RFE/RL contributor Stanislav Aseyev spoke to the Ukrainian Service about torture, interrogation, and the control of the Russian security service over the separatists in eastern Ukraine. He underscored the importance of outside information and advocacy, saying, “It is actually the only positive thing there is -- to hear that we have not been forgotten.” (Ukrainian Service)
Anti-government protesters marched to the presidential palace in Belgrade and symbolically knocked on its door on January 11, calling Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic "a thief." It was the 58th consecutive Saturday march since December 2018.
After spending part of his childhood in the dire conditions of a Romanian orphanage, Florin Catanescu founded a shelter in Brasov for young people leaving state institutions.
Eight strongmen from across Russia have competed in the city of Ufa in Russia's Bashkortostan region in the Winter Strongman Games, in which competitors must lift, carry and slide massive weights hewn from ice.
Asked by journalists about the presence of Russian mercenaries in Libya, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on January 11, “if there are Russian citizens there, they do not represent the interests of the Russian state and do not receive money from it.” Russia has no official role in Libya, however, numerous foreign media outlets and diplomats have reported evidence of Russian mercenaries, including snipers and military specialists, and military equipment in the country. (in Russian, Current Time)
Speaking at a press conference in Moscow on January 11 with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia will "certainly" be able to complete the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany without foreign assistance and by the first quarter of 2021. The project is under U.S. sanctions.
A court in the Russian republic of Tatarstan has arrested Karim Yamadayev, a local civil rights activist, on suspicion of promoting terrorism after he mocked President Vladimir Putin and two of his close associates in a YouTube video. If found guilty, Yamadayev faces up to seven years in prison.
Universities, schools, museums, and theaters in at least six cities in Russia’s Far East were evacuated on January 13 due to reports of explosive devices being planted in the buildings, authorities say.
The government's statistics agency, Rosstat, released figures in December showing a predicted population decline for 2019 of more than 300,000, a loss three times greater than the year before and the third straight year of decline.
Ukraine is cracking down on illegal gambling and logging and fraudulent gas stations in an effort to rein in the country’s shadow economy. Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk told a meeting of the country’s regional heads over the weekend that 2020 “will be the year of the uncloaking of the Ukrainian economy,” and said that police had shuttered 900 illicit gambling dens in the last two weeks.
Ukraine’s only English-language television channel, the state broadcaster UATV, aired its last broadcast on January 12. UATV was created in 2015 amid what media analysts have called a fierce “information war” with Russia.
Raul Khajimba, leader of the self-proclaimed breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia, has resigned following four days of protests in the regional capital, Sukhumi. Parliament speaker Valery Kvarchia told Russia's TASS news agency that "the issue of who will act [as president] has not yet been decided."
The U.S. Embassy in Ashgabat says Washington remains committed to “a strong relationship” with Turkmenistan as officials in the Central Asian nation appear to be infuriated by a spoofy Netflix movie allegedly “inspired” by authoritarian Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov.
Dozens of women have rallied in the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan to call for the government to raise social benefits paid to families with children, the second such rally this month.
Uzbek officials aiming to seize more than $1.5 billion in art objects and other foreign assets held by Gulnara Karimova, the eldest daughter of the late President Islam Karimov, say they have begun searching a mansion she owns in Switzerland. The search is being conducted together with authorities from Switzerland, France, Russia, Latvia, and other countries.
A Levada center poll conducted in mid-December has found that a record 66% of Russian respondents expect corruption scandals and resignations this year. At the same time, 63% of Russians believe this year will be better than last. (Russian Service)