Women have marched across Eastern Europe, the Western Balkans, and Central Asia demanding governments do more to respect their rights as the world marks International Women's Day.
Protesters led by an opposition alliance attempted to block one of the entrances to the country's parliament in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, on March 9. Opposition supporters say the legislature should only meet to achieve one goal -- the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.
A day after RFE/RL revealed substantial evidence that Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev has a secret, luxury residence, Uzbekistan Railways said the facility was actually just a recreational center for its staff and produced a video purporting to show satisfied vacationers there. But the video appears to be a rushed production filmed 1.5 kilometers away.
Vadim Zabolotskikh was one of thousands of Russians detained during recent demonstrations in support of jailed Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny. But Zabolotskikh succeeded in having his case dropped when he used video of the protests to prove that his police record contained falsehoods.
Soldiers from the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) took part in a ceremony on March 9 in Pristina ahead of their first ever peacekeeping mission abroad. Acting president and commander-in-chief Vjosa Osmani said help from the United States made the mission possible. The KSF soldiers will spend six months in Kuwait alongside National Guard troops from the U.S. state of Iowa.
A prominent liberal lawmaker has called on Russian authorities to properly investigate the two sudden near-fatal illnesses suffered by opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza while traveling in Russia. The call by Lev Shlosberg, made in an interview with RFE/RL, wasn't expected to yield an immediate U-turn from Russian law enforcement, which has ignored at least two requests from Kara-Murza to open an investigation into the circumstances of his illnesses, in 2015 and 2017.
Russia has targeted Germany more than any other country in the European Union in its disinformation efforts, a new report by the 27-member bloc shows. "No other EU member state is being attacked more violently than Germany," says the report published on March 9 by the EU diplomatic service in Brussels. The report says "systematic campaigns" have been launched at the political level and through media close to the Kremlin. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova rejected the claims as "ridiculous.”
Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny's team has announced plans to open offices in 10 cities where it believes the ruling United Russia party is vulnerable in elections that must be held by September 19. Leonid Volkov, the coordinator of Navalny's network of teams, said in a statement on March 9 that expanding into the cities "is most likely to help take away mandates" from United Russia in the vote. "A friendly young team, an opportunity to make Russia better, parcels [with food and other items] to preliminary detention centers [in case of incarceration] are included in the social package - in short, we have a dream job for you," he wryly added in the statement.
The Polish-based Belarusian opposition news outlet Nexta has published an investigative film about Alyaksandr Lukashenka's "luxurious life." The film, titled Lukashenka. A Golden Bottom, was posted on YouTube on March 8. The investigative material focuses on Lukashenka's personal expenses and what it describes as Lukashenka's villas, expensive cars, and gifts he allegedly uses for his own personal needs.
The Kremlin has voiced "alarm" at a report in The New York Times that said the United States was preparing a series of covert counter cyberstrikes on Russian networks. U.S. intelligence officials have said that Russia was probably behind the massive hack known as SolarWinds that hit large swaths of the public and private sectors last year, and which experts say may constitute an ongoing threat. Russia has denied the accusations. White House national-security adviser Jake Sullivan said last month that Washington would respond to SolarWinds in "weeks, not months."
A senior Russian lawmaker has blasted Facebook after the social-media giant said it had blocked articles by Russian news agencies claiming police last month arrested Ukrainian nationalists after experts concluded the radicals were Russian. Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of parliament's lower chamber, the State Duma, said on March 8 that Facebook had violated the rights of Russian citizens through a move that was tantamount to "digital lawlessness."
Russia is now training advisers to school principals as part of the federal project on “patriotic education,” according to Education Minister Sergei Kravtsov, who also said the advisers will organize freetime activities for schoolchildren to distract them “from the street and the Internet.” The new position will be tested in schools in ten different Russian regions and will begin in April 2021. Advises will appear in schools in accordance with the presidential law on the education of schoolchildren and the formation of their patriotism and civil citizenship introduced by Russian President Vladimir Putin in May 2020. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Russian space agency Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin and his counterpart at the head of the Chinese Space Agency (CNSA), Zhang Kejian signed a memorandum of understanding and cooperation for developing an International Scientific Lunar Station. A statement published by CNSA says the countries will use “joint expertise and scientific technology to create a roadmap for the construction of an international research station on the moon.” (Russian Service)
A court in Russia's northwestern region of Vologda has denied the early release of a man known as 'the last maniac of the U.S.S.R.," who has been serving a life sentence for killing and dismembering three young women in 1989. The Vologda regional court’s press service said the Belozyorsk district court ruled on March 9 that Dmitry Gridin could not be released, because he violated internal orders in detention centers and penitentiaries 24 times over the course of his incarceration.
One of Russia's leading organizations addressing domestic violence and LGBT rights, Nasiliyu.Net, is facing eviction from its Moscow office three months after being placed on Moscow's controversial "foreign agent" list. NGO head Anna Rivina wrote on Facebook on March 8 that the landlord had requested the group to vacate the premises within a month. Rivina said her team moved last summer into the premises, where they speak with domestic-violence victims and hold support sessions and educational events.
Well-known Russian rights activist Marina Litvinovich says last week's decision by the Moscow Public Monitoring Commission (ONK) to exclude her from the group was politically motivated. The commission on March 5 voted to leave Litvinovich off the panel, saying that, in an earlier televised interview, she had disclosed information related to a probe launched into Lyubov Sobol, a lawyer of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation. Sobol is currently under detention on charges of breaking coronavirus restrictions by publicly calling on Moscow residents to take part in unsanctioned rallies to support Navalny.
“You think you are a disappointment to your parents? Putin’s daughter is a DJ…” -- Luiza Rozova, also known as Elizaveta Krivonogikh, who is allegedly an extramarital daughter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, performed as a DJ in the Moscow club “Rovesnik.” RFE/RL’s Russian Service compiled the social media reactions of fellow Russians. (Russian Service)
Balkars in Russia's North Caucasus region of Kabardino-Balkaria are marking the 77th anniversary of their mass deportation to Central Asia by Soviet leader Josef Stalin. Balkars are a Turkic-speaking, predominantly Muslim ethnic group that numbers an estimated 110,000 people. Prayers in the region's mosques on March 8 were dedicated to those who died during their deportation to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan between 1944 and 1957.
A Russian production company that made a documentary glorifying Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2015 has been hired to shoot a film about Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev ahead of Uzbekistan’s October presidential poll. An employee of the Uzbekkino Film Company told RFE/RL on March 8 on condition of anonymity that the chief of the presidential administration, Zainilobiddin Nizomiddinov, is coordinating the project with the Masterskaya film production company from Russia. Masterskaya's founder and producer, Saida Medvedeva, a native of neighboring Kazakhstan, arrived in the Uzbek capital last week.
Dozens of people gathered in front of a detention center in Kazakhstan’s northwestern city of Aqtobe on March 9 to demand answers after one of the institution's inmates was found dead there last month. The crowd, mainly inmates' relatives, were seeking information about the death of Talant Aliev, who was found hanged in a cell of the UK163/1 detention center on February 12. His death was officially ruled a suicide, but Aliev's mother, who was among the protesting relatives, said she believed there was more behind her son's death after other inmates told her he had left a letter blaming guards.
Villagers living along Tajikistan’s southern border with war-torn Afghanistan have been told they should be prepared "to take up arms" if militants try to enter the region. Local authorities in the Tajik district of Shamsiddin Shohin have held meetings with residents -- including army reservists and hunters -- to discuss the situation, Governor Pochokhon Zarifzoda says.
Tajik-born singer and UNHCR goodwill ambassador Manizha has been chosen to represent Russia at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Program host Yana Churikova said during a selection competition broadcast on March 8 that the 29-year-old Manizha was chosen through a nationwide popular vote to represent Russia in the annual song contest watched by millions throughout the world. Churikova said the singer, whose full name is Manizha Sangin, will perform the song Russian Woman in the finals competition.
MAJLIS PODCAST: Women's Day In Central Asia
INFOGRAPHIC: The Women's Leadership Gap