Accessibility links

Breaking News



Russian State TV Anchor Calls Constitutional Amendments ‘A Historic Crime,’ Quits

Vladimir Zharinov, a state television journalist and news moderator in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, has resigned, saying that he could no longer "participate in the madness" of promoting the proposed constitutional amendments that, among other things, could enable Russian President Vladimir Putin to remain in office until 2036.

Protesters In Kyrgyzstan Rally Against Bill They Say Would Hurt 'Freedom Of Speech'

Hundreds of protesters in Bishkek urged Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov on June 29 to veto legislation passed by the parliament that they say would curtail press freedom in the Central Asian nation. Human Rights Watch said the laws “violate the country’s human rights obligations.

Bunkers, Bones, And Booze: The Eerie Mysteries Of Odesa's Catacombs

Deep below the Ukrainian port city of Odesa lies one of the largest underground labyrinths in the world. The Odesa catacombs have served as a Cold War bunker, a World War II refuge for Soviet fighters, and a hideout for smugglers.


Explainer: Controversy Over Alleged Russian Bounties Puts Spotlight On Moscow's Motives, History In Afghanistan

Controversy continues to mount over reports that Russian security officers allegedly offered bounties to the Taliban for the killing of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, questions are being raised about the Kremlin's true motives in the war-torn country.

The Art Of The Trilateral Deal? U.S. Nuke Agreement With Russia, China Proving Difficult

While the United States and Russia were satisfied after their jump-started nuclear talks in Vienna on June 22, Washington was clearly disappointed that China rejected its special invitation. But achieving a three-way deal is an undertaking that faces major obstacles.

Putin Addresses Nation On Final Day Of Constitutional Vote

Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared on major state-run TV networks to address the country on the last day of balloting in a historic constitutional referendum. Putin said the vote presents Russians with a choice to live in a country with modern education and health care, with reliable social protection of citizens, and with a government accountable to society. (Russian Service)

How Russia’s Presidency Could Become Even Stronger

By July 1, Russians will decide whether or not 206 amendments that could transform the role of the president and the status of citizens’ rights should become part of their constitution. Regarding proposed amendments to the separation of powers, government officials and Kremlin-linked mainstream media say the changes will strengthen this essential element of a democracy. By contrast, opponents say that the new constitution will only further concentrate power in Russia’s already powerful presidency.

Belarus Election Commissions Reject Signatures Supporting Alternative Presidential Candidates

Belarus’s local election commissions have rejected tens of thousands of signatures in support of opposition candidates Viktar Babaryka and Valer Tsapkala, who seek to contest the country’s August 9 presidential election. International observers have condemned the government’s crackdown on opposition candidates, activists, and the media in recent weeks. (Belarus Service)

Russia Denies Nuclear Incident Following Detection Of Isotopes In Northern Europe

Russia has denied any nuclear incidents after an international body detected unusual radioactive isotopes produced by nuclear fission in northern Europe. Last week a monitoring station in Sweden detected unexplained "higher than usual levels" of radioactive isotopes that likely came from somewhere around the Baltic Sea.

Massive Fire Engulfs Waste Landfill Near Russia’s Norilsk

An industrial-waste landfill near the Russian city of Norilsk caught fire on June 29. The incident follows two environmental disasters near the industrial city, home to Norilsk Nickel, the world's leading nickel and palladium producer.

EU Extends Sanctions Against Russia Over Ukrainian Conflict

European Union member states on June 29 formally extended a six-month extension of economic sanctions imposed against Russia over its role in the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine. The "full implementation" of the Minsk agreements that sought to put an end to the fighting "has not yet been achieved,” the European Council said.

Georgian Lawmakers Approve Electoral Reforms

Georgian lawmakers have approved a bill on election reforms following a foreign-brokered deal to change a system that opposition parties insisted unfairly favored the ruling party heading into elections this autumn. Lawmakers from two parties boycotted the June 29 parliamentary session.

Kosovar President Vows To Resign If War-Crimes Charges Confirmed

Kosovar President Hashim Thaci says he will “immediately resign” if a judge in The Hague confirms war-crimes charges filed against him stemming from Kosovo’s war of independence in 1998-99. In a prerecorded address to the nation, Thaci rejected the accusations against him as false.

Mystery Surrounds Death Of Kazakh Journalist

Quandyq Shamakhaiuly, a Kazakh journalist known for his criticism of the authorities, has died in hospital hours after he wrote on Facebook that doctors gave him an unknown medicine.

Tajikistan Underreports Official Covid-19 Figures, RFE/RL Investigation Finds

The Tajik government has put the death toll from COVID-19 at 52 as of June 26 with the official number of infections at 5,691. The Tajik Service has verified 152 fatalities. A list compiled by local activists records over 400 Covid-19 deaths.

Tajik Parliament Approves Penalties For ‘False Information’ About COVID-19

A bill approved by the Tajik Parliament’s upper chamber on June 26 establishes fines for knowingly publishing false information about the coronavirus in the media and on social networks. The bill was earlier passed by the lower chamber, and now awaits the president’s signature. (in Russian, Tajik Service)

Newly Suspect Funds Emerge In Investigation Of Massive Kyrgyz Money Laundering Scheme

Nearly half of the donations received by a well-known Kyrgyz charity run by the powerful Matraimov family have been linked to an illicit underground network, according to the latest findings of an investigation by RFE/RL, the OCCRP, Bellingcat, and Kloop. (The multi-part investigative report, Plunder And Patronage In The Heart of Central Asia, is here.)

COMMENTARY: Kyrgyzstan, The Missing Link In China's Railway To Uzbekistan...And Beyond

AFGHANISTAN: Taliban Reaffirms Commitment To U.S. Deal In Call With Pompeo

IRAN: U.S. Dismisses Iran Arrest Warrant For Trump As ‘Propaganda Stunt’

About Svoboda Today

Svoboda Today is a quick guide to developments in Russia, Ukraine, and the region, delivered from our bureaus direct to your inbox.

Click here to subscribe to the Svoboda Today newsletter.