EU monitors have identified a “trilateral convergence of disinformation narratives” being promoted by China, Iran, and Russia on the coronavirus pandemic and say they are being “multiplied” in a coordinated manner, according to an internal document seen by RFE/RL.
Russian media reports that Moscow authorities will begin to issue fines for passengers violating social distancing guidelines (4.9ft) in public transport, with fines amounting to as much as $67. No details have been given, including about how transport controllers will determine the distance between passengers. (Russian Service)
In a recent interview with state media, Tomsk region Governor Sergei Zhvachkin warned those who "smear the authorities with dirt" during a "semi-war period." "The government knows your names and where you live," he said. "Don't be offended, but if you cross the line, we will be forced to stop you...." RFE/RL St. Petersburg journalist Tatyana Voltskaya said that after she interviewed an intensive care doctor about the city's healthcare system, she received a call from law enforcement agencies. Maria Bukhtueva, editor-in-chief of TVK TV in Krasnoyarsk, says, "The recent law against fake news about epidemics is another way to get rid of unwanted journalists...The government does not want to work properly with the media, it prefers to dodge and use threats.”
Residents of dilapidated, Soviet-era, communal apartments in the Russian city of St. Petersburg are stuck in lockdown without a room for bathing or showering. They usually use bathhouses to wash, but those have been closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (video)
Daniil Lipilin is sure his father, Vasil, a 50-year-old paramedic with more than 20 years of experience, died of COVID-19. He says the name of the coronavirus disease is right there on the death certificate. But Belarus President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has refused to acknowledge that COVID-19 has claimed even a single victim in the country of some 9.5 million.
Bosnia-Herzegovina's Constitutional Court has ruled that coronavirus restrictions requiring the elderly and minors to stay under lockdown are discriminatory.
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev has signed a decree that will allow the Central Asian nation to take $3.1 billion from international financial institutions in soft and long-term loans to reduce the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.
Tajik President Emomali Rahmon has urged farmers in the predominately Muslim country not to fast during the holy month of Ramadan so they can stay healthy and work the fields. The Central Asian nation claims not to have any coronavirus infections, but Rahmon said on April 23 that fasting makes people "vulnerable to infection from infectious diseases."
Human Rights Watch says governments in Central Asia are failing to respect the rights of their citizens in their responses to the coronavirus pandemic, and that restrictions should not be used “to muzzle journalists, health-care providers, and others attempting to inform the public or protect against rights violations.”
On March 30, Russian leader Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump spoke by telephone, the first of five calls between the two over the next five weeks. For many Russia watchers, the flurry of behind-the-scenes phone calls and other communications - together with an unusual shipment of Russian coronavirus-related aid to the United States -- is a clear indication that something's going on.
The United States will give $12 million in economic aid to Greenland and open a consulate on the island in a bid to strengthen mutual ties and counter growing Russian and Chinese interests in the Arctic. Danish and U.S. officials jointly announced the financial and diplomatic package on April 23.
In an online briefing on April 22, Ambassador Sullivan called extremism charges brought against RFE/RL Pskov-based contributor Svetlana Prokopyeva “egregious,” and slammed threats issued by Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov against RFE/RL North Caucasus Service Chief Aslan Doukaev. Sullivan said the embassy is following the cases closely, adding, “Unfortunately freedom of the press is under pressure today in Russia.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law simplifying procedures to obtain Russian citizenship for residents of Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Foreigners will no longer need to renounce their original citizenship upon receiving a Russian passport. People with Soviet citizenship residing in former Soviet republics will no longer need to prove three years of residency in Russia or confirm the existence of an official source of income. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
The self-declared Donetsk People's Republic has decreed that Donetsk will be referred to using its Soviet name “Stalino” on the days marking World War II Victory Day on May 9, 1945; Germany's attack on the Soviet Union on June 22,1941; and Donetsk’s liberation from the Nazis on September 8, 1943. The self-declared Luhansk People’s Republic has adopted a similar measure to revive the Soviet name of “Voroshilovgrad” three times a year. (Ukrainian Service)
In a scene eerily reminiscent of the hit TV series about a teacher who decides to manufacture and sell high-grade drugs to provide for his family, a Kyiv chemistry professor has been arrested for allegedly setting up a secret lab to produce methamphetamine and other illegal drugs.
Milorad Dodik, the Bosnian Serb member of Bosnia's multiethnic presidency, says Bosnian Serbs are ready to preserve the integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina as a state, but only if they get ''more autonomy.'' In a telephone interview with RFE/RL on April 23, Dodik said that it was ''difficult'' for Serbs to ''understand that we are part of Bosnia-Herzegovina."