As Russia spent hundreds of millions of dollars on new stadiums for the World Cup, people with connections cashed in.
One year ago, a farmer in Russia's north Caucasus built this straw stadium to mock the delays, budget overruns, and corruption scandals surrounding the construction of the Zenit Arena in St. Petersburg -- a key venue in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Our reporter tried to determine how manageable Moscow might be to non-Russian-speaking World Cup tourists. She found English-speaking metro workers, and much effort and good will, but most signs, maps, and instructions remain intelligible only to those who read Cyrillic.
Drivers in several Serbian cities and towns stopped their cars in the streets and blocked main highways on June 11 to protest against high fuel prices.
U.S. authorities have imposed new sanctions on three Russians and five companies that "have directly contributed to improving Russia’s cyber- and underwater capabilities through their work with the FSB and therefore jeopardize the safety and security of the United States and our allies," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a June 11 statement.
Following a June 11 meeting with Russian and Ukrainian counterparts in Berlin, Germany and France are voicing cautious optimism that steps will be taken to revive the long-stalled cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, but said no agreement was reached on deploying a UN peacekeeping mission there.
Police in Russia's Far Eastern city of Vladivostok have detained several activists and disrupted the founding meeting of a regional branch of a civil society group established by exiled Kremlin foe Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Chechen resident Shadid Gubashev, serving a16-year sentence for aiding and abetting the 2015 murder of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, is waging his second hunger strike to protest violations of prisoners’ rights. He has been denied video and telephone communications with relatives, despite regulations permitting such contacts twice a month. (North Caucasus Realities website)
Calling it a "key milestone” in combating corruption, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on June 11 signed a bill constituting an anticorruption court, an institution the International Monetary Fund and Western governments say is crucial for the country’s development.
Ahead of its next visit, the International Monetary Fund has requested that Kyiv revise gas prices and balance the national budget. To date, Ukraine has received approximately $8.38 billion from a pledge of $17.5 billion as part of a four-year IMF support program adopted in 2015. (Ukrainian Service)
Towns and cities in the self-declared, separatist-controlled Donetsk People's Republic have been left for several weeks without gas. Ukraine banned gas sales to the territories in 2015, leaving Russia to supply the region, but many observers believe that profiteering and internal leadership disputes may be to blame. (Donbas Realities, Ukrainian Service)
The Islamic Renaissance Party (IRPT) says it halted its activities in Tajikistan nearly three years ago, when it was outlawed by the country’s Supreme Court. What hasn't stopped, the Islam-rooted party claims, is the government's persecution of its followers.
PRESSROOM Briefing: How Russia, Turkey, Extremism, And Systemic Fragility Continue To Shape The Balkans. Wednesday, 9:30am.