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…

Putin-Biden Summit Set for June 16 in Geneva

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden will hold their first summit in Geneva on June 16, the Kremlin and the White House said Tuesday.  The Kremlin said in a statement that Putin and Biden will discuss “the current state and prospects for further development of Russian-American relations, issues of strategic stability”…

Russia Wants to Exempt State Media From ‘Foreign Agent’ Scrutiny

The Russian government wants to exempt state media from financial scrutiny to avoid being labeled  “foreign agents” because they are not prone to foreign influence. The proposal comes after Russia labeled the independent news sites Meduza and VTimes “foreign agents,” jeopardizing their futures by discouraging advertisers and levying steep fines for auditing violations. Russia’s Ministry…

EU Cuts Air Links With Belarus Over Forced Plane Landing

EU leaders cut Europe’s air links with Belarus on Monday, as strongman Alexander Lukashenko’s regime paraded a dissident journalist arrested after his flight was forced to land in Minsk. Lukashenko sparked international outrage by dispatching a fighter jet Sunday to intercept a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius carrying wanted reporter Roman Protasevich, 26, and his girlfriend Sofia…

EU Cuts Air Transport Links With Belarus

EU leaders have agreed to ban Belarus’ airlines from the bloc’s airspace and urged EU-based carriers not to fly over its airspace after Minsk forced a jet to land to arrest a dissident. The leaders of the 27-nation bloc also called for the “immediate release” of journalist Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega from…

Russia Defends Belarus Over Plane Diversion

Russian officials have defended Belarus’ use of a military jet to divert a passenger plane carrying a dissident, an act Western leaders have called “state terrorism” and that may spark tougher sanctions against Minsk. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told journalists that Belarus had treated the incident with an “absolutely reasonable approach.” “A representative of…

EU Outrage as Belarus Diverts Flight, Arrests Opposition Activist

Belarus forced an Athens-to-Vilnius Ryanair flight carrying a wanted opposition activist to divert and land in Belarus on Sunday, provoking a furious outcry from European leaders. Belarusian state television reported that Roman Protasevich, a 26-year-old opposition blogger exiled in Poland, had been detained in Minsk after flight FR4978 was diverted from EU airspace — ostensibly over a security…

Russian Police Break Up Opposition Meeting

Police on Saturday broke up a meeting of independent, elected Russian opposition figures, saying they had failed to observe coronavirus health restrictions, participants said. The May 22-23 forum brought together representatives from 30 regions to coordinate their campaign for the September legislative elections. Ahead of the vote, the authorities have cranked up pressure on the…

Kremlin Critic Navalny Says Found ‘Recipe for Happiness’ in Prison

Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said Thursday he successfully eased out of his hunger strike and has discovered the recipe for being “happy” in prison. Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s best known domestic critic, is serving two-and-a-half years in a penal colony outside Moscow on old fraud charges he says are politically motivated.  Russia’s top opposition politician…

Russia Jails Navalny Protester for 4 Years

A Moscow court sentenced a Russian businessman to four years in jail Thursday for attacking a riot police officer during a rally in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny this winter. Yevgeny Yesenov was among the 10,000 people detained across 100 Russian cities in January and February when they took to the streets demanding…

Russian Arctic Temps Now Hotter Than in Mediterranean

Parts of Russia’s Arctic are currently experiencing warmer temperatures than the Mediterranean Sea as the region faces a ferocious heatwave. Temperatures in the Arctic Circle village of Nizhnaya Pesha hit 30 degrees Celsius (86.5 degrees Fahrenheit) Wednesday, a measurement Scottish meteorologist Scott Duncan called “truly exceptional for any time of the year but mind-boggling for…

Chief Editor Leaves Russia’s Vedomosti Year After Censorship Row

The Vedomosti business daily announced Wednesday that its editor-in-chief Andrei Shmarov will step down one year after his controversial appointment sparked a mass exodus of senior editors and journalists.  The decision came a week after VTimes, The Moscow Times’ Russian-language partner founded by the editors and journalists who had left Vedomosti, was declared a “foreign agent” in…