NUMBER OF TEXTS RUSSIAN COURTS BAN AS EXTREMIST UP SHARPLY. During July, the number of publications Russian courts have declared extremist and the country’s justice ministry has circulated as subject to ban has gone up to 218. That number is 67 more than at the end of June, an indication that Russian officials are increasingly comfortable with banning such works. More than two-thirds of last month’s additions were Muslim publications (www.i-r-p.ru/page/stream-event/index-21052.html).
RUSSIANS SAY FAMILIES WITH FEWER CHILDREN HAVE MORE SUCCESS BUT LESS HAPPINESS. A sociological study finds that Russians believe those who have fewer children will have more success in this life but are unlikely to be as happy in the long run as those who do (socreal.fom.ru/?link=ARTICLE&aid=519). This is only one of several new reports on an issue which is increasingly agitating Russian commentators. For two of the most comprehensive and thoughtful examples of this research, see www.foma.ru/articles/1752/ and
WILL INFLUX OF RUSSIAN GERMANS FROM CIS TRANSFORM KALININGRAD INTO KOENIGSBERG? Ethnic Germans from Central Asia, Moldova and Ukraine, who now find it more difficult to move to Germany itself, are arriving in the Russian Federation’s Kaliningrad oblast in record numbers, leading some to speculate that they may restore that region’s historically German coloration (www.sobkorr.ru/news/4892ACA2E7888.html). So far the numbers of ethnic Germans arriving in that non-contiguous oblast
RUSSIANS, AMERICANS REACTING VERY DIFFERENTLY TO NANOTECHNOLOGY. At least in part because they know less about it and because it is a government rather than business project at least so far, Russians tend to think about nanotechnology as a kind of deus ex machina that will solve many of their problems in a magical way while Americans tend to view it as just one more frontier of industrial research (wciom.ru/novosti/publikacii-v-smi/publikacija/single/10467.html
DUMA DEPUTIES WANT TO DECLARE WAR ON EMO AND GOTHS. Fearful that two relatively new Western imports may undermine Russia’s ability to field a serious political elite in the future, a group of Duma deputies is calling for Moscow to declare war on emo music and Goth-style dress (www.rg.ru/2008/07/28/emo.html). This may be no more than the Russian version of the summer silly season familiar to those who track legislatures elsewhere, but it appears to reflect a growing willingness among Russian politicians to denounce almost anything and everything western as a threat to Russia’s “uniqueness.”
MORE THAN HALF OF ALL RUSSIAN COGNAC IS ADULTERATED OR WORSE. According to the Center for Research on Federal and Regional Markets of Alcohol (TsIFRRA), only 44 percent of cognac produced in Russia during the first half of 2008 conformed to the rules as to how that beverage is to be produced (www.newizv.ru/news/2008-07-30/94876/). The remainder was adulterated or even completed fraudulent, Center researchers said.
FOR MUSCOVITES, FLYING TO NEW YORK COSTS LESS THAN FLYING TO VLADIVOSTOK. Reflecting both Russia’s enormous size and differences between domestic and international competition, it is now much cheaper for Russians who want to fly from Moscow to New York than it is for those who want to purchase a ticket for Vladivostok (www.kp.ru/daily/24139.4/357260/print/). Tickets from Moscow to Magadan now cost less than those to Hong Kong, to London less than to Barnaul, and to Brussels less than to Yekaterinburg, a pattern that will have an impact on political and economic developments within Russia by reducing the amount of interregional t ravel.
RUSSIANS GIVE THEMSELVES RELATIVELY LOW MARKS ON KNOWLEDGE OF THEIR NATIVE LANGUAGE. Russians have told pollsters that they have only a B or C level knowledge of their language, adding that they are inclined to use curse words far more often than necessary (wciom.ru/novosti/v-centre-vnimanija/publikacija/single/10471.html).
MOSCOW BLOCKS SPS CORRESPONDENCE WITH EUROPEAN HR COURT. The Union of Right Forces has announced that the Russian government has interfered with the correspondence it has been attempting to maintain with the European Human Rights Court in Strasbourg over Moscow’s violation of constitutional and legal guarantees during the recent elections (www.sobkorr.ru/news/48917FCEB160D.html).
TOKYO BACKS JAPANESE COMPANY’S PLANS TO MODERNIZE RUSSIA’S TRANS-SIBERIAN RAILROAD. In the hopes of expanding yet another route for trade between Asia and Europe, the Japanese government has signaled that it backs the plans of a major Tokyo construction firm to upgrade the nearly 10,000 kilometers of Russia’s Trans-Siberian railroad (www.ng.ru/world/2008-07-31/7_tokio.html).
UFA PLANS TO RENAME FRUNZE STREET IN HONOR OF ZAKI VELIDI TOGAN. Officials in the capital of Bashkortostan have announced plans to change the name of a major street in their city. No longer will it be called Frunze in honor of the earlier Soviet-era military commander; instead it will be named after Zaki Velidi Togan, the great Bashkir political leader and émigré analyst and historian (islamnews.ru/news-13491.html).