Prosecutors in Moscow say they have started an investigation after Current Time reported alleged shortages of medicines and labor violations at a makeshift hospital for coronavirus patients set up by well-known Azerbaijani-Russian businessman Araz Agalarov. The statement came after Current Time, along with the investigative Scanner Project, published a joint investigation showing that Agalarov obtained state contracts worth almost 2 billion rubles ($28 million) without a tender to set up the hospital.
More than a third of doctors working with coronavirus patients in Russia have received "instructions" to manipulate statistics on the COVID-19 outbreak, a new poll suggests. The results show that 35.8 percent of the doctors involved in the survey answered "yes" to the question: "Are you given instructions to code cases of confirmed COVID-induced pneumonia with codes that will allow you to adjust the rates of infection and death?"
Russian State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said on Sunday May 24th that the U.S. is seeking to destabilize Russia and ultimately "dismember" it. He decried such “tools” as "stuffing misinformation” about the coronavirus and “the ratings of power in Russia" -- a reference to recent polls showing President Vladimir Putin’s declining popularity -- all with the goal of preserving the dominant position of the United States in the world. He accused the U.S. of maintaining "constant contact" with opposition politicians, media, and bloggers who may not even realize "that they are pawns in this project." (Russian Service)
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov issued a recorded message on May 23 congratulating Muslims on Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the monthlong Ramadan fasting. Kadyrov's whereabouts are unknown, although Russian media reported on May 21 that he had been taken to a Moscow clinic with suspected COVID-19.
Russian media reports that Russian banks imported nearly $5 billion and €1 billion in cash in March this year. The amount is 9.5 times the amount of foreign currency imported in February, and the highest amount since December 2014. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Russian ruble has fallen 12% against the U.S. dollar and 13.5% against Euro. (Russian Service)
The head of the Russian state-run company Rosatom Alexey Likhachev has reported that nearly 100 employees-- including workers from Belarus -- at the construction site of a nuclear plant in Belarus have contracted the coronavirus. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Officials in Kazakhstan have recently begun easing the lockdown that was imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the country. But while the lockdown was in force, there were some in the government and others connected to it who were busy going after civic activists.
A cemetery said to be only for coronavirus victims in the southwestern Kazakh city of Almaty and the surrounding region appears to hold many more bodies than the area's number of reported COVID-19 deaths. RFE/RL's Kazakh Service on May 25 filmed workers in protective gear burying two bodies in the cemetery, which contained 32 fresh graves. To date, authorities in Almaty have reported only 10 deaths attributed to COVID-19, and the surrounding Almaty region has recorded none.
The former speaker of Kyrgyzstan's parliament, Mukar Cholponbaev, has died from the coronavirus. The Republican Clinical Infectious Diseases Hospital in the capital, Bishkek, said on May 24 that the 70-year-old political figure died from multiple coronavirus-related complications.
Iran Reopens Religious Shrines; Kremlin Spokesman Leaves Hospital
A NATO official has told RFE/RL’s Bulgarian Service that Russian military aircraft activity in the Black Sea and other parts of Europe had increased since 2014. "In 2019, allied aircraft took to skies 290 times to escort or shadow Russian military aircraft all across Europe" the official said in an e-mail on May 23.
Russian prosecutors have asked a Moscow court to find former Marine Paul Whelan guilty of espionage -- a charge Whelan and U.S. officials vehemently deny -- and sentence him to 18 years in prison. "Frankly speaking, we are all in shock," Whelan's lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, said outside the Moscow City Court on May 25. A verdict is expected on June 15.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to begin preparations for a Victory Parade in Moscow on June 24 to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. (Russian Service)
Russia has demanded an apology from the Bloomberg news agency over a report it published about President Vladimir Putin's low trust rating among Russians. The Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C. said on Facebook that the article was "written to promote fake graphs and create sustainable false visual images about the 'negative dynamics' in Russia."
Lawyers of Aleksandr Gabyshev, a shaman in the Siberian region of Yakutia who gained notoriety in 2019 after declaring that he wanted to drive Russian President Vladimir Putin from power, have filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights against his forced placement in a psychiatric clinic. Gabyshev’s lawyers say he had been placed in a psychiatric clinic in the city of Yakutsk illegally, against his will, and without the consent of his legal representatives.
Turkey's state-run TRT broadcaster has launched a new Russian digital platform. The new platform and its social media channels will "play a key role in battling disinformation and manipulation," TRT said.
Ukrainian lawmaker Valeriy Davydenko, 47, was found dead in his office in central Kyiv with a fatal gunshot wound to the head on May 23. An Interior Ministry official has said a preliminary investigation suggests he may have committed suicide. Ukrainian police are investigating the possibility of a premeditated murder.
Critics say that new legislation on strictly controlled peaceful assembly falls short of international human rights standards and amounts to window dressing.
The head of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) holds a top position in a private company registered in Spain, in violation of an anti-corruption law, according to an investigation by the RFE/RL Ukrainian Service program, Schemes. The May 21 report shows that Ivan Bakanov has occupied the post of sole administrator at Nueva Tierra Verde Sociedad Limitada since 2015. According to Ukrainian law, the head of the SBU cannot be the head of a private company.