Court in Breakaway Georgian Region Annuls Contested Presidential Vote

The Supreme Court of breakaway Georgian region Abkhazia on Friday overturned a presidential election that had returned the incumbent but triggered rowdy protests. The isolated region, which broke away from Georgia after the Soviet Union collapsed, saw protesters on Thursday break into government headquarters to demand the exit of local president Raul Khajimba, who was…

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Russia ‘Escalating’ Jehovah’s Witnesses Crackdown – HRW

Russian authorities have ramped up the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the country in the past 12 months, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Thursday. The religious group estimates that 313 people have been charged or convicted since Russia’s Supreme Court banned the Jehovah’s Witnesses as an “extremist” organization in 2017.  Eighteen worshippers were convicted in…

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Russia’s Leading Human Rights Group Fined 21 Times for ‘Foreign Agent’ Violations

Since the late 1980s, Memorial has engaged in investigations of Soviet political repression. That work is becoming increasingly complicated. The organization has been repeatedly fined by Russian authorities for violations of the country’s so-called foreign agent law. The latest fine was issued on Dec. 9 as Memorial lost a case in Moscow’s Tverskoy District Court.…

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Russia Reacts to Claims of Iranian Missile Downing Ukrainian Plane

An Iranian missile likely accidentally brought down a Ukrainian passenger plane that crashed near Tehran, killing all 176 aboard, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday. The Ukraine International Airlines flight to Kiev from Tehran crashed Wednesday, hours after Iran fired ballistic missiles at two U.S. military bases in Iraq. The U.S. government believes Iran…

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Russian Missile System Suspected of Bringing Down Ukraine Airliner: Short Range, Fast and Deadly

Canada said on Thursday that a surface-to-air missile brought down a Ukrainian airliner in Tehran, while the Ukrainian government said it was investigating reports of debris from a Russian-made Tor-M1 missile. The Tor, also called the SA-15 Gauntlet by NATO, is a short-range “point defense” system that integrates the missile launcher and radar into a single…

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Iran Likely Downed Ukraine Airliner With Missiles, Canada’s Trudeau Says

A Ukraine airliner that crashed in Iran, killing all 176 people aboard, was likely brought down by an Iranian missile, Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said on Thursday, citing intelligence from Canadian and other sources. Trudeau told a news conference in Ottawa that the destruction of the airliner “may well have been unintentional.” The flight was on…

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Lawmakers Ask Pro-Russian Leader in Breakaway Georgian Region to Resign After Protests

A local legislature appealed on Thursday to the leader of the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia to stand down as crowds of demonstrators were contesting election results, Russian state media reported. The state-run TASS news agency said 19 lawmakers voted for the president’s resignation, four cast their vote against it, while one abstained from the voting.…

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Russian Journals Retract Almost 900 Papers After Falsification Probe

Russian academic journals have retracted more than 850 papers after an Academy of Sciences (RAS) commission probe into questionable publication practices, the commission said this week. The commission had asked 541 journals last year to retract 2,528 academic articles suspected of unethical publication practices. These include plagiarism, self-plagiarism or “obscure authorship,” an instance when an…

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Turkey, Russia Call for Libya Ceasefire as Rivals Clash

Turkey and Russia urged Libya’s warring parties on Wednesday to declare a Jan. 12 ceasefire as eastern forces carried out air strikes on the government in a conflict drawing increasing foreign involvement and concern. Turkey backs Fayez al-Serraj’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and has said it will send troops as requested, while Russia has sent forces to…

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Turkey, Russia Launch TurkStream Pipeline Carrying Gas to Europe

The presidents of Turkey and Russia on Wednesday formally launched the TurkStream pipeline which will carry Russian natural gas to southern Europe through Turkey, part of Moscow’s efforts to reduce shipments via Ukraine. The pipeline project, stretching 930 kilometers (580 miles) across the Black Sea, reinforces strong energy ties between Moscow and Ankara, which have also increased defense…

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Russian Orthodox Leader Rails Against ‘Foreign’ Domestic Violence Law

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill has accused lawmakers who seek to re-criminalize domestic abuse of “borrowing” the draft law, as well as the concept of domestic violence, from abroad.  Russia scrapped criminal punishments for first-time domestic abuse offenses in 2017. A series of high-profile murder and domestic violence cases has pushed lawmakers to begin work toward…

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Russian Clinic Treated Mercenaries Injured in Secret Wars Abroad

A St. Petersburg clinic that is run and partly owned by people with ties to President Vladimir Putin has provided medical treatment to Russian mercenaries injured abroad, according to three people with knowledge of military contractors being treated, a clinic employee, a reporter’s witness account and company records. The previously unreported medical treatment for private military…

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Putin and Macron Talk by Phone About Concerns Over U.S. Killing of Top Iranian General Soleimani – Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron expressed their concerns in a phonecall over the U.S. killing of Iran’s Major-General Qassem Soleimani, according to a statement on the Kremlin’s website Friday evening. The U.S. early on Friday killed Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force and architect of Iran’s spreading military influence…

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Putin and Macron Discuss Concerns Over U.S. Killing of Top Iranian General Soleimani – Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron expressed their concerns in a phone call over the U.S. killing of Iran’s Major-General Qassem Soleimani, according to a statement on the Kremlin’s website Friday evening. The U.S. early on Friday killed Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force and architect of Iran’s spreading military…

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Russian Senator Calls U.S. Killing of Top Iranian General ‘Worst Case Scenario,’ Expects New U.S.-Iran Clashes

Russian Senator Konstantin Kosachev has called the U.S. killing of a key Iranian military commander “the worst-case scenario,” and said he believed that Iranian retribution “will not take long,” while Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the world is now “confronted with a new reality.” The U.S. early on Friday killed Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of…

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Kyiv Post: Moscow Says it Issued Nearly 200,000 Russian Passports in Ukraine’s Donbass

Eight months after simplifying the procedure of acquiring a Russian passport for residents of Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region, Russia announced that it has granted over 196,000 citizenships to Ukrainians. The figures came from the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Russian TASS news agency reported on Jan. 1. Moscow says it is protecting the Russian-speaking…

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Turkish Parliament Approves Bill Allowing Libya Troop Deployment

Turkey‘s parliament on Thursday passed a bill that allows troop deployment to Libya, Parliament Speaker Mustafa Sentop said, paving the way for increased military cooperation despite criticism from opposition lawmakers. Sentop said the legislation passed with an 325-184 vote in the parliament, where President Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party and its nationalist allies hold a…

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