Mass rallies continue to rock Russia's Far East as the backlash against the arrest of a local Governor Sergei Furgal rattles the Kremlin. Organizers put the size of the July 18 protest in Khabarovsk at some 50,000 people in a city of only 600,000 people. Thousands of people took part in other protests, including in Khabarovsk, Vladivostok, Komsomolsk-on-Amur, and Birobidzhan.
Kyrgyz authorities have warned people not to use an ancient Islamic practice of bloodletting known as Hijama to treat COVID-19. As the country's traditional health sector struggles to cope, people have also turned to consuming dog soup (harmless, but ineffective) and soda solutions (potentially dangerous).
New episodes in the 12-part series made by the media outlet Coda Story, a Current Time partner, document the memories of survivors of the Soviet labor-camp system.
British, American, and Canadian intelligence agencies on July 16 accused Cozy Bear hackers of using malware and so-called spear-phishing emails to deceive researchers at universities, private companies, and elsewhere. The goal, the agencies said, was to steal research on the effort to create a vaccine for the disease caused by the new coronavirus, COVID-19. Russia’s Ambassador to Great Britain has denied the allegations.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in the city of Kerch in Russia-annexed Crimea to take part in a ceremony to lay the keels of new warships for the Russian Navy. Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has protested Putin’s visit, which was made without prior agreement with Kyiv. (Ukrainian Service, Crimea Realities)
Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny has announced the closure of the Anticorruption Fund, which he founded nine years ago. Navalny said this “is not a drill” and that the fund was “simply taken away” in connection with an 88 million-ruble lawsuit (approximately $1.2 million) brought against the Fund by businessman and close Putin associate Yevgeny Prigozhin. “The amount is huge and I don't even see a point in collecting it. Until the end of Putin’s power we will have to live with blocked accounts and bailiffs seizing our property in favor of Putin’s chef [Prigozhin],” Navalny wrote on Twitter. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Speaking to Current Time TV, RFE/RL Russian Service contributor said that in Russia “repression has become a bad fashion.” On July 16, Prokopyeva appealed a military court verdict that found her guilty on July 3 of “justifying terrorism” because of a commentary she published. She told Current Time that the public’s support of her was extremely important, and helped demonstrate that she is not the only one who thinks she is innocent. Prokopyeva received the Committee to Protect Journalists’ International Press Freedom award on July 13. Funds to help Svetlana pay her 500,000 ruble fine are being raised here. (in Russian, Current Time)
Russia paid out over $15.3 million in compensation in 2019 subsequent to the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights, according to the Federation’s Accounts Chamber. The Court ranks Russia first by the number of complaints it receives, with 60,000 Russian cases pending before it in January, 2020. Most complaints allege encroachment on freedom and personal integrity, and non-observance of the right to a fair trial. (Russian Service)
Olympic figure skater Yekaterina Alexandrovskaya, a 20-year-old Australian national who was born in Russia, has died after falling out of a sixth-floor window in central Moscow. Russian officials did not immediately comment on the cause of death,
The Belarusian opposition's main presidential candidate held two mass rallies on July 19 as the campaign heats up to unseat authoritarian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in next month's election. The campaigns of three opposition figures said earlier this week they would unify around presidential candidate Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya to "defeat" the "longtime dictatorial regime.”
Jan Marsalek, the wanted former chief operating officer of the collapsed German fintech giant Wirecard remains at large with his whereabouts unknown since he was last seen on June 18. Der Spiegel and the investigative outfit Bellingcat reported on July 18 that Marsalek arrived by private jet at Minsk airport just after midnight on June 19.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has welcomed Iran's handover to France of the flight recorders from the downing of a Ukrainian airliner in Tehran on January 8.
Reporters Without Borders has condemned the Georgian parliament for what it calls measures “restricting media freedom” less than four months before legislative elections. In a July 17 statement, the media watchdog accused the parliament -- led by the ruling Georgian Dream party -- of attempting to "control radio and television channels" under the guise of a “crusade against disinformation.”
Thousands of Bulgarians took to the streets of the capital and other cities for the ninth straight night on July 17 as they continued to press demands that Prime Minister Boyko Borisov's government step down over allegations of corruption. A participant told BNT state television that the ouster of three ministers earlier in the week was just a "parody" of real reform.
Plamen Bobokov, the co-founder of a Sofia-based energy business, has hired the U.S. lobbying firm Alexandria Group International, according to Foreign Agents Registration Act documents published by the Justice Department on July 17. One of Bulgaria's wealthiest businessmen, Bobokov is being investigated by the country’s prosecutors on allegations of waste mismanagement and corruption.