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RFE/RL Reporters Faced ‘Relentless Pressure’ In 12 Of 23 Countries In 2017

VISUAL REPORTS

Billboards And Citylights: Election Campaign Is On In Simferopol

The Russian presidential election campaign has begun in Simferopol, the capital of Russia-annexed Crimea. March 18, 2018, election day, is also the day marking the anniversary of the peninsula’s annexation in 2014. Kyiv considers the vote a violation of international and Ukrainian law, and says it will not recognize results. (Crimea Realities website)

Novolguanskoe Village Shelled In Donbas

Russian-backed separatists have shelled the village of Novoluganskoe in the country’s eastern Donbas region, injuring 8 and causing extensive damage to property and buildings. Ukraine’s military says the attack began after Russia formally withdrew its troops from the Joint Control and Coordination Center that monitors the ceasefire in the region. (in Russian, Current Time TV)

Kyrgyz Officials Impound Opposition Politician Babanov’s TV Station

Court officers in Kyrgyzstan have raided the independent television station NTS, which is owned by opposition politician Omurbek Babanov.

INFOGRAPHIC: The Most Dangerous Countries For Journalists

A total of 65 media workers were killed, 326 imprisoned, and 54 held hostage around the world in 2017. Here's where it's riskiest to be a journalist.

OTHER NEWS

UN Condemns Rights Violations In Russian-Annexed Crimea

The UN General Assembly has approved a resolution strongly condemning human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and referring to Russia as an "occupying power" there.

U.S. Envoy Says 2017 Deadliest Year In Ukraine Conflict

U.S. special envoy for the Ukraine conflict Kurt Volker has said 2017 was the deadliest year in the region since the outbreak of violence three years ago, and warned that hostilities are again ratcheting up.

What A Difference A Year Makes: Russian Lawmakers Pan Trump's Security Doctrine

Just over a year ago, some Russian lawmakers raised a glass of bubbly to celebrate the victory of Donald Trump and his "America first" pledges. But as President Trump announced his new national-security doctrine on December 18, there were accusations from Moscow that it promotes U.S. global hegemony.

Launching Campaign, Putin Says Russia's 'Stability' Crucial

President Vladimir Putin has kicked off his reelection campaign by calling for the protection of Russia's freedom and stability, suggesting the country needs to ward off influence from abroad and attempts by the domestic opposition to shake up politics.

Pussy Riot's Alyokhina Detained In FSB Protest

Pussy Riot punk protest band member Maria Alyokhina has been detained while staging a protest marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Cheka, Russia’s notorious secret police organization, near the Russian Federal Security Service headquarters in Moscow.

Russia Adopts Law Classifying State Procurement Contracts

Russia’s State Duma adopted a law today allowing the government to classify procurement contracts involving state-owned companies, and instructing that the transactions be made at closed trading sessions of the state-run Sberbank. Observers suggest the move may be intended to shield major companies and their partners from U.S. sanctions. (Russian Service)

Vienna Court Rejects Extradition Request For Ukrainian Oligarch Firtash

A court in Vienna has decided against extraditing Ukrainian oligarch Dymitro Firtash from Austria to Spain, saying Madrid had not provided enough proof linking Firtash to alleged crimes.

Belarus To Discontinue Imports Of Russian Electricity

Belarus announced on December 20 that it would cease importing electricity from Russia beginning in 2018 because of high prices, and that the country would replace Russian gas with its own production. (in Russian, Current Time TV)

Azerbaijani Deputy PM's Grandson Imprisoned Over Fatal Traffic Accident

A court in Azerbaijan has sentenced Nail Allahverdiyev, a grandson of Deputy Prime Minister Ali Hasanov, to six years in prison for vehicular manslaughter in connection with a high-speed auto accident last August that left two people dead and two others injured.

Trump, Uzbekistan's Mirziyoev Discuss Ties, Regional Security In Phone Call

U.S. President Donald Trump has spoken to Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev in a telephone call whose purpose the White House said was "to discuss regional security and to explore opportunities for improved cooperation."

EU, Kyrgyzstan Launch Talks On New Agreement

The European Union announced on December 19 that it has launched negotiations with Kyrgyzstan on a new bilateral agreement to support reform in the Central Asian nation and “build stronger political and economic ties.”

Kyrgyzstan’s Babanov Blasts 'Seizure' Of TV Channel

Kyrgyz opposition politician and former presidential candidate Omurbek Babanov has called efforts to impound the property of his television channel in Bishkek a "seizure by raid."

Turkmen Public Workers Dragooned To Make Movie Based On President's Book

State employees are being forced to provide, unpaid, and under threat of retaliation and possible firing if they refuse, the hard labor and production support for a movie titled Turkmenistan -- Heart Of The Great Silk Road, based on a book written by Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. (in Russian, Turkmen Service)

COMMENTARY: Corruption Allegations Put Georgia’s Ruling Party On Defensive

A public altercation last week between Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and TV personality Gia Gachechiladze (aka Utsnobi) has given rise to speculation that Kvirikashvili may step down.

MOST READ/RUSSIA: Pro-Putin Online Campaign Draws The Living - And The Dead

The Russian social network VKontakte is calling some posts with the hashtag #PutinIsCool [#ПутинКрут] a hack, since they were found to have been published on the profiles of people who are deceased. The posts started appearing after Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual press conference on December 14. (over 58k views on Russian Service website)

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