Russia's most prominent TV host has denounced as "political pedophiles" the organizers of rallies demanding the release of jailed opposition leader Aleksei Navalny. His insult set the tone for coverage by many pro-Kremlin media outlets, which have found the protests too big a story to follow their usual practice of ignoring critics of President Vladimir Putin. Instead, they are spreading demonstrably false claims that most of the protesters are children who are being misled.
A Russian court on January 28 will hear an appeal of Aleksei Navalny's detention, as the Kremlin appeared to continue to take a hard-line stance in the face of a fresh call for protests this weekend. "Yesterday the cogwheels of 'justice' began to spin, documents began to be drawn up, and today the lawyers were notified that the appeal against the arrest was scheduled for January 28 -- the day after tomorrow. All of a sudden," a top Navalny aide, Leonid Volkov, said in a post on Twitter on January 26. U.S. President Joe Biden has expressed concern over Moscow's crackdown on Navalny and anti-government protesters; also read Anger Over Corruption And Navalny's Jailing May Be Redefining Russian Politics.
Sairagul Sauytbay, an ethnic Kazakh from China, was sent to work as a teacher in one of the country's so-called "reeducation camps,” where human rights researchers say more than 1 million detainees, mostly Muslims, have been imprisoned. In 2018, Sauytbay escaped to Kazakhstan, then further to Sweden, and began recounting shocking stories of torture and oppression at the camp in China's Xinjiang region. Her efforts to reveal the conditions there have won her international recognition.
Hundreds rallied in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, on January 24 to call for the government to relax coronavirus-related restrictions. The demonstrators pledged to continue to rally until the government reopens schools and tourism-related businesses.
People have raised nearly $27,000 to buy a new apartment for a disabled man in the northern Russian city of Arkhangelsk, after a Current Time report showed the squalid housing conditions in which he was living. Police have also opened a criminal case against the company that managed Artyom Arkhipov's home.
In April 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic dominated the world’s headlines, Michael Martin, famous for being the last of a centuries-old Armenian community living in Bangladesh, passed away not long before his 90th birthday. His death led many to wonder what would happen to the most prominent reminder of Armenian heritage in Bangladesh -- the historic church to which he dedicated much of his life.
A lawyer and Belarusian citizen who works for jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) says he was handcuffed and forced into a car with a sack over his head before being taken on a 10-hour drive to the border by plainclothes police and handed over to Belarusian authorities. Uladzlen Los said in a video statement posted on YouTube on January 25 that Russian police told him he was barred from entering Russia for five years. Los added that the Belarusian police did not arrest him and allowed him to leave the country for a "safe" place in an undisclosed location.
The Russian vessel tapped to finish the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline has begun work in Danish waters just days after the U.S. sanctioned its parent company. "The lay barge Fortuna has started works in the construction corridor in the Danish [Exclusive Economic Zone], ahead of the resumption of the Nord Stream 2 construction. All works are performed in line with relevant permits," Nord Stream 2 said in a statement on January 24.
U.S. Republican and Democratic lawmakers called for new sanctions against Moscow if the Kremlin moves to enforce stringent restrictions and punishing fines that threaten RFE/RL’s news operations in Russia. The letter, dated January 22, also called on President Joe Biden’s administration to do more to bolster RFE/RL’s operations in Belarus, which has been roiled by months of anti-government protests following Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s declaration of reelection in August.
Almost 160 demonstrators were detained over the weekend in continued protests against strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka's claim of a landslide victory and a sixth presidential term in an August 2020 election that opposition politicians and hundreds of thousands of citizens contend was stolen.
Russia’s controversial space chief Dmitry Rogozin said Facebook suspended his account for a day after he got into an angry exchange with Michael McFaul, the former U.S. ambassador to Moscow. "My account was banned for a day, because my post allegedly violates the norms of the community,” he told Russian media agencies on January 24.
Following a meeting of the Council for Culture and Arts, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed that the country’s State Duma pass legislation to ban statements that publicly equate the roles of the U.S.S.R. and Nazi Germany during World War II. The legislation is to be adopted by the Russian parliament by July 1, 2021; Putin appointed State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin as responsible for accomplishing the task. Putin has repeatedly stated in the past that it is inadmissible to distort the historical memory of the years of the Great Patriotic War, as World War II is called in Russia, and the role of the USSR in it. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Tens of thousands of people took part in street protests on January 23 in 90 cities across Russia in support of Aleksei Navalny and civil freedoms in Russia. RFE/RL’s Russian Service compiled social media reactions from various bloggers who discussed their impressions and experiences. Everyone seemed to agree that Saturday’s protest opened a new page in the history of Russia - there have been many protests in recent years, but there have not been any similar ones to date, or such harsh and numerous arrests. (Russian Service)
Russian media reports that the country’s Federal Service for State Registration, Cadastre And Cartography, Rosreestr, hid from its information system data on the real estate of the head of the Internal Affairs Ministry Vladimir Kolokoltsev, his deputy Igor Zubov, as well as ministry official Irina Volk, who are reported to own expansive plots of land near Moscow. Earlier, Rosreestr hid from the system information about the real assets of the leadership of the FSB, Russia’s Defense Ministry, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and the head of Rosneft Igor Sechin, as well as current and former heads of law enforcement agencies. (Russian Service)
RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service reports, citing the latest polling data from the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, that 19.8% of Ukrainians would be prepared today to vote for current President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskiy, while 15.7% would support former President Petro Poroshenko. The poll also shows that if the two candidates were to face each other in a runoff for the Presidency, 55,2% would vote for Zelenskiy and 44,8% for Poroshenko. The next three leading candidates are “Fatherland” party leader Yulia Tymoshenko with 11.8% of the vote, opposition platform “For Life” leader Yuriy Boyko with 11%, and “Force and Honor” party leader Ihor Smeshko with 8.9%. (Ukrainian Service)
A U.S. intelligence analyst has been sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for kidnapping and stealing national-security materials with the intent of selling them to Russia. The U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement on January 25 that Elizabeth Shirley of West Virginia was sentenced "to 97 months of incarceration for unlawfully retaining documents containing national defense information and 36 months of incarceration for international parental kidnapping." The 47-year-old woman had admitted her guilt on both charges, the statement said.
Former Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko has died at the age of 64. Media reports quoted Russian government officials and associates of the politician as saying that Prikhodko, who was also the former chief of the government administration, died on January 25 of an unspecified illness. Earlier reports said that Prikhodko was diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease.
Former Kyrgyz Deputy Interior Minister and ex-presidential candidate Kursan Asanov has been returned to pretrial detention over his role in anti-government protests against the official results of parliamentary elections in October that ousted the government and President Sooronbai Jeenbekov. Asanov's lawyer, Ikramidin Aitkulov, told RFE/RL on January 26 that his client had been charged with the illegal seizure of a state building. A Interior Ministry official confirmed to RFE/RL that Asanov was taken into custody but gave no further details.
Uzbek parliament's lower chamber, the Oliy Majlis, has proposed moving up presidential elections to October from December as part of a package of election law changes to bring voting to "international standards." Lawmakers approved the proposals in the first reading on October 25. According to current legislation, presidential elections are held every five years on the first Sunday to fall during the last 10 days of December.
Mavjuda, a Tajik single mother in her 30s, makes her living by finding customers for a group of sex workers in the Tajik capital -- even though pimping and prostitution are banned in the country. Mavjuda, who doesn’t want her full name published, may soon risk losing her children in order to keep them fed. Tajikistan’s parliament is set to amend the country’s Family Law in a way that would deprive convicted pimps and brothel owners of parental rights -- with the state taking away any underage children they may have.
Tajik President Emomali Rahmon has declared the country coronavirus-free, claiming there have been no new cases this month. Rahmon made the claim in a January 26 address to parliament, even though the Health Ministry said earlier this month that several new cases were registered in the Central Asian country since the New Year. "Tajikistan today is without COVID-19," Rahmon said, adding that the "absence of coronavirus" within Tajikistan's borders did not mean that citizens can now neglect regulations such as wearing masks and social distancing.
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