The Big Picture

Russia has gone through many social, economic, and political changes over the last 100 years. The most drastic change in their political system came from the establishment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) by Joseph Stalin in 1922. With this communist government, the public suffered with very strict laws and a high risk of death or injury if their was no containment of opposing political views. After Stalin died, strides were made for the USSR to become an independent state under the communist party leader  Mikhail Gorbachev and President Boris Yeltsin. Russia became its own Republic and no longer a Soviet Union in 1991. Leaders within the government shifted, and Vladimir Putin became the new president in 2000 and is still in position of the Russian Federation.

President Vladimir Putin

Since Putin’s reign, there has been a lot of political turmoil. At his 2012 election, protesters spoke out against Putin and did not want him as their president. Putin’s response was to fine all protesters and making it illegal for them to organize against him fining those that violated this new law $9,000 to $18,000. This new fine was very drastic because the median income of Russians was about $8,500 according to infoplease.

 

Geography

Russia is the largest country in the circle of independent states in the East. The Russian Federation borders Norway, Finland, Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Lithuania, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, and North Korea.

 

Demographics

Russia is an old country dating back to its establishment of territory in the 800’s by local tribes. In terms of wealth and wealth distribution, Russia has one of the highest pay gaps in the world. According to RT, “35 percent of Russian household wealth is controlled by just 110 billionaires.” Although Russia is wealthier than its neighboring countries, there is still an inequality of wealth with the majority of citizens across the state.

 

Most Recent Political Issues and Conflicts

2014 Winter Olympics

In 2014, an international uproar was the result of Putin instating an anti-gay law that outlawed any form of gay movements or dissemination of LGBT information to minors. At this time Russia was to host the 2014 Olympics. Athletes threatened to protest the Olympics by not attending, however Russia’s legislation stated that it would not affect those in the games.

Crimea

Days after the winter games, Russia annexed Crimea which was formally part of Ukraine. Below is a political cartoon that was created by Dave Granlund that came out during this huge political shift.

Internationally, the U.S. and Europe refuse to recognize Crimea as part of Russia because it broke Ukraine’s constitution and international law. Russia had positioned troops in Crimea and it’s borders giving off the assumption that they might takeover another city in Ukraine. Agreements were made with Russia and Ukraine to withdraw troops, but Russia did not comply and as a result the U.S. sanctioned individuals from Russia and parts of their major businesses and stakeholders. Consequently, the Russian economy drastically declined and fell by 13% in 2014.

 

How Does This Affect Journalists?

Despite the reputation Russia has for foreign opinion about its government or practices, Russia feels the same way towards its internal media and public opinion. Russia has been known for some time to assassinate its own journalists. The reasons behind the attacks on major figures in media, is that the Russian Federation does not want the media to speak ill of its government or of its president. For more information on the major killings and the extent of the assassinations refer to my previous blog The Components of A Russian Journalist.

 

This Weeks Coverage

The Panama Papers

April 7th, 2016: According to The Guardian, Putin has stated that his name was not among those released in the files that were exposed from the Panama Papers. Putin believes this release of information to be an initiative that the United States is behind that is to “destabilize” their internal government. Only Putin’s friends and acquaintances were named in which Putin said he thought they did nothing wrong and is still very accepting of them. The Guardian did a good job in explaining what Putin said while giving context behind his friends that received money, but I would like to know more about what other world leaders think to his response. Putin and the Kremlin overall dismissed the allegations.

Suicide Bomb Attack

April 11th, 2016: A rural police station in southern Russia was attacked by three men and one of them was a suicide bomber, according to an article released this morning by The Guardian.

This attack had the police on high alert in a military-readiness mindset. This bombing has been connected to other car bombings and attacks in a Destroyed cars at a police station in Nazran, IngushetiaMuslim-majority neighborhood that has people with Islamic extremist affiliations. I like the way The Guardian presented the information, however it seemed that they did not do any of their own reporting and used information from other news sources. I would have liked to see some legitimate information because they did not seem to know much about what had taken place.

 

Oligarchical Economy?

April 11th, 2016: According to the Novaya Gazeta, a prominent newspaper in Russia, billionaires and private stakeholders will be asked to pay a one time fee (possibly multiple fees) and contribute to Russia’s economic crisis. They are now being held to “share the burdens of the country of crisis.” Putin stated that he wanted to “return the property to the people” by having more money coming back in and get elected again in the next race. The Novaya Gazeta was an interesting paper to read because I had to translate it into English. That being said, not all sentences translated directly, so it did limit my full understanding of the article. However, they did a good job of giving information on what policy was changing and why it was going to change and who it would benefit. I think they did a fair job in looking at the different factors involved and unveiling the best information.

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