Kremlin Slams Brutality, Provocations in Belarus After Protester’s Death

The Belarus security services’ unprovoked violence against anti-government protesters is unacceptable, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday while also criticizing protesters for “provocations” against officers. Peskov spoke after thousands of Belarusians took to the streets Sunday to protest the death of arts teacher and former soldier Roman Bondarenko in police custody last week. Bondarenko, 31,…

Putin Urges BRICS to Mass Produce Russian Covid-19 Vaccines

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday called on fellow members of the BRICS alliance of major emerging countries to mass produce Russian-made coronavirus vaccines.  Speaking during an online summit of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, Putin encouraged the other four BRICS members to manufacture and distribute coronavirus vaccines developed by Russia.  “There are Russian vaccines, they…

Russia Sees Record Daily Virus Deaths as Regions Struggle

Russia reported Tuesday a record high 442 new coronavirus-related deaths as the country’s regions struggled to cope with overflowing morgues and medicine shortages. While Europe has reintroduced new restrictions in response to a second wave of coronavirus infections sweeping across the world, Russia has refused to enforce a new nationwide lockdown. Health authorities on Tuesday recorded 22,410 new infections…

Now Comes a Karabakh War Over Cultural Heritage

Azerbaijan’s military success confirmed by a Russian-brokered ceasefire has rapidly changed the map of the South Caucasus. Attention has now turned to the rich cultural heritage, in particular the Armenian churches falling under Azerbaijani control. Beyond preserving these precious monuments for future generations and as places of worship, this is a test of goodwill. Armenia…

Mutating Coronavirus Discovered in Siberia

A mutated version of the coronavirus strain that causes Covid-19 has been discovered in Siberia, the head of Russia’s consumer safety watchdog said Tuesday. “We’re seeing certain changes in the proteins, and these changes detected in Siberia allow us to assume that this region is forming its own version [of coronavirus] with certain mutations,” Rospotrebnadzor…

Russia to Freeze-Dry Coronavirus Vaccine to Avoid Distribution Challenges – Reuters

Russia will transition to primarily freeze-dried doses of its coronavirus vaccine by spring as a workaround to the logistical challenges of transporting liquid doses at controlled temperatures, Reuters reported Monday.  The Sputnik V vaccine’s liquid form must be stored at minus 18 degrees Celsius or below to maintain its stated 92% efficacy. Vaccine storage and…

Russia Pulls ‘Transgender Ban’ Bill

A group of conservative lawmakers has pulled for consolidation two overlapping child custody bills, one of which would have also banned transgender people from legally changing their gender, Russian media reported Monday. Lawyers, activists and President Vladimir Putin’s human rights council have criticized the transgender ban bill, co-authored by Senator Yelena Mizulina, who also spearheaded…

Siberian Environmentalist Detained for Poaching World’s Largest Sheep – Reports

A Siberian environmentalist has been detained on suspicion of poaching the world’s largest sheep, the argali, media outlets reported Monday. The Saylyugemsky National Park on the Russian-Kazakh-Mongolian border, which oversees the protection of the argali and snow leopards, said a group of hunters was caught Saturday and charged with administrative offenses. “They said they arrived…

Coronavirus in Russia: The Latest News | Nov. 16

Russia has confirmed 1,948,603 cases of coronavirus and 33,489 deaths. Nov. 16: What you need to know today Russia confirmed 22,778 new coronavirus cases and 303 deaths. The eastern Siberian republic of Buryatia became the first Russian region to impose a second coronavirus lockdown. Restaurants, malls and other places of mass gathering will be shut down for two weeks starting…

Nagorno-Karabakh Briefing | Nov. 16

Almost a week into the latest truce between Armenia and Azerbaijan and there remains no flare-up of fighting. Russian peacekeeping deployments continue to establish their positions, while the exact role Turkey will play remains unclear. Political unrest heightens in Armenia with an alleged assassination plot against Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. Nov. 16: what you need…

‘Welcome to Chechnya’ Gay Purge Documentary Now Streaming for Russian-Speaking Audiences

The BBC’s Russian service has made a critically acclaimed documentary on the anti-gay crackdown in the republic of Chechnya available to Russian-speaking audiences. Oscar-nominated American filmmaker David France’s “Welcome to Chechnya” traces a Moscow-based LGBT association’s attempts to exfiltrate gay Chechens to safety. The film pioneers deepfake face-swapping technology to disguise the identities of his…

Russia Finds No Criminal Influence on Journalist’s Self-Immolation Death – Kommersant

Russian investigators do not believe that independent journalist Irina Slavina was driven to suicide by external factors that could carry criminal punishment, the Kommersant business daily reported Monday. Slavina, the editor-in-chief of the independent KozaPress news outlet, set herself on fire outside the Nizhny Novgorod police headquarters on Oct. 2 the day after security forces raided…

Belarus Briefing | Nov. 17

Belarus has seen weekly mass protests against the disputed presidential re-election of Alexander Lukashenko for nearly three months. Here’s more of the latest news from Russia’s ex-Soviet neighbor: Nov. 17: What you need to know today The Belarusian Association of Journalists has won the Media Freedom Award, a prize awarded by the governments of Britain and…

Nagorno-Karabakh Briefing | Nov. 13

Nov. 13: what you need to know today The ceasefire continued to hold with no reports of fighting flaring up in Nagorno-Karabakh or the surrounding territory. A delegation from Moscow is in Ankara on Friday to discuss the details of a joint Russian-Turkish ceasefire monitoring center.  The deployment of almost 2,000 Russian peacekeepers continues. The…

Belarus Briefing | Nov. 13

Belarus has seen weekly mass protests against the disputed presidential re-election of Alexander Lukashenko for nearly three months. Here’s more of the latest news from Russia’s ex-Soviet neighbor: Nov. 13: What you need to know today Roman Bondarenko, 31, died on Thursday after being beaten to death by unknown security agents. Witnesses say Bondarenko was detained…

Moscow Calls Off Christmas, New Year Celebrations Due to Coronavirus – Mayor

Moscow will not hold its traditional Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced Wednesday amid record coronavirus infections and deaths in recent weeks. Earlier that day, Sobyanin suspended mass events and ordered late-night establishments to close starting from Friday and ending in mid-January 2021 as part of the latest restrictions to try…

Coronavirus in Russia: The Latest News | Nov. 12

Russia has confirmed 1,858,568 cases of coronavirus and 32,032 deaths. Nov. 12: What you need to know today Russia confirmed 21,608 new coronavirus cases and a record 439 deaths. About one in three, or 31%, of coronavirus infections in Russia are asymptomatic, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said. Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine is 92% effective, its developers said…

Anger Mounts in Armenia Over Karabakh Peace Deal

Several thousand demonstrators protested Wednesday in the Armenian capital Yerevan as anger mounted over Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s decision to cede swathes of disputed territory to Azerbaijan under a controversial peace deal. Pashinyan announced a Russian-brokered peace agreement with Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region in the early hours of Tuesday, ending weeks of intense…

Damascus Holds Russia-Backed Conference on Refugee Returns

Syria’s government kicked off a two-day Russia-backed conference in Damascus Wednesday towards facilitating the return of millions of Syrian refugees to the war-torn country, despite reservations within the international community. Of neighboring countries hosting the bulk of Syrian refugees, only Lebanon and Iraq sent representatives, according to organizers. Other attendees included a Russian delegation and representatives…

Nagorno-Karabakh Briefing | Nov. 11

The Moscow-brokered ceasefire appeared to be holding Wednesday morning, 36 hours after an agreement was reached to end six weeks of bitter fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region and surrounding districts. The conflict is seen as a victory for Azerbaijan, which reclaimed significant portions of territory previously occupied by Armenian-backed forces. Nov…

Vaccinated Siberian Medics Get Coronavirus

At least three medics who received Russia’s vaunted Sputnik V vaccine have contracted the coronavirus in Siberia as part of a vaccination drive of at-risk groups, regional authorities said Tuesday. The adenovirus vector-based vaccine’s developer had previously suggested that recipients infected with Covid-19 may have received a placebo during final clinical trials. Authorities are administering…