Some 25,000 people have been arrested since protests began in August following a presidential election widely seen as rigged. Every week, lines of people gather overnight outside a detention center in Minsk, hoping to deliver packages of food and clothing for loved ones being held inside when the gates open in the morning.
Maia Sandu, the former World Bank economist elected president of Moldova in a resounding victory on November 15, appeared at a briefing after polls closed to thank her supporters and reiterate her political goals. She then broke into lightly accented Russian -- an apparent overture not only to the country's Russian-speaking minority but also to Moscow, which retains strong economic ties to Moldova nearly 30 years after the Soviet breakup.
Thousands of people gathered in Armenia's capital on November 16 to protest a cease-fire agreement that ended more than six weeks of fighting with Azerbaijan over its breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region. Protesters filled Yerevan's central Freedom Square, singing patriotic anthems and demanding Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian's resignation while accusing him of committing high treason for agreeing to a truce with Baku. Nagorno-Karabakh: Azerbaijanis Plan Return As Armenians Destroy Homes.
The video is shocking: a 90-year-old grandmother with COVID-19 is turned away from a Russian hospital because there are no beds left. As the scale of Russia's health crisis becomes apparent, authorities in one region reacted by banning mobile phones, while another allegedly tried to fire a paramedic who joined an independent union that is raising awareness about the situation.
Medical workers in Ukraine are mourning lost colleagues as the country struggles to cope with a surge in COVID-19 cases. Over half a million Ukrainians have become infected since the start of the pandemic and almost 10,000 have died, according to official figures, including 140 medical workers.
The Chairman of the Russian Federation Council’s Committee on Constitutional Legislation, Andrei Klishas and State Duma deputies Pavel Krasheninnikov and Olga Sevastyanova submitted a draft bill that would would nullify Russian President Vladimir Putin’s two consecutive terms as president, which would allow Putin to run for the office for another two terms. The draft bill was submitted in accordance with the Constitutional amendments adopted via referendum earlier in 2020. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Russian Federation Council's Commission for the Protection of Sovereignty and Prevention of Interference in Russia's Internal Affairs has proposed amendments that would allow the Ministry of Justice to designate NGO’s operating in Russia without legal registration that are involved in political activities, as well as political candidates, who also receive money from abroad as “foreign agents,” subject to financial reporting and self-labeling requirements. Commission head Andrei Klimov says the main reason for the proposed amendments are “incessant attempts to interfere in Russia's sovereign affairs from abroad.” (Russian Service)
President Armen Sarkisian has called for holding early parliamentary elections in Armenia, saying that they are needed to resolve a political crisis sparked by the war in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The elections would “save the country from upheaval” in the wake of the six-week conflict that resulted in Armenian territorial losses in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, Sarkisian said in a televised address to the nation late on November 16.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to arrive in Georgia on November 17 ahead of talks with leaders of the South Caucasus country on the prospect of further deepening cooperation in the areas of defense and security. Pompeo is due to arrive in the evening after a short visit to Turkey, the second stop on his current multi-nation tour, where he met with the Istanbul-based spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. The visit, which included no official meetings and was limited only to Istanbul, was dismissed as "completely irrelevant" by Turkey's Foreign Ministry.
Before he was president-elect, before he was vice president, Joe Biden spent 36 years in the U.S. Senate, representing the state of Delaware. For many of those years, he served on the chamber’s Foreign Relations Committee, including two stints as its chairman. That gave him a prominent perch to push his view of the United States' place in the world: Call it internationalist, call it transatlanticist, call it liberal interventionist.
The U.S. Senate on November 16 passed legislation granting U.S. officials the power to prosecute individuals responsible for doping at international sporting competitions involving U.S. athletes, sponsors, or broadcasters. The legislation, named after whistle-blower Grigory Rodchenkov, who lifted the lid on doping in Russia, has already passed the House of Representatives and is now set to be signed into law by President Donald Trump. The legislation targets coaches, agents, dealers, managers, and sports or government officials, threatening fines of up to $1 million and prison sentences of up to 10 years.
Entrepreneurs demanding that Covid-19 quarantine measures for small business be abolished and a simplified taxation system be preserved, clashed with police during a protest in front of the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv. Protesters did not allow MPs to enter the building, while National Guard and National Police officers tried to make a corridor to allow the MP’s to enter. (Ukrainian Service)
The Belarusian Association of Journalists has won the Media Freedom Award, an honor bestowed by the governments of Britain and Canada for the first time in 2020, the foreign ministries of the two countries said on November 16. The Minsk-based group was singled out for its “ongoing commitment to journalistic ethics and principles and its perseverance and self-sacrifice in the face of increased targeted crackdowns on media in Belarus," the Canadian government said in a statement. The award was presented at the end of the second global conference on press freedom hosted virtually by Canada and Botswana.
Hungary and Poland have blocked approval of the European Union's long-term budget and 1.8 trillion-euro ($2.1 trillion) coronavirus rescue package, pushing the bloc toward a crisis as it seeks to respond to the pandemic. During a meeting of EU ambassadors on November 16, Budapest and Warsaw opposed tying EU funding to a new regulatory mechanism on respect for the rule of law that could see Hungary and Poland lose money over what Brussels views as a rollback of democracy under the two countries' right-wing governments.
An icy road in Russia's Irkutsk region of Siberia was covered with sand mixed with human bones, Interfax reported. Photos of the road, near the town of Kirensk, with fragments of bones that appeared human and a human skull were posted on social media on November 15, sparking harsh online criticism of the authorities. The Irkutsk regional police confirmed to Interfax that the bones were human, adding that an investigation had been launched into the matter.
A former banker from Kazakhstan has been sentenced to 11 years in prison with confiscation of property after being convicted on embezzlement charges. A court in Almaty on November 16 found Zhomart Ertaev, a former co-chairman of RBK Bank, guilty of stealing $334 million from the financial institution, which Moody's Investors Service last year ranked as the 11th-largest bank in the Central Asian country. He had previously served in senior positions at Kazakh banks throughout the 2000s.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) is urging the European Union to make clear that greater support for Central Asia is tied to “genuine” human rights reforms. The New York-based human rights watchdog made the call on November 16, as EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell prepares to meet virtually with foreign ministers from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan for the 16th EU-Central Asia Ministerial meeting.
Bulgaria has blocked the start of accession talks between North Macedonia and the European Union over a history and language dispute with its neighbor. Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva said on November 17 that Bulgaria would not approve the negotiation framework for North Macedonia after the two Balkan countries failed to overcome their differences.
In provinces of Turkmenistan, like Lebap and Dashoguz, many villagers say they avoid hospitals when they become ill because public health facilities have almost nothing to offer. In the Darganta district of Lebap Province, hospital patients are even expected to bring their own firewood and blankets to stay warm. Residents say they also must provide their own food three times a day because local hospitals don't provide anything to eat.
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