Police have detained the head of the Russian Alliance of Doctors outside a prison after she sought permission to examine jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, who had been moved to a sick ward with a severe cough and high fever amid reports of a possible tuberculosis outbreak in the facility.
High-priced taxis, empty trolleybuses, massive traffic jams, public transportation only with special passes -- RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service reported on how residents of Kyiv and its suburbs made their way to work after the new restrictions took effect. (Ukrainian Service)
Vasfije Krasniqi-Goodman, newly elected to serve in Kosovo's parliament, has broken taboos in the country by speaking about her experience as a survivor of rape during the 1998-99 Kosovo War. Despite the prevalence of such war crimes, no perpetrators have been convicted in Kosovo. In her new role as a lawmaker, Krasniqi-Goodman says she will try to act as the voice of her fellow survivors as she fights for justice.
A couple in Kyiv has raised $300,000 for a volunteer hospital by painting religious icons on empty ammunition boxes discarded during fighting in eastern Ukraine.
According to a recent Levada poll, 75 percent of Russians view China positively. More than half also say they believe that respect for China has risen worldwide over the last 10 years.
A Russian court has fined the popular video-sharing application TikTok in the country's latest major dispute with a global social platform over content allegedly related to political protests. The Moscow court ruled on April 6 that TikTok failed to delete content that it said was related to unsanctioned demonstrations, according to local reports. Russian critics of the Kremlin routinely use international social networks, including Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube, to get around state control of the media and reach tens of millions of citizens with their anti-government messages. Also, Russia Backs Down From Threat To Ban Twitter, But Will Slow It Until Mid-May.
The Russian state media agency TASS has reported, citing Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, that the Russian military is conducting combat readiness inspections in military command and control bodies, formations and military units throughout the armed forces during the winter training period. In the Eastern Military District, the inspection will be carried out by a commission of the General Staff. The main combat training will be held at the Tsugol and Sergeevsky training grounds in eastern Russia. (Russian Service)
The Russian branch of the anti-corruption organization Transparency International has published analyses of lobbying in the Federation Council, the upper chamber of Russia’s parliament. Experts analyzed the activities of 167 members of the Federation Council over the past four years and revealed that 19 percent of senators promote the interests of various federal agencies, including law enforcement; 36.5 percent take into account in their work the interests of various large industries in the financial and banking sector, agricultural, transport, pharmaceutical, and construction industries; 34.7% of senators promote the interests of Russia’s regions; while the interests of the non-profit sector are represented by only 1.7 percent of officials. Only 51 senators, less than a third, did not promote one or other interest group. (in Russian, CurrentTimeTV)
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a controversial bill that opens the door for him to potentially remain in power until 2036. The bill, recently approved by both chambers of the Russian parliament, aligns the country’s election laws with constitutional changes approved by voters last year. One of the constitutional changes resets Putin's term-limit clock to zero, allowing him to seek reelection when his current term expires in 2024, and again in 2030 if he so wishes.
Russia's government has extended a space cooperation agreement with the United States until 2030, one of the few remaining partnerships between Moscow and Washington amid deteriorating relations. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin approved and signed the extension on April 3, the government said in a statement. The original cooperation agreement, signed in 1992 and extended four times previously, laid the groundwork for wide-ranging, space-related projects and research between NASA and Roscosmos, the two countries' space agencies.
Western expressions of support for Ukraine are growing amid an uptick in violence and an increased Russian troop presence across the border that have heightened concerns of a widening conflict. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on April 6 that he had called Ukraine's president "to express serious concern about Russia’s military activities in and around Ukraine & ongoing ceasefire violations." Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy reportedly told Stoltenberg that a path toward NATO membership was the only way to end the war in eastern Ukraine, where Russia-backed separatists continue to battle Ukrainian government forces in a conflict that has already lasted seven years.
The RFE/RL Ukrainian Service project Crimea.Realities reports that a titanium dioxide plant, once the property of Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash and now owned by Firtash's business partner Alexander Emelin, continues to operate in Russia-annexed Crimea despite sanctions and a commercial blockade. The ilmenite ore that serves as a raw material for the enterprise was once supplied directly from mainland Ukraine; the ore now is routed by sea through complex schemes and transshipments involving Bulgaria, Romania, and Egypt. (Ukrainian Service/Crimea.Realii)
Iran says it has charged 10 officials over the downing of Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 in January 2020, killing all 176 people on board. Gholam Abbas Torki, the former military prosecutor for Tehran Province, said on April 6 that the 10 have been "brought to responsibility" and will face trial to determine "the necessary conclusions" over the incident, the semiofficial ISNA news agency reported.
An Armenian judge has dropped a criminal case against former President Robert Kocharian and his co-defendants over a deadly crackdown on protesters more than a decade ago. Anna Danibekian, the judge presiding over the two-year trial in Yerevan, threw out the coup charges on April 6, 11 days after the Constitutional Court found “invalid” an article of the Criminal Code under which the accused were being prosecuted. However, Danibekian ruled that Kocharian and his former chief of staff, Armen Gevorgian, will continue to stand trial on bribery charges which they also deny.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has been vaccinated with the Chinese-developed Sinopharm vaccine in a televised event aimed at encouraging skeptical Serbians to get an injection against COVID-19. While Belgrade's procurement of vaccines has been widely lauded abroad, anti-vaccine sentiment in the country has so far left millions of doses arriving in that Balkan state unspoken for, despite a fresh wave of coronavirus infections. “I received the vaccine, and I feel great,” Vucic, 51, said via Instagram. “Thank you our great health workers. Thank you our Chinese brothers.”
Preparations are in full swing for a presidential visit in the Uzbek city of Jizzakh and its suburbs, where roads are being repaired and walls are being repainted. The Jizzakh provincial government has ordered all neighborhood committees to prepare for a "possible" visit by President Shavkat Mirziyoev. "The governor's office said, 'The president can arrive at any moment, so be ready,'" one neighborhood committee member told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service on condition of anonymity. Similar preparations for presidential visits have been under way since late March in several other provinces, with local authorities paying particular attention to renovation work in less prosperous residential neighborhoods. Also read -- Erk, Uzbekistan's First Opposition Party, Says It Will Attempt To Field A Presidential Candidate.
Turkmenistan's already battered currency slid sharply as black market rates reached 40 manats to the U.S. dollar, down nearly 50 percent since January. The manat has been under pressure for months, a slide blamed in part on a decrease in remittances sent by Turkmen migrant workers from Turkey to their families. In mid-January, the manat was trading on the black market for around 27 or 28 to the dollar.
When 67-year-old pensioner Qalida Akytkhan decided to join a small protest outside the Chinese Consulate in Almaty, it was three years after three of her sons were detained at a so-called "reeducation camp" in China's northwestern Xinjiang region. Akytkhan has since become a mainstay at the pickets that, despite police intimidation, have endured outside the consulate since early February. She has joined dozens of other protesters who say their relatives are missing, jailed, or trapped in China's ongoing crackdown. United Nations human rights officials estimate that 1 million or more Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities are detained at camps in a vast Chinese internment system.