In a video roundtable on April 27, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said,“We have several examples of statements coming from Moscow and Beijing, which are not correct, which try to undermine the cohesion of NATO allies, and also portrays NATO in the absolutely wrong way.”
Russian media reports that more than half of 21,000 entrepreneurs surveyed by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry were unable to use support measures promised by the government because their companies were not included in a list of industries most affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Half of respondents said the state measures provide no real help and that going to the bank is an additional burden. One third of respondents said that banks refused to grant them credit holidays or payroll loans, with no explanation. (Russian Service)
The Ministry of Agriculture in Russia’s Primorsky Krai region has proposed replacing migrant workers with students and prisoners because of border closures threatening the labor supply for spring harvests. Over 1,000 Chinese and 200 Kyrgyz workers had been included in a visa register for agricultural production in the region for 2020. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
The Georgian government is hoping some of the credit it has garnered in early efforts fighting the coronavirus pandemic can help it later this year during parliamentary elections. Plaudits from some quarters for the ruling Georgian Dream party’s efforts have boosted the image of the battered party ahead of elections that must be held by October.
The European Union is discussing a new aid package for the Western Balkans to help the region cope with the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout, according to a draft document seen by RFE/RL.
A shocking video spread online has highlighted the problem of domestic violence amid lockdowns in Central Asia. In Kyrgyzstan, an activist says women have an "ingrained distrust" in the authorities, while a Kazakh crisis center is renting apartments for victims it can't house. (video)
Wearing rubber gloves and a homemade face mask, a middle-aged woman named Ziyoda sells herbs at a vegetable market on the outskirts of the ancient Tajik city of Khujand. “The government says we don’t have the coronavirus.” she says, adding that authorities referred to one reported case as a false rumor. Reporters Without Borders recently stated that the Tajik government has long been criticized for clamping down on media outlets, but the coronavirus crisis has made reporting “even harder.”
Officials of the Tashkent City Education Department may be behind hundreds of electronic messages sent by local teachers praising efforts by Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev and several state bodies to slow the spread of the coronavirus. RFE/RL's Uzbek Service has been inundated with the messages, the majority of which had the exact same text, sent to its Telegram account on April 24-25.
The prosecution has concluded the presentation of its case in the Moscow trial of U.S. citizen Paul Whelan on espionage. Whelan has rejected the charges, and his lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, told Russian state media on April 27 that “the evidence for the prosecution is unconvincing” and that the case bore “signs of a provocation.”
The Russian search engine Yandex has been found to have preferenced negative materials in search results about opposition leader Alexey Navalny. On April 27th, titles such as “Navalny's Illiteracy May Lead Russia To Economic Collapse” topped search results. Yandex explained that the situation is a "temporary experiment," and that it will seek to improve functionality in the future. (Russian Service)
The mayor of Prague has confirmed police are guarding him around the clock after a Czech news magazine reported that he and another Prague official were likely targets of a Russian poisoning plot. Mayor Zdenek Hrib told Russia's Ekho Moskvy on April 27 that police put him under protection weeks ago after identifying a threat directed at him.
Ukraine's Supreme Court has postponed a review of a lower court decision on whether state-owned PrivatBank has to pay back more than a billion hryvnyas ($37 million) to Ihor and Hryhoriy Surkis, two brothers who lost their savings in the 2016 nationalization of the financial institution.
A poll by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center shows that only 28.3% of respondents declared trust in Russian President Vladimir Putin, the lowest such measure in the center’s 14 years of polling. The finding surpasses the president’s last record-low trust rating of 30.5% in May 2019. (Russian Service)