Locked inside his home, famous stencil-graffiti artist Giorgi Gagoshvili tries to find inspiration in hard times like this.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the postponement of May 9 celebrations marking the 75th anniversary of Soviet victory against Nazi Germany in World War II, citing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Small businesses in Russia say promised measures to cushion the blow of the coronavirus lockdown have not been delivered. The IMF predicted on April 14 that the Russian economy would shrink by more than 5 percent this year, which many economists say could put millions out of work.
Russia’s independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta says it has taken down an article about measures introduced to tackle the coronavirus in the North Caucasus region of Chechnya following a request by the country’s media regulator, Roskomnadzor. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov had slammed the article as "absurd" and threatened to harm the author Yelena Milashina. In an interview with RFE/RL’s Service, Milashina criticized many of the measures enacted to fight the pandemic as being poorly implemented and understood. She also said there is a tendency among society -- much of which is illiterate -- to equate people infected with the coronavirus with terrorists, which “blocks people’s trust and the response from society to the measures that the authorities are implementing.” (Russian Service)
In February, Irina's son -- who is serving a term in a prison in Novosibirsk Oblast -- fell seriously ill. Despite a persistent cough and a steady fever, he was unable to see a doctor for days. And when he did, the prison pharmacy was empty. "I went through a circle of hell to get him some medicine," Irina told RFE/RL.
The Russian airline company Aeroflot has suspended ticket sales for international flights until August 1. On March 27, Russian authorities halted all international passenger travel to prevent the spread of COVID-19, with the exception of flights to return Russian citizens from abroad. (Russian Service)
Human Rights Watch has accused Azerbaijani authorities of "abusing" restrictions imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus to arrest government critics. In less than a month, at least six opposition activists and a pro-opposition journalist were sentenced to detention of up to 30 days on "spurious charges," an April 16 statement says.
Uzbekistan has called on a global human rights coalition to lift an international boycott of Uzbek cotton and textiles, citing progress in eliminating forced labor and the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. In an open letter to the Cotton Campaign on April 15, Uzbek Labor Minister Nozim Khusanov said his country was facing an "unprecedented dual threat” to the economy and public health due to the spread of the coronavirus and lockdown measures.
Tajik President Emomali Rahmon has reportedly held an extraordinary meeting with government officials to identify measures to be implemented to address the spread of the coronavirus. They are to include support for vulnerable populations, tax breaks, and soft loans for small businesses. He also announced a 2-year food procurement plan for every family, and the creation of greenhouses and household gardens. No cases of the virus have been officially registered in Tajikistan. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Photos capture the reality of the marketplaces that have been linked to several serious outbreaks of disease and may have been the source of the current coronavirus pandemic. (Note: Readers may find some photos disturbing.)
When the alliance of oil-producing countries known as OPEC+ reached a deal to slash crude-oil output, it staved off a further collapse in the price of Russia's main export commodity. But the April 12 agreement may come at a steep long-term cost for the Kremlin, harming a relationship with Riyadh that it had carefully cultivated.
Ukraine and Russia-backed separatists in the east of the country have begun another prisoner swap. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office said in a Facebook post on April 16 that 19 Ukrainians in the custody of the separatists are being returned to Kyiv. It is not clear how many individuals held by the Ukrainian side will be handed over.
A Russian government department has proposed renaming a Moscow subway station dedicated to the Czech capital, Prague, amid a diplomatic spat between the two countries, Russian media report. The proposal comes after Prague city authorities recently removed a controversial statue of a Soviet World War II marshal.
Vladimir Tismaneanu, one of Romania’s best-known intellectuals and an acclaimed Eastern European scholar at the University of Maryland, posted a meme late on April 10 in which Roma were compared to crows, a widely used, derogatory expression in Romanian for Roma and Africans. The controversy is seen as symbolic of a larger problem with racism in the country.
A Kazakh court has ruled that an investigation should continue into the failure of police to act against individuals who attacked RFE/RL reporters during protests in March last year. RFE/RL welcomed the decision, saying that police inaction on numerous occasions had “abetted physical attacks against our reporters and lent impunity” to perpetrators, and called on the Kazakh government to prosecute those responsible.
Many governments across Eastern Europe and Central Asia have pursued an "extensive offensive" against human rights, deploying draconian tactics and tools of the state to suppress protests, freedom of expression, and civil society, Amnesty International says in its annual regional review,
PRESSROOM: As Coronavirus Spreads, Authorities Target RFE/RL Journalists In Effort To Control Information
‘I'm disappointed that Pres. Rahmon and the Tajik MFA haven’t yet corrected the [accreditation] issue. Tajikistan should fulfill its int'l & constitutional obligations to a free media & fully accredit the entire Radio Ozodi staff so they can operate freely and safely.