Ukraine’s Zelenskiy Asks U.S. for Stronger Anti-Russia Sanctions on First Day in Office

Newly inaugurated Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has asked U.S. officials to step up sanctions against neighboring Russia in one his first foreign policy actions. Zelenskiy has said that Ukraine’s most pressing issue is conflict with its neighbor Russia, which annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and backed separatists in a war in the east that…

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A Glimpse Behind the Iron Curtain

As a young ballerina with the Moscow City Ballet, from 2008-2012 Varvara Bortsova lived, traveled and worked alongside dancers from across the post-Soviet sphere. Artists in the company came from nearly every corner of the former U.S.S.R., from the steppes of Central Asia to the mountains of the Caucasus to the shores of the Baltic…

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Russia Has Most Protected Natural Areas in the World, WWF Says

Russia now ranks first in the world for its amount of protected natural areas, according to World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Russia data. Official statistics state that Russia has 63.3 million hectares of specially protected natural areas, WWF had previously reported. These figures do not take into account natural territories including cultural heritage sites and territories of traditional use,…

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Record $185M in Cash Seized From Russian Official in Sting Operation

Russian authorities have seized 12 billion rubles ($185.5 million) from former FSB official Colonel Kirill Cherkalin, making him the country’s richest ex-law enforcement official under investigation for corruption. Cherkalin, former head of the FSB economic security department’s financial counterintelligence support unit, was charged with bribery of $850,000 last week. Videos posted online show bags stuffed…

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Russian Journalists Quit En Masse as Censorship Scandal Hits Kommersant

The entire political department of Russia’s Kommersant business publication resigned Monday in solidarity with two veteran journalists at the newspaper who said they had been forced to step down. In April, Kommersant reported that Federation Council leader Valentina Matviyenko would be replaced “in the coming months,” citing several government sources. The Kremlin said it was…

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Putin Has No Plans to Congratulate Zelenskiy on Inauguration — Kremlin

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, asked if Vladimir Putin will congratulate incoming Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on his inauguration, says the Russian president had no such plans.

He said that Putin would congratulate his newly elected counterpart if Zelenskiy makes progress in settling the conflict with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine and mending relations with Russia. 

Pompeo Names 3 National Interests U.S. Shares With Russia

The United States shares counterterrorism, North Korean denuclearization and Afghan reconciliation interests with Russia, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said after his visit to Russia. Pompeo’s trip marked the first high-profile U.S. visit to Russia since allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and an investigation rankled bilateral relations. Though the…

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Russian TV Cancels ‘The Voice Kids’ Results After Mass Vote Rigging

Russia’s state-run television has canceled the results of a popular children’s singing competition after cyber experts uncovered online vote-rigging that favored the 11-year-old daughter of a celebrity and a banker. Channel One hired the Group-IB international cybersecurity firm to investigate claims that “The Voice Kids”’ vote-by-phone system was tampered with in April. Group-IB’s initial investigation…

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‘No End in Sight’ to Fraud in Russia’s Space Agency, Top Investigator Says

Billions of rubles have been funneled out of Russia’s federal Roscosmos space agency over the past five years in corruption schemes, the country’s top investigator has revealed this week. Prosecutors uncovered 1.6 billion rubles ($24.6 million) worth of fraud in the Roscosmos and the Rostec state-run defense corporation last year. Overall, fraud involving Russian state-run…

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Venezuela Wants Russia to Help Restructure Its Debt to Other Countries — Reports

Venezuela would like Moscow to help it restructure its external debt to other countries, Russia’s RIA news agency cited Venezuela’s ambassador in Geneva as saying on Friday.

Asked whether sanctions-hit Venezuela would like to receive debt-restructuring assistance from Russia, the ambassador was quoted as saying: “Yes.” 

Head of FSB’s Secretive Unit Charged for $850K Bribery

The head of a highly secretive branch of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has been charged for $850,000 bribery three weeks after his detention, the RBC news website reported Thursday. Colonel Kirill Cherkalin headed the FSB economic security department’s financial counterintelligence support unit. The department played key roles in investigations surrounding former economy minister Alexei…

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Russia to Set Up ‘Fake News Database’

Russia plans to launch a public database of news it flags as “fake,” the head of Russia’s powerful media regulator announced two months after President Vladimir Putin signed a law criminalizing the spread of “fake news.” Alexander Zharov’s regulatory agency, known by the acronym Roskomnadzor, has successfully blocked LinkedIn in Russia and is currently engaged…

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Siberian Mayor Rejects Church Plans as Anti-Cathedral Protests Rock Yekaterinburg

The mayor of the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk has canceled plans to build a pre-revolutionary cathedral in place of a public park as protests against similar plans rocked Russia’s fourth-largest city of Yekaterinburg. Clashes erupted in Yekaterinburg this week as residents tore down fencing enclosing its riverside park ahead of church construction. Dozens of arrests…

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‘Paralyzer’ Laser Drones Developed for the Russian Military – Reports

Advanced new drones equipped with a stun gun and blinding laser have been developed for the Russian military, Interfax reported Wednesday citing an arms industry official. Russian security forces have been increasingly turning to laser technologies over the past year. In November 2018, Russia’s National Guard bought two laser-equipped vans designed to disperse protesters. The…

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Russia Eases Arms Resale Rules to Avoid Sanctions – Reports

Russia has eased its weapons resale rules to alleviate secondary buyers’ fears of U.S. sanctions, according to an unpublished government decree cited by the Vedomosti business daily Wednesday. Reports found that Russia sold the second-most weapons in 2018 despite five years of declining sales. Countries trading with Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors currently face secondary…

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Russian Protesters Clash With Vigilantes Over Church Construction Site, in Photos

Clashes erupted in Russia’s fourth-largest city of Yekaterinburg between protesters and church supporters in riot police gear over the construction of a church in a popular city park. Some of the demonstrators tore down the fencing surrounding the construction site guarded by police and national guardsmen. Witnesses and reporters said that violence and tear gas…

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What Did Pompeo Discuss With Putin in Russia?

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Russia for talks with President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday. Pompeo’s trip marked the first high-profile U.S. visit to Russia since allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and a subsequent investigation rankled bilateral relations. Meeting in the southern city…

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