Russia in the News: August 19, 2009 provides a glimpse into the topical news stories emerging from Russia:

Transparency Fading as Russian Bureaucrats Shun the Media

Journalist Galina Stolyarova comments on a new “ethics code,” which prohibits civil servants from speaking openly with the media.

Read more from Transitions Online.

Medvedev Drafts New Defense Law, Allowing Russian Military Freer Reign

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev recently introduced a new bill to Parliament that would restructure Russia’s policy on defense. While the current policy is strictly defensive of the Russian heartland, the new one would allow Russia to “defend” other states as it sees fit.

Read more from Russia Profile and the Moscow Times.

Top Kremlin Official Pens “Gangsta Fiction” Novel, Detailing the Corrupt Nature of Russian Politics

Vladislav Surkov, the Kremlin’s First Deputy Chief of Staff, published the novel “Okolo nolya” (Around Zero) under a pseudonym about a month ago, in which he confesses the vast level of corruption present in the Russian government.

Read more from the Moscow Times.

Suicide Bombing in Nazran, Ingushetia Kills 20, Injures 119: Insurgents Escalate Violence in Caucasus Region

On Monday a suicide bomber drove a minivan filled with TNT through a police station in Nazran in southern Russia. Further insurgent violence continued in following days.

Read more from the Moscow News and Russia Profile.

Russian punk rockers rage against the Putin machine

PTVP, a St. Petersburg punk-rock group, shows that anti-authoritarian and rebellious culture is alive and well in Russia.

Read more from the Agence France-Presse.