Russian ‘Thief-in-Law’ Shot Dead in Moscow Gym

Ali Heydarov, a Russian “thief-in-law” known as Albert Ryzhiy, was shot dead in a northwest Moscow gym Monday afternoon, Interfax reported.  “Thief-in-law” is a Russian term referring to powerful members of the criminal underworld. Security camera footage published by the 47news.ru news website shows Heydarov using an elliptical as an unknown man enters the gym,…

In Leaked Tapes, MH17 Suspects Discussed Buk Transfer Hours Before and After Plane Downing

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine frequently discussed the movements of the Buk missile system that investigators believe was used to down Flight MH17 in July 2014, the Dutch Nieuwsuur current affairs program reported Sunday, citing leaked recordings of their phone calls. Nieuwsuur obtained tapes of thousands of phone calls made by MH17 suspect Sergei Dubinsky…

Kremlin Says Not Moving Toward War With Ukraine

The Kremlin on Sunday said it was not moving toward war with Ukraine as Russia increased its military presence on the border with Ukraine’s eastern breakaway territories.  In recent weeks fighting has intensified between Ukraine’s army and pro-Russian separatists controlling two regions in the country’s east, raising concerns of major escalation in the long-running conflict. …

Russia Moves Ground Troops, Ballistic Missile Systems Near Ukraine Border – British Analysts

British defense analysts said Thursday they have identified Russian ballistic missile systems deployed alongside over a dozen tank and rocket launcher units on the Ukrainian border amid concerns of renewed hostilities. Military monitors and the White House say Russia has amassed the largest concentration of forces near eastern Ukraine since the conflict between Ukrainian forces…

Russia Accuses Slovak Watchdog of Sputnik V ‘Sabotage,’ Demands Return of Vaccines

Sputnik V’s official Twitter account on Thursday accused the Slovak Drug agency SUKL of a “disinformation campaign” against the Russian vaccine after the watchdog said the batch of 200,000 vaccines the country received differed from those reviewed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the medical journal The Lancet. On Wednesday, media reported that SUKL…

Ukraine’s Zelenskiy on Frontline as Merkel Urges Putin to Pull Back Troops

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy traveled to the country’s eastern frontline on Thursday, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Vladimir Putin to reduce Russia’s troop buildup near Ukraine. Zelenskiy’s frontline visit came as fighting between the Ukrainian army and separatists has intensified in recent weeks and Russia has built up troops along the border, raising fears…

Far-Right Activists Disrupt Artdocfest Film Festival

Ultranationalist supporters of separatists in eastern Ukraine disrupted a movie screening at the Artdocfest film festival in Moscow on Wednesday night, the organizers said on Instagram. This was the second major attack this year on Artdocfest, a popular Russian documentary film festival which has been the target of conservative and nationalist-oriented groups in recent years.…

Zoom to Directly Sell to Russian Gov’t Agencies After Controversy

Zoom will sell directly to Russian government agencies, the Kommersant business daily quoted the company as saying after controversy over reports that the video-conferencing platform had restricted premium access to state-affiliated entities. The Kremlin urged Russian companies Wednesday to switch to alternative virtual meeting platforms after Kommersant reported that Zoom had banned its distributors from…

Germany’s Bavaria Plans to Buy Sputnik V Vaccine

Germany’s Bavaria region has signed a provisional agreement to buy doses of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine once it is approved by European regulators, state premier Markus Soeder said Wednesday. The southern state has “signed a memorandum of understanding today […] for the supply of Sputnik,” Soeder told reporters in Munich.  If the Sputnik vaccine is…

Russia Intercepts Norwegian Jet Near Arctic – Interfax

A Russian warplane has intercepted a Norwegian electronic warfare aircraft over the Barents Sea near the Arctic, state media cited the military as saying Wednesday. Citing Russia’s National Defense Management Center, Interfax said the Russian military detected an “air target” approaching the Russian border from Norway. “The [Russian Navy’s] Northern Fleet air defense forces’ MiG-31…

Will Russia’s Belated Promotion of Sputnik V at Home Sway a Doubting Public?

In early March, with Russia’s domestic Covid-19 vaccination campaign stalling, prominent tech and publishing entrepreneur Ilya Krasilschik took to social media to urge his followers to get their coronavirus jabs. “We are living through a national catastrophe,” wrote Krasilschik in a widely publicized Facebook post. “Go and get vaccinated.” Krasilschik is one of few Russian…

Master Berdymukhamedov Goes to Moscow

Serdar Berdymukhamedov, Turkmenistan’s president-in-waiting and son of the incumbent, on March 30 embarked on a four-day trip to Russia as part of an official government delegation. The outing looked like yet another dress rehearsal.  Official readouts of meetings in Moscow allude to mostly humdrum business, although there are hints of noteworthy developments.  The delegation was…

Russian Troop Buildup Near Ukraine Largest Since War Outbreak, Monitor Says

Russia has amassed the largest concentration of troops on its border with Ukraine since the eastern Ukraine conflict first erupted in 2014, The Insider investigative news website reported Wednesday, citing military analysts. Recent Russian military movements and an increase in clashes between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists have raised fears of an escalation in the long-simmering…

Russian Investigators to Probe Feminist Eurovision Pick for ‘Inciting Hatred’ – Reports

Moscow investigators have launched an inspection into “Russian Woman,” the country’s entry to this year’s Eurovision song contest, after a veteran’s newspaper accused it of inciting hatred, the state-run TASS news agency reported Tuesday.  Written and performed by Tajik-born artist Manizha, “Russian Woman” has sparked controversy among conservative groups for its lyrics promoting female empowerment…

Russia’s Sputnik V Vaccine Less Effective Against South African Variant – U.S. Study

Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine appears significantly less effective in combating the South African variant of the virus, a new laboratory study of 12 cases has shown. Scientists in the U.S. used blood samples from Argentinians who had been vaccinated with Sputnik V to investigate whether the antibodies they had produced would effectively fight various mutations…