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New Ukrainian Orthodox Leader Gives First Liturgy

In his first liturgy as leader of the new Ukrainian national Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Epifaniy urged Ukrainians to unite and pray for peace in the country. The speaker of the Ukrainian parliament confirmed on December 17 that the Patriarch has been invited to address the chamber.

Georgia's First Woman President Sworn In Amid Opposition Protests

In her inaugural speech on December 16, President-elect Salome Zurabishvili cited the country’s strategic partnership with the U.S., and vowed to reconcile political divisions and deepen ties with NATO and the European Union. Scuffles broke out in the village of Mukuzani as protesters tried to reach Telavi, where the ceremony was held.

Russian Soldier Arrested For Armenian Woman's Death

The arrest of a Russian soldier on suspicion of beating a local woman to death has caused new outrage in the northwestern Armenian city of Gyumri, which hosts a Russian military base.

Rebuilding Russia’s ‘Red Zion’

Russia’s Jewish Autonomous Region suffered from mass emigration to Israel in the 1990s, but efforts are underway to restore its identity.


Duma Considers Bill On Autonomous Operation Of Russia's Internet

The Duma is reviewing a bill that seeks to ensure the autonomous operation of the Russian segment of the Internet should Western nations seek to cut off access to foreign servers. A note accompanying the draft references “the aggressive nature” of the U.S. national cybersecurity strategy and its accusations against Russia of cyberattacks.

Russian State-Run Companies Ordered To Switch To Domestic Software

Against a backdrop of sanctions and cyberthreats, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov has signed a decree ordering state-run companies to produce plans within the next 60 days to switch to domestic software. At least half of the firms are expected to have switched over by 2021. (in Russian, Current Time TV)

Moscow Court Rejects Libel Lawsuit Against Navalny

A court in Moscow has rejected a 1-million-ruble libel suit filed by the head of Russia's National Guard, Viktor Zolotov, against opposition politician and anticorruption activist Aleksei Navalny, ruling that the suit contains discrepancies contradicting Russia's Civic Procedural Code.

Lavrov Opines On Ukraine For State-Run Press

Speaking to the state-run Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, Russian Foreign MInister Sergei Lavrov said that official recognition by Moscow of the so-called People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in Ukraine would ruin relations with Kyiv. He added that Moscow has no intention of fighting with Ukraine, which he said is run by a “neo-Nazi regime.” Lavrov alleged that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is planning “a provocation” near the border with Crimea for the end of December, when the 30-day martial law regime is set to expire. (Russian Service)

Moscow Welcomes Invitation To Russian Businessmen To Davos

Moscow has welcomed a decision by the organizers of the World Economic Forum to allow the participation of Russian businessmen at the event. Russian billionaires Oleg Deripaska, Viktor Vekselberg, and the head of the state-controlled bank VTB Andrei Kostin were subjected to U.S. sanctions earlier this year.

Sailors On Admiral Kuznetsov Sold Parts

A Russian court has accused two sailors who previously served on the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov of stealing and selling 400 radio components containing precious metals. Local media reports that other sailors who served on the country’s single aircraft carrier have been involved in traffic accidents and accused of drug trafficking. (Russian Service)

Moscow’s Notorious Butyrka Detention Center To Close

Moscow's notorious Butyrka detention center will be shut down by its 250th anniversary, in 2021, the deputy chief of the Federal Penitentiary Service has announced.

De-Germanification Campaign Gathers Steam In Russia's Kaliningrad

Recent developments appear to be part of a bid to recast the past in Tilsit, a formerly east Prussian city in Kaliningrad, amidst a broader effort in the region to close the door on its German past.

Putin Takes Aim At Rap Music

Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed concern over the rising popularity of rap music among Russian youth, stating at a meeting with cultural advisers at the Kremlin on December 15 that it should not be banned, but "directed."

Ukrainian Air Force Pilot Dies In Fighter Jet Crash

A Ukrainian air force pilot was killed when his Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jet crashed during a landing attempt on December 15 following a routine flight to its base in the northern region of Zhytomyr. An investigation into the crash is under way.

Armenian Election Commission Confirms Landslide Win For Pashinian's Bloc

Armenia's Central Election Commission has confirmed the landslide victory of acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian's My Step alliance in the December 9 snap parliamentary elections with over 70 percent of the vote. Earlier unconfirmed results had shown the bloc winning about 60 percent of the vote.

Kosovo’s Thaci Says Army Decision ‘Irreversible’

Kosovo’s decision to transform its lightly armed security force into a full-fledged army is "irreversible," the nation's president said as he departed for UN talks on the move that has angered Kosovar Serbs and neighboring Serbia.

Skopje, Sofia Not Speaking Same Language When It Comes To Macedonian

Macedonia and Bulgaria's long-simmering dispute over the Macedonian language is threatening to boil over again, just as Skopje nears a resolution to its dispute with Greece over the name "Macedonia."

Bulgarian Leader Favors U.S. Jets To Replace MiGs

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov says U.S. F-16 fighter jets are the best choice to replace the Balkan NATO member’s aging fleet of Soviet-designed MiG-29s. The government has budgeted 900 million euros ($1 billion) for the purchase of at least eight fighter jets.

Police In Kazakhstan Detain Activists, Journalists For Second Day

Police in Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty, detained several activists and journalists for a second day on December 17, as demonstrators attempted to gather to commemorate people killed by police during oil worker protests in the western town of Zhanaozen on December 16, 2011, and during mass anti-Soviet demonstrations in Almaty in December 1986.

MAJLIS PODCAST: Central Asia’s Eventful Year

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