There were still some vehicles and pedestrians on the streets of Moscow after a lockdown came into effect on March 30 to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The city's 12 million residents are only allowed to leave their homes to buy food or medicines, get urgent medical treatment, walk the dog, or take out the trash. (video)
After President Vladimir Putin announced a nine-day paid holiday on March 25, hundreds of Muscovites flew south to Sochi and other resort towns on Russia's Black Sea coast to while away the unexpected vacation in warmer climes. Others flocked to Moscow's forested outskirts, to grill kebabs with friends. "There is no virus," one man told a reporter as he strolled in a park with his daughter.
Even as Russian media outlets last week touted Moscow’s delivery of medical aid to coronavirus-struck Italy, Russian medical professionals told Current Time that they are unable to get the supplies they need to fight the virus at home.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Russia’s Ministry of Defense has declared that spring conscription will begin as scheduled on April 1. During the draft campaign, more than one million young people will be called to recruitment offices, of whom about 150,000 will be sent to military service. The rest will receive a reprieve or exemption, or simply remain in civilian service until the next draft campaign. The ministry has said that persons caught seeking to evade enlistment will face prosecution. (Russian Service)
Professional soccer, schools, and restaurants are all continuing in Belarus, which has refused to impose the lockdowns or other restrictive measures seen elsewhere. Instead, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has played down the threat of the coronavirus, dismissing it as a "psychosis." (video)
Two members of the U.S. Congress have condemned new legislation in Hungary giving right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban sweeping powers under the country's state of emergency to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Russian Cases Jump As Duma OKs State-Of-Emergency Bill, Europe Uses Instex To Assist Iran.
Poland’s largest distributor of natural gas has announced it won a years-long energy-supply price dispute with Russia’s state-run Gazprom worth $1.5 billion at an international arbitration court in Sweden.
The European Commission says it has reallocated more than 140 million euros ($154 million) to help Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine in their fight against the coronavirus pandemic. "These are very difficult times not only for the EU, but for our partner countries as well," Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi said.
Former Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak is expected to become this week the European Union special representative for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and the Western Balkans. According to a leaked working document dated March 30, Lajcak's first task is to achieve a "comprehensive normalization of relations" between Serbia and Kosovo.
Chairman of Russian State Duma Committee on Foreign Relations Leonid Slutsky, who in March 2018 was accused of sexual harassment by three Russian journalists but was later cleared of any wrongdoing by a Duma committee, has been appointed to a new post as the President of World Politics at Moscow State University. The appointment is meant to help Slutsky “reach a new level,” the head of the university has said. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Ukraine's parliament has approved the first reading of a banking bill that opens up billions of dollars worth of aid to Kyiv from the IMF. The bill prevents the former owners of banks that were nationalized or liquidated in recent years during a widespread financial sector clean-up from regaining ownership rights or receiving monetary compensation. Lawmakers also approved Serhiy Marchenko, an official under former leader Petro Poroshenko, as finance minister, and former Odesa Governor Maksym Stepanov as the new health minister.
The leader of a pro-Russian political party in Bulgaria has been charged in Sofia with spreading false information about the coronavirus that could cause panic. The Sofia district prosecutor's office announced on March 30 that Kostadin Kostadinov, the chairman and founder of the Revival Party, had claimed that emergency public-health measures in Bulgaria were "propaganda for diversion and are not in the interest of the citizens."
De-facto authorities in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh are holding presidential and parliamentary elections amid international criticism and despite a coronavirus pandemic.
An anonymous user on a hacker forum has shared the names, ID numbers, and other personal data of millions of Georgian nationals, according to data-breach monitors and an IT-news website. The database leak on March 28 comes roughly seven months before the South Caucasus country's next parliamentary elections.