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Plunder And Patronage In The Heart Of Central Asia

Plunder And Patronage In The Heart Of Central Asia

Over the span of five years, one man funnelled hundreds of millions of dollars out of Central Asia. What he knew may have cost him his life. But before his murder, he shared with reporters a trove of documents that reveal the source of this colossal wealth: a secretive family that ran an underground cargo empire with the help of a powerful political patron. The office of Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov has reacted to the report, stating that the head of state has never had business ties with the man at the center of the report.

VISUAL REPORTS

Lamps, Sockets, Even Toilets Stripped From Ukrainian Ships Returned By Russia

Ukraine's navy says that the three ships captured by Russia almost a year ago and released on November 19 have been returned in very poor condition and are not able to make it back to port under their own power.

Straining From War, Ukraine's Mariupol Port Seeks Chinese Support To Stay Afloat

After five years of conflict in eastern Ukraine, the port of Mariupol has seen its maritime traffic cut in half. But Chinese investment may help revive its sinking fortunes.

Sarajevo Protest Calls For Probe Of Children's Home After Shocking Photos Revealed

About 1,000 protesters blocked a major street in front of the government headquarters in Sarajevo on November 21 to demand a criminal investigation into allegations of child abuse at a care facility for special needs children in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Memorial To Kosovo's War Vandalized Near North Macedonia Border

In April, Kosovo authorities installed an old train near the border with North Macedonia as a memorial to hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians who were expelled during the 1998-99 war. Within months, vandals had left the memorial in ruins.

Dog’s Head Left In Kazakh Activist’s Car

A civic rights activist in Kazakhstan’s southern city of Shymkent says his car was vandalized by unidentified assailants who left a severed dog’s head inside.

OTHER NEWS

Russian Duma Approves 'Foreign Agents' Bill Targeting Individual Journalists

The Russian Duma has approved in the final reading a bill allowing reporters who work for organizations officially listed as foreign agents to be designated as foreign agents themselves. RFE/RL has called the law “part of a dangerous, escalating effort to target RFE/RL journalists and other foreign media, and a further step toward ensuring that the Russian people only receive the information the Kremlin wants them to.”

In Syria, Video Evidence Brings New Scrutiny Of Russian Mercenaries

A clip of a brutal murder by four men clad in camouflage in Syria, apparently filmed in the summer of 2017, resurfaced this week in the wake of an investigation by Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta. The newspaper ties the men to Vagner, a shadowy Russian mercenary group widely believed to be spearheading the expansion of Russian influence across Africa and the Middle East.

U.S. Warns Turkey, Egypt About Purchase Of Russian Military Equipment

A senior State Department official insisting on anonymity has lashed out at Turkey and Egypt for military deals they have struck with Russia, warning of sanctions against the U.S. allies if they don’t reverse course.

Russian Military, Command Control Exceeds NATO Capacities

Russia's ongoing development of an advanced command-and-control military system using sophisticated artificial intelligence has surpassed the existing capacities of NATO, an analysis by the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation says.

U.S. Investigating Universities, Including MIT, Over Russian, Chinese Donations

U.S. officials have asked the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to turn over documents regarding the university's contacts with foreign governments and donations from foreign sources, including those coming from Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia. Documentation related to contacts with the Moscow-based software firm Kaspersky Lab and the Skolkovo Foundation was specifically requested.

Russian Hacker Sentenced In U.S. For NeverQuest Online Theft

Russian hacker Stanislav Lisov, 33, aka "Black" or "Blackf,” has pleaded guilty to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from online banking accounts using malicious software known as NeverQuest, and been sentenced to 48 months in prison by a court in New York .

Akhmat Kadyrov Cult of Personality Grips Chechnya

Chechnya is seeking to create a new societal identity based on Akhmat Kadyrov, the father of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. Children are encouraged to write poems about Akhmad Haji, books extoll him, and streets carry his name. Ramzan Kadyrov recently compared his father to Ali ibn Abi Talib, the cousin and son-in-law of prophet Muhammad. (Kavkaz Realities)

Crimean Court Orders Demolition Of Ukrainian Orthodox Church

A Russian-controlled court in annexed Crimea has ordered the Orthodox Church of Ukraine to demolish its chapel in Yevpatoria. Before Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, there were 46 parishes on the peninsula affiliated with the Kyiv Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church. After the first year of annexation, eight parishes remained.

Former Prisoner Reports On Aseyev, Captivity In Separatist-Held Donetsk

RFE/RL has spoken to a person who was held in the same facility as Ukrainian contributor Stanislav Aseyev and recently freed. According to him, the infamous “isolation” facility for detainees was previously a center for modern art, and before that a facility that produced insulation. He told RFE/RL’s Donbas unit that Aseyev was tortured in an attempt to extract names from him of pro-Ukraine supporters in Donetsk. He said that Aseyev was held alone in a basement cell and, like other detainees, was taken out to shower once every two weeks. (Ukrainian Service/Donbas Realities)

Ukraine’s Zelenskiy Previews Agenda For Upcoming Peace Summit on Donbas

During a visit to the frontline town of Stanytsya Luhanske on November 20, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy commented on his priorities for an upcoming meeting on a potential peace settlement in the Donbas conflict. He said sealing a permanent cease-fire is paramount, and identified local elections, the return of all Ukrainian captives, and control over Ukraine’s border with Russia as other priorities.

Ukraine Detains Suspected Islamic State Group Leader

An elite Ukrainian police unit has apprehended a suspected 30-year-old member of the Islamic State extremist group in Zhytomyr region west of Kyiv. The unnamed suspect was born in the easternmost Ukrainian region of Luhansk but had lived in Russia for an extended period.

Ukrainians Mark Maidan Anniversary Six Years On

Several thousand Ukrainians rallied in Kyiv and other cities to commemorate the sixth anniversary of pro-democracy protests that eventually led to the overthrow of the country’s Moscow-backed president.

Georgian Opposition Protesters Jailed For Disobeying Police

A Georgian court has sentenced 10 opposition demonstrators to between four to 13 days in prison on charges of disobeying law enforcement officers during an anti-government protest earlier this week. Twenty-five other protesters are awaiting verdicts.

Serbian President Accuses Moscow Of Spy Operation

Serbian security agencies have uncovered a large-scale intelligence operation between Russian spies and current and former members of the Serbian military, President Aleksandar Vucic said on live television on November 21.

Who Is The Ethnic Serb Nationalist Slated To Lead Bosnia-Herzegovina?

Bosnian Serb nationalist Zoran Tegeltija, who was nominated to the country’s long-vacant premiership on November 19, is a close political ally of ultranationalist Milorad Dodik, the Serb member of Bosnia's tripartite presidency and the leader of Republika Srpska's ruling Alliance of Independent Social Democrats.

VISUAL STORY: The Dubai Partnership And The Matraimov Empire

IRAN: The New Face of Iran Protests: More Frequent, More Political, And Angrier

READ AND SUBSCRIBE to RFE/RL’s Journalists In Trouble Newsletter

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