Defense witnesses in the trial of Paul Whelan, who is charged with espionage, have not shown up to a court hearing because of the coronavirus outbreak. Whelan's lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, said that three defense witnesses did not come to the courtroom as the trial resumed on May 18.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced on May 19 that the city will be under restrictions for a long time, and said that Muscovites are still in a “serious risk zone.” Sobyanin said outdoor activity can resume when the number of deaths starts to decline and new cases are in the “dozens or hundreds, not thousands.” (Russian Service)
President Vladimir Putin has acknowledged a "complicated" situation in Russia's southern republic of Daghestan after a local mufti described the region's battle against COVID-19 as a "catastrophe."
Beijing and Moscow are being pushed together by the coronavirus pandemic in what could lead to a deepening partnership on next-generation technologies. “The pandemic doesn’t create a new reality, but amplifies existing trends,” said Alexander Gabuev, a senior fellow at the Moscow Carnegie Center.
Russian media reports that at least 186 medical workers have died from COVID-19, in other words accounting for every 15th fatality from the virus. The calculations are based on the “Memory List” -- an online project that collects the names of doctors, nurses, laboratory assistants, and other medical workers who have died during the coronavirus pandemic. According to the list, mid-level medical personnel, especially nurses, have been affected more than others. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
After ambulance medics from Russia’s Krasnodar region complained to the media outlet Znak.com that they have not received stimulus payments promised by Russian President Vladimir Putin, local police warned them that they were engaging in unacceptable “extremist activity.” Doctors across Russian have reported that stimulus payments for medical workers treating Covid-19 patients have not reached them. (Russian Service)
In Russia, growing domestic-violence complaints have escalated a longstanding clash over cultural values, fueling mutual recriminations between women’s rights activists warning of a deepening societal scourge and their conservative opponents, who assert that “domestic violence” shouldn’t even exist as a term.
COVID-19 is exposing acute funding shortages in Ukraine's health service. In Kharkiv, a public hospital is mostly relying on private donations and patients are paying for medicines that are supposed to be free. Current Time has spoken to spouses and close colleagues of medical staff who have died while caring for others infected by the coronavirus. (video)
Kazakh authorities will permit Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan to return their citizens from Russia by bus via a specially organised corridor that crosses the country’s territory. Several hundred Kyrgyz and Uzbek citizens, mostly labor migrants, and including pregnant women and women with children, have been stuck in Russia and living in tent camps in the Orenburg region for more than 10 days. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
In a May 20 press conference marking his first anniversary in office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy mainly addressed the country’s financial position. He also hinted that he may pursue a second term in office. RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service live-blogged the event and Current Time TV is providing analysis here.
Russian state-run energy giant Gazprom says it has launched feasibility studies for the construction of a second gas pipeline to China that would more than double the volumes it could deliver there. Gazprom CEO Aleksei Miller said on May 18 that a Power of Siberia 2 pipeline might carry up to 50 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year to energy-hungry China.
Russia’s Federation Council has approved amendments to the country’s electoral law allowing remote voting, including by mail, for municipal, regional, and federal elections. The amendments toughen signature requirements for local elections, and impose prohibitions on voting for persons convicted of medium-level crimes. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
A petition to include Russian state-media TV host Vladimir Solovyev on the Magnitsky sanctions list to ban his entry to the EU and the U.S. and potential Italian citizenship has collected 200,000 signatures on Change.org. The author of the petition, Orthodox emigre priest Father Sergius, has accused Solovyev “with his aggressive rhetoric” of prompting “many young people to join private military units and wage fratricidal war in countries such as Ukraine and Syria.” (Russian Service)
Shareholders in the former Russian oil giant Yukos say a Dutch court has granted them the local rights to the trademarks of two iconic vodka brands controlled by the Russian state. The seizure of the Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya trademark rights is the shareholders’ most recent move to obtain billions of dollars in damages from the Russian government, a spokesman for the shareholders said on May 18.
The girl screamed and struggled but was held down by medical staff and her stepmother when female genital mutilation was performed on her at a medical clinic in June 2019 in Magas, the capital of Ingushetia, a region in Russia's North Caucasus. Her mother filed criminal charges and the pediatric gynecologist who performed the procedure is on trial. Now, activists have petitioned for a fuller probe into the case by the Investigative Committee, which lawyers say would be a first in Russia.
One of the most vocal champions of global "interdependence" in international affairs, Joseph Nye, has warned that the United States and the world should take Russia "much more seriously." Nye also downplayed the notion that Europe might be eager to significantly boost ties to Russia or China at the expense of transatlantic relations.
The Ukrainian Security Service says it will use a journalist's interview with former separatist figures as evidence of crimes committed during the war in the east of the country, including the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. The SBU announcement on May 19 relates to two interviews published by Ukrainian journalist Dmytro Gordon on his YouTube channel in which ex-separatist leader Igor Girkin, also known as Strelkov, and the former top prosecutor in Russian-annexed Crimea, Natalia Poklonskaya, divulge information that prosecutors say could be used against them.
The Belarusian Central Election Commission has rejected documents filed by the initiative group for prominent opposition leader Mikalay Statkevich to nominate him as a presidential candidate for balloting scheduled for August 9. The commission said its May 19 decision was determined by Statkevich's "criminal record." Statkevich ran against authoritarian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in the 2010 presidential election.
A jailed Belarusian blogger, Syarhey Tsikhanouski, who intended to take part in the August presidential election, has been given an additional 15-day jail term for what a court in the southeastern city of Homel called the "organization of an unsanctioned mass gathering."
Moldovan prosecutors have charged Vlad Plahotniuc, a powerful oligarch and political figure, for his role in a massive bank theft, and will seek his extradition from the United States.
ExxonMobil has again put its stake in Azerbaijan’s largest oil field up for sale despite a historic decrease in oil prices linked to a decline in consumption due to coronavirus restrictions. A spokeswoman for the U.S. energy giant has said that ExxonMobil “is testing market interest” for its assets in Azerbaijan.