More than half of Russians think that rising prices are the biggest issue in their country, followed by poverty, corruption, and unemployment.
Lawyers for Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny say he has been moved from a detention center in the Vladimir region, northeast of the Russian capital, to an undisclosed location amid calls from Western countries for his immediate release. Navalny, a prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin, was sent to prison last month to serve 2 1/2 years over alleged parole violations related to an embezzlement case he and rights activists say was trumped up for political reasons, something the authorities deny.
Preparations in Belarus for this year's Eurovision Song Contest have been thrown into chaos by the country's political unrest. First, Belarusian authorities pulled the plug on a romantic duet that was supposed to represent the country after they voiced support for peaceful opposition protests. Then, Eurovision itself kicked out the state broadcaster's new choice of a group that appeared to support brutal police violence against the demonstrators.
In an ethnic Tatar village in Russia's Omsk region, drinking water comins in the form of ice from a local lake, which is cut in winter, then transported and stored for year-round use. It's a good business for those who do the hard work of collecting the ice, and locals claim the clean water contributes to their longevity.
Jenya Muradian recalls the monumental secret she kept for most of her life after a chance encounter with a famous Armenian sculptor.
When Russia announced it would slow down Twitter access this week, citing the social network’s alleged failure to delete objectionable material, it was seen as a sign that the Kremlin was acting on repeated threats to bring the Internet under control. "This will make all other social networks and major foreign web companies understand that Russia won't continue to silently watch as our laws are flouted," a lawmaker who co-authored laws legalizing the move told reporters. But the initiative appeared to badly backfire when users across the country began reporting that a host of government websites, including the homepages of the Kremlin and Interior Ministry, were temporarily down. Also read -- “Facebook Is Next” -- RFE/Rl’s Russian Service compile the reactions of Russian on social media to slow down Twitter.
Ukraine plans to nationalize Motor Sich, an aerospace manufacturer majority-owned by Chinese companies, due to its strategic importance to national defense. "The decision has been taken to return Motor Sich to the Ukrainian people," Oleksiy Danilov, the head of Ukraine’s Security and Defense Council, said following a meeting of the body on March 11. The nationalization will proceed in “a legal, constitutional way” and investors will be compensated, Danilov added.
When President Joe Biden's administration declared tycoon Ihor Kolomoyskiy persona non grata, formally barring him from entering the United States over corruption concerns, the decision was generally cheered by people pushing for economic and political reforms in Ukraine. Somewhat obscured was the fact that the United States chose not to impose financial sanctions on Ukraine's eighth-richest businessman -- a footnote to some, but to others a sign that the administration's move against a magnate seen as holding powerful political influence in his home country was largely symbolic. It also raised a question: Why not?
Russia says the Taliban should be included in any interim Afghan government as Moscow prepares to host a conference next week that is meant to move forward the peace process in the conflict-wracked country. The statement by Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova came on March 12, hours after Turkey also announced its intention to host Afghan peace talks in Istanbul next month. Moscow has invited several regional players, including representatives of the militants, for the March 18 conference, which it said is meant to bring new life into stuttering peace talks held in Qatar between the Taliban and Kabul. However, it was unclear if the United States would attend.
The Russian parliament's lower chamber, the State Duma, has approved the first reading of a bill allowing for "accidental" corruption. According to the bill, officials, judges, prosecutors, military personnel, and other individuals cannot be held responsible for corrupt actions in cases when they could not control the circumstances in which such actions took place. Among such circumstances, the bill cites natural disasters, including earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, fires, pandemics, strikes, military conflicts, and terrorist acts.
In an exclusive interview with RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service project Crimea.Realities, Ukrainian Major General Viktor Nazarov, who served as a Deputy Head of the Department of Operations at the Ukrainian army’s General Staff in 2014 during the annexation of Crimea, said Ukraine was already planning for the possibility of war with Russia eight years before “little green men” seized the peninsula. However, when then-President Viktor Yanukovych came to power in 2010, the country took on a new course of “friendship with its strategic partner - Russia.” (Ukrainian Service/Crimea.Realities)
Russian media reports, citing the software company Avast, claim that more than 6,300 surveillance cameras at critical infrastructure objects, power plants, gas stations, and smart home systems in Russia, have serious security vulnerabilities and almost anyone can connect to them. Passwords to these cameras are reportedly easy to generate, additionally if facial recognition modules are added to these systems, they can turn into a system of total surveillance. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Police in Russia-annexed Crimea detained one of the founders of the Yalta chapter of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and opened a case against him for financing extremism by “collecting money” for the religious community. Searches involving the FSB, Russia’s National Guard, and other law enforcement agencies took place at the homes of 13 other Jehovah’s Witnesses members in Yalta, in which officials confiscated religious literature and computers. In 2017, the Russian Supreme Court declared the Jehovah’s Witnesses an extremist organization and banned its activities in the country. According to the website of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, as of November 2020, more than 400 members of the community have been accused of extremism, and many have reported being tortured while in Russian custody. (Russian Service)
This year, $545,000 have been allocated from Chechnya’s budget to maintain the green zone near the buildings of Ramzan Kadyrov's administration, and at least that much is spent to maintain Kadyrov’s residences. The RFE/RL North Caucasus Service project Kavkaz.Realities compared similar spending across the region and found that similar amounts are allocated for grounds maintenance in other republics -- but those funds cover all public areas, such as parks, soccer pitches, etc. Other leaders in the region do not have their own residence with manicured lawns and a zoo. In addition, at least $2.7 million is spent annually on Kadyrov’s security. (Russian Service/Kavkaz Realii)
A probe has been launched against a now-deceased Moscow resident who was killed by his three daughters in 2018. Mikhail Khachaturyan was posthumously charged with the sexual abuse and torture of his three daughters, who are currently facing trial for the murder of their father, the young women's lawyers said on March 10. In December 2020, a court in Moscow ruled that the refusal by investigators to launch a probe into Khachaturyan due to his death was illegal.
After an April 2020 uprising at the maximum-security IK-15 prison near the city of Angarsk was violently put down by riot police, dozens of prisoners were transferred from IK-15 to other prisons and detention centers in the Irkutsk region. Activists believe that many of them are being tortured, in an attempt by authorities to force confessions that they organized the riot. About 50 prisoners, so far, have filed complaints of abuse in connection with the IK-15 uprising, says local defense lawyer Dmitry Dmitriyev. "It is still too early to say where it will end," Dmitriyev told RFE/RL. "Not all of those named by victims have even been officially named as suspects, while not all those who are officially suspects have been dealt with appropriately." Also read -- Russia To Use Convicts In Clean-Up Work From Norilsk Artic Diesel Spill & Russian Company Pays Largest Legal Award In History -- Almost $2 Billion -- For Devastating Arctic Fuel Spill.
Some 100 workers at Belaruskali, a state-run potash producer that is one of the few flickering jewels in the much-tarnished crown of Belarusian state-run industry, joined strikes last year to demand authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka step down after a disputed election. While independent labor leaders in Belarus congratulated the firm’s biggest customer, the Norwegian-based agribusiness giant Yara, for pressuring Belaruskali to take back workers fired over their participation in the strikes, other opponents of Lukashenka, including exiled opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, have called on Yara to cut ties with Belaruskali, at least temporarily.
Belarus expelled two more Polish diplomats on March 11 after Poland expelled a Belarusian diplomat in a tit-for-tat spat that erupted after a World War II commemoration. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it had expelled the two diplomats "in connection with the excessive, asymmetric, and destructive response of Poland." The two senior staff members of the Polish Consulate in the city of Hrodno were given 48 hours to leave the country, the ministry said. Also, Eurovision Disqualifies Belarus's Pro-Lukashenka Entry.
Police and security forces raided several apartments in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, overnight and detained dozens of people amid an ongoing crackdown against protesters demanding the country's authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka resign. Human rights activists and volunteers said the majority of those detained late on March 10 were registered in Minsk's Lebyadziny and Novaya Baravaya districts, where police and security forces swept through buildings and searched apartments. According to an updated list filed by an independent volunteer initiative, more than 100 people were detained and are currently in custody. Also read -- Jailed Belarusian Vlogger Syarhey Tsikhanouski Faces 15 Years In Prison As Final Charges Delivered.
A court in Moscow has refused to remove Nasiliyu.net, a leading organization that addresses domestic violence and LGBT rights, from the registry of "foreign agents." Lawyer Pavel Chikov of the Agora legal defense organization said on March 11 that the Zamoskvoretsky district court rejected Nasiliyu.net's request to annul a Justice Ministry decision to add the group to its controversial list of organizations fulfilling the functions of a "foreign agent." The ministry justified its move, made in December, by saying that the NGO had received foreign funding and was engaged in political activity. The NGO denies it is politically active. Also read -- Moscow Court Upholds Suspended Sentence For Opposition Politician Yulia Galyamina.
Last fall, the two nations fought over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts that had been occupied by ethnic Armenian forces for almost three decades. That conflict ended with a peace deal that allowed Azerbaijan to reinstate its control over the districts and some parts of the breakaway region. "According to the plan of the first half of 2021, the armed forces of Armenia will hold tactical and professional maneuvers on all operative directions with the involvement of combined arms groups and special troops," the Armenian Defense Ministry said on March 12. Also read -- Armenian President Rejects PM's Proposed New Chief Of General Staff & Armenian President Armen Sarkisian In Medical Center Over Coronavirus Complications.
Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry says it has asked Chinese authorities to "help resolve issues" raised by ethnic Kazakhs in China, who have been demanding their relatives' release from custody in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang. Mukhtar Karibai told reporters in Nur-Sultan on March 12 that the decision "to ask China for help" was made after it became obvious that dozens of ethnic Kazakhs from China, who have been picketing the Chinese Consulate in Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty, for more than a month, "have not been following sanitary regulations to prevent the spread of the coronavirus."