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COVID-19 REPORTING

Is Montenegro About To Become Europe’s First Coronavirus-Free Country?

No new cases of the coronavirus for an extended period of time. For most countries around the globe, that is a wish rather than a realistic goal. But Montenegro, a small Balkan country of some 600,000 people, is claiming it is on the verge of achieving it.

Surrogate Babies Still Stuck In Ukrainian Lockdown Limbo

More than 60 surrogate babies are still stuck in a Kyiv guesthouse, unable to be united with parents from 35 countries because of Ukraine's lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic. (video)

Moldova Orthodox Church Warns Of 5G Technology And Conspiracies

Moldova’s Orthodox Church has recently urged the government to make any eventual vaccine against the deadly coronavirus voluntary. In a statement it said, "Societies in many European countries are protesting against the mandatory use of vaccines, particularly vaccines against COVID-19, because they view them as an opportunity for the global system of anti-Christs to introduce microchips into the human body and control people with the help of 5G technology."

Western Europe’s Romanian Migrant Workers Get COVID-19

Hundreds of Romanian migrant workers have been infected by the coronavirus at meat-processing companies in Germany and the Netherlands, an emerging aspect of the pandemic that highlights the dilemma facing seasonal workers who travel west from poorer EU states.

COVID-19 Roundup:

Armenian PM, Family Test Positive; Russian Airlines Allowed To Fill Planes.

OTHER NEWS

Russia Defiant But Anxious As U.S. Seeks To End Its Monopoly On Manned Space Flight

Since 2011, Moscow has played a crucial role in facilitating American trips to the International Space Station, earning a reputation as a solid partner and a steady income stream of upwards of $80 million. Saturday’s successful SpaceX launch could spell the end of this lucrative partnership. “This means huge financial losses,” said Ivan Moiseyev, a senior figure at the Institute of Space Policy, a Moscow think tank. “It signals the end of a comfortable revenue source, and the termination of long-standing contracts.”

Russian Social Media Reacts To SpaceX Launch

Many prominent Russians have applauded the launch, saying it represents a new era in space exploration. Many have been trolling Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin, invoking a “dark day for Roscosmos.” One commentator referred to the high number of aeronautics developers who have, over decades, been imprisoned in Russia, including lead Soviet rocket engineer Sergei Korolev, writing, “If Elon Mask was born in Russia he would now still be serving his first term in prison for PayPal.” (Russian Service)

China Seen As Rising Military Power In Central Asia, Foreshadowing Future Friction With Russia

China is steadily increasing its security footprint in Central Asia and closing the gap with Russia, a trend that could see Moscow’s influence “undermined in the coming decade,” according to a new report released by the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute.

U.S. Citizen Whelan, Accused Of Spying In Russia, Undergoes Hernia Surgery

U.S. citizen Paul Whelan, who is on trial in Russia on an espionage charge, underwent “emergency” hernia surgery on May 29 after experiencing “severe abdominal pain,” and was subsequently remanded to Moscow’s Lefortovo prison, his family and the U.S. Embassy have said.

Russian Activists Detained For Protesting Against Jailing Of Journalist

Activists were detained in Moscow and St. Petersburg on May 29 after protesting against a 15-day jail sentence handed down to prominent Russian journalist Ilya Azar. Azar was arrested for holding a one-person protest in support of activist Vladimir Vorontsov, who has worked to expose alleged violations within Russia's law enforcement agencies. (video)

Kremlin Finally Moves To Raise Radioactive Debris From Arctic Waters

A new decree orders Russia’s state-run atomic energy company Rosatom to oversee over the next decade the cleanup of the most dangerous objects in the Barents and Kara seas. An estimated 17,000 objects are scattered across thousands of square miles, including 18 nuclear reactors and another entire nuclear sub that was scuttled off Novaya Zemlya in 1982.

Russia To Build New Airport In Chechnya

Russian media reports that the federal government is planning to construct a new airport in Chechnya at a cost of approximately $67.1 million. Chechnya’s authorities are also hoping to get nearly $128.5 million for airport infrastructure development. Eighty percent of Chechnya’s budget is subsidized from the Russian Federal budget. Russian opposition politicians believe that much of the funding goes to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who, when asked where he gets his money, said that “Allah gives it to him.” (Russian Service)

Belarusian Opposition Leader Statkevich Detained On Way To Rally

Prominent Belarusian opposition leader Mikalay Statkevich, a former presidential challenger whose candidacy for the August 9 presidential election was rejected earlier this month, was detained on May 31. He was on his way to a protest in downtown Minsk, where up to 2,000 people had gathered over the jailing of opposition blogger Syarhey Tsikhanouski. (video)

Ukraine, Hungary Meet To Discuss ‘New Chapter’ In Bilateral Relations

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto have discussed Kyiv-Budapest bilateral ties at a time when Hungary is blocking NATO initiatives because of a restrictive language law in Ukraine.

Azerbaijan Ex-Security Chief's Family Builds $100 Million Property Empire

The children of former Azerbaijan security chief Eldar Mahmudov have acquired a number of luxury properties in Britain, including a $21 million home in London, an investigation has revealed. Customer files hacked from the Cayman National Bank in November 2019, and then published online, reveal that Mahmudov's family has built an estimated $111 million business and property empire. (video)

Azerbaijan Foreign Minister’s Son Bought New York Property Worth $4.2 Million

The son of Azerbaijan's foreign minister bought New York real estate worth more than $4.2 million in 2015. The details are contained in documents at the New York City finance department's office of the city register. They also show that the properties were purchased without a mortgage. The deals have raised questions about how the purchases were financed. (video)

Vindication? Ex-Minister Takes Aim At Bulgaria's 'Totalitarian Instinct'

Former Bulgarian Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov has vowed to help pull back the curtain on autocratic tendencies and anti-Western elements in the European Union's poorest state. He spoke to RFE/RL's Bulgarian Service of a "totalitarian instinct" in public institutions in postcommunist Bulgaria that has lessons that go beyond politics.

Belgrade's Chinese Surveillance Cameras Spark Backlash

A group of NGOs has launched a website providing the public with information on a controversial mass-surveillance system that is currently being installed in Belgrade. The system will include 1,000 cameras and is being supplied by the Chinese company Huawei. (video)

OBITUARY: 'They've Been Killing Him For Years': Russian Activist Sergei Mokhnatkin Dead At 66

PHOTO ESSAY: Facebook Suspends Russian Colorist For 'Dangerous' WWII Images

AFGHANISTAN: The Taliban, The Government, And Islamic State: Who Controls What In Afghanistan?

RSVP: June 4: Harvard University’s Davis Center: From Covid On: Testing Resilience In Central Asia, With RFE/RL’s Bruce Pannier

PRESSROOM: Government Secrecy Is Not A Coronavirus Strategy, RFE/RL Reporting Shows

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