Only 12% of Russians say the relations with the United States will improve with the new U.S. President -- as opposed to 46% in 2016.
Armenian opposition members questioned for allegedly organizing protests in defiance of Armenia’s military curfew claim that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s government has been using the ban to stamp out criticism of its controversial Nagorno-Karabakh truce with Azerbaijan and Russia. Pashinian, brought to power by street protests in 2018, counters that he only opposes attempts to “sow chaos.”
Ethnic Hungarian city council members sing the Hungarian national anthem, and the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) raids the offices of ethnic Hungarian charities, causing tension between Kyiv and Budapest.
Many residents of the village of Nekhaivka in northern Ukraine's Chernihiv region show COVID-19 symptoms, but some say they can't get tested or treated. Their local doctor has died, apparently from the disease, leaving only a paramedic and two nurses in the local clinic.
Nina Bahinskaya, a septuagenarian great-grandmother, says she never misses a protest against the government following an August presidential election widely seen as rigged. She's been attending anti-government protests since the 1980s. Her spirit and determination have made her a symbol of the massive street demonstrations against the rule of Akyaksandr Lukashenka.
Russian chess legend Garry Kasparov was consulted by the creators of the hit Netflix series The Queen's Gambit to ensure game play was accurate and compelling. Kasparov told RFE/RL's Russian Service how he helped make the action on and off the chess board believable.
An investigation by RFE/RL’s Hungarian Service has found, based on leaked e-mails and interviews with current and former employees, that many stories covered widely in international media were censored by Hungary’s state news agency MTI. The findings follow earlier reporting from RFE/RL that found reporters at the state MTVA broadcast group -- which, like the MTI news wire, falls under an entity controlled by loyalists to nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban -- were being explicitly instructed on what to discuss and how. Also read: Hungary's Orban says he won't budge in EU Budget dispute over “rule of law” clause.
European Union ambassadors on December 2 gave their green light to establish a sanctions regime that would target human rights violators worldwide. The EU’s 27 foreign ministers are set to rubber-stamp the decision when they meet on December 7, and the new mechanism is expected to officially enter into force on December 10, Human Rights Day. Several EU officials familiar with the matter said no individuals or entities will be sanctioned immediately, but names could be put on the blacklist as early as the beginning of 2021.
A Russian court has ordered the arrest of a physicist specializing in hypersonic aircraft on suspicion of high treason. Anatoly Gubanov took part in international conferences and projects involving hydrogen-powered hypersonic aircraft, the Interfax news agency reported on December 3, citing unnamed sources. "According to the investigation, Gubanov handed over secret aviation development data abroad," the TASS news agency reported, citing another source.
Reacting to the results of a Public Opinion Foundation survey that found that 61% of Russians believe their country’s officials work poorly, Kremlin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said “as an official, I’m pained to hear that.” He also called the survey “interesting” and that it once again “emphasizes the need for greater openness, greater clarification of what the officials are doing.” (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Ukrainian Parliament has voted in favor of a bill, proposed by the Committee on Law Enforcement, to establish criminal liability for declaring false information or failing to file an asset declaration. Earlier, Ukraine’s Constitutional Court declared the previous version of the law unconstitutional. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Moldova's Socialist-controlled parliament has approved legislation stripping President-elect Maia Sandu of control over the country’s intelligence service and moving it back under lawmakers' jurisdiction, just weeks before she takes office. The bill was approved on December 3 despite thousands of Sandu supporters protesting in central Chisinau.
Montenegrin lawmakers have approved a new cabinet after a coalition comprised of pro-Serb, center-right and green parties won an election, ushering in the first transfer of power in three decades. A total of 41 deputies of 81 in parliament voted to support Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic's government on December 4. The coalition narrowly edged former Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic's Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), which had never before lost an election.
A Russian military appeals court has upheld the sentence of Airat Dilmukhametov, a prominent opposition activist from the Republic of Bashkortostan who was sentenced to nine years in prison on extremism charges. The court in the town of Vlasikha near Moscow on December 4 rejected the appeal filed by Dilmukhametov, who has insisted that the case against him is politically motivated. The charge against Dilmukhametov stems from a video statement he made in 2018 urging the creation of a "real" federation in Russia with more autonomous rights given to ethnic republics and regions.
The ruling Georgian Dream party will hold a large majority in the incoming parliament -- 90 seats out of 150 -- according to the final results of a general vote that the opposition claims was rigged. The runoff vote on November 21 was boycotted by the opposition, which demanded a repeat of the first round on October 31 and has staged regular protests against results they describe as illegitimate and unfair. Central Election Commission Chairwoman Tamar Zhvania announced the final results on December 3, saying Georgian Dream, founded by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, had captured 48.22 percent of the vote.
Armenian opposition groups angry over Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian's handling of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict have united behind a single candidate they want to head a transitional government until new elections can be held. The move, announced by 17 opposition parties on December 3, was a sharp increase in pressure on Pashinian, who has been criticized by many Armenians for agreeing to a cease-fire that ended six weeks of fighting with Azerbaijani forces over the breakaway mountainous territory.
Nearly 2,800 Azerbaijani soldiers were killed in fighting with ethnic Armenian forces over Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijani officials said, the first time Baku has published casualty figures from the 44-day conflict. The figures, released December 3 by the Defense Ministry, came nearly three weeks after a Russian-brokered cease-fire ended fighting over the breakaway territory, which is legally part of Azerbaijan but has been controlled by ethnic Armenians since the early 1990s.
During a December 2 Meeting with Chinese Ambassador Du Dewen, Kyrgyzstan Foreign Minister Ruslan Kazakbayev raised the issue of the country’s external debt to China. The Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry’s press service reports that in light of the coronavirus impact on the macroeconomic situation in the country, Foreign Minister Kazakbayev “drew the attention of the Chinese Ambassador to the importance of rendering assistance” to ease the debt burden on the Kyrgyz budget. More than 43% of Kyrgyzstan's external debt belongs to China. (Kyrgyz Service)
Kyrgyzstan's Central Election Commission (BShK) says 20 potential candidates for the January 10 presidential election have submitted the required fees and signatures from their supporters to register for the vote. The commission made the announcement on December 4 after the deadline expired at midnight for candidates to submit the 1 million-som ($11,800) fee and a petition with at least 30,000 signatures from supporters. The BShK will now check the validity of the signatures on the petitions before announcing the final list of presidential candidates on December 15.
Several international rights watchdogs have accused Kazakh authorities of launching a pressure campaign on human rights organizations by making baseless claims about tax improprieties. Amnesty International, Front Line Defenders, Human Rights Watch, and International Partnership for Human rights said in a joint statement on December 3 that tax authorities in Kazakhstan since mid-October had notified at least 13 human rights groups in the country, alleging that they had incorrectly completed declaration forms relating to foreign income, a requirement of a controversial and heavily criticized law introduced in 2016.
The son-in-law of former Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev raked in tens of millions of dollars as part of a secret project linked to the construction of a natural-gas pipeline from Central Asia to China, the Financial Times reported. The December 3 report, based on leaked e-mails and other documents, said Timur Kulibaev arranged the contracts via a Moscow-based company called ETK. Under the scheme, ETK bought cheaply produced steel from China, and then imported it to industrial facilities in Ukraine and Russia, where pipes were made for the pipeline going from Central Asia to China.