About 600 Twitter accounts known to promote Kremlin views are reportedly focusing on France, many by way of the hashtag #giletsjaunes, the French name for the Yellow Vest protests. The French Foreign Ministry announced on December 9 that it was investigating possible Russian involvement in the unrest.
Nikita Golybev turns dust on dirty cars into paintings as a way to draw attention to environmental issues and upcycle the gloomy mud on the streets. (Current Time TV)
The Silk Road brought cultures and religions together for centuries. RFE/RL trekked along with archaeologists who are searching for clues to what really happened on these ancient trading routes in Central Asia.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn would have turned 100 this week. When he returned to Russia in 1994, ending 20 years of exile and landing in Vladivostok, he said Russia had been "altered beyond recognition."
U.S. national-security adviser John Bolton says there will be no meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin while Moscow still holds the Ukrainian ships and sailors it seized near Crimea. Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has said the cancellation will not affect the handling of the case, adding that the Kremlin considers a meeting between the two presidents as necessary for both sides.
EU leaders at a summit in Brussels on December 13 said economic sanctions against Russia, which mainly target the banking and energy sectors in response to Moscow’s actions in Ukraine, will be prolonged for another six months with the official rollover expected next week.
Ukraine’s state-owned Naftogaz gas company reports that a U.S. federal court has satisfied its request for information about assets belonging to Russia energy giant Gazprom in Europe. To enforce the arbitration decision of a Stockholm court ordering Gazprom to pay Naftogaz $2.6 billion, Naftogaz had filed suit in New York and Texas requesting information about Gazprom’s European assets from five companies registered in the U.S., including GLAS Americas, Deutsche Bank, Trust Company Americas, and Bank of New York. (Ukrainian Service)
The European Parliament adopted a resolution on December 12 urging that the pipeline to bring Russian gas directly to Western Europe, bypassing existing networks running through Ukraine, be canceled, declaring it “a political project that poses a threat to European energy security.”
In an effort to circumvent Western sanctions, Russian company Technopromexport, a subsidiary of state-run Rostec, will purchase foreign turbines on the secondary market, possibly from Italian Ansaldo Energia or German Siemens. Sanctions were imposed against the company last year after it purchased Siemens turbines directly and transferred them to Russia-annexed Crimea for use in a 500-megawatt power plant serving south-west of Russia and the peninsula. (Russian Service)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he had "reasons to believe" Butina had been kept in conditions designed to break her will and lead her to enter a false guilty plea.
More than 20 journalists and human rights activists participating in the Norwegian Helsinki Committee’s 2018 Anna Politkovskaya Seminar in Sundvolden, Norway have issued a joint letter calling on “de-facto authorities in Donetsk to immediately release independent journalist Stanislav Aseyev.” Aseyev has been held for more than 18 months by Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople will present a decree granting independence, or autocephaly, to the future head of the local Orthodox Church in Ukraine on January 6. Senior figures from Orthodox Christian communities in Ukraine will meet on December 15 to form an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church and elect a leader, known as a Primate.
The Russian Orthodox Church has called on the Pope and leaders of international organizations and foreign governments to protect believers and their faith in Ukraine in the face of what it called official pressure on Moscow-appointed clerics.
Belarus President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has said that the Antey radio station and the radar station of the U-band Volga, both of which are part of a Russian missile warning system, will remain in Belarus and Russia at no cost to Moscow. Lukashenka said it was “uncomfortable” to seek payment, since the installations are for nuclear forces and “perform a common function.” (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Lawmakers in Kosovo have passed legislation to build a full-fledged army, a move that has inflamed tensions with its former wartime foe Serbia. The December 14 vote passed with a unanimous 'Yes' vote in a session boycotted by minority Serb lawmakers. Kosovo received 24 armored, high-mobility, multipurpose vehicles, or Humvees, this week from the United States ahead of the vote.
An appeals court in Georgia has upheld a landmark decision in a case of sexual harassment, bringing the global #MeToo movement to this conservative Caucasus country.