On The Front Lines, Ukrainian Troops Not Necessarily Sold On Poroshenko
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has used repeated visits to the conflict zone and muscular rhetoric to burnish his image as a strong wartime commander in chief who has reformed the military and rebuffed an aggressive Russia. But results from 79 special polling stations set up for active-duty soldiers on the eastern front lines suggest some of the messaging might have been lost on the troops.
The Kremlin’s Spin On The Ukraine Election
Pro-Kremlin media in Russia focused heavily on violations of electoral law as Ukrainians voted to choose a new president. International observers said the vote was generally free.
The New Chernobyl Cleanup: Tourist Trash
Tourists visiting the site of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster have left so much litter that volunteers have been dispatched to clean it up. Radiation levels in the area around the former nuclear plant in Ukraine, though much higher than natural levels, have dropped considerably over the decades.
Joke In Turkmenistan Goes Too Far For Women Drivers
A government-run news agency in Turkmenistan has published an April Fool's Day cartoon that mocks women drivers. Hundreds of women in Turkmenistan have had their driving licenses confiscated by police in an unofficial crackdown against female drivers.
NATO Chief, Trump Discuss Defense Spending, Russia
During an April 2 meeting at the White House, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg thanked U.S. President Donald Trump for his "strong commitment” to the military alliance, while the president pressed his demands that the allies do more to pay for their own defense. Trump also said he hopes for better relations with Russia.
Blast At Russian Military Academy Investigated As Attempted Murder
The Investigative Committee said on April 2, hours after an explosion at St. Petersburg’s Mozhaisky Academy that injured four students, that the blast was being investigated as "an attempted premeditated murder of two or more persons."
Torture Claims Mount As Russia Tries Central Asians Over St. Petersburg Subway Blast
Several suspects on trial over a deadly blast in the St. Petersburg subway in 2017 have alleged they were tortured in custody as authorities sought people with connections to the man they say blew himself up. The allegations emerged as 11 suspects went on trial on April 2.
Russia Accuses Norwegian Man Of Nuclear Submarine Espionage
A Norwegian man on trial on espionage charges in Russia is accused of acquiring classified information on nuclear-powered submarines, prosecutors say. Frode Berg, who has pleaded not guilty, is being tried behind closed doors at the Moscow City Court.
Russia To Draft 2,500 Crimea Residents Into Military
RFE/RL’s Crimea unit reports that as part of the spring 2019 mandatory military draft, Russian authorities plan to recruit 2500 conscripts from annexed Crimea, the majority of whom will be sent to serve elsewhere. The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine reported that at least 4,800 residents of Crimea were called up in 2017 to serve in the Russian armed forces. (Ukrainian Service, Crimea Realities)
HRW Deplores Russia’s 'Escalating Pressure' On Crimean Tatars
Human Rights Watch has condemned the recent arrests of 23 Crimean Tatars by Russian authorities, calling it an "unprecedented move to intensify pressure on a group largely critical" of Moscow's seizure of Ukraine's Crimea region.
Russia Reports Significant Deficit In Sewage Facilities
The Russian state statistics service Rosstat reports that more than 22.6% of Russian households lack access to a centralized sewage system. The annual survey found that 16.8% of Russians use cesspools, 5.8% have no sewage system at all, and 12.6% reported lacking a toilet in their apartment or house and instead using shared or communal bathroom facilities. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Ukraine Bans Charter Flights With Russia
Ukraine has announced a ban on charter flights to and from Russia, allowing exceptions only in the case of support missions for international organizations, including the UN, the OSCE, and the Red Cross. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Greek PM In Skopje To Boost Defense, Economic Ties -- And For A Selfie
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has received a warm welcome in North Macedonia, just months after the resolution of a decades-long dispute over the former Yugoslav republic’s name, during the first visit of a Greek leader since its northern neighbor became independent in 1991.
China Takes Steps Toward Balkan Silk Road
A huge fireworks display in Sarajevo last month marking the Chinese New Year, and a subsequent cultural program are subtle signs of Beijing's growing imprint on the region.
Pro-Democracy Azeri Activist Rearrested After Amnesty
Bayram Mammadov of the Azerbaijani opposition NIDA youth movement has been arrested two weeks following his release as part of a mass amnesty announced by President Ilham Aliyev. His father has said he was unsure of the charges against his son, but was told he had a dispute with a police officer.
As Trucks Idle On Border, Kyrgyzstan And Kazakhstan Clash Over Delays
Authorities in Kyrgyzstan have lashed out at neighboring Kazakhstan over what they say are stepped-up, burdensome bureaucratic procedures that have slowed the movement of trucks across the border to a crawl for the second time in two years.
JOURNALISTS IN TROUBLE: Kazakh Court Upholds Fine For RFE/RL Correspondent