In 2014, Russia-backed separatists made their grab for power in Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula as well as the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, sparking a conflict in the southeast of the country that has left some 13,000 dead, 30,000 wounded, and more than 1 million displaced. In those early days and years, these were some of the figures wielding influence on the Russia-backed side. What has been their fate five years later?
Azerbaijani anti-corruption blogger Mehman Huseynov was released from prison on March 2 after serving a two-year prison sentence in a case that sparked international outrage and critics said was politically motivated. Shortly after being released, Huseynov visited the grave in Baku of Elmar Huseynov (eds: no relation), an Azerbaijani journalist who was shot dead exactly 14 years ago today.
Hundreds of people gathered on March 2 in the Latvian capital, Riga, to demand the dismissal of the city council and the resignation of Mayor Nils Usakovs.
Ukrainian activist Oleksandr Kolchenko is serving a 10-year sentence in Russia on terror charges that human rights groups say are politically motivated. He was convicted in 2015 alongside Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov after Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea.
Moscow's Lyublino homeless shelter provides refuge from the Russian winter and offers a thousand beds to the needy. It and five smaller shelters across the capital have helped reduce winter deaths, but some have criticized the push to keep the homeless away from the capital's center.
It's a "snail" in Russia, but it's a "worm" in Hungary. You might be surprised at the words that signify "at" in other languages.
A decree posted by the Kremlin on March 4 has suspended Russia's participation in a key Cold War-era nuclear arms-control agreement with the United States, until Washington stops violating the accord, the text says.
The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) alleges in a new report that "employees" at the multibillion-dollar investment bank co-founded and led by Russian-Armenian businessman Ruben Vardanyan used "bogus" trades and a complex network of offshore companies starting in 2006 to help launder billions of dollars originating in Russia, evade taxes, hide assets, and fool international oversight bodies.
When one of Russia's most prestigious universities announced it would invite the men suspected of poisoning a Russian double agent on English soil to a lecture series marking the anniversary of the incident, many took it as another example of dark humor. "I hope this is a joke," one user wrote on Twitter. "Outstanding trolling," wrote another.
Russian media reports that since 2015 Moscow authorities have been purchasing SIM-card data from mobile operators that enables them to know how Muscovites live, work, and move about the city. Authorities say the data helps them assess urban infrastructure. Mobile operators say they do not include personal information with the data they share. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Citing his country's unique position between the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union and the European Union, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenka has said his country "must overcome the cold" of a "standoff" between Russia and the EU by balancing its foreign policy between East and West.
Maryna Zolatava, editor of Belarus’s largest independent news site Tut.by, was sentenced by a court in Minsk to pay a hefty fine in a high-profile case that the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called "harassment of free media."
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has fired Oleh Hladkovskyy from the post of first deputy chairman of the National Security and Defense Council amid allegations that Hladkovskyy's son was involved in smuggling spare parts of military equipment from Russia.
The European Union has extended asset freezes on former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and 11 other Ukrainians accused of misappropriating state funds. The restrictive measures, extended until March 6, 2020, still include Yanukovych’s son, Oleksandr, and former Prime Ministers Mykola Azarov and Serhiy Arbuzov.
During a March 4 meeting in the Bulgarian capital city Sofia, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that energy cooperation is the “flagship of relations” between Russia and Bulgaria. Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said that even though the tender to complete construction of the Belene nuclear power plant will be held on an open market, Russia’s state-owned Rosatom, which has announced its intention to bid, is guaranteed at least a consulting role. (Russian Service)
Human Rights Watch says Sharofiddin Gadoev, a prominent Tajik opposition activist, was kidnapped, beaten, and tortured in Russia and Tajikistan before he was allowed to return to the Netherlands, where he has refugee status.
Uzbekistan's Foreign Ministry says the head of the Taliban's political office in Qatar has expressed interest in cooperating with Tashkent to push Afghanistan's peace process forward, welcoming Uzbekistan's efforts to help build infrastructure in Afghanistan's energy, transportation, and education sectors.
President Shavkat Mirziyoev was quoted by state-run media on March 1 as saying, "We have no need for an overweight police officer. How can they catch a criminal?" The country’s police officers have been put on notice that they have three to six months to get fit.
A Levada Center poll finds that the influence attached by the public to two of Russia’s top three state institutions has declined since 2017. Using a five-point scale, respondents said the influence of the office of the President has declined from 4.7 points to 4.2 in 2019, while that of the FSB dropped from 4.1 to 3.8. The armed forces have retained a score of 4.1 over two years. A majority of respondents identifies political parties, NGOs and trade unions as the country’s three least influential institutions. (in Russian, Current Time TV)