Russian Ex-Wagner Commander Flees to Norway, Seeks Asylum – Reports

A former commander for Russia’s Wagner private military group who claims to have witnessed several extrajudicial killings has fled to Norway and requested asylum, Russian activists and Norwegian media reported. “I heard dogs barking [and] two bullets flying near me,” the man identified as Andrei Medvedev said of his dramatic journey across the Russian-Norwegian border late…

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Reboot of Soviet Cartoon Becomes Russia’s Highest-Grossing Film

A Russian film reboot featuring legendary Soviet cartoon character Cheburashka has become Russia’s highest-grossing film of all time, surpassing the first part of James Cameron’s “Avatar” despite only being released two weeks ago, according to statistics published by the Russian Cinema Fund.  The total box office from “Cheburashka,” which was released on Jan. 1, has already surpassed…

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Reboot of Soviet Cartoon Becomes Russia’s Highest-Grossing Film Ever

A Russian film reboot featuring legendary Soviet cartoon character Cheburashka has become Russia’s highest-grossing film of all time, surpassing the first part of James Cameron’s “Avatar” despite only being released two weeks ago, according to statistics published by the Russian Cinema Fund.  The total box office from “Cheburashka,” which was released on Jan. 1, has already surpassed…

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As Russia Claims Win, Analysts Say Capture of Soledar Is ‘Pyrrhic Victory’

Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed that its forces had won a significant victory on Friday with the capture of the eastern Ukrainian town of Soledar, despite military analysts cautioning that the salt-mining town held greater symbolic than strategic value.  The situation on the ground in what remains of Soledar remained unclear late Friday, with Ukrainian officials…

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Exiled Russians’ Properties Should Be Seized, Lawmakers Say

Russians who criticize their country after fleeing abroad should have their remaining property confiscated, lawmakers proposed Friday in an apparent effort to increase pressure on exiled anti-war Russians. Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the lower-house State Duma, said “scoundrels” who have left the country can still face criminal prosecution for “insulting Russia, its inhabitants, soldiers and officers.”…

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Critical Russian Emigres Should Have Property Seized, Lawmakers Say

Russians who criticize their country after fleeing abroad should have their remaining property confiscated, lawmakers proposed Friday in an apparent effort to increase pressure on exiled anti-war Russians. Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the lower-house State Duma, said “scoundrels” who have left the country can still face criminal prosecution for “insulting Russia, its inhabitants, soldiers and officers.”…

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Kremlin Readies for Putin’s 2024 Re-Election Under Shadow of War – Kommersant

The Kremlin has started preparing for the 2024 presidential campaign under the assumption that it will go on as planned despite Russia’s grinding military campaign in Ukraine, the Kommersant business daily reported Friday, citing unnamed sources. President Vladimir Putin, 70, has been in power as president or prime minister since 1999. While Russian presidents are…

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Wounded Russian Soldiers Returned to Front Without Proper Treatment – Agentstvo

A number of injured Russian soldiers are being sent back to the frontlines in Ukraine without permission from the military medical commission, the Agentstvo investigative outlet reported Thursday. The presidential Human Rights Council is investigating cases in which servicemen didn’t receive proper medical treatment before being sent back into battle, council member Olga Demicheva told the…

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First President of Russia’s Bashkortostan Murtaza Rakhimov Dies at 88

Murtaza Rakhimov, the first president of Russia’s republic of Bashkortostan, died at age 88 on Wednesday in the region’s capital Ufa after a prolonged illness, Bashkortostan’s current head Radiy Khabirov announced.  A village boy from Bashkortostan’s southwestern Kugarchinsky district, Rakhimov built a successful career in the region’s thriving oil refining industry before being elected the…

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Russia’s War Leadership Reset Signals Infighting Among Top Brass – Experts

General Valery Gerasimov’s appointment as the new commander of Russian forces in Ukraine raised questions over President Vladimir Putin’s intentions for the next stage of his bogged-down campaign. Russia’s Defense Ministry said Gerasimov is replacing General Sergei Surovikin three months into his role due to the “expanded scale of the tasks” and the need for…

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Leading Russian Environmental Group Closes After Being Deemed ‘Foreign Agent’

The Russian environmental group Movement 42, based in Russia’s Arctic Arkhangelsk region, announced that it was ceasing its activities on Wednesday just one month after being designated a “foreign agent” by the Russian authorities. “We consulted with lawyers and realized that it’s a big risk for us to continue to exist as an association”, the group…

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Wagner Boss Claims Control of Eastern Ukraine’s Soledar Amid Ongoing Battles

The leader of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group claimed the capture of the eastern Ukrainian town of Soledar early Wednesday, with heavy fighting ongoing in the salt-mining town near the city of Bakhmut. Ukraine denies Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin’s claim and it was impossible to independently verify either side’s claim. If confirmed, the capture of Soledar would…

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Russia’s December Fiscal Deficit at Record-High – Bloomberg

Russia’s monthly fiscal deficit reached a record 3.9 trillion rubles in December amid the EU-imposed ban on seaborne crude oil exports and the increasing operational cost of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to preliminary budget data analyzed by Bloomberg.  Finance Minister Anton Siluanov on Tuesday also confirmed that Russia’s total budget deficit in 2022 amounted to…

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Beijing Fears Russia Becoming ‘Minor Power’ Under ‘Crazy’ Putin – FT

Beijing is planning to reorient its foreign policy away from Moscow fearing a decline in Russia’s economic and political clout as a direct result of its disastrous invasion of Ukraine and Putin’s eventual downfall, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday, citing anonymous Chinese officials and regional experts.  Though Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping pledged…

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First Probe Opened Into Breach of Russia’s New ‘LGBT Propaganda’ Law

Russia’s Interior Ministry has opened its first investigation into a breach of the recently expanded law against so-called “LGBT propaganda,” State Duma Deputy Alexander Khinshteyn announced on his Telegram channel on Tuesday.   President Vladimir Putin signed a series of amendments to Russia’s existing anti-LGBT legislation into law in November, making any promotion of “non-traditional sexual…

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Russia Builds New Moscow Housing Complex for Foreign Diplomats, Press Corps

Moscow has constructed a housing complex for foreign diplomats and journalists, state media reported Monday, in a move reminiscent of the Soviet practice of assigning living and working quarters for expats. The project sprang up as Russia finds itself internationally isolated and under unprecedented Western sanctions for launching a full-scale invasion of neighboring Ukraine last year. …

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Armenia Says Won’t Host Russia-Led Military Drills This Year

Armenia will not host Russian-led military exercises this year, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said Tuesday, signaling growing frustration with Moscow. Pashinyan’s announcement came after the leader of the ex-Soviet republic criticized Moscow and the work of Russian peacekeepers in the South Caucasus, which has been plagued for decades by fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Speaking…

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‘Heavy, Bloody Battles’ in Ukraine’s Soledar – Wagner Boss

Russian mercenary group Wagner said on Tuesday it was fighting “heavy, bloody battles” for control of the town of Soledar as part of Russia’s months-long offensive to capture Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region. “On the western outskirts of Soledar there are heavy bloody battles. The Armed Forces of Ukraine are honorably defending the territory of Soledar,” Wagner…

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Russia’s Dozhd TV Receives Dutch Broadcast License After Latvia Row

Dutch authorities have granted a broadcasting license to exiled Russian news channel Dozhd following Latvia’s decision to revoke its permit over disputed coverage of the Ukraine war. A short statement on the Dutch Media Authority’s website published Dec. 22 said it “grants permission to TVR Studios B.V. as a commercial media institution.” The license allows the Dutch-registered limited…

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St. Petersburg Politician Charged Over Bucha Massacre Claims

A member of St. Petersburg’s legislative assembly, Boris Vishnevsky, has been charged with “discrediting the Russian army,” the local newspaper Zaks.ru reported Monday.  Prosecutors charged prominent opposition deputy Boris Vishnevsky and former deputy Maxim Reznik with spreading “material about the city of Bucha” and information on the “large number of civilians killed,” the court told…

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‘Putsch Into Nowhere’: Russian Officials Slam Brazil Riots, Back Lula

Supporters of Brazil’s right-wing ex-president Jair Bolsonaro stormed government buildings in Brasilia on Sunday, one week after the inauguration of leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Russian officials offered support for Lula, who now presides over the country that like Russia is a member of the club of BRICS emerging economies: — Konstantin Kosachev, chairman…

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Russia Threatens War Movie Star With Criminal Case Over Ukraine Criticism

An exiled Russian war movie star faces criminal charges over his criticism of Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, authorities announced Monday. Actor Artur Smolyaninov “made a series of statements against Russia in an interview to a Western publication,” Russia’s Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said in a short statement. It did not identify the…

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Russia’s Ruling Party Uses AI to Purge Anti-War Voters – Reports

Russia’s ruling party is purging its ranks of opponents to the war in Ukraine with AI and algorithms that track voters’ social media activity, the Vedomosti business daily reported Monday, citing unnamed sources within the pro-Kremlin party. The tools scour two popular Russian social networks, VKontakte and Odnoklassniki, for “politically significant actions” that include likes and…

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