Thousands of people chanted slogans such as, “Nikol, traitor” in the Armenian capital’s main square on December 22 as the opposition continued its campaign to pressure Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian to quit over last month’s cease-fire deal with Azerbaijan. Some protesters gathered in Yerevan’s Republic Square as riot police guarded the prime minister’s offices nearby; others walked into another building that houses several government ministries and briefly scuffled with security forces.
Under the European Green Deal initiative, the European Union is aiming to reduce its net greenhouse-gas emissions to zero by 2050 and become "climate neutral." That target poses a big challenge for EU member state Bulgaria, where 60 percent of the country's power comes from plants, like Bobov Dol, that burn mostly coal.
The authorities in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, have ordered a clampdown on what they say are illegally constructed homes on state-owned land, demolishing over a dozen houses in a small settlement on the outskirts of the capital. Nugzar Aluashvili and his six children live in the settlement and watched as the bulldozers moved in.
Siberia's Evenk region is larger than any European country but it is home to only around 17,000 people. It's so vast and remote that scientists have spent decades searching and failing to find one of the largest meteorites ever to fall to Earth -- the Tunguska meteorite. While this region has a relatively small population, the harmful impact of human activity can still be felt here.
A Russian documentary filmmaker was detained briefly by police after publicly expressing support for opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, whose release of a phone conversation with a Russian agent shows how the country's Federal Security Service (FSB) poisoned the Kremlin critic with a Novichok nerve agent. Vitaly Mansky was picked up by police after he neared the FSB building in Moscow on December 22 while holding a blue pair of men's underwear, a nod to the phone conversation where FSB agent Konstantin Kudryavtsev admitted Navalny's underwear had been laced with poison in an apparent assassination attempt on the 44-year-old opposition leader. Also read -- 'Russian Watergate': Russian social media reacts after Navalny dupes FSB agent on his poisoning and Russia hits EU officials, entities with tit-for-tat Navalny sanctions.
Moscow police briefly detained Lyubov Sobol, a lawyer for Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, late on December 21 after she arrived at the Moscow apartment of Konstantin Kudryavtsev, the agent who was duped by Navalny into revealing details of the FSB's operation to poison him with a nerve agent earlier in August.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law that allows former heads of state to become senators for life. The document, authored by Putin himself, was published on the official portal of legal information. There are now two living former heads of state in Russia - former President Dmitry Medvedev and former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, however the law does not apply to Gorbachev. (in Russian Current Time TV)
The Central African Republic says Russia and Rwanda have deployed hundreds of troops in the deeply unstable country amid an alleged coup attempt ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections. The government made the announcement on December 21, two days after accusing former President Francois Bozize of plotting a coup after an alliance of rebel groups started marching on the capital, Bangui. A spokesman for the UN force in the country said the rebel forces have been pushed back and that the situation was "under control."
The U.S. Commerce Department has added more than 100 Russian and Chinese companies to a new list of entities with alleged ties to the countries’ militaries, in a move that will restrict access to U.S. goods and technologies. The list identifies 45 Russian and 58 Chinese companies as so-called military end users, requiring U.S. companies to obtain licenses to sell to the firms, which are more likely to be denied than granted.
At a December 22 online briefing with the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State for Economic Development, Energy and Environment, Keith Krach, the Deputy Secretary said the U.S. government may provide financial assistance to Ukraine to cover the difference in the price of 5G equipment between the Chinese company Huawei and other telecommunications service providers, including with the assistance from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation. (Ukrainian Service)
A Moscow court has again extended the pretrial detention of Mikhail Abyzov -- a former Russian government minister arrested in March 2019 and awaiting trial on embezzlement charges The ruling by the Moscow City Court on December 22 allows Russian authorities to keep Abyzov in jail for at least another three months, until March 25 next year; the pretrial detention could be extended again at that time by another three months with a similar court ruling. Abyzov was Russia's Minister for Open Government Affairs from 2012 to 2018 in the cabinet of former Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
A court in Russia has sentenced a Chechen man to 12 years in prison for his role in a deadly hostage-taking in the southern city of Budyonnovsk in 1995, a turning point in the first of the two post-Soviet separatist wars in the North Caucasus region of Chechnya. The Southern Military District Court in the city of Rostov-on-Don on December 22 found Aslan Daudov guilty of banditry, kidnapping, terrorism, and premeditated murder; he was sentenced immediately.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says 21 journalists worldwide were singled out for murder in reprisal for their work in 2020, more than double the previous year’s figure of 10. Overall, at least 30 journalists were slain while on duty this year, the New York-based media freedom watchdog said in a report released on December 22. “It’s appalling that the murders of journalists have more than doubled in the last year, and this escalation represents a failure of the international community to confront the scourge of impunity,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon.
The head of the Belarusian Press Club, Yulia Slutskaya, has been detained by police in Minsk. Authorities have also searched the offices of the independent journalistic organization and the homes of some of its members. Slutskaya's relatives said on December 22 that she was detained when she arrived back in Belarus after a holiday abroad. The relatives said they do not know Slutskaya's current whereabouts.
According to the editorial note from the Russian publishing house “Kommersant,” they stopped publishing the paper edition of the oldest Russian magazine “Ogonyok.” The text also notes that all employees of the magazine have been fired, and it is not known whether someone will be hired to replace them. “Ogonyok” has recently marked its 121st anniversary. During the Soviet years, it was the main official national magazine for a wide audience. (Russian Service)
The wife of the jailed former boss of Azerbaijan's biggest bank, who spent more than $21 million over a decade in London's Harrods department store, has lost her final appeal against a court order to reveal the source of her money. The U.K. Supreme Court said on December 21 that it had dismissed Zamira Haciyeva’s appeal against an unexplained wealth order (UWO) made against her by Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA). Haciyeva may now lose her home on an exclusive street in London's central Knightsbridge district and a separate golf course in Berkshire if she can't explain the source of her fortune.
Kazakhstan's opposition movement, Halyq Biligi (People's Rule), has demanded that parliamentary elections scheduled for next month be postponed, citing election legislation that cuts out alternative political forces. "The current laws on elections and political parties have been made to protect power-holders and any elections based on such laws cannot express people's interests and therefore they are illegal," well-known opposition figure Rysbek Sarsenbaiuly told a news conference on December 22 that was attended by the movement's leaders and activists. Also read -- Kazakh activist placed in psychiatric clinic, lawyer warns of opposition sweep ahead of vote.
The chairman of Afghanistan's High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, has held talks with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and other top officials in the Tajik capital as he looks to drum up regional support for peace talks with the Taliban. Abdullah, who is an ethnic Tajik, said on December 22 that he and Rahmon had discussed peace in Afghanistan for two hours, as the country looks forward to a second round of peace talks with militants to end almost two decades of deadly violence in the war-torn country.
Acting Kosovar President Vjosa Osmani began consultations on December 22 with the political parties on setting the date for early elections after the Constitutional Court ruled that the parliamentary vote electing a new government in June was unconstitutional. The consultations will continue on December 23. So far, the end of January or February 7 were proposed as possible dates for the election. The Constitutional Court of Kosovo ruled on December 21 that the election of the government of Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti was illegal because one member of parliament who voted for the government had previously served time in prison.
INFOGRAPHIC: Most Russians Back Traditional Gender Roles For Kids
MAJLIS PODCAST: Stakes Are High In Kyrgyzstan Ahead Of Crucial Vote