Fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh enters a second day amid international calls for restraint. Both sides have accused each other of using heavy artillery amid reports of dozens of deaths, including civilians, and hundreds of people being injured.
Belarusian police have made hundreds of arrests and fired tear gas and stun grenades during nationwide protests, as a groundswell of opposition to Alyaksandr Lukashenka continued for the 50th consecutive day. Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich leaves Belarus for medical treatment in Germany.
The Russia-controlled administration in Crimea is calling in a plane to try to stimulate rain in the drought-hit region of central Crimea. Experts are warning of the possible impact on the environment and question the effectiveness of the plan. Crimea is facing increasing freshwater shortages. Ukraine closed a canal carrying water to the region after Russia seized control of the peninsula in 2014.
In Belarus, buying a bottle of mineral water is now political. A new app allows Belarusians to boycott companies linked to Alyaksandr Lukashenka by scanning bar codes on everyday products.
Three Russian scientists who participated in the Soviet-era production of the nerve agent Novichok now dominate Russia’s coverage of the poisoning of influential Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny. Vil Mirzayanov, Leonid Rink, and Vladimir Uglyov are the only such scientists to speak out on this topic to Russian media. But they are a divided group, and their personal differences extend to how they interpret Novichok’s link to that poisoning.
One passenger survived the September 25 crash of a Ukrainian Air Force Antonov-26 carrying a crew of seven and 20 military aviation school cadets that occurred while the plane was coming in for landing at the airport in Chuhuyiv, about 400 kilometers east of the capital Kyiv.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny in a Berlin hospital where he was recovering from what European experts have determined was poisoning with a military-grade nerve agent. The 44-year-old Navalny wrote on Twitter on September 28 that it was a "private visit and a conversation with the family." He added that he was "very grateful" to Merkel for visiting him in Berlin's Charite hospital, where he spent 32 days.
Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimer Makey has accused Western states of interfering in the country’s internal affairs to foment “chaos and anarchy” amid weeks of protests following last month's disputed presidential election. "We are seeing attempts to destabilize the situation in the country," he told the UN General Assembly in a video statement on September 26. "Interference in our internal affairs, sanctions, and other restrictions on Belarus will have the opposite effect, and are harmful for absolutely everyone."
People in the Far Eastern Russian city of Khabarovsk have taken to the streets for the 78th consecutive day to protest the arrest in July of the region’s popular former governor, Sergei Furgal. Crowd estimates for the September 26 rally ranged from some 500 to over 2,000. Furgal was arrested on July 9 and taken to Moscow, where he faces charges in connection with several killings that happened in the mid-2000s.
When Bulgarian writer Svetoslav Nahum’s book Escape From Crimea was published in Sofia last year, he expected support from the Union of Bulgarian Writers (SBP) and Bulgarian PEN Center. Instead of support, Nahum says, the pro-Kremlin leadership of both organizations refused to back him. The book which depicts the tribulations faced by Ukrainians who fled their homes in Crimea after the territory was occupied by Russian military forces in 2014 and illegally annexed by the Kremlin.
A recent Levada Center poll found that 48% of Russians trust TV coverage of news in the country and in the world. Sociologists note that this is the lowest figure since July 2016. Overall, the number of people who watch TV news has dropped from 88% to 69% over the past seven years. At the same time, the number of people who trust the news they get from social media networks has significantly increased, from 12% in 2016 to 38% today. (Russian Service)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksiy held a meeting of his National Anticorruption Council to discuss a proposed anticorruption strategy for 2020-2024. Zelenskiy called on MP’s to consider as soon as possible the bill “on the principles of state anti-corruption policy for 2020-2024.” According to a September 25 report from the Ukrainian NGO StateWatch, this was the first meeting of the National Anticorruption Council since July 2019. (Ukrainian Service)
Romania's ruling centrist National Liberal Party (PNL) was on pace for gains in local elections, exit polls showed on September 27, in a vote seen as a key test for the country’s minority-led government. Originally planned for June, the election was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Authorities in Kazakhstan have attempted to block protest rallies called on September 25 by exiled opposition leader Mukhtar Ablyazov and the banned Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan movement. Authorities in several cities and towns closed off streets, surrounded public squares, and prevented would-be demonstrators from going to areas where they'd been called upon to gather together for rallies.
The former head of the Kosovo Security Force’s intelligence service made his initial appearance on war crimes charges at a court in The Hague. Salih Mustafa declined on September 28 to enter a plea before the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC), telling the pretrial judge "I will consult my lawyer before I do."
A court in Kazakhstan has detained a pro-Russian blogger for two months pending trial on suspicion of inciting ethnic hatred. Ermek Taichibekov was previously sentenced to 4 years in prison in 2015 on charges of inciting ethnic hatred by placing "inflammatory" materials on Facebook and supporting the idea of Kazakhstan uniting with Russia.
Hundreds of people have staged a protest in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek after a leaked video appeared to show Marat Amankulov, leader of the pro-government Birimdik party suggesting that the former Soviet republic should reconsider its independence. The demonstration on September 27 came as the Central Asian nation prepares for parliamentary elections on October 4.