Hundreds of FBI documents obtained exclusively by RFE/RL reveal new clues to the suspected poisoning of Russian opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza -- and new details about how serious the U.S. government considered his case. Vladimir Kara-Murza speaks to Current Time TV about his lawsuit against the FBI in the case of his own poisoning.
The secretive inauguration of Alyaksandr Lukashenka for a sixth term as Belarusian president on September 24 was followed by an outbreak of spontaneous protests across the country -- and a brutal crackdown by security forces. The August 9 election results are widely seen as rigged; both the U.S. and European Union have declared that Lukashenka is not the legitimate president of Belarus.
A group of street artists in St. Petersburg created a stunning mural expressing solidarity with the protests against election rigging in Belarus. The group worked overnight to avoid potential problems with Russian police.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy stressed the need for a "de-occupation" of Russia-annexed Crimea and called for reform of the United Nations in his speech to the UN General Assembly. In a prerecorded address to the body on September 23, Zelenskiy urged the world not to let the Russian annexation of Crimea become a "customary element of the international order."
A unique Christian community in Siberia is facing the biggest crisis in its nearly 30-year history after its founder, who considers himself the second coming of Jesus Christ, was arrested on September 22.
In a statement ahead of the U.S. presidential election on November 3, Russian President Vladimir Putin called on September 25 for a reset between Russia and the United States, adding that he wanted an agreement between the two countries to prevent incidents in cyberspace. Putin's offer comes amid recent reports suggesting that Moscow may already be trying to interfere in the upcoming U.S. vote.
Russia has criticized a decision by the European Union to not recognize Alyaksandr Lukashenka as the legitimate president of Belarus, saying it violates international law and is tantamount to indirect meddling in the country's internal affairs. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on September 25 that the decision to not recognize him as the head of state would complicate the EU's dialogue with Belarus, and have no affect on Belarusian ties with Moscow. Also, read what's next for Belarus after the West says it won't recognize Lukashenka as the President and calls on him to free political prisoners.
Latvia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expanded its list of Belarusian authorities banned indefinitely from entry into the country to 101 people, according to a statement on the Ministry’s website. Estonia’s sanctions list includes 126 people, for whom entry to Estonia is banned until August 30, 2025. Additionally, Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius wrote on Twitter that, in coordination with Latvia and Estonia, Lithuania will significantly expand its sanctions list on September 25. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Many Russian bloggers and online commentators responded with irony to reports posted on September 24 by pro-Kremlin bloggers and media outlets about the nomination of Russian President Vladimir Putin for the Nobel Peace Prize. One person wrote, “in all fairness, the nomination should be for the chemistry prize. In light of the recent successes.” Others have speculated that Alyaksandr Lukashenka will be nominated next. RFE/RL’s Russian Service compiled the reactions. (Russian Service)
Although the FinCEN leak was smaller than the 2016 Panama Papers leak, which revealed much about the use of shell companies by major business and political figures around the world, "Nonetheless it is a very significant amount that merits further work," said Russian journalist Roman Shleinov. Shleinov participated in the project, and was one of the authors of the initial report on the Russian connections found among the leaked US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) suspicious activity reports (SARs) for the Important Stories website.
A Russian man accused of offering $1 million to an employee of U.S. electric car company Tesla to enable a ransomware attack denied wrongdoing on September 24 before a judge in Nevada. Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov told the court he was not guilty of a conspiracy charge to intentionally cause damage to a protected computer. Authorities have not alleged that Kriuchkov has ties to the Kremlin, but Kriuchkov, 26, told U.S. Magistrate Judge Carla Baldwin that he knew the Russian government was aware of his case.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has asked Russia’s top companies operating in the capital to again have some employees work from home after new daily cases of COVID-19 reached a three-month high. Sobyanin sent the letter to firms including Sberbank, the nation’s largest lender, Yandex, its largest IT company by value, and Rostex, the state-owned defense holding.
Russian media reports that pilot projects have been launched to install facial recognition systems in ten Russian cities, including Nizhny Novgorod; other cities have not yet been disclosed. Reportedly 3,000 cameras will be installed in each city in order to identify coronavirus quarantine violators and search for criminals. Cameras will be installed at bus stops, in public spaces, and in building intercom systems; some may be operational by the end of 2020. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Russian court bailiffs have seized the apartment of Kremlin-critic Aleksei Navalny after he lost a defamation lawsuit involving a businessman with close ties to President Vladimir Putin. Kira Yarmysh, a spokeswoman for Navalny, announced the property’s seizure on September 24 on her Twitter account. She said the court had put the freeze on his apartment in August, while he was in a coma, to prevent the activist from selling, gifting, or mortgaging the property. Navalny is still allowed to reside in his apartment in Moscow. Also, Current Time TV reports that Navalny thanked the pilots who made the emergency lending in Omsk, as well as the doctors who treated him there.
The RFE/RL Ukrainian Service investigative program Schemes has revealed that not only have a large number of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s friends and business partners been given positions in the presidential administration and parliament, and that Zelenskiy’s childhood friend has been appointed as head of the state security services, but that these appointees have in turn appointed many of their own relatives to government positions. After Schemes reporters attended the congress of the Zelenskiy-aligned “Servant of the People” party and asked questions about these findings, the parliament introduced new anti-nepotism legislation. (Ukrainian Service/Schemes)
Bulgaria has expelled two Russian diplomats accused of military espionage and ordered them to leave the country within 72 hours, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said on September 23. "Bulgaria's Foreign Ministry has declared two Russian diplomats 'personae non gratae' and has informed the Russian embassy with a diplomatic note," a ministry spokesman said.
Russia's sovereign wealth fund and its partner Chemrar say they have signed agreements with another 17 countries for supplies of the COVID-19 drug Avifavir. The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said in a statement on September 24 that Avifavir was the world's first registered favipiravir-based drug against the coronavirus and Russia's first drug approved for the treatment of COVID-19. Favipiravir was developed in Japan and is widely used there as the basis for viral treatments.
Health workers in Kyrgyzstan have been forced to work long hours, often without promised extra pay and sometimes even with reduced pay, and subjected to a “prisonlike” quarantine regime during the COVID-19 pandemic, Amnesty International said in a new report on September 25.
Turkmenistan's authoritarian leader, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, has signed into law constitutional changes, the details of which remain largely unknown. So far, it is known that the single-chamber parliament, the Mejlis, will merge with the People's Council and become a two-chamber institution. Critics say that Berdymukhammedov plans to use the constitutional amendments to secure his lifetime presidency and its eventual succession to his son and grandchildren.
An off-the-cuff remark may help solve a diplomatic impasse and leave its mark on the Balkan map. Kosovar Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti has welcomed a suggestion to rename a lake located in both Kosovo and Serbia after U.S. President Donald Trump. The body of water is known by Serbs as Gazivoda Lake and by Kosovars as Ujman Lake.