A Moscow court has ruled to convert the suspended sentence of jailed opposition leader Aleksei Navalny to 2.8 years in prison. Watch Continuing live coverage on Current Time.
As Russia braced for a second weekend of protests on January 31 and the opposition reeled from consecutive days of law enforcement raids and arrests, a pro-Kremlin YouTube channel published a dispatch from inside a Moscow training base for riot police officers. Two lines of blue-uniformed members of the OMON force are shown standing before an archway flanked by the Russian eagle and the Moscow coat of arms, heads bowed as they receive instructions from a superior. "The country is watching you," the man says, his voice echoing through the long corridor. "It's not proud of [the protesters]," he says. "It's proud of you."
Video of Russian police brutally beating peaceful protesters has caused outrage around the world, but pro-Kremlin media have presented them as kindly guardians of public order handing out free hot tea and face masks. One report even said that officers in Siberia "offered" protesters to come and "warm themselves up in the bus for detainees."
Syava was once a thriving town of 10,000 people some 730 kilometers east of Moscow. But it's dying. After the main factory went bankrupt, rail service stopped, the main hospital closed, and the streets are lined with abandoned houses.
Only 10 percent of people in Bulgaria didn’t allow the use of their personal data for advertising purposes when using the Internet in the last 3 months – the lowest share among surveyed countries in Europe.
Moscow’s Magistrate court has once again fined RFE/RL and the general director of its legal entity in Russia 2.2 million rubles, a little over $20,000. This decision was made, as indicated in the message, "for the lack of information labeling" distributed on the sites Idel.Realii, Siberia.Realii, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty and the TV channel “Current Time TV,” in “violation of the procedure for the activity of a foreign mass media performing the functions of a foreign agent.” (in Russian, Current Time TV)
A prominent U.S investor went on trial in Moscow on February 2, nearly two years after he was arrested on embezzlement charges that rattled Russia’s business community. Michael Calvey, the founder of the private equity group Baring Vostok, and other executives were detained in February 2019. They have denied wrongdoing and said the charges against them are being used to pressure them in a business dispute over control of Vostochny Bank. In the Moscow courtroom on February 2, Calvey again proclaimed his innocence.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has pledged continued U.S. economic and military support to Ukraine under President Joe Biden's new administration. In a phone call with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on February 1, Blinken "emphasized strong bipartisan support for Ukraine and the priority the United States places on Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity, and Euro-Atlantic aspirations," the State Department said in a readout of the call. Also read -- Blinken Slams Putin For Crackdown On Navalny Supporters, Warns On Iran, China.
Russian scientists say the country's Sputnik-V vaccine appears safe and effective against COVID-19, according to early results of an advanced study published on February 2 in the British medical journal The Lancet. Researchers say that, based on their trial, which involved about 20,000 people in Russia last fall, the vaccine is about 91 percent effective in preventing people from developing COVID-19.
The Military Court of Appeals rejected an appeal by Pskov-based contributor to the RFE/RL Russian Service project North.Realities, Svetlana Prokopyeva, who was fined 500,000 RBL (about $6,600) under the article on justifying terrorism. The prosecutor at the hearing told the court that Prokopyeva is a "mouthpiece of the West," as she cooperates with foreign media. In November 2020, Prokopyeva was honored by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) with its annual International Press Freedom Award. (Russian Service/Sever.Realii)
A majority of lawmakers from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's Servant of the People party voted on February 1 to expel a lawmaker after he was put under U.S. sanctions over alleged U.S. election interference. Deputy Olha Vasylevska-Smahlyuk wrote on her Telegram channel that deputy Oleksandr Dubinskiy was expelled from the ruling party's parliamentary faction in "the shortest meeting of the Servant of the People faction ever."
Pension reform has been discussed for more than a decade in Ukraine, where pensions are currently paid for by the present-day workforce. The Ministry of Finance claims that a switch to a contributory system will inevitably decrease available funds, and can be accomplished by reducing the funding of the Pension Fund, or increasing taxes, or seeking funds elsewhere. Keeping the current system, however, may exhaust the financial capacity of the state in the future, leaving future generations without pensions at all. Some experts tell RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service that the current pension system will become unaffordable for the state budget in the next 10-20 years. (Ukrainian Service)
Russian media reports citing the Crimean Department of Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring that as of February 1, fresh water reserves in Russia-annexed Crimea are nearly 2.4 times smaller that at the same time in 2020. Last fall, drinking water situation in Crimea was recognized by Russian authorities on the peninsula as "catastrophic," with only four hours a day of water available for use by residents in Simferopol, one of the largest Crimean cities. Similar limitations have been imposed on the resort cities of Alushta and Partenit, and in Sevastopol. Before the annexation of Crimea, about 85 percent of the fresh water needs of local residents were provided by the North Crimean Canal, which Ukraine shut down following the annexation in 2014. (Ukrainian Service)
The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has decided that the Latvian capital, Riga, will be the sole host for the 2021 World Championship, after Minsk was stripped of the right to co-host the competition last month. The IIHF said in a statement on February 2 that the Slovakian capital, Bratislava, and Herning in Denmark offered to co-host the tournament in May-June, but the organization decided it was best to keep all teams in Riga throughout the event and avoid travel amid the coronavirus pandemic.
RFE/RL Armenian Service Director Harry Tamrazian spoke to Carnegie Europe’s Caucasus expert, Thomas de Waal, who told RFE/RL that “I think the Minsk Group will continue. But it will have to deal with other issues and this is where the importance of restoring economic relations is very great. This has to be done in a way that doesn’t just benefit Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Russia. The Armenians have to feel that they are benefiting from the restoration of economic relations -- including the Armenians of Karabakh. And I think there are possibilities here.” Also Read -- Turkey, Azerbaijan Begin Joint Military Drills Near Armenian Border.
Kyrgyz journalist turned politician Myktybek Arstanbek -- who is known for promoting Islamic values on social media and in public statements -- points out that his newly established political party Noor (which means "light" in Arabic) has no religious agenda despite its plan to call for a "public discussion" on introducing Shari'a norms in Kyrgyzstan. Despite his reassurances, many Kyrgyz remain unconvinced as Arstanbek's statements continue to focus on religion and its role in society.
Speaking at a video conference on January 27, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev said that "corruption is everywhere, theft is everywhere," and instructed Prosecutor General Nigmatulla Yuldashev, himself implicated in a corruption scandal, to identify the causes of corruption in each region of the country. Bukhara city prosecutor Jasur Fozilov has alleged that Yuldashev was selling positions in the prosecutor's office; a commission was created to investigate Fozilov’s claims, but its conclusions have never been made public. (Uzbek Service)
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