Russia Detains 2 Jehovah’s Witnesses on Christmas

Authorities in northwestern Russia have detained what they say are two branch leaders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious group, investigators said Wednesday. They accused the unnamed 45-year-old and 67-year-old of “organizing extremist activity” in the form of religious services in the city of Vologda. Authorities placed the alleged leader of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Vologda branch in…

Russia in 2020: Will the Economy Grow Faster?

How do you achieve fast growth, without compromising macroeconomic stability? That is the central dilemma which has faced Russian policymakers since 2014.  When it came to making a choice between the two, stability won out nearly every time. Following the annexation of Crimea, provision of support for pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine and interference in…

Russia’s Internet Is Ready for Isolation, Officials Say After Partial Shutdown

Russia completed a series of tests on Monday checking that its internet services could function if the country were to get cut off from the worldwide web, Deputy Communications Minister Alexei Sokolov said. The tests, conducted over the course of several days on specially designated networks,  follow Russia’s controversial “sovereign internet” law enacted last month,…

Putin Launches Direct Train Service to Crimea

President Vladimir Putin launched Russia’s first direct train to Crimea on Monday, opening railway service along a now-completed $4 billion bridge that links continental Russia to the annexed peninsula. Dozens of Western countries targeted Russia with economic sanctions over its annexation of the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 following an unrecognized referendum. The…

U.S. Concerned as Libyan Conflict Turning Bloodier With Russian Mercenaries

The United States is “very concerned” about the intensification of the conflict in Libya, with a rising number of reported Russian mercenaries supporting Khalifa Haftar’s forces on the ground turning the conflict into a bloodier one, a senior State Department official said on Saturday. The United States continues to recognize the Government of National Accord (GNA)…

Erdogan Says Turkey Won’t Be Silent Over Russian-Backed Mercenaries in Libya

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey will not stay silent over Russian-backed mercenaries supporting Khalifa Haftar in Libya, as Moscow voiced concerns over possible Turkish military deployment to Libya in support of Haftar’s enemies. Turkey has backed Libya’s internationally recognized government led by Fayez al-Serraj and the two sides signed a security agreement…

Trump Official Slams New Anti-Russia Sanctions in Leaked Letter

Donald Trump’s administration has slammed a new package of tough anti-Russia sanctions advanced by U.S. lawmakers earlier this week, The Daily Beast reported Thursday, citing a leaked letter from a State Department official.  The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved draft legislation Wednesday that would impose new sanctions against Russia’s banking, energy and ship-building sectors…

Putin Dodges Question on Daughters’ Identity

Russian President Vladimir Putin sidestepped a question about the identities of his two daughters at his annual end-of-year news conference on Thursday. Named sources have told Reuters — but later retracted their statements — that one of Putin‘s adult daughters is Katerina Tikhonova, who runs publicly funded projects and takes part in competitive rock’n’roll dancing. Media have identified Putin‘s…

The Moscow FSB Shooting: What We Know So Far

A gunman opened fire at Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) headquarters in central Moscow on Thursday evening, killing one officer and wounding five others, including one civilian. An unverified video depicted officers exchanging gunfire and appearing to kill the alleged shooter behind a column. Other videos showed the FSB building being sprayed with gunfire and…

Russia’s People of the Year 2019

Citizen of the Year – Danila Beglets By Kirill Martynov Danila Beglets is a political prisoner in the so-called Moscow protest cases.  However, unlike most politicians, Beglets is not fighting for power. He is not interested in elections and he is neither an activist nor famous. He is an ordinary person who was walking along…

Putin Open to Changing Constitution Amid Succession Question

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he was open to the possibility of altering Russia‘s constitution, including proposals to increase parliament’s power and to limit the number of presidential terms anyone can serve. The issue of constitutional change in Russia is watched closely amid speculation about Putin’s own political ambitions. In power as either president or prime…

‘There’s Nothing to Cry About’: Moscow Mayor’s Year-End Report, in Quotes

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin gave an annual report to municipal lawmakers Wednesday. Sobyanin faced several challenges this year, including mass protests against the exclusion of opposition candidates from the Moscow City Duma election and against plans to ship waste to outlying regions. Here’s a selection of quotes from Sobyanin’s two-hour report, which included answers to…