Russia, with a population of roughly 142 million, has confirmed 438 cases of COVID-19 and one death. To date, some 143,519 tests for the virus have been conducted, but in Moscow, which accounts for most of the infections, getting that test is far from straightforward.
The Russian Central Bank has posted recommendations that credit institutions limit the issuance and acceptance of cash at ATMs to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Additionally, the Central Bank advised institutions to hold notes for 3 - 4 days before issuing to prevent the virus’s transmission on paper. (Russian Service)
Russia’s International Airport Association, serving more than 70% of the country’s passenger flow, has requested emergency measures from the government to help protect against non-payments, forced large-scale reductions in personnel, and bankruptcy of many airports. (Russian Service)
After the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv closed its subway system due to the coronavirus, a service matching drivers with people who need a lift began to flourish -- apparently contradicting social distancing measures. Elsewhere in the city, other innovative means of living in lockdown were also emerging. (video)
In an effort to keep coronavirus cases from spreading, Kyrgyz authorities have limited travel between regions, suspended some public transport, and implemented medical checks at roadblocks. (video)
Russia’s announcement of border closures on March 18 -- until at least May 1 -- came as many Tajik migrants were packing their bags to travel for seasonal jobs at Russian construction sites, farms, and factories. Tajikistan already faces rampant unemployment, and migrants fear that extended closures will bring even greater financial hardship for thousands of households.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani says a "counter-revolutionary conspiracy" has been hatched to "suspend work and economic activity" amid the coronavirus epidemic in Iran and it should be countered by "normalizing production." He made the statement on Saturday March 21 at a meeting of the Coronavirus Control Task Force which is the body that decided to shut down schools and limit social activity in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.
Today’s roundup reports on Iran’s rising death toll, and lockdowns in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
A draft decision by the 27 members of the European Union says the bloc should start membership negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. France and the Netherlands have reportedly eased their objections over corruption and democratic reforms, and a decision on the move is reportedly expected to be finalized this week.
The trial in absentia of three Russians and a Ukrainian charged with murder over the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014 resumed briefly at The Hague on March 23. The trial will resume on June 8 to give defense lawyers for one of the accused more time to prepare their case.
Aleksandr Zharov was dismissed as head of the Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor on March 23, and swiftly appointed as the new chief of Gazprom Media, which owns the broadcaster Ekho Moskvy, and the NTV, Friday, Match TV, and other television channels. Gazprom Media’s previous head, Dmitry Chernyshenko, has been appointed deputy prime minister in the government of Mikhail Mishustin. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Russian investigators have opened a criminal probe into a leading infectious-disease specialist who allegedly failed to self-isolate following a trip to Spain, and subsequently became patient zero in the country’s southern Stavropol region. The woman, who is accused of negligence and concealing information that endangered the life or health of people, faces up to five years in prison if convicted.
A court in Krakow has found three Polish men with right-wing leanings guilty of committing terrorist acts for their roles in firebombing a Hungarian cultural center in western Ukraine last year.
A Levada Center poll conducted in the last week of February in more than 137 Russian cities across 50 regions found that 65% of Russians regret the collapse of the Soviet Union, and 75% consider the Soviet era the best in the country’s history. The “regretters” amounted to about 53-56% of respondents in 2017, and 49% in 2012. (in Russian, Current Time TV)