First Victim of Russia’s ‘Undesirable Organizations’ Law Declared Prisoner of Conscience

Amnesty International has declared the first activist to be prosecuted under Russia’s law against “undesirable organizations” a prisoner of conscience on Friday. A law passed in 2015 allows prosecutors to limit or halt the work of foreign organizations deemed “undesirable,” punishing those breaking these limits with fines or prison terms lasting up to six years.…

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Russia Volunteers to Mediate Between Government and Opposition in Venezuela

Russia on Friday offered to mediate between the government and opposition in Venezuela if necessary, saying it was ready to cooperate with all political forces that acted responsibly, the RIA news agency reported. The comments came a day after Moscow said Nicolas Maduro was Venezuela’s legitimate president and not opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself…

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Russia Intercepts Swedish Spy Plane Over Baltic, Posts Video Footage

Russia’s Defense Ministry has published video footage of its fighter jets intercepting a Swedish reconnaissance plane over the Baltic Sea. Russia and NATO countries have increasingly scrambled their jets to intercept each other’s aircraft in recent years. Military think-tanks have warned of growing Russian-NATO airspace interactions as tensions at their borders are on the rise.…

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Russian Lawmakers Move to Criminalize ‘Disrespecting’ the Government and Fake News

Russian lawmakers passed highly contentious legislation Thursday that seeks to enact punishments for disrespecting the Russian government or spreading fake news. Deputies submitted legislation last month to impose fines for “blatantly disrespecting” Russian institutions or posting “untruthful socially significant information.” Commentators have suggested that the loose wording of the law could lead to mass arrests, joking that there…

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Russia Cautions U.S. Against Military Intervention in Venezuela, Reports

Russia on Thursday warned the United States not to intervene militarily in Venezuela, saying such a move would trigger a catastrophic scenario, the Interfax news agency cited the deputy foreign minister as saying. Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president on Wednesday, winning the backing of Washington and many Latin American nations and…

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Cossacks: From the Persecuted to the Protectors (in Photos)

Jan. 24, 1919: One hundred years ago today, the Bolsheviks passed a decree calling for the elimination of the Cossacks in a campaign of “merciless mass terror.” The resulting decossackization program led to the execution and suffering of tens of thousands of people.  Today, Cossacks have reclaimed their role as protectors of Russian tradition and have cultivated increasingly close ties…

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Russia Denounces Venezuela Coup Attempt as ‘Monstrous’ U.S. Meddling

Russian lawmakers have slammed what they called the United States’ interference in Venezuela’s affairs as the country’s opposition leader declared himself interim president in a coup attempt. Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president on Wednesday, winning the backing of Washington and many Latin American nations and prompting socialist Maduro, who has led…

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Russian Crime Bosses Reportedly Give Anti-Gay Talk in Village School, Sparking Probe

Prosecutors in Far East Russia have announced an inspection into a lecture on sexual preferences reportedly given by local crime bosses at a village school. According to media reports, parents of fifth- and seventh-graders in the village of Pervomaisky expressed outrage after learning that men believed to be local criminal kingpins had been invited to their…

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Russian Air Traffic Controllers Order Pizzas for U.S. Colleagues Hit by Shutdown — Reports

The Cold War can wait over a hot slice. Taking a page out of their Canadian colleagues book, air traffic controllers based in Far East Russia have reportedly ordered pizza for their American neighbors across the Bering Strait. Some 800,000 U.S. federal government workers – including an estimated 10,000 air traffic controllers – have been furloughed or…

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Situation in Syria’s Idlib Province Is Fast Deteriorating, Russia Says

The situation in Syria’s Idlib province where Russia and Turkey have tried to create a de-escalation zone is rapidly deteriorating, Maria Zakharova, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said on Wednesday. The territory is now almost under full control of Nusra militants, she said. “Continuing provocations pose a threat to civilians, Syrian military personnel and the Russian Khmeymim air base,”…

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Bulgaria Rescinds Bulgarian Citizenship of Russian Millionaire Adoniev

Bulgaria has revoked the Bulgarian citizenship of Russian telecoms millionaire Sergei Adoniev over a 20-year-old fraud conviction in the United States, the justice ministry said on Wednesday. Eager to join EU’s border-check-free Schengen zone, Bulgaria said on Tuesday that it plans to stop letting wealthy foreigners buy citizenship, which allows free movement within the entire European…

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Russian Spy Chief Met Saudi Counterpart and Crown Prince — Reports

The head of Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence agency Sergei Naryshkin on Monday met Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as well as the head of the kingdom’s intelligence services, the Interfax news agency said on Wednesday. Naryshkin discussed cooperation in the fight against international terrorism with his Saudi counterpart, Interfax cited Russia’s Foreign Intelligence…

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Jehovah’s Witness on Trial for ‘Extremism’ Likens Authorities to Stalin

Dennis Christensen / Jehovah’s Witnesses The first Jehovah’s Witness detained for extremism in Russia has likened the authorities’ behavior to that of Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union ahead of a verdict in his trial. Armed police scaled the gates of a compound where the Christian denomination was meeting in Oryol, some 320 kilometers south of Moscow, in May…

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Internet Anonymity Will Soon Disappear, Russian Culture Minister Warns

Internet users throughout the world will soon need IDs to go online as anonymity will gradually fade into oblivion, Russia’s culture minister predicted on Monday. Russia has for years called for international regulations cementing state control over the internet, arguing that national governments are otherwise left vulnerable to cyberattacks from foreign powers. Russian lawmakers submitted…

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