Germany-Russia Flights Resume After Tit-for-Tat Cancellations

Airline companies said flights between Germany and Russia had resumed Wednesday evening, after each country blocked the other’s incoming flights as part of the fall-out from tensions over Belarus. German airline Lufthansa told AFP that the Russian authorities had finally granted it clearance for passenger flights to Russia in June. “That means Lufthansa flights to Moscow and St. Petersburg…

Belarus Restricts Citizens From Leaving Country

Belarus said Tuesday it is further restricting citizens from leaving the country, including those with foreign residency permits, in a move the opposition denounced as “an absolute violation of the law.” The development comes as dozens of Belarusians, some of them illegally, have been fleeing their country in recent months amid a bloody crackdown in…

Russia’s Security Services Raid Opposition Politician’s Dacha 

Russian authorities stepped up its crackdown on opposition figures Tuesday morning, raiding apartments, offices and a summer house connected to a vocal anti-Kremlin politician and his relatives. Former parliamentarian and opposition politician Dmitry Gudkov said Russian security officers raided his family dacha early Tuesday, while security services also searched the apartments of his former assistant,…

Russia Bans Unauthorized ‘Foreign Influence’ Educational Activities

Russia has banned non-state-approved educational activities and cooperation with foreign academics, according to highly criticized changes to Russia’s education law that came into effect Tuesday. The law is based on the need cited by lawmakers for broad state power to permit or forbid activities outside formal academic settings. They said that the law was essential to counter…

Russia to Resume U.K. Flights, Extend Turkey Ban

Russia will resume flights with the United Kingdom along with flights to seven other countries in June but extend travel restrictions to Turkey for another three weeks, Russia’s coronavirus response center announced Monday. Moscow temporarily suspended flights between Russia and the U.K. in late December, after Britain announced it had discovered a highly transmissible strain…

Russian Government Considers Banning Non-Recyclable Plastic

The Russian government is working on amendments to legislation that could ban the production of non-recyclable plastic materials in Russia, Deputy Prime Minister Viktoria Abramchenko said at the 9th Nevsky International Ecological Congress in St. Petersburg. New measures will provide Russian businessmen with opportunities to adapt and adjust their manufacturing, the government claimed. But some lawmakers…

Steven Seagal Joins New Pro-Kremlin Party

Steven Seagal, Hollywood actor and one of Vladimir Putin’s biggest fans, is now a member of the pro-Kremlin party called “A Just Russia – Patriots – For Truth,” the party announced Saturday.  Seagal, a naturalized Russian citizen since 2016, said that he plans to focus his work in the party on environmental issues and crackdown…

Bomb Kills 2 CAR Police, 3 Russian Paramilitaries: Govt

A military convoy struck a roadside bomb in the northwest of the conflict-wracked Central African Republic, leaving two policemen and three Russian paramilitaries dead, the government said Sunday. “Three Russian allies and two Central African police officers were killed,” government spokesman Ange Maxime Kazagui told AFP, while UN sources said the attack Thursday also wounded…

Russian SolarWinds Hackers Target 150 Organizations in New Attack

The state-backed Russian group behind a massive hacking campaign revealed last year has re-emerged with a series of attacks on government agencies, think tanks, consultants and other organizations, according to officials and researchers. A security update from Microsoft late Thursday said the group known as Nobelium has stepped up attacks, notably targeting government agencies involved in foreign policy as…

Russia Says EU’s Belarus Flight Ban ‘Endangers’ Passengers

Russia said Friday that Western countries were being irresponsible and endangering passengers by banning flights over Belarus in response to President Alexander Lukashenko’s forced grounding of a Ryanair flight. “What the West has done by introducing a ban on flights through Belarusian airspace for political reasons is completely irresponsible and endangers the safety of passengers,”…

Ukraine Soldier Killed by Separatist Sniper

A Ukrainian soldier was killed by a separatist sniper in the country’s war-ravaged east, the military said Thursday, following an escalation of tensions between Kiev and Moscow. He was shot and fatally wounded near the village of Novotoshkivske in the separatist-controlled Lugansk region that borders Russia, the military said in a statement.  Kiev has been battling…

Austria Slams Russia Over Cancelled Vienna-Moscow Flight

Austria on Thursday slammed Russia after it refused to allow an Austrian Airlines flight to be rerouted to avoid Belarusian airspace, resulting in the Vienna-Moscow service being cancelled. Austria’s Foreign Ministry said Russia’s refusal to allow the route change was “absolutely incomprehensible,” urging it “not to artificially impede free air traffic between Russia and Europe.”…

‘Undesirable’ Open Russia Opposition Group Disbands Ahead of Elections

Open Russia, an opposition movement established by exiled Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, announced its closure Thursday to avoid jail for supporters ahead of parliamentary elections. Executive director Andrei Pivovarov linked the decision to bills advancing through Russian parliament tightening criminal punishment for Russians who support and work for “undesirable” organizations. Open Russia was labeled “undesirable”…

Facebook Accuses Russia of Spreading Disinformation

Facebook said Russia and Iran are the internet’s leading spreaders of disinformation aimed at manipulating public opinion in a report published Thursday.  Facebook researchers linked most of Russian operations to the Internet Research Agency, a St. Petersburg-based troll factory that was also blamed by the U.S. intelligence community for 2016 election interference.  “Facebook’s broader security…

Putin Rules Out Mandatory Vaccinations

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that mandating coronavirus vaccinations would be “impractical and impossible” amid an ongoing debate on how to ramp up the country’s slow Covid-19 vaccine take-up. Ex-Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev kicked off the debate last week by publicly supporting compulsory vaccinations, only to reiterate their voluntary nature later. At least one…

Belarus plane diversion raises legal questions

Governments were quick to denounce the diversion of a Ryanair plane by Belarus as an act of “terrorism” and “state-sponsored piracy” — but will the country face legal consequences? It’s not a simple question. “Civil aviation rules were not written with the expectation that a state would behave like a terrorist,” said Nathalie Younan, an…

Explainer: Events Surrounding Belarus Flight ‘Hijacking’

Belarus’ interception of a commercial flight Sunday in order to arrest Roman Protasevich, a 26-year-old Lithuania-based dissident blogger has triggered global outrage and condemnation.  Protasevich faces charges of inciting mass rallies in Belarus following last summer’s disputed presidential election which triggered an unprecedented wave of protest across the country. The EU has already hit Belarus…