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‘Putin Is An Icon For Them’ -- Children Draw Vladimir Putin

Russian school children are drawing Russian President Vladimir Putin as part of a competition launched by Sergey Volodin, head of a charitable group. 450 drawings have already been submitted and the deadline is March 18, election day, but Volodin denies the contest has any relationship to the presidential campaign. (Russian Service)

VISUAL REPORTS

High-Pressure Push To Vote In Russia

Cast your ballot or find a gay man in your bed -- that's the message of a viral video urging people to vote in Russia's presidential election.

Peaceful Rallies Held For Slain Kremlin Critic Nemtsov

Demonstrators marched in Russian cities on February 25 to commemorate the death of Kremlin critic and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, who was gunned down steps from the Kremlin three years ago.

EU Commission Chief Praises Macedonia’s Reforms

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has urged Macedonia to resolve a long-standing name dispute with neighboring Greece so the country can open membership talks with the European Union.

PHOTOGALLERY: Chernobyl’s Sunny Future

Construction of a solar power plant in the area that has suffered from Chernobyl nuclear disaster is nearing its end. (Russian Service)

OTHER NEWS

7.40am -- Good Morning!

[Excerpt from Current Time TV’s daily, first-read for Russian-speaking audiences.]

It appears that Russia’s March 18 presidential elections have already begun in the Tula region. The regional election commission published a report showing 40 percent voter turnout, and as much as 77 percent in some districts. The commission’s chief attributed the mistake to employee training, and the results have been removed from its website.

Top Wall Street Firm Raises Russia's Rating Out Of 'Junk' Territory

Standard & Poor's Corp. has raised Russia's credit rating by a notch, lifting it out of "junk" territory to reflect what it said was an improving economy and budgetary restraint.

Donbas Fighters Join Wagner Company In Syria

Ukraine’s security services have confirmed to RFE/RL that pro-Russian separatists from the country’s eastern Donbas region, including a group identifying itself as the Carpathians, are among those fighting as mercenaries with the private Russian Wagner company in Syria. One of the separatist fighters said his group always goes into battle first and is treated as “cannon fodder.” (Ukrainian Service)

Russia Changing The Signposts In Pakistan

First, a Russian military delegation made a rare visit to Pakistan's tribal areas. Then Russian-language signposts were erected on roads in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Now, Moscow has appointed an honorary consul in the city of Peshawar.

Czech President Wants Hacking Suspect Sent To Russia, Not U.S.

Czech President Milos Zeman has reportedly lobbied for a suspected Russian hacker detained in Prague and wanted by the United States to be extradited to Russia.

Latvian Bank To Be Dissolved Amid Charges Of Illicit Deals In Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan

The European Central Bank has determined that Latvia's ABLV Bank, the country’s third largest in terms of assets, will be closed down under the Baltic country's law. The U.S. Treasury Department said on February 13 that ABLV facilitated transactions linked to "large-scale illicit activity connected to Azerbaijan, Russia, and Ukraine."

Roskomnadzor Unblocks Navalny Website

Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor has lifted a ban on the website of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny. Access was restored after reports alleging links between Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko were removed from the site. (Russian Service)

Thailand Detains Woman At Center Of Navalny's 'Rybkagate' Report

Police in Thailand have detained a Russian woman who was at the center of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny's recent report about an alleged meeting between billionaire Oleg Deripaska and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko.

Three Pussy Riot Members Detained In Crimea

Three members of the Russian Pussy Riot punk protest band were detained in Crimea on February 26 and brought to a medical institution for testing, their lawyer, Emil Kurbedinov, has said.

'Alexander the Great' Sign Removed From Skopje Airport

Macedonia has removed an "Alexander the Great" sign from its main airport in another goodwill gesture to Greece, as the two neighbors work to resolve a 27-year-old dispute over the name of the former Yugoslav republic.

Former Top Uzbek Prosecutor Detained On Graft Charges

Uzbek authorities say the country's former prosecutor-general, Rashidjon Qodirov, is being investigated for alleged extortion, bribery, and abuse of office.

MOST READ/RUSSIA: Cocaine Flown From Argentina To Russia On Patrushev Plane

Russia has issued a warrant for a citizen who is alleged to live in Berlin under the pseudonym Mr. K, who is suspected of involvement in an attempt to send 389 kilograms of cocaine from Argentina to Russia. When Argentine authorities discovered the substance they replaced it with flour, which was delivered to Russia in December 2017 on a plane used by Russian National Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, the British daily Telegraph reports. (over 117K on Russian Service website)

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