In recent months, Russia has adopted a slew of regulations – on freedom of assembly, free speech, the Internet, non-governmental organizations, gays and foreign adoptions – that would place it among the most repressive and backward nations on Earth. Only one difference: So far, no one is bothering to enforce most of the new rules.
In an opinion Bloomberg’s Leonid Bershidsky says that enforcement has been decidedly spotty when it comes to all the new bills.
There have been a few slander charges against investigative reporters, but so far no one has been convicted or jailed. Similarly, no one has been slapped with the maximum fine of 300,000 rubles for organizing an unsanctioned rally or participating in one.
Not a single popular website has been closed down for “extremism.” A few sites have been forced to remove pages dealing with illegal drugs.
As for the “foreign agent” law, on Jan. 16 Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov effectively told the parliament that he had no intention of implementing the legislation. Bershidsky writes.
For the most part, the parliament has succeeded in painting Russia as a country where civil liberties are ruthlessly repressed – without having much actual effect.
Well-known Russian columnist Oleg Kashin noted a difference in some of the more recent laws: They are aimed at groups that are not particularly dangerous to Putin’s rule. As such, they could in the future prove useful to the Kremlin, should it ever want to undertake some symbolic liberalization.
“The list of reforms that could be immediately announced would be much more impressive,” Kashin wrote on openspace.ru. “One could lower the fines for taking part in rallies, abolish the ’foreign agent’ notion, decriminalize slander and so on, all the way up to allowing U.S. citizens to adopt Russian orphans.”
Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Northern Fleet’s “Admiral Kuznetsov”, has finished repairs and is ready to leave the port of Murmansk. According to a Russian news agency, the vessel will sail to Syria.
A century and a half ago, Norway was home to roughly three thousand brown bears, the majority of bears in all of Scandinavia. By 1930, the bears were virtually extinct. Decades of aggressive management tactics and bounties had wiped out one of the area’s most iconic species.
Microplastics, the tiny plastic particles that are accumulating in marine waters and big lakes around the world, are now showing up in the Arctic waters south and southwest of Svalbard, Norway, a new study says.
REYKJAVIK: The climatic changes taking place in the Arctic are a call to action for the world. We must answer with more international cooperation and more research, says Tore Hattrem, State Secretary of Norway’s Foreign Ministry.
“Partnership should and shall shape the development of the Arctic, therefore cooperation is the starting point for our Arctic policy,” Vladimir Barbin, Senior Arctic Official and representative to the Arctic Council, said at the Arctic Circle 2015 assembly.
August 9th, the Barents Region celebrated the UN International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The day was commemorated in several parts of the region, including Karasjok in Northern Norway and Teriberka in Northwestern Russia.
Norway’s Foreign Minister Børge Brende has asked Russia for an explanation to the high number of asylum seekers coming to Norway via Russia. Syrian refugees that have lived in Russia for a long time, will be stopped on the border and sent back.