Our review of the week’s news
Other news this week:
3 January 2021
The Guardian: The Moscow metro has hired female drivers for the first time in its recent history, following changes in Russian legislation prohibiting women from many professions. The Russian capital’s transport system, which oversees the sprawling metro network, said in a statement that “the first female electric train drivers in modern history started working for the Moscow metro.” Built in the Soviet era as a communist showpiece, the metro’s trains were historically operated by men because the work was listed on the government’s register of jobs deemed harmful to women’s health.
4 January 2021
Human Rights in Ukraine: Childhood ended abruptly for 20 Crimean Tatar children in 2020, when armed and masked Russian enforcement officers burst into their homes, turned them upside down and took their fathers away. There was no reason for the machine guns, since the searches were about finding – or planting – ‘prohibited literature’, and not one of the men was accused of an actual crime. No reason, that is, except for instilling terror, which certainly appears to be one of the main aims of all such ‘operations’. 185 children in Crimea have now had their fathers taken from them, and, if Russia has its way, most will be adults before their fathers return from this new Russian form of deportation. Back in 2016, with arrests becoming ever more frequent, renowned Crimean Tatar journalist Lilya Budzhurova wrote a pivotal article entitled ‘These are our children now’. Repressive measures were swift, with a formal warning issued within a couple of days of “the admissibility of extremist activities”.
5 January 2021
The Moscow Times: Police in Ukraine have received new evidence that may help identify those who ordered the murder of award-winning investigative journalist Pavel Sheremet in 2016. “The documents and audio recordings, the last of which are dated by 2012, are already at the disposal of the investigation,” the police said in a statement. Fragments of these recordings published on the Internet contain the voices of “unidentified persons discussing the murder” of Sheremet, including the option of poisoning him, the statement added. The National Police also said they had received permission to conduct an investigation in an EU country, but did not specify which one.
6 January 2021
Human Rights in Ukraine: In less than three months, Ukrainians who have not taken Russian citizenship face being stripped of their homes or land in occupied Crimea. This follows the brazenly illegal decree passed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on 20 March 2020, prohibiting those falsely dubbed ‘foreigners’ from owning land in around 80% of the peninsula, except for three regions without access to the Black Sea. The move is yet another method by which the occupying state is forcing those Ukrainians who in 2014 refused to take the aggressor state’s citizenship, to either lose their homes or be forced to become Russian citizens. There are likely to be other motives, including straight plunder since the price is likely to be significantly lower than the land’s real value.
7 January 2021
The Moscow Times: Russia surpassed 60,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths Thursday, according to daily official figures. National task force figures showed 506 new deaths and 23,541 infections detected in the past 24 hours. Autopsy-based statistics suggest the official death toll is a fraction of the true number. A total of 3,332,142 cases and 60,457 fatalities have been registered in Russia since the start of the pandemic, around half of Russia’s state statistics agency Rosstat’s own estimate of 116,000 coronavirus-related deaths, not including December fatalities. Medics, statisticians and demographers have questioned Russia’s official Covid-19 fatality numbers since the start of the outbreak in spring, suggesting an effort to downplay its impact.
8 January 2021
The Moscow Times: Russia confirmed 23,652 new coronavirus cases and 454 deaths.