A U.S. military plane carrying ventilators has landed in Moscow to help Russia in its battle against the coronavirus outbreak. "Just arrived -- U.S. plane with humanitarian aid from the people of the United States to the people of Russia. In times of crisis, the United States and Russia must work together to save lives," Rebecca Ross, a spokeswoman at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, said in a post on Twitter on May 21.
EU monitors say they have seen "at least a temporary decrease" in the amount of misinformation and disinformation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, but external actors, notably pro-Kremlin sources, are still active in spreading false information on the outbreak.
Aleksei Navalny, the founder of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, told RFE/RL in an interview on May 20 that "right now the degree of protest activity among citizens is probably one of the highest in recent times.” Russian citizens are expressing greater protest sentiment as the spread of the coronavirus and the state’s fight against it has left many people dissatisfied, including doctors and small-business owners, he said.
In interviews with RFE/RL, 20 intensive-care doctors from across Russia said they had heard of cases, even before the pandemic, in which a scarcity of medical resources left some critically ill patients without the care they required. None, however, spoke in specific terms even under condition of anonymity because of the serious potential legal ramifications of such matters.
Chechen and Russian officials remain tight-lipped about the condition or whereabouts of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a day after news reports said he had been hospitalized in Moscow for possible coronavirus infection. Russian media reported on May 21 that unnamed medical officials said that Kadyrov, 43, had been flown to a Moscow facility and was under medical supervision.
Detainees at Kyiv's notoriously overcrowded Lukyanivska prison, parts of which are 160 years old, have been offered a way out of overcrowded cells with up to a dozen inmates and poor sanitation, but it comes at a price.
The Moscow-affiliated Moldovan Orthodox Church has called on the country's leadership to ensure that a potential future anti-coronavirus vaccine will not be made compulsory, claiming conspiracy by a "world anti-Christ system" that will allegedly insert microchips into humans to control them via 5G technology.
The United States and Russia have the two highest numbers of cumulative, confirmed coronavirus cases in the world. As of May 20, the United States also had the highest official death toll. Russia, however, is ranked 19th for its reported number of coronavirus fatalities, and its statistics are increasingly under scrutiny from experts who suspect something's not quite right with Moscow's methodology.
A top U.S. official said President Donald Trump was expected to seek an extension of the New START treaty with Russia, a major nuclear arms agreement set to expire next year. National-security adviser Robert O'Brien’s May 21 comment came the same day that the Trump administration announced it would move to withdraw from another security treaty, called Open Skies.
Russian prosecutors are expected to issue their sentencing recommendation on May 25 in the case of former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who is on trial in Moscow for what the United States says are baseless spying charges.
On May 20, 2020, Rosneft’s Board of Directors reappointed Igor Sechin as CEO of the company for another five years. The Russian state-owned oil company has recently filed a lawsuit demanding roughly $599 million in damages from Russian media outlet RBK after the outlet published a story claiming that a private security firm in the city of Ryazan received a share of Venezuela’s oil company, which Rosneft previously owned. Rosneft says the article caused its shares to drop precipitously. RBK says it is “delighted” that its reporting can have such an impact, and that it intends to continue to provide its audiences with balanced information. (Russian Service)
The human rights project “Apologia of Protest” has reported that Russia’s National Guard and Interior Ministry have purchased special equipment valued at roughly $101 million to disperse rallies. Approximately $62.6 million was spent on armored vehicles equipped to fire stun grenades and tear gas, and destroy barricades. (Russian Service)
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Ukrainian officials reached a staff-level agreement on a new $5 billion stand-by arrangement to help Kyiv cope with economic shock caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The agreement aims to provide balance of payments and budget support over a period of 18 months.
The UN children’s agency is calling for all parties to the deadly conflict in eastern Ukraine to commit to a cease-fire and end more than six years of fighting, as a surge in attacks combined with restrictions related to the coronavirus are "making life even more unbearable" for the approximately 430,000 children caught up in the fighting.
Ukraine and Bulgaria have clashed over Kyiv’s plans to change administrative divisions within a district in the southern Odesa region with a sizeable ethnic-Bulgarian minority.
A Sofia district mayor is calling for the removal of a communist-era monument from a public park in the Bulgarian capital commemorating the "Soviet liberators" of Bulgaria in 1944, earning an angry rebuke from Russia. The controversy comes amid a diplomatic spat between Russia and the Czech Republic over last month’s removal of a controversial statue of a Soviet marshal in Prague.
Arayik (Ara) Harutyunian was sworn in on May 21 as de facto president of Nagorno-Karabakh, the unrecognized breakaway Azerbaijani region.
Public procurement records belonging to the city of Almaty show that local authorities intend to hire at least eight popular bloggers for “preventive work in the religious sphere.” Bloggers would be contracted to publish posts exposing the dangers of extremist ideas, and the propaganda techniques used to promote terrorism and extremism. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Desperate to buy food and medicine, some residents of eastern Turkmenistan have resorted to selling their cars, jewelry, livestock, and household items to survive. "We have no money left to feed our children or buy medicine for our elderly parents," a resident of the city of Bayramaly told RFE/RL on May 20 on condition of anonymity.