The Belarusian Foreign Ministry has annulled the accreditations of all foreign journalists in the country, saying the move was made as part of a reforming of the country's regulations and procedures for the media. 125 Days Behind Bars -- RFE/RL Journalists Face Unrelenting Pressure in Belarus.
In Azerbaijan's breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, ethnic Armenian civilians have been forced to live in open fields to escape shelling by Azerbaijani forces. Meanwhile, residents of an Azerbaijani town live among shell-damaged apartment blocks. The Azerbaijanis And Armenians Demanding Peace Instead Of War.
Ukrainian officials say massive forest fires in the eastern region of Luhansk have killed at least nine people. A total of 17 people have been hospitalized while dozens of others have been evacuated as a series of blazes swept across several districts in the region, endangering 32 settlements, the State Service for Emergency Situations (DSNS) said in a statement on October 2.
Staff and students at Budapest's renowned University of Theater and Film Arts (SZFE) are in open revolt after the government transferred control of the school to a private foundation and board of trustees that critics say is filled with allies of right-wing, nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Management and staff have resigned, a strike has been called, and students have for weeks been blockading the entrance into the school, which boasts such illustrious alumni as Casablanca director Michael Curtiz.
Students rallied in front of the Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics in Minsk on September 30 in support of classmates who have been detained during protests against the government of Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
For years, as revealed in a previous series of investigations, deputy customs chief Raimbek Matraimov enabled -- and profited from -- a smuggling empire run by a secretive Uyghur family. Matraimov is no longer in the customs service. But over the years, he and his brothers, who still hold important public functions, have amassed vast riches -- and converted them into influence. This new investigative series by RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service, OCCRP, Kloop and Bellingcat shows how.
The Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on October 2 that it welcomed a joint call the previous day from France, Russia, and the U.S. -- the co-chairs of the so-called Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which has tried to mediate the conflict since the early 1990s -- for an immediate cessation of hostilities between the forces fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh. Meanwhile, protests erupted in Iran in support of Azerbaijan’s position on the conflict.
The European Union on October 1 announced asset freezes on four companies and two individuals responsible for the construction of the Kerch Strait railway bridge. It also imposed visa bans on the two individuals, Alekandr Ganov and Leonid Ryzhenkin. Ganov is the director of the JSC TC Grand Service Express, which operates the railway service between Russia and Crimea, and Ryzhenkin is the deputy director for infrastructure projects at Stroigazmontazh, the firm that supervised the construction of the bridge.
Belarus says it is introducing a list of people barred from entering the country in retaliation against EU plans to impose sanctions on dozens of individuals in Belarus responsible for fraud in the August presidential election and the ensuing brutal crackdown on protesters and opposition members who say the vote was rigged. The Foreign Ministry made the announcement on October 2, accusing the EU of imposing "punitive measure" on Belarus because the country "did not comply with a set of ultimatum requirements that no self-respecting sovereign state would satisfy." Also read: 'Three Years For A Scratch': Belarusians Sentenced To Maximum Security For Resisting Police.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has criticized Russia's plans to expand the use of "invasive" facial-recognition systems, because of the group's "serious concern" over the project's potential threat to privacy. The Kommersant newspaper reported last week that CCTV cameras with facial-recognition software will be installed in public spaces and at the entryway of apartment buildings in 10 pilot cities across Russia, with the purported aim of protecting public safety.
Police in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, have launched an investigation into a deadly attack on a U.S. Embassy worker. Police said in a statement on October 1 that a woman was found unconscious the previous day with a head wound in a park near a railway line in Kyiv's Shevchenko district. The woman, whose identity was not disclosed, was rushed to hospital, were she died hours later, the statement says, adding that documents found in the woman's purse revealed that she was a worker for the U.S. Embassy.
From people demanding better welfare protections to demonstrators calling for lockdown measures, the COVID-19 pandemic has been the main source of recent protest in Central Asia, according to a new study. The new report by the Oxus Society for Central Asian Affairs, a recently founded Washington-based research organization, mapped protests in the five former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, cataloguing 981 incidents over a 2 1/2-year span to August 2020.
The statement, by the CoE committee overseeing the execution of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), called on Russia to comply with the ECHR’s rulings on lifting restrictions it has imposed on Jehovah's Witnesses in the country after the religious group was designated an extremist organization in 2017. The statement noted that the ECHR has previously ruled that Russia is violating the rights of Jehovah's Witnesses to freedom of religion, and that Russia has not provided information requested by the committee. (Russian Service)
When a Russian court sentenced gulag historian Yury Dmitriyev to 3 1/2 years in prison on child sexual-abuse charges in July, many supporters who have waged a campaign for his exoneration considered it something of a victory. Dmitriyev had spent much of the past four years behind bars, languishing in pretrial detention following his arrest in December 2016. But both sides appealed the sentence, and the Supreme Court of the Karelia region slapped another 9 1/2 years onto Dmitriyev's sentence in a ruling on September 29 -- weeks before the 64-year-old researcher was due to be released because of time served.
Russian media reports that the Russian government intends to increase its subsidies to the All-Russian Cossack Society for the next two years. If the Cossack Society received 62.8 million rubles ($803.3K) in subsidies in 2020, the government plans to allocate 69.7 million rubles ($891.5K) in 2021, and to further boost the subsidy in 2022 to 71.4 million rubles ($913.3K). In many cities, local authorities involve Cossacks as private security contractors to patrol the streets and break up protests. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Police in the southern Kyrgyz region of Osh say they have detained a person affiliated with a pro-government party for "distributing cash" among potential voters just two days before parliamentary elections. Osh regional police spokesman Jenish Ashirbaev told RFE/RL on October 2 that the suspect, who was detained in the village of Nariman in the Kara-Suu district, was part of the election campaign team of the Mekenim Kyrgyzstan (My Homeland Kyrgyzstan) party. Also read: Kyrgyz political party claims activist was killed by rival activist days before elections.
Kazakh blogger Marghulan Boranbaev, widely known for his nationalist and anti-Russian views, has been arrested less than a week after another Kazakh blogger, known for his pro-Russian posts, was placed in a detention center. Boranbaev's lawyer, Anuar Baidar, told RFE/RL on October 2 that his client was placed in a detention center in the Central Asian state's largest city, Almaty, the previous day. Also, Kazakh Court Upholds Prison Sentence Of Well-Known Rights Activist.
For the third day in a row, Ukraine is registering a record number of new coronavirus cases. According to official statistics, since the beginning of the pandemic more than 217,000 people have been infected with COVID-19, and 4,261 people have died. Over the past day, Ukraine registered 4,633 new cases. The head of Ukraine’s state-owned gas company Naftogaz, Andriy Kobolev, announced on his Facebook feed on October 2 that he had tested positive for the virus and will conduct all of his meetings virtually. (Ukrainian Service)
Russian research center says early trials of its coronavirus vaccine have been successful; Uzbekistan lifts ban on international travel, imposed in mid-March to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Here's a roundup of COVID-19 developments in RFE/RL's broadcast regions
INFOGRAPHIC: Where Armenia, Azerbaijan Get Their Weapons