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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: December 5, 2014

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
8 Protesters Arrested In Moscow After Anti-Putin Pro-Maidan Rally

Three years ago today on December 5, 2011, thousands took to the streets of Moscow to protest against unfair and stolen elections in Russia. 

Tonight, 8 protesters took to the streets holding a sign that read "Yesterday Kiev -- Tomorrow Moscow," a reference to both the Euromaidan revolution in Ukraine and the anniversary of the anti-Putin protests. They lit flares and chanted slogans as they walked toward Lubyanka Square, but were arrested by police.

The entire incident was caught on this video:

The demonstrators were marking the anti-Putin marches of three years ago on December 5 -- but in fact that date had an even earlier history, which was why it was chosen in 2011.

December 5 used to be celebrated as "Constitution Day" in the Soviet era. The dissident mathematician Aleksandr Yesenin-Volpin had the idea that at the very least, the Soviet government should be called on to respect its own Constitution, despite its inherent flaws (like allowing only one leading party and communist ideology.).

He and his colleagues were the first to gather in a demonstration on December 5, 1965, in front of the Pushkin statute to protest the closed trial of writers Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel for "anti-Soviet" books. They called their action a "glasnost" [openness] meeting some 20 years before President Mikhail Gorbachev popularized the term. Yesenin-Volpin was imprisoned in a psychiatric hospital for his dissent and ultimately emigrated to the US.

The demonstrations then became an annual tradition.

Pushkin-1965.jpg

Newspaper photo of Moscow demonstration December 5, 1965.

-- James Miller and 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
At Least 14 Police, 11 Terrorists Killed in Grozny Shoot-out; Chechen Leader Blames Umarov's Brother

The Russian Interior Ministry has updated to 14 the number of policemen killed in the gun fight with terrorists in the Press House in Grozny, Chechnya, TV Rain reports. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has also announced a higher total of insurgents killed: 11.

One civilian was also killed in the attack, Vladimir Voroboyev, a furniture store owner who ran the Association of Young Entrepreneurs, located in the media building.

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Families of those killed or wounded, which number at least 28, will get a million rubles, which is worth about $53,000 now, Kadyrov announced.

28 police were reportedly wounded in the attack, and evidently some have died of their wounds.

The attack of the Press House at 1:00 am December 4 was made in three hijacked taxis. Police and FSB, Interior Ministry and Emergencies Ministry surrounded the building with armored personnel carriers and mortar launches and fired on the building, killing 11 insurgents inside.

Terrorists later took over School No. 20 and were blocked by police. It is not know if all of them were killed or if any remain at large. The Investigative Committee is opening up a case on charges of "illegal armed formation" and "unlawful possession of weapons" and a group of 50 detectors and forensic experts are already at work.

Meanwhile, Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Putin at the Kremlin yesterday, accuses Akhmat Umarov, the brother of assassinated terrorist leader Doku Umarov of organizing the attack, TV Rain reported, citing Interfax.

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Umarov was reported to be assassinated by Russian troops last year, and was replaced by Ali Abu Mukhammad, an Avar from Dagestan. Doku Umarov had taken responsibility for the 2009 explosion of the Neva Express train, the Moscow metro explosion of 2010 and the bomb in Domodedovo Airport in 2011. The UN Security Council placed Umarov in the list of international terrorists related to Al Qaeda.

Analysts of the North Caucasus insurgency have recently reported splits in the movement as some have fought in Syria and supposedly changed their allegiance to former ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. But as Jamestown analyst Mairbek Vatchaganov explains, this could be an FSB provocation to disorient terrorist groups as there are unexplained factors, such as how one Chechen fighter who reportedly fought on the Kiev side in the war in southeastern Ukraine was able to then go to Kazakhstan, get arrested, and yet be released to go back to Dagestan.

And portraying the Caucasus Emigrate as part of the international terrorists in ISIS in Syria could be part of Moscow' efforts to blame the outside world for domestic terrorism, and pressure the West to support Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in his battle of enemies, including ISIS.

Chechen terrorists have indeed fought in Syria.

But in the video statement released in connection with this latest attack in Grozny, the Caucasus Emirate members didn't mention Syria, saying they were under orders of CE leader Emir Abdu Mukhammad and Emir Khamzat, a CE commander. They focusing only on "an act of Revenge for the fact that the murtadi (apostates) dared to oppress Muslim women, our sisters" by which they apparently mean that the brand of state Islam enforced by Kadyrov is not as strict as Islamists would like.

Chechen terrorists have indeed fought in Syria.

But in the video statement released in connection with this latest attack in Grozny, the Caucasus Emirate members didn't mention Syria, saying they were under orders of CE leader Emir Abdu Mukhammad and Emir Khamzat, a CE commander. They focusing only on "an act of Revenge for the fact that the murtadi (apostates) dared to oppress Muslim women, our sisters" by which they apparently mean that the brand of state Islam enforced by Kadyrov is not as strict as Islamists would like.

-- 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
TV Rain Asked To Leave Premises For Second Time This Year

Yelizaveta Surganova reports for Forbes Russia that the independent TV Rain (Dozhd) channel will have to vacate their current premises at the former Red October confectionery factory in Moscow.

The channel currently share space in the factory, let out by Guta-Development, with the liberal magazine, Snob. Previously, the television channel had occupied premises next-door.

In March this year, as the channel faced severe difficulties after it was publicly attacked by state-owned media and dropped by satellite broadcasters, Guta-Development informed TV Rain that they would not be able to stay in their studios beyond June. However the two parties came to an agreement that the channel could remain at Red October until the end of the year as they sought new premises.

But in October Guta-Development asked TV Rain to vacate their premises ahead of schedule, claiming that repair work needed to be carried out. TV Rain then began sharing Snob's offices.

Surganova writes that a source, close to the management of the channel, has told her that TV Rain now has until Monday, December 8, to leave their current studio:

"Today we were politely asked to cease broadcasting from, and vacate the premises." 

Natalya Sindeyeva, the owner and director-general of TV Rain confirmed the report, though did not explain what issues had arisen between her channel and Snob

Nikolay Uskov, the director of the Snob project, has not been available for comment so far.

The channel will, from December 8, be broadcasting from a temporary studio which may, Surganova writes, be located in an employee's apartment.

Russian state regulators have continued to pursue the broadcaster. Surganova notes that the regional branch of Roskomnadzor, the state broadcasting and media authority, had sent letters to television carriers in the Moscow area, demanding to know if they broadcast TV Rain, and if so, a copy of their contract with the channel. Roskomnadzor later claimed that this was because the channel changed the address of their editorial board but had not disclosed this to the regulator.

Sindeyeva said that the matter with Roskomnadzor had been settled and the regulator had been sent updated details. She added however, that the channel would not renew their broadcasting license until a new, permanent, studio had been found.

According to Sindeyeva, the channel is considering several premises at the moment. She said:

"If we find premises tomorrow that we can move into, we are ready to go in that day and begin installing the studio. We'd need a month for the installation of a complete studio."


All translations by The Interpreter.


-- Pierre Vaux

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Fire at FSB Building in Dagestan Capital Said to Be 'Short Circuit' - Police

Officials are saying that the fire at the FSB building is caused by a short circuit, Interfax reports.

The roof and the attic of the FSB building in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, are in flames today, as Russian media and bloggers have reported.



An Interfax correspondent in Makhachkala reported (translation by The Interpreter):

The roof of an administrative building on Lenin Square is burning, five fire-fighting units are on the scene, the fire has been localized, said a representative of the Emergencies Ministry for Dagestan.

A source in the FSB told Interfax that there were no grounds to say the fire was caused intentionally or as the result of any attacks, and seemed to be due to a short circuit.

The official report has induced a certain amount of skepticism as a terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the fire:

With the attack in nearby Grozny, killing 14 policemen and 11 terrorists, according to latest reports, there is concern that there could be a pattern to the attacks in Russia's volatile North Caucasus, and not just an accident:

Dagestan in Russia's volatile North Caucasus has seen numerous terrorist attacks in recent years and Russian law-enforcers have assassinated some 300 Islamist insurgents in the last year in Dagestan.
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ruble Improves Slightly, Still Surfing Record Lows

The rubles has improved slightly today. According to Bloomberg, the currency has traded between 52.84 rubles to a US dollar and 54.33 rubles to the USD, but right now it is trading at 52.93, a gain of 2.80%.

Good news for Russia? Not really. Yesterday the ruble hit a new record low, and today the ruble is nearly as bad as the previous record low set two days ago.

USD-to-RUB-Exchange-Rate-Bloomberg-2014-

-- James Miller

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