Uzbekistan's Interior Ministry has blamed Miraziz Bazarov, a well-known rights activist and blogger, for "provoking" an attack that left him in the hospital with severe head and leg injuries. In a video statement posted on YouTube on March 29, the ministry claimed that Bazarov was attacked after he called on "individuals with nontraditional sexual orientation" to hold mass demonstrations near the Hazrati Imam mosque and Amir Timur avenue in downtown Tashkent.
More than 300 people gathered in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, on March 27 to protest China's growing economic influence in the country. The event was organized by the banned Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) and the unregistered Democratic Party of Kazakhstan (DPK). At least 20 people were arrested ahead of the rally and the Internet was blocked in the neighborhood where the gathering took place. Protesters spoke against joint ventures with Beijing, Chinese investment in Kazakhstan's economy, as well as the persecution of ethnic Kazakhs and Uyghurs in China’s autonomous region of Xinjiang. Similar protests took place in the capital, Nur-Sultan, as well as Oral, Shymkent, and Aqtobe.
Seven years after its 2014 annexation by Russia, Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula that once thrived on tourism, is struggling to find adequate drinking water. Ukraine, which formerly supplied most of Crimea’s potable water, refused to continue those supplies once Russia moved both troops and Russian citizens onto the peninsula.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, crisis centers throughout Russia are reporting a spike in requests from women for help against domestic violence. Self-isolation and quarantines reportedly contribute to this problem. As elsewhere, such abuse is often seen as a matter for the family, not the police, to resolve, but, increasingly, Russian women are opting to speak out. Also - As Domestic Violence Surges Amid Pandemic, Russia Targets Victims' Support Group.
NATO says it scrambled fighter jets 10 times amid what it called an unusual level of Russian air activity over Europe. Alliance warplanes were scrambled on March 29 "to shadow Russian bombers and fighters during an unusual peak of flights over the North Atlantic, North Sea, Black Sea and Baltic Sea," NATO said in a statement on March 30. "In all, NATO aircraft intercepted six different groups of Russian military aircraft near Alliance airspace in less than six hours," the statement said.
Hundreds of Russian physicians have demanded that authorities provide immediate medical assistance to jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny amid growing concerns over the state of his health. Some 500 doctors and medical experts signed the online petition that was launched on March 28, one of the initiators of the petition, a journalist from the Insider website, Oleg Pshenichny, told RFE/RL. Also Navalny says he risks solitary confinement over prison infractions and father of Navalny associate Ivan Zhdanov held on criminal charge, Current Time TV spoke to Zhdanov about his fathers detention.
The head of the trauma and orthopedics department at the Russian hospital where opposition politician Aleksei Navalny was treated for poisoning last summer has died. The Omsk emergency hospital No. 1 said in a statement that Rustam Agishev passed away on March 26. "In December last year, Rustam Agishev suffered a stroke and was unable to get over that illness," according to the statement, which did not mention foul play as a possible cause of death.
Belarusian prosecutors opened a terrorism investigation against opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the latest move from authorities trying to quash opposition groups after months of anti-government protests. Tsikhanouskaya, who fled Belarus in the aftermath of last August's disputed presidential election, had no immediate reaction to the move, which was announced on March 29 by Prosecutor-General Andrey Shved. In a statement, Shved alleged that Tsikhanouskaya and several other people plotted to plant explosives and arson attacks in Minsk and other cities several days ago.
The Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences decided to classify the information in a report on atmospheric pollution in the Siberian Federal District so that it would not be considered a "bombshell on the eve of the elections," even though the report was based on open-source data. “Imagine that we publish these reports with specified information - as a bombshell on the eve of the elections! What will happen? It's difficult to predict the outcome...Therefore, proposals for publication must be weighed ten times. We cannot stir up the population with unnecessary questions” -- said Academician Aleksei Kontorovich, founder of the Institute of Geology of Oil and Gas of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has dismissed two judges from the Constitutional Court, deepening a feud with the top court over anti-graft reform. In a March 27 decree, Zelenskiy removed Constitutional Court Chairman Oleksandr Tupytskiy and another judge, Oleksandr Kasminin, for continuing to “threaten Ukraine’s independence and national security.” Both judges were appointed by pro-Russia former President Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted in 2014 following the Euromaidan protests.
Ukraine’s parliament voted to lift temporary restrictions on auctions for the sale of large-scale objects for privatization, which was imposed in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Dmytro Sennychenko, the Chairman of the State Property Fund of Ukraine, told RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service that lifting of the restrictions is a manifestation of political will and said that it will yield significant financial benefits for Ukraine as well as breathe in new life into the state’ assets. (Ukrainian Service)
Russian state media agency Interfax reports, citing sources in Moscow, that residents of occupied parts of Donbas, controlled by Russia-backed separatists, who have been given Russian citizenship, may be allowed to vote in the fall elections to the Russian State Duma. Votes may be cast in Russia’s Rostov region, or possibly even remotely. Earlier, a similar opportunity was provided during the Summer 2020 voting on amendments to the Russian Constitution. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Russian law enforcement and security officers cordoned off an area near the city of Mytishchi in the Moscow region amid a standoff with a man who barricaded himself inside his home after he opened fire on the police. Media reports on March 30 quoted law enforcement officials as saying the man used automatic firearms, which are banned for private possession in Russia, and threw several grenades from his house.
Russian authorities have opened a criminal case against four Jehovah's Witnesses in Siberia, in the latest persecution of the religious group. The Investigative Committee in the Tomsk region charged the four believers for participating in an extremist group, the human rights monitoring group OVD-Info and Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia said on March 29. The four were identified as Sergei Belousov, Andrei Kolesnichenko, Aleksei Ershov, and Andrei Ledyaykin. Also, Jehovah's Witness Gets Lengthy Prison Term In Crimea.
RFE/RL’s Russian Service project Kavkaz Realii reports that Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov handed out Mercedes-Benz GLE cars to three fighters from his Akhmat sports club. Cars are worth at least $238,000 and were presented at the expense of the Akhmat Kadyrov Public Fund, which is in part financed by compulsory deductions from the salaries of state employees. Reports about the work of the fund, which is headed by Ramzan Kadyrov’s mother, are absent from the website of the Russian Justice Ministry, unlike reports from every other NGO. (Russian Service/Kavkaz Realii)
Moldovan President Maia Sandu says she has appealed to the Constitutional Court for its opinion regarding her intention to dissolve parliament and call early parliamentary elections. “I, like experts on constitutional law, believe that the legal circumstances for the dissolution of parliament have been met,” Sandu told reporters on March 30, five days after the Socialist-dominated parliament failed for a second time to approve the candidate nominated by the pro-Western president to serve as prime minister. Lawmakers on February 11 rejected Sandu's first choice for the post, former Finance Minister Natalia Gavrilita.
Turkmenistan’s authoritarian leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has been elected as a member of a newly established senate, in a vote in which there was no opposition and only indirect suffrage. State media in the tightly controlled and isolated Central Asian state reported Berdymukhammedov received "100 percent" of the vote in the March 29 election, giving him a new position as a lawmaker in the upper chamber. The 63-year-old is already president and head of government of a state built around his cult of personality.
He scrabbled in the vacuum of Czechoslovakia's postcommunist, early 1990s with photocopiers and office supplies. He rose to the moneyed heights of the Czech business world, becoming the country's wealthiest businessman, a media magnate, publicity-shy philanthropist, and government whisperer. Petr Kellner, who died over the weekend in a helicopter crash on a ski trip in Alaska, was both admired and feared, as his company PPF Group morphed into a financial behemoth with holdings ranging from insurance to real estate to telecommunications, from Central Europe to China and beyond. Bloomberg put his wealth at $15.7 billion, Forbes at $17.5 billion.