Inside the factory, they face the threat of dismissal by management. Outside the factory, they face the prospect of punishment at the hands of riot police. As they consider joining a national strike to press for longtime ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka to step down, workers at a major chemical plant in Belarus, Hrodna Azot, are dealing with an array of tools wielded by their bosses and the state to keep them in line, a strike leader from the plant told Current Time in an interview.
COVID-19 cases are growing fast in Russia and the situation is becoming dire in some regions. The country reported a record 18,283 new cases on October 30. There are shortages of medical supplies and personnel in a number of cities. And some morgues are full of bodies, with not enough pathologists to handle the dead.
Ukraine says it plans to buy more than 40 military drones from Turkey and wants to establish a large-scale assembly plant to build the unmanned combat aircraft. It comes as the two countries signed military cooperation agreements on October 16, deepening their defense partnership, which is seen as an effort to counterbalance Russia's dominance in the Black Sea region.
Seventy-five years ago, the German city of Koenigsberg was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1945 at the Potsdam Conference following World War II, and renamed the city and surrounding region Kaliningrad. It took decades before the Russians in Kaliningrad fully stopped thinking of their German neighbors as “fascists.”
Talks between the top diplomats of Azerbaijan and Armenia and international mediators have begun in Geneva as the parties look for a deal strong enough to bring a halt to fighting over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh after three previous cease-fires failed. Diplomats from the Minsk Group mediation co-chairs -- Russia, France, and the United States — met separately with the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Zohrab Mnatsakanian and Ceyhun Bayramov, before they sat down for joint talks later.
Ukraine's natural-gas chief has urged the United States to expand sanctions aimed at stopping construction of a nearly complete Russian energy pipeline that would bring gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea. Andriy Kobolyev, the chief executive officer of state-owned Naftogaz, told RFE/RL in an interview on October 29 during a visit to Washington that he tied his trip to the U.S. capital to congressional discussions on a bill that would widen sanctions against the Kremlin-backed Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Belarus's embattled ruler, has met with his new security chiefs and sent a stark warning to protesters after he tightened his grip on the country by replacing top Interior Ministry officials and partially closing the borders, moves seen aimed at ending weeks of demonstrations over a disputed election that gave him a sixth consecutive term in power. Lukashenka on October 30 appointed Mikhail Hryb as the new police chief for the capital, Minsk, introducing him along with new Interior Minister Ivan Kubrakou at a meeting of security officials where he threatened "harsh measures at the site" instead of arresting protesters.
RFE/RL Europe Editor Rikard Jozwiak reports via Twitter that next week, the European Union plans to extend sanctions to an additional group of Belarusian officials, including Alyaksandr Lukashenka personally. EU member state ambassadors in Brussels reportedly plan to approve the introduction of visa bans and impose asset freezes on Lukashenka and 14 other Belarusian citizens on November 4, and confirm their decision on November 6. (Ukrainian Service)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and the Constitutional Court have clashed over a ruling to abolish some anti-corruption laws, as hundreds of protesters gathered in the streets of Kyiv over the decision. Zelenskiy asked lawmakers on October 30 to annul a court ruling earlier this week that struck down anti-corruption legislation and curbed the powers of the National Anti-Corruption Agency (NAZK) and called on them to dissolve the Constitutional Court because its decisions were "worthless."
Russian media reports that about 7-8 people were detained near the French embassy in Moscow during a protest rally against caricatures of Prophet Muhammad. Several dozen people took part in the rally, during which they burned a photograph of French President Emmanuel Macron. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
According to the Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, there is not enough medical oxygen in 22 regions of the country. The shortage was uncovered as a result of a survey of all Russian regions, including Russia-annexed Crimea. In recent days Russia has been registering record numbers of new Covid-19 cases. (Russian Service)
An annual ceremony to commemorate the thousands of people executed during communist-era dictator Josef Stalin's Great Terror has been held online in Moscow and some other Russian cities, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Russian Ombudswoman Tatyana Moskalkova launched the 12-hour ceremony, known as Returning the Names, on YouTube on the morning of October 29.
Swedish authorities have charged two individuals with attempted murder and accessory to attempted murder in a hammer attack on Tumso Abdurakhmanov, a blogger and outspoken critic of the authoritarian leader of Russia's North Caucasus region of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov. The Swedish Security Service (SAPO) said in a statement late on October 29 that the attack in February on Abdurakhmanov was suspected of being linked to "a regime in another country, the Russian republic of Chechnya."
The Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Center issued an updated list of political prisoners in Russia on October 30, the Day of Commemoration of the Victims of Political Repressions. According to the updated list, there are currently 362 political prisoners in Russia, of whom 297 were persecuted for their religious views and 65 for their political activities. That is up from 305 people listed as political prisoners last year, with 252 individuals persecuted for their religious views and 53 for political activities.
Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, who holds the dubious distinction of being the only post-Soviet autocrat in power longer than Belarus's Alyaksandr Lukashenka, has been sworn in for his fifth term in office. The October 30 inauguration ceremony took place at the Palace of the Nation in the capital, Dushanbe.
The leader of Kyrgyzstan's opposition Butun (United) Kyrgyzstan party, Adakhan Madumarov, has announced his intention to run in the upcoming early presidential election scheduled for January 10. Madumarov's October 30 announcement came five days after acting President Sadyr Japarov publicly said he will seek the office as well. The 55-year-old Madumarov is one of the few Kyrgyz politicians who has openly questioned the legitimacy of Japarov’s current rule.
Two more ethnic Kazakhs from China's northwestern Xinjiang region who entered Kazakhstan illegally have obtained temporary refugee status. Abdulla Baqbergen, a lawyer for Qaisha Aqan and Baghashar Malikuly, told RFE/RL on October 30 that his clients received the refugee status for one year on October 29 and October 28, respectively.
The head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro has died just weeks after being hospitalized following a positive test for the coronavirus. The Serbian Orthodox Church said in a statement on its website that Metropolitan Amfilohije died at the Clinical Center of Montenegro (KCCG) early on October 30 at the age of 82.