U.S. Considering 'Additional' Military Assistance To Ukraine, Blinken Tells RFE/RL
Fallen Officers' Families Grieve In Wake Of Conflict On Kyrgyz-Tajik Border
Hasan Akbarov, a 31-year-old Tajik border guard, was shot dead the day before he was set to celebrate his sister's wedding. In Kyrgyzstan, border officer Isfana Bekzod Yuldashev died in the same conflict days before his 31st birthday. Their families are among those whose lives were shattered by two days of violence.
Russian Teen Who Read Constitution To Riot Police Faces Jail
A verdict is expected on May 11 in the trial of 19-year-old OIga Misik, who earned fame for reading from the Russian Constitution to riot policemen in Moscow in 2019. Misik delivered a fiery closing statement at her trial, which has been widely discussed on social media. She faces up to three years in prison for splashing paint on government buildings during a protest last year.
A Latvian Prison Serves As An Unlikely Venue For Russian Films At ArtDocFest
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a women's prison in the Latvian capital, Riga, and a farm were among the unlikely venues for a Russian documentary film festival. ArtDocFest is held in Moscow every year, but amid growing repression and intimidation began holding events in Riga in 2014. This year's top prize winner was Silent Voice, the story of a gay Chechen MMA fighter who fled to Belgium after getting death threats.
'Uzbek Banksy' Gives First Interview, Says He's Never Heard Of The Actual Banksy
When spray-painted pictures began appearing on the streets of Tashkent about a year ago, they prompted a wave of photos on social media and excited talk of the "Uzbek Banksy." Now, in his first-ever interview, “Abdurakhman” as he calls himself, told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service that when he started, he had never previously heard of the famous English-based street artist he was being compared to.
Biden Says He's 'Confident' About Meeting Putin In June
U.S. President Joe Biden has said that the time and place for his proposed summit with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, are still being worked out. "I'm confident we'll be able to do it. We don't have any specific time or place. That's being worked on," Biden told reporters at the White House on May 7 when asked about meeting Putin in June -- during his planned trip to Europe. He said that Russia's massive buildup of military forces near Ukraine’s border and in annexed Crimea “does not impact my desire to have a one-on-one meeting” with Putin.
Amnesty International Restores Navalny's 'Prisoner Of Conscience' Status
Amnesty International says it has decided to redesignate Aleksei Navalny as a “prisoner of conscience,” after the human rights watchdog earlier this year stopped referring to the jailed opposition politician as such over past comments he made that reached "the threshold of advocacy of hatred." Navalny “has not been imprisoned for any recognizable crime, but for demanding the right to equal participation in public life for himself and his supporters, and for demanding a government that is free from corruption,” the London-based human rights group said in a statement on May 7. “These are acts of conscience and should be recognized as such.” Also, lawyers with the Team 29 legal group appeal Moscow court ruling restricting Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK).
In U.S. Trial Of Alleged Hacker, Signs Of Larger Russian Cybercrimes
It was one of the most sophisticated digital fraud operations in the history of the Internet, by some accounts scamming between $10 million and $30 million over the roughly four years it existed. Dubbed “Methbot” by security researchers, the operation used thousands of infected computers around the world to falsely inflate web traffic to dummy websites and defraud advertisers. A related, overlapping scam, dubbed “3ve,” used infected residential computers linked to real human users. But the network of servers that was allegedly used by the hackers, led by Aleksandr Zhukov, has also been under scrutiny to determine whether it was used by Russian state-backed hackers, or intelligence agencies, to hack into U.S. political parties.
G7 To Bolster Efforts To Counter Russia's 'Irresponsible' Behavior
The Group of Seven (G7) advanced democracies wrapped up its first in-person meeting in more than two years with a pledge to bolster collective efforts to counter Russia's "irresponsible and destabilizing" behavior, but offered little concrete action aside from expressing support for Ukraine. "We are deeply concerned that the negative pattern of Russia's irresponsible and destabilizing behavior continues," the top diplomats of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States said in a joint statement on May 5 following talks in London.
With An Eye On Russia, EU Opens 'Military Mobility' Project To NATO Allies
The European Union has approved the participation of NATO members Canada, Norway, and the United States in a project aimed at speeding up the movement of troops and military equipment around Europe. The May 6 decision marks the first time the EU has opened up an initiative from its Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) pact, which aims to deepen defense ties, to outside partners.
Google, Facebook Latest To Face Fines In Russia For Refusing To Remove Banned Content
Russia has filed protocols against Facebook and Google for what Roskomnadzor, the country's communications regulator, says is the social-media networks' failure to remove banned content. The official TASS news agency on May 5 quoted a court source as saying five protocols against both Google and Facebook were received by the court, with potential fines amounting to 200 million rubles ($267,000) each. Another social-media giant, Twitter, has already been handed protocols for similar violations, which could see it fined as much as $320,000, the source added.
Tsikhanouskaya Calls For 'Crucial' International Conference On Belarus
Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya has called for a high-level international conference on resolving the crisis in her country. Tsikhanouskaya said on Twitter it is “crucial” to hold such a conference with the participation of the Belarusian “democratic forces, national governments, parliaments, and civil society groups from the European Union, Russia, Britain, and the United States” along with representatives of Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s regime. Tsikhanouskaya on May 6 also called on the European Union to publish a comprehensive plan for Belarus that will help civil society and the country’s economy. In the meantime more than a dozen sentenced in Belarus as protest crackdown continues and Lukashenka downplays criminal case launched against him by group in Germany.
Tatarstan Expands Dairy Product Exports To China
RFE/RL’s Tatar-Bashkir Service project Idel Realii reports that one of the companies that make up the Rusagro Dairy Products LLC conglomerate in Russia’s Ulyanovsk region is expanding cooperation with China, exporting 76 tons of dairy products to China. In December 2020, the company made its first shipment of whey powder to the PRC, noting on its website that the company became the first Russian company to enter the Chinese market with this product. Earlier, Idel.Realii reported that the Ulyanovsk automaker UAZ had began selling its cars in China. (Russian Service/Idel.Realii)
Russia OKs One-Dose Sputnik Light COVID-19 Vaccine For Export
Russian regulators on May 6 approved Sputnik Light, a single-dose version of the country's Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus, allowing it to be marketed and administered as a separate COVID-19 vaccine. The approval came despite ongoing advanced testing to ensure the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness. The two-dose Sputnik V will remain “the main source of vaccination in Russia,” said Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) CEO Kirill Dmitriev, whose organization bankrolls the Sputnik vaccine.
Russian National Guard Officer Says It Was Decided Not To Kill Shaman Gabyshev During His Detention
During a hearing on consideration of forcible medical treatment for Russian shaman Aleksandr Gabyshev, the commander of the Russian National Guard platoon that detained him said, according to anonymous witnesses, that the unit considered eliminating Gabyshev, but that they realized “[Gabyshev] was gifted and was a public personality, therefore, we decided not to kill him.” In March, psychiatrists in Yakutsk found Gabyshev "mentally unfit" and said he should be hospitalized for compulsory treatment. Gabyshev first made headlines in March 2019 when he called Putin "evil" and announced that he had started a march to Moscow to drive the Russian president out of office. (Russian Service/Siberia.Realii)
'Minecraft Terrorism' Case Casts Russian Teens Into Legal 'Nether'
Despite a lack of material evidence, and no established intention of harm, three Russian 14-year-olds are facing lengthy prison sentences after being charged with "training for terrorist activities" in a case that initially alleged the schoolboys were planning to destroy a virtual Federal Security Service (FSB) building they had created within the popular computer game Minecraft. The case, which has attracted widespread attention due to the age of the accused and the notion that child's play could constitute terrorism, appears to have entered a sort of legal Nether -- Minecraft's hell-like alternate dimension.
Member Of Russian Group Pussy Riot Detained In Moscow
Police in Moscow have detained Veronika Nikulshina, a member of the Pussy Riot protest group, without explanation. Nikulshina wrote on Instagram on May 7 that four police officers apprehended her near her apartment block without saying why they were taking her into custody. A video of the incident was distributed by the Open Media group on Telegram. Nikulshina's lawyer, Mansur Gilmanov, told Open Media that his client was detained on suspicion of being disobedient toward the police.
Latvia Recognizes Armenian Genocide
Latvia has recognized the massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during World War I as genocide, drawing an angry response from Turkey. The Baltic nation’s parliament passed a resolution on May 6 condemning and recognizing the tragedy with 58 of 100 lawmakers voting for the measure. The Turkish Foreign Ministry slammed the decision as a "null and void attempt to rewrite history for political motives."
Fire Destroys Historic Tatar Village In Siberia
A wildfire has ravaged a 16th century Tatar village in Siberia that authorities had planned to turn into a tourist attraction. The Omsk Tatars National and Cultural Autonomy group said the fire that started on the afternoon of May 6 lasted for about 15 hours and completely destroyed 25 buildings, including 14 private houses and a shop in the village of Karakul in the Omsk region that borders Kazakhstan. Firefighters were brought to the site as the wildfire reached the village, but they couldn't overcome heavy winds that fanned the flames across the village.
Turkmen WWII Veterans Must Pay For Gifts They'll Receive From President On Victory Day
World War II veterans in the isolated Central Asian nation of Turkmenistan have been ordered to pay for the gifts they are scheduled to receive on behalf of the authoritarian President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov at a Victory Day commemoration marked annually on May 9 in a majority of former Soviet republics. RFE/RL correspondents report from the eastern region of Lebap that local authorities ordered the war veterans and the veterans of labor during the war to collect money for their own gifts.
WATCH: May 13 -- Atlantic Council Webinar: Understanding Russian and Iranian perspectives on the Afghan peace process (feat. RFE/RL’s Irina Lagunina, Qadir Habib, and Andres Ilves)
REGISTER: May 17 -- Wilson Center: A Storied Legacy and Continued Challenges: RFE/RL and A. Ross Johnson