7 Protests That Defined the Year in Russia and Former Soviet Republics

In a year dominated by the coronavirus pandemic, some of the largest and most protracted protests in post-Soviet history also grabbed headlines.  People took to the streets to protest issues including electoral fraud, corruption and territorial disputes. Gathering despite government-imposed public assembly restrictions, protesters across the region faced off against police — with thousands being injured…

YouTube Source of Most Fake Info on Russian Internet, State Media Watchdog Says

Russia’s federal media watchdog has accused YouTube of circulating more fake news than any other foreign platform on the Russian internet, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency cited the agency as saying Monday.  “About 60% of fakes are related to the Covid-19 virus,” said Roskomnadzor, the federal agency responsible for regulating communications, information technology and…

Navalny Ally Sobol Detained After Poisoning Call

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s associate Lyubov Sobol has been detained outside the home of an alleged chemical weapons expert implicated in his poisoning, media reported late Monday. Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) lawyer Sobol said she wanted to speak with alleged Federal Security Service (FSB) agent Konstantin Kudryavtsev, whom Navalny said he had tricked into admitting…

With Lake Baikal’s Key Protections Set to Expire, Russian Eco-Activists Sound the Alarm

On Jan. 1, the Russian government is set to significantly reel back important environmental regulations protecting Lake Baikal, the world’s largest freshwater lake that is home to creatures found nowhere else on earth. It’s a move that could lead to the biggest environmental crisis in Baikal’s history, environmental experts and activists say. With the clock…

Russia Denies Role in U.S. Cyber Attacks

The Kremlin on Monday denied any role in recent cyber attacks on the United States, saying American accusations that Russia was behind a major security breach lacked evidence. U.S. lawmakers over the weekend urged a tough response to a huge cyber attack on government agencies and criticized U.S. President Donald Trump’s unwillingness to point the…

Moscow School Survey Tests Teachers’ Political Loyalty – Reports

Public schools across Moscow have received a survey that measures their teachers’ political activity and loyalty to the authorities, the independent Dozhd broadcaster reported Sunday. The survey asks teachers whether they participated in pro-Kremlin or opposition rallies in recent years, as well as whether they backed coups to achieve political change, Dozhd reported. The teachers…

Coronavirus in Russia: The Latest News | Dec. 21

Russia has confirmed 2,848,377 cases of coronavirus and 50,858 deaths. Dec. 20: What you need to know today Russia confirmed 28 948 new coronavirus cases and 511 deaths Sunday. The conditional mortality rates increased to 1.79%, according to the data from the operational headquarters for the fight against coronavirus. Dec.18 — St. Petersburg-based Greenpeace energy campaigner Rashid Alimov, 40,…

US planning to close last consulates in Russia

Donald Trump’s outgoing administration is planning to close the two remaining US consulates in Russia, the State Department confirmed Saturday, as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office amid high tensions with Moscow. The US will close its consulate in the far eastern city of Vladivostok and suspend operations at its post in Yekaterinburg, a department…

Pompeo Blames Russia for Massive US Cyberattack

Russia was “pretty clearly” behind a devastating cyberattack on several U.S. government agencies that also hit targets worldwide, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. Microsoft said late Thursday that it had notified more than 40 customers hit by the malware, which security experts say could allow attackers unfettered network access to key government systems and electric…

Coronavirus in Russia: The Latest News | Dec. 19

Russia has confirmed 2,791,220 cases of coronavirus and 49,762 deaths. Dec. 19: What you need to know today Russia confirmed 28 209 new coronavirus cases and 585 deaths. The total number of infected people in Russia has reached 2 819 429. The conditional mortality increased to 1.79%, according to the data from the operational headquarters for the fight against coronavirus.…

Moscow to Target Apolitical Youth on TikTok in 2021 Race – Meduza

Moscow political operatives plan to engage apolitical youth in Russia’s 2021 legislative elections through TikTok, the Meduza news website reported Friday, citing unnamed sources close to the Kremlin. The popular short-form video app will presumably help Kremlin-backed candidates fend off challengers promoted by opposition figure Alexei Navalny. In the lead-up to next year’s vote, Navalny…

Russian National Guard to Partner With Belarus Police Amid Protests

The Russian National Guard has signed a cooperation agreement with Belarus’ police force to combat “terrorism and extremism,” Interfax reported Friday.  The agreement comes amid months of opposition protests in Belarus against the country’s disputed presidential election. Belarus’ Moscow-backed President Alexander Lukashenko has accused the opposition of being backed by the West and has jailed…

Navalny Interrogated in Germany Despite ‘Nonexistent’ Russian Criminal Probe

Leading Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny said German prosecutors interrogated him and his wife at Moscow’s request Thursday despite Russian authorities refusing to launch a criminal investigation into his poisoning. Navalny is undergoing rehabilitation in Berlin after recovering from what European scientists established was poisoning with a Novichok nerve agent in Siberia this summer. Russia…

Finland’s Nordea Bank Pulls Out of Russia

Finland’s Nordea Bank plans to permanently cease its activities in Russia, the bank’s Russian branch announced Thursday.   Nordea Bank “will concentrate its activities in the Scandinavian region, therefore it was decided to partially close the international network, including the Russian branch,” its statement said. In the third quarter of 2020 Nordea ranked 95th in the…

NGO Accuses Europe’s Home Improvement Stores of Buying Illegal Russian Lumber

European home improvement stores continued to sell illegally logged wood from the Russian taiga after the alleged smuggler’s arrest back home, the British environmental nonprofit Earthsight said in a report Wednesday. More than 20 European companies were said to have bought 30 million euros ($36.7 million) worth of suspect wood from companies associated with timber…

Putin Says Will Get Vaccine When Possible for Age Range

President Vladimir Putin said Thursday he will receive the Russian-developed Sputnik V coronavirus jab once it is approved for people his age, praising the vaccine as safe and effective.  The 68-year-old Russian president said at his annual end-of-year press conference that he had not been vaccinated yet, but “will definitely do so as soon as it becomes possible” according to expert…

Russian Minister Gifted 300-Year-Old Ukrainian Icon in Bosnia — Reports

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov received a 300-year-old gilded icon from eastern Ukraine on his trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina, European media reported Wednesday. Bosnia’s Serb President Milorad Dodik gifted the Ukrainian Orthodox icon thought to be from the war-torn pro-Russian region of Luhansk, according to Ukraine’s Euromaidan Press news website. The Ukrainian Embassy in Sarajevo requested…

‘Funny to Read’: Russia Reacts to Navalny Poisoning Investigation

Senior Russian diplomats and state television pundits have dismissed media investigations into leading opposition figure Alexei Navalny’s poisoning and accused their authors of illegal invasion of privacy. A joint investigation published by several media outlets this week claimed Federal Security Service (FSB) chemical weapons experts had tailed Navalny for years, including on the day he was…

Thailand Resumes Visa-Free Access for Russian Tourists

Thailand has restored visa-free access to Russian tourists months after it first imposed coronavirus border restrictions, Interfax cited the royal kingdom’s tourism ministry as saying Wednesday. Thailand, a popular tourist destination that has escaped relatively unscathed from the Covid-19 pandemic, began reopening its borders in October to kick-start its battered tourism industry. All new arrivals…

Coronavirus in Russia: The Latest News | Dec. 17

Russia has confirmed 2,734,454 cases of coronavirus and 48,564 deaths. Dec. 17: What you need to know today Russia confirmed 26,509 coronavirus cases and 596 deaths Wednesday. Aeroflot will allocate special seating for passengers who refuse to wear face masks on flights, a spokeswoman for Russia’s flagship carrier said Tuesday. Moscow-based foreign nationals including doctors and educators with valid passports, certificates of…

U.S. Investigated Kara-Murza Poisoning as ‘Intentional’ Act – RFE/RL

United States investigators probed Russian opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr.’s suspected poisonings as “intentional” acts, the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty news outlet reported Tuesday, citing newly obtained records.  Kara-Murza, 39, says he was deliberately poisoned in Moscow in 2015 and 2017 as retaliation for his lobbying efforts to impose U.S. and EU sanctions against…

Russia Lost 5M Migrants During Pandemic

Almost half of all migrants living in Russia before the coronavirus pandemic have likely left the country this year, the Interior Ministry said Wednesday. In a statement cited by the RBC news website, authorities said there are currently 6.3 million foreign citizens in Russia. That number has been steadily declining since the start of the…

Putin’s Cousin Forms New ‘Russia Without Corruption’ Party

President Vladimir Putin’s cousin has formed a new political party called “Russia Without Corruption,” the state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported.  Roman Putin is an entrepreneur, politician, former FSB officer and Putin’s first cousin, once removed. He previously headed the “People Against Corruption” party, which was dissolved last month by the Russian Supreme Court for…

Russian Activist Convicted Under ‘Repeat Protest’ Law Walks Free From Prison

Russian activist Konstantin Kotov was released from prison Wednesday after serving 18 months for “multiple breaches” of Russia’s protest law. Kotov, who was arrested during the summer 2019 Moscow election protests, was the second person ever to be prosecuted under the controversial law criminalizing “repeated” participation in unauthorized rallies. A Moscow court cut the 35-year-old…

Smog-Choked Russian City Appeals to Biden for Aid

Residents of Russia’s heavily polluted industrial city of Chelyabinsk are calling on U.S. President-elect Joe Biden to help them avoid “ecological genocide.” In a video appeal, residents said Russian authorities routinely ignore their complaints that industrial emissions are getting worse every year, causing rising cases of cancer and suffocating the city in smoke. “They’re taking…

Foreigners in Moscow Eligible for Russia’s Coronavirus Vaccine

Eligible Moscow-based foreigners can get vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine as part of the mass rollout currently underway, a representative from the Moscow Health Department told The Moscow Times. Russia kicked off its nationwide vaccination campaign among medics, teachers and other high-risk workers in recent days.  Foreign nationals including doctors and educators with…

Russia’s MC-21 Passenger Aircraft Completes First Flight With Domestic-Made Engine

Russia’s MC-21 medium-range passenger aircraft has made its first flight with a domestically made engine, state industrial conglomerate Rostec announced Tuesday. “Through the efforts of scientists, designers, engineers and workers, a next-generation airliner is being created that returns our country to the top league of world aviation,” Rostec head Sergei Chemezov said in a statement.…