The Biggest News Stories of 2023 in Russia

The past year has been another year of significant change in Russia, from drone attacks, cross-border incursions and the Wagner mutiny to the arrests of journalists, the ICC’s arrest warrant for Putin and Azerbaijan’s takeover of Nagorno-Karabakh. Here is a look back at some of the top headlines of 2023: Ukraine’s Much-Anticipated Counteroffensive Floundered Analysts…

Russian Pop Stars Apologize On-Camera After ‘Naked’ Party Sparks Conservative Uproar

Russian celebrities and pop stars have started issuing on-camera apologies for attending a scandalous “almost naked” party that was widely condemned in pro-Kremlin circles as unpatriotic and disrespectful of Russian soldiers. After initially dismissing the public outcry over footage of scantily clad celebrities and other guests at last week’s private party at a Moscow nightclub, the party’s organizer,…

Authorities Fund Kremlin-Loyal Women’s Movements to Foil Protesting Families of Mobilized Soldiers – Holod

The Kremlin is investing in movements of wives and mothers who support the war in Ukraine and promote traditional values to counter the growing influence of protesting relatives of soldiers, according to a report by the independent news outlet Holod published Tuesday.   Mobilized soldiers’ relatives, most notably the Put’ Domoi (Way Home) group, are demanding the return…

Russia Seeks Arrests of 2 Animators, Ex-Lawmaker Gudkov

Russian authorities have issued arrest warrants for two popular animators and exiled opposition politician Dmitry Gudkov, the independent news website Mediazona reported Tuesday. The Russian Interior Ministry’s wanted persons database lists Gudkov, who served in Russia’s lower-house State Duma from 2011-16, alongside cartoonists Oleg Kuvayev and Pavel Muntyan. Kuvayev is the creator of the long-running flash-animated series “Masyanya,” whose…

Navalny Recounts ‘Exhausting, Secret’ 20-Day Transfer to Arctic Prison, Says ‘Doing Fine’

Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny on Tuesday detailed his transfer to a high-security prison colony in Russia’s Arctic that had kept him from the public eye for nearly three weeks and raised concerns about his safety. In his first public letter since unveiling an anti-Putin 2024 presidential election strategy in a Dec. 7 post, Navalny sought to…

Memorial to ‘Victims of Finnish Occupation’ Installed at Stalin-Era Mass Grave – Opposition Deputy

Authorities in northwestern Russia’s republic of Karelia have erected a monument to “victims of Finnish occupation” at a memorial site for the victims of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s purges, a local opposition deputy said Monday. The Sandarmokh memorial, where at least 6,000 gulag prisoners were buried in mass graves, is officially designated as a “burial place…

Russia Claims Capture of Eastern Ukraine’s Maryinka

Russia said Monday that its forces have captured Maryinka, a town in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region that has been all but destroyed during Moscow’s invasion. “The assault detachment of the ‘South’ grouping completely liberated the settlement of Maryinka today,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin in a televised meeting. Kyiv has not yet commented on Moscow’s…

2023: The Rise and Fall of Wagner

If one story dominated the headlines from Russia in 2023, it was the rise and the fall of the murky and brutal Wagner mercenary group — and of its leader, the late Kremlin-linked catering magnate Yevgeny Prigozhin.  Wagner rose to prominence as one of the driving forces of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine starting in mid-2022.…

Siberian Officials Wage Denunciation Campaign Against Baikal Defenders

Officials in Russia’s Irkutsk region in southeastern Siberia have publicly denounced activists seeking to block a controversial bill that would ease logging restrictions along the shores of Lake Baikal, the Govorit NeMoskva news outlet reported Monday.  In an open letter, 34 regional officials, including six mayors, accused environmental activists of waging a cyberbullying campaign and inciting…

190 Criminal Cases Opened Against Pardoned Wagner Fighters Returning from Ukraine – Reports

Russian authorities have opened at least 190 criminal cases against Wagner mercenaries who were pardoned in exchange for fighting in Ukraine, the independent media outlet Vyorstka reported Monday. Russia’s Defense Ministry and the Wagner mercenary group have recruited heavily from Russian prisons to bolster their manpower in Ukraine, promising convicts a pardon in exchange for military…

Foreign Shareholders Suspend Participation in Russia’s Arctic LNG 2 Project – Kommersant

Foreign shareholders have suspended their participation in Russia’s Arctic LNG 2 project due to U.S. sanctions, the Kommersant business daily reported Monday, citing anonymous government sources. The United States in November issued sanctions on Arctic LNG as part of broader measures targeting Russia’s future energy production and other areas over its invasion of Ukraine. The European Union…

Russian Strikes Kill 4 in Ukraine’s Kherson — Governor

Russian bombardment killed four people and injured nine over 24 hours in the frontline southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, a regional official said Sunday. Russian forces fired 71 shells at Kherson from Saturday to Sunday morning, hitting the city center, residential areas, medical and educational institutions and “critical infrastructure facilities,” the region’s governor Oleksandr Prokudin…

Russia Space Agency Official Held Over Multi-Million-Euro Fraud

Police on Friday detained the deputy director of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos over the suspected embezzlement of 4.3 million euros ($4.7 million) from the crisis-hit sector. Oleg Frolov and two other suspects are accused of a “large-scale fraud,” said a statement from the Russian investigative committee, which handles major criminal investigations. “Frolov, using his official…

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas 2023

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; Молчат все соседи, сидят в тишине Не знаешь кто слушает — дома, вовне. Все дети, конечно, затихли и спят А этажом ниже соседи храпят. Everyone dreaming of what they want most: A ticket to somewhere and…

Russia Charges Exiled Opposition Politician With ‘War Fakes’ – Reports

Russian authorities have charged exiled liberal opposition politician Leonid Gozman with violating the country’s wartime censorship laws, the state-run TASS news agency reported Friday, citing an anonymous law enforcement source. Gozman is reportedly accused of spreading “fake news” about the Russian military’s actions in Ukraine. “He posted distorted statements about the leadership of Russia and the…

Putin Seizes Exiled Billionaire’s Car Dealership

President Vladimir Putin has ordered the seizure of Russia’s largest car dealership from exiled former lawmaker and billionaire Sergei Petrov, a presidential decree said Thursday. Shares in the Rolf dealership will be transferred from the Cypriot company Delance Limited and Rolf Motors to Russia’s Federal Property Management Agency (Rosimushchestvo), according to the document. This appears to…

Russia Issues Arrest Warrants for Exiled Navalny Aides

Russian authorities have issued arrest warrants for two exiled associates of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, the independent Mediazona news website reported Thursday. The Interior Ministry’s database of wanted persons lists investigator Maria Pevchikh and Navalny YouTube channel host Dmitry Nizovtsev, both of whom live outside Russia. The database does not indicate which criminal charges Pevchikh and…

Kazakhstan to Extradite Russian Cybersecurity Expert to Moscow After Snubbing U.S.

Kazakhstan will extradite Russian cybersecurity expert Nikita Kislitsin to face hacking and extortion charges in his home country, Moscow’s Prosecutor General’s Office announced Thursday.  Kislitsin was detained in the Central Asian country in June following an extradition request from the United States, which accused him of buying personal data obtained through the 2012 hack of the…