Russian animal rights activists are on the offensive, Izvestia reports. They've recently launched a web project zhivoderam.net aimed at exposing dog hunters, crow hunters and others who hunt or poison stray and wild animals for sport or support animal cruelty. The team behind the project is also preparing an address to the Russian President, police, Investigative Committee and the Prosecutor General's Office, in which they will present collected information as evidence and basis for criminal proceedings. The daily explains that activists gathered this information from open sources, such as social networks, blogs and online communities popular among dog hunters - most of their records contain addresses, phone numbers, information on cars they drive, passport numbers and preferred 'hunting grounds' - districts where they engage in their bloody sport. Currently the website has 19 such personal files with some individuals already having been involved in legal proceedings regarding hunting dogs. However, those interviewed by the daily were surprised at their files being on public display and denied all accusations. The newspaper reminds that hunting and poisoning of homeless animals became widespread in 2011 with supporters forming communities and sharing know-how on effectively eradicating strays - they deny this gives them any sort of pleasure and motivate their actions by failure of the government to address the issue of potentially dangerous wild animals roaming city streets. Animal rights activists retort by providing humane ways of eliminating the homeless animal issue - neutering, animal shelters and mandatory radio chips and registration for pets as well as massive fines for owners who abandon their animals.The article also reminds that vigilante dog hunters have already managed to cause a stir by shooting not just strays, but also pets and leaving poisoned meat around city parks. The latter lead to a young child being poisoned, but, thankfully, doctors managed to save his life. No one received criminal charges.
State Duma deputies on Tuesday voted 226-207 on the bill that would sharply increase fines on protesters who participate in illegal rallies. A new type of alternative punishment was introduced - community service. Newspapers highlight that this was a very close call as with 10 fewer votes, the legislation would not have passed; United Russia was the only faction that vote for the bill. Moskovskiy Komsomolets writes that no one denied that the bill was lobbied by the presidential administration as means of curbing the protest movement. Novye Izvestia interviewed Sergey Davidis, one of the "Solidarity" movement leaders. He called the bill a prohibitive police measure that strips the citizens of their freedom of assembly. He added that the bill can be qualified as generating corruption, as law enforcement authorities can abuse the immense fines as leverage for extortion. Kommersant reports that representatives of oppositionist parties warned such a severe clampdown may only lead to pressure building up and eventually exploding in street violence.
Russians are becoming happier, at least, according to the All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center, Novye Izvestia reports. According to their figures, in September of 2011 66% of respondents identified themselves as happy; this April the number jumped to 82%. Currently only 13% are unhappy. The most happy demographic is people under the age 35. The daily decided to double-check the results and conducted a similar poll. The latter yielded different stats only 56% happy. The newspaper has asked social scientist Larisa Pautova for professional opinion. The expert is skeptical about the official figures: quote "About 2 years ago we asked Russians if they were happy and received about 60% positive answers. I believe this is a more realistic figure" unquote. She added that probably the devil is in the details and one should look at how questions were formed and answers analyzed. Nikita Krichevskiy, Doctor of Science, Economics, believes such polls may be politically biased and aimed to appease public officials. He added that happiness means different things to different people and is not limited to financial issues - but overall, compared to the 90s Russia is demonstrating real progress in the economic sector and quality of life.
The Moscow Times looks at the new Cabinet from the gender perspective as the number of female ministers in the new government has dropped to just two. Sociologists and politicians interviewed by the daily believe Russia's overarching patriarchal character has resulted in widespread discrimination and that job quotas for women should be enforced. For example, Marina Baskakova, a leading researcher on gender issues at the Russian Academy of Sciences, pressing for such enforcement, stated "There is a stereotype that women can't be leaders, although this is not correct". She added that both Russian men and women tended to believe the stereotype, and therefore few voted for female candidates and few women ran in elections. Women mostly hold jobs in the lower levels of government. Some male Russian politicians argue that this is only natural due to tradition and family value as women pay more attention to the household and the family. Others took a more tongue-in-cheek approach. Communist State Duma Deputy Sergei Obukhov said it was simply that "women are too clever to meddle in politics."