Russia says it has sent a military plane with medical equipment to the United States to help in its battle to deal with the coronavirus outbreak. The Rossia 24 state television channel showed the transport aircraft taking off on April 1 from a military base near Moscow. The shipment appears to be the result of a March 30 phone call between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
In a thinly veiled warning to right-wing Hungarian Prime Minister VIktor Orban, the European Union's executive said on March 31 that emergency measures adopted by member states to fight the coronavirus crisis cannot undercut democracy. "Democracy cannot work without free and independent media," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement.
The Russian Duma on March 31 adopted legislation that equips the government with new digital capabilities ostensibly to fight the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to new penalties for violating quarantine regulations, citizens can now be fined up to $38 000 for distributing “fake news” in the media and on the Internet. Moscow City Hall is preparing to implement what critics are calling a “Digital Gulag,” according to which persons going outside without registration will be identified using cameras or mobile phone data and automatically issued a fine. The mayor’s office confirmed that it has created a social monitoring app to collect cellphone data about patients, available April 2. The Kremlin has also announced that Russians under quarantine must keep a diary on the State Services portal, where they will indicate their place of self-isolation. Telecom operators will monitor their quarantine and notify police of violators. (Russian Service, Current Time TV)
The leadership of Russia-annexed Crimea has announced that local authorities will establish a checkpoint on the bridge across the Kerch Strait to screen arrivals from Russia, which was described as an epidemiological “Achilles heel.” (Russian Service)
Police on March 31 set up checkpoints on roads into the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, where medical workers are now stationed to take the temperature of motorists and passengers entering the city. (video)
Five months after Romanian President Klaus Iohannis praised the St. John the New hospital in the northern city of Suceava as an example of superior healthcare, the facility has been shut down to be disinfected after 181 of its staff -- including 43 doctors -- became infected with the coronavirus.
For 12 days, about 200 Tajik citizens have been forced to live in Moscow's Domodedovo airport, unable to afford an airline ticket home. They are unable to wash and are forbidden from lying on the floor. A promised chartered flight never materialized, airport officials have offered them no options for temporary legalization or housing, and the Tajik embassy appears to be silent. Unknown people in uniform on the night of March 31 forcefully kicked out 300 labor migrants from the airport, most of whom are from Tajikistan. (Current Time TV)
About 200 Kyrgyz migrant workers have been camped out since March 27 at Tolmachevo airport in the Russian city of Novosibirsk, desperate to get back home, after Kyrgyzstan and Russia canceled international flights to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Some of them waged a hunger strike after being forced to sleep on hard floors and seating. (video)
RFE/RL contributors in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat, report that people talking in public about the pandemic have been quickly whisked away by plainclothes agents. The word "coronavirus" also has disappeared from newly published state brochures on disease prevention in the tightly controlled Central Asian nation.
As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, Ukraine has salvaged medical ventilator designs that lay forgotten for years in an unused military factory.
Outbreak Delays Russian Army Conscription; Bulgarian Deputies To Be Tested
Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) says it has penetrated an espionage communication channel between a high-ranking Ukrainian naval officer and staff from Russia's main spy agency, the FSB, in the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula.
Kosovo says it is lifting a 100 percent tariff on goods from neighboring Serbia, but Belgrade has called it "fake news" and claims Pristina has actually increased punitive measures.