby not the government and its authorized bodies but self-proclaimed pseudo-patriots have taken upon themselves the function of henchmen. And they even publicly chose their victims.

As RFE/RL's Russian Service Radio Svoboda reports, journalists and bloggers came to the defense of Latynina, noting that she suffered an attempt on her life about 15 years ago.

Translation: The attack on Latynina is the latest act of government gansterism. All of these NODs and "Serb" and so on are protected by and organized by the police.

NOD is the National Liberation Movement and SERB is the acronym for South East Radical Bloc. 

Translation: On the attack on Yuliya Latynina.

Shenderovich said that while Latynina could wash off the smell, the police who enable this sort of attack "cannot remove the stench from their biographies." 

Translation: A disgrace! Today idiots poured feces not only on Latynina but all our journalism. If the government doesn't defend her, they will pour on them, too.

Novaya Gazeta has asked the police to open up a criminal case and is continuing to investigate.

Independent journalists and opposition members have suffered a string of attacks tied either to Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov and Chechen military or to Prigozhin or various ultranationalist groups such as the National Liberation Movement, headed by United Russia MP Yevgeny Fyodorov. 

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Angry Russian Farmers Launch March on Moscow to Protest Illegal Land Confiscations
Farmers in the provincial Russian region of Kuban have started a convoy of tractors and cars and set off to "march on Moscow," Novaya Gazeta  and RIA Novosti reported.

Translation:  The tractor run from Kuban to Moscow: farmers are driving to the president with complaints.

This protest has been gathering steam for a year and recently gathered more momentum.

In the village of Kazanskaya in Kavkazsky District of Kuban in southern Russia, farmers held a rally over the weekend to protest the failure of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to meet with them on his recent visit to nearby Krasnodarsky Territory.

On August 9, farmers had stood along Medvedev's route along the highway with signs saying "Gang - Get Out!" and "Give Back Our Land". They were arrested and taken to the police precinct until Medvedev's trip was over. In Krasnodar, he made one of his much-derided statements (like his infamous "There's no money. Hang on. Have a nice day" to Crimeans):

"I now have a sense of pride at how the rural economy is developing. I will not let them touch the village."

It's not clear who the "they" were in Medvedev's statement which may have referenced Russian administrative actions to merge villages and make some disappear, or not to provide a sufficient budget for farms. But the protesters were angry with specific local officials whom they say have confiscated their land.

At first it seemed as if one farmer, Yury Ilchenko, whose cattle farm was included in the government's program for Medvedev, would be able to ask a hard question of Medvedev about land seizures. But since the questions had to be submitted in advance, his question was removed by regional officials. 

As Andrei Sandakov from the village of Novotitarovskaya commented (translation by The Interpreter):

"The people who didn't get through the selection, the old women and old men, were not allowed to see Medvedev. His motorcade just flew by. In our area, for example, for years, more than a thousand shareholders have been fighting Oleg Deripaska's Kuban Agricultural Union for land, they are paying taxes for what they do not possess. Their parcels were sold illegally to business people and people lost everything."

In the village of Starovelichovskaya, Oleg Makarevich, who rents out lands (the head of Sovetskaya Kuban, Ltd and Oktyabr, Ltd.) held a meeting with shareholders with blatant violation of the law. His officers forged more than 80% of the signatures to documents. Through a trick, he extended the terms of leases on four giant tracts for 30 years. About a thousand people suffered losses."

Novaya Gazeta said farmers told them their land was seized as soon as the harvest was ready and they were openly mocked if they protested to courts because the judges are relatives of the raiders. Last year, when farmers tried to start a march to Moscow, activists from the All-Russian Popular Front visited them and promised to investigate the seizures, but then did nothing.

On August 21, farmers got together to protest against the land confiscation by officials and judges they said were in collusion. Novaya Gazeta said there were 1,500 people in the rally; RIA Novosti said 300. Fifty people formed a convoy of 17 tractors and some 8 automobiles and hoped for support along the way.

The drivers have already reached neighboring Rostov Region where they held a rally and have not been stopped so far. They intend to head to Voronezh next. They think that they will collect some 300 tractors by the time they get near Moscow, in about six days, if they are not halted.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick