Hundreds of Armenian opposition supporters rallied in Yerevan to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian over his handling of the conflict in and around Nagorno-Karabakh. Pashinian rejected the demand, saying he is determined to stick to his six-month plan to “restore stability” to Armenia.
Russian doctors have reported that various means are being applied to force them to take a Russian-made vaccine against COVID-19 that has not completed mass clinical trials. Russia began a mass rollout of its Sputnik-V vaccine this week.
Moldovan President-elect Maia Sandu addressed a rally attended by thousands in the capital, Chisinau, on December 6. Sandu called the rally after the parliament passed a bill stripping the president of control over the country's intelligence service. The protesters called for early parliamentary elections, a demand that Sandu has repeatedly raised.
Kyrgyz surgeon Mambet Mamakeev is listed by Guinness World Records as the oldest-known working surgeon. After 67 years in the operating theater, the 93-year-old is still putting patients under the knife.
Tina Grigalashvili is 94 years old. Every day, she gets up at 4 a.m. and goes to work, cleaning the streets. She used to teach Georgian in a school, but started sweeping the streets after retirement to keep busy and get out of the house. All but one of her nine siblings have died and she lives alone, but says she doesn't suffer loneliness and has no plans to stop working.
Western sanctions have had an "outsized impact" on targeted Russian companies but may have actually strengthened President Vladimir Putin's grip on the country's tycoons, an economist and former State Department official says. Russian corporations have lost almost $100 billion since sanctions were imposed in 2014 following the annexation of Crimea, an amount equivalent to about 4.2 percent of the country's economy at the time, said Daniel Ahn, the chief U.S. economist at BNP Paribas and former deputy chief economist at the State Department.
A young Russian businessman received a host of proposals to buy stakes in some of the nation’s largest companies shortly after marrying a woman reported to be President Vladimir Putin’s youngest daughter, a new investigative report shows. Kirill Shamalov, who married Katerina Tikhonova in February 2013, received at least four deals by April 2014 to buy shares in Russian companies in the telecommunications, real estate, oil services, and metals industry worth billions of dollars,according to a trove of his emails that were leaked to Istories and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and published on December 7.
Chinese investors press for international arbitration in a $3.5 billion lawsuit over shares in Ukraine’s "Motor Sich" aircraft engine builder. The shares of “Motor Sich,” bought by the Chinese, have been under arrest for the last three years, while the agreement is investigated by Ukraine's Security Service and Antimonopoly Committee. Experts believe the current situation puts Ukraine in a difficult geopolitical situation in which it can harm the relations with the U.S. or with China. (Ukrainian Service)
A Russian man wanted by the United States in connection with a massive bitcoin-theft scheme has been sentenced in France to five years in prison for money laundering. Aleksandr Vinnik was handed the punishment in a French court on December 7 after a trial in which prosecutors laid out a scheme involving e-mails disguised as invoices laced with ransomware -- malware that would cripple the target's computer until a ransom was paid in cybercurrency. They said a total of 188 people had fallen victim to the scheme between 2016 and 2018, netting Vinnik some $165 million.
A report from a Russian news outlet claims that the Kremlin has built an office for President Vladimir Putin in Sochi that is identical to his office outside Moscow, and that Putin has frequently -- and secretly -- worked in the Black Sea resort city in recent months. There was no independent confirmation of the December 8 report by the online publication Proyekt Media, which said that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had declined to answer questions it posed.
Unidentified people opened the cargo hatch of an IL-80 aircraft -- a so-called “doomsday plane” designed as a flying command and control platform for top military leaders in case of conflict -- and stole electronic equipment. The plane had been sent to the Beriev Taganrog Aviation Scientific and Technical Complex in southern Russia for maintenance. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a package of laws on tougher punishment for calls to violate Russia’s territorial integrity, making repeated calls within one year liable for criminal punishment of up to four years in prison. Putin also signed a law on the supremacy of the Russian Constitution over international agreements and decisions of interstate bodies, which provides for Russia's non-compliance with decisions of interstate bodies if they are considered to be contrary to the Russian Constitution. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
In a statement issued on December 8, the office of former Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian said that the conversation in question, during which Sarkisian and Belarus leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka talked about a possible deal with Azerbaijan regarding the seven districts around Nagorno-Karabakh that at the time were under the control of Armenian armed forces, took place in Yerevan on October 16, 2016, at a closed gathering during a session of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Also read: Protesters Block Yerevan Streets After Pashinian Ignores Deadline To Resign.
Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka has called the International Olympic Committee (IOC) a "gang" after being handed a provisional suspension that could exclude him, his son Viktar, and another Belarusian official from the Tokyo Olympics next year amid a violent crackdown against protesters following a disputed presidential election. "We need to go to court. Let [IOC President Thomas] Bach and the gang tell me what my fault is -- that I am defending my country?" state news agency BelTA quoted Lukashenka as saying on December 8 during a visit to a hospital.
Two Minsk residents have been sentenced to two-year prison terms each for painting "We Will Not Forget" on a sidewalk near a subway station where a protester was killed by riot police in August. The Frunze district court in two different hearings found 26-year-old Maksim Paulyushchyk and 25-year-old Uladzislau Hulis guilty of hooliganism and sentenced them the same day. A third codefendant, 25-year-old Maria Babovich, was also found guilty of hooliganism and sentenced to 18 months of "limitation of freedom."
On December 4, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova announced the start of mass vaccination against COVID-19, but not everyone is happy - some worry about side effects, others about conspiracy theories. Still others expressed dismay after learning that during vaccination, alcohol consumption needs to be limited for 42 days. One user wrote “let them show on Channel 1 how they are vaccinating the State Duma, the Federation Council, the staff of the Presidential Administration, and Vladimir Putin himself.’ (Russian Service)
Natalya was detained in 2015, in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, by Russia-backed separatists who accused her of "spying" for the government in Kyiv. She later recounted that she was locked up, beaten, raped, and refused medical attention. "They brought me to one of the guards. I became angry, asking: 'What is this? Is this some kind of joke?’ It's impossible to stay in there," Natalya, 40, told a Ukrainian NGO.
The Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan has canceled an 18-year prison sentence handed to former Prime Minister Sapar Isakov after he was convicted on corruption charges. The court said on December 7 that it had returned the case for retrial to Bishkek's Birinchi Mai District Court. The reasons for the decision were not given.
The Moscow Gulag History Museum and the Memory Foundation have applied to the government of the Magadan region to develop the remains of the Dneprovsky labor camp into an open-air historical complex aimed at preserving the memory of the prisoners who labored and died there under Stalin. The effort could yet face difficulties, despite initial support from the authorities in Magadan. Under President Vladimir Putin, Stalin's reputation has been gradually rehabilitated and efforts to expose his crimes or remember his millions of Soviet victims have often met resistance.
A Chinese citizen of ethnic Kazakh origin from China's northwestern province of Xinjiang told RFE/RL that he has obtained asylum-seeker status in Ukraine. Ersin Erkinuly, 23, said on December 8 that he was released from custody in Ukraine's western city of Lviv a day earlier after a local appeals court canceled the November 8 decision of a lower court to deport him back to China.
Seven former Bosnian Serb police officers and army fighters were arrested on December 8 on suspicion of committing atrocities against non-Serbs during the 1992-95 Bosnian War. The prosecutor's office of Bosnia-Herzegovina said in a statement that the group is suspected of crimes against humanity over the imprisonment and torture of some 150 Bosnian Muslim and Croat civilians around the central town of Donji Vakuf in 1992.
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