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17.02.20 In Moscow - A Prayer For China To Overcome Coronavirus Epidemic
Reuters
At a humble service at a Moscow Russian Orthodox church on Sunday morning, Father Igor led a prayer to help China prevail against the coronavirus epidemic. “It’s about helping our brothers from China who are suffering from this scary misfortune, this destructive plague,” Father Igor said. “We perform this prayer and ask God for mercy toward China and its people.” According to the latest figures, there have been 68,500 cases of the illness and 1,665 deaths in mainland China. Elsewhere there have been about 500 cases in some two dozen countries and territories, with four deaths - in Japan, Chinese-ruled Hong Kong, the Philippines and France. Read more 
17.02.20 Russian Activist's Girlfriend Held Over Macron Ally Sex Video
BBC News
French police have arrested a woman in connection with the release of a sex video that brought down a political ally of President Emmanuel Macron. Alexandra de Taddeo is the girlfriend of activist Petr Pavlensky. Both were detained on Saturday but police did not initially reveal her arrest.
She was arrested on charges of invasion of privacy and distributing personal images without consent, officials said. The video scuppered Benjamin Griveaux's candidacy for mayor of Paris. Read more 
17.02.20 Russian Artist Who Published Paris Mayor Candidate Kompromat Arrested
Reuters
A Russian dissident artist who published screenshots of sexual images that forced President Emmanuel Macron's candidate for Paris City Hall to pull out of the race was arrested in the French capital on Saturday, the prosecutor's office said. Benjamin Griveaux, one of Macron's closest lieutenants, abandoned his bid to become mayor of Paris on Friday after it was alleged he sent sexual images of his genitals to a woman who is not his wife. Griveaux has not disputed that he sent the messages. Read more 
17.02.20 Russia's New Arctic Project Will Be Biggest In Global Oil
The Barents Observer
Two close companions with decades-long cooperation sat down for a talk in the Kremlin on Tuesday and it was the Arctic that was at the top of their agenda. Igor Sechin has worked with Vladimir Putin since the 1990s and is considered among the most powerful and influential men in the country. This time, it was the Vostok Oil project that was the key issue of discussion. Read more 
17.02.20 Azeri Police Detain Opposition Leaders, Block Protest Against Election Result
Reuters
Police in Azerbaijan detained three opposition party leaders and more than 100 activists on Sunday before they were due to take part in a protest against the results of last week’s national election, which have been questioned by international observers. According to the Central Election Commission (CEC), the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan (New Azerbaijan) party won 72 out of 125 seats in the single-chamber parliament last Sunday, with nearly all other seats going to small parties and independents loyal to President Ilham Aliyev. Read more 
16.02.20 Macron Defends Closer Dialogue With Russia, Sees No Alternative
Reuters
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday that Europe’s policy of defiance towards Russia in recent years had failed and, as nobody wanted to confront Moscow directly, the only option was to have a closer dialogue to resolve differences. “I hear the defiance of all our partners, I’m not mad, but I know that being defiant and weak ... it is not a policy, it’s a completely inefficient system,” Macron told the Munich Security Conference, adding that he saw none of his allies willing to confront Russia. Read more 
16.02.20 'I'm Presented As A Criminal': The Banker Forced To Flee Russia
The Guardian
In 2017 Dmitry Ananiev was at the peak of his success. He and his brother Alexei owned a bank, an IT firm and an office complex overlooking the Moscow River. There was a Russian art collection (Alexei’s), a private plane and – of course – a yacht. Forbes put Ananiev’s fortune at $1.4bn. For seven years he served as a senator in Russia’s upper chamber. Three years on, Ananiev’s circumstances have changed dramatically. In late 2017 the authorities seized his bank, Promsvyazbank, alleging holes in its balance sheet. Russian prosecutors accuse him of fraud and money-laundering. A court in London has frozen his assets. Angry Russian investors say he ripped them off and misrepresented the bank’s financial health. Read more 
16.02.20 Lavrov: Russia And Turkey Are Close But Will Disagree
Reuters
Russia has good ties with Turkey but will sometimes disagree, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday. “We have very good relations with Turkey, that does not mean we have to agree on everything. Full agreement on all issues cannot be possible between any two countries,” Lavrov told the Munich Security Council. Turkey is purchasing a Russian S-400 missile defense system in defiance of its NATO allies but the two countries support opposing sides in Libya. The fighting in northwestern Syria has led to testy exchanges between Russia, which supports an offensive by Syrian troops, and Turkey which has deployed its own soldiers to support insurgents trying to halt the advance. Read more 
16.02.20 Russian Artist Unveils Putin 'superhero' Paintings In Istanbul
Reuters
A Russian artist unveiled four giant paintings of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in central Istanbul on Saturday, saying he wanted to show the good ties between Ankara and Moscow despite differences over Syria and other issues. However shortly after Alexander Donskoy unveiled his “Putin is Russia?” project in Istiklal Street, authorities took down his paintings because he had not received permission to display them there. Read more 
15.02.20 U.S. Says Billionaire Deripaska Laundered Putin’s Cash
The Moscow Times
The United States believes that sanctioned Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska laundered money for President Vladimir Putin, The Financial Times reported Friday, citing a U.S. Treasury letter to Deripaska’s lawyers explaining the sanctions. The Trump administration imposed sanctions on Deripaska and two dozen other tycoons and officials in April 2018 in retaliation for what it called Russia’s “malign activity around the globe.” Deripaska sued the United States in 2019, asking OFAC, the Treasury Department’s office overseeing sanctions, to provide evidence of him profiting off his ties to Putin. Read more 
15.02.20 Leaders Of Ukraine, Russia Discuss Release Of Prisoners
Reuters
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone about the release of Ukrainian citizens detained in Russia, eastern Ukraine and Crimea, Zelenskiy’s office said in a statement on Friday. They also discussed preparations for the next meeting of the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France in the so-called ‘Normandy’ format. Read more 
15.02.20 Large Earthquake Strikes Off Coast Of Russia And Japan
The Independent
A powerful earthquake has struck off the coast of Russia and Japan. The magnitude 6.9 quake hit offshore 99 kilometres (62 miles) southeast of Russia‘s Kuril Islands, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said on Thursday. It also struck off the coast of Japan’s northern main island of Hokkaido, according to Japan’s meteorological agency. Read more 
15.02.20 Russia Hints At Belarus Joining It In A Unified State In Exchange For Oil Deal
Reuters
Moscow has hinted at giving Minsk a deal on energy prices in exchange for Belarus joining Russia in a unified state, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Friday, the state news agency Belta reported. Russia and Belarus have been discussing possible deeper integration in a union state for around two decades, but have failed to agree on key points, including a united currency. Read more 
15.02.20 Jehovah’s Witness: Russian Police Used Torture In Siberian Crackdown
The Moscow Times
A Jehovah's Witness from the Siberian city of Chita has claimed he was tortured by local police on Monday during a mass crackdown on believers in the region, Russian investigative news site The Insider reported Friday. Lawyer Artur Ganin told the outlet his client Vadim Kutsenko was taken to a local forest by police, where they beat his face and neck, suffocated him and used a taser on him to force him to admit to practicing the religion. Read more 
15.02.20 Why Being Gay In Russia Is About 'love And Passion'
BBC News
Jon and Alex, a gay couple from Russia, share an intimate moment at a small apartment in St Petersburg. This secret glimpse into their private lives was captured by Danish photographer Mads Nissen and received the prestigious World Press Photo Award in 2015. But while people across the globe were admiring Nissen's work, life for Jon and Alex was only getting more difficult Read more 
14.02.20 Putin Rules Out Russia Legalizing Gay Marriage
Reuters
President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday Russia would not legalize gay marriage as long as he was in the Kremlin. He made clear he would not allow the traditional notion of mother and father to be subverted by what he called “parent number 1” and “parent number 2”. “As far as ‘parent number 1’ and ‘parent number 2’ goes, I’ve already spoken publicly about this and I’ll repeat it again: as long as I’m president this will not happen. There will be dad and mum,” Putin said. Read more 
14.02.20 Russian Scientist Sentenced To 7.5 Years For Treason
The Moscow Times
A court in southern Russia has sentenced a scientist to seven and a half years in prison for treason, the state-run TASS news agency reported Thursday. Alexei Temirev, a Doctor of Technical Sciences from the city of Novocherkassk, was detained in July 2018 and his case files were classified. Investigators accused him of sending state secrets to authorities in Vietnam, the RBC news website cited his lawyer Anna Polozova as saying. Read more 
14.02.20 Twitter, Facebook Fined For Not Moving User Data To Russia
The Associated Press
A court in Moscow fined Twitter and Facebook 4 million rubles each Thursday for refusing to store the personal data of Russian citizens on servers in Russia, the largest penalties imposed on Western technology companies under internet use laws. The fines of nearly $63,000 are the first five-figure fines levied on tech companies since Russia adopted a flurry of legislation starting in 2012 designed to tighten the government’s grip on online activity. Read more 
14.02.20 Putin Keeps Stalin’s Crimes Under Wraps In WWII Battle With West
Bloomberg
As Russia prepares to mark the 75th anniversary of the World War II victory, President Vladimir Putin is stepping up his defense of Josef Stalin and digging in against calls to open up secret archives on the Soviet state’s killing of millions of its own citizens. People in places such as Butovo where more than 20,000 victims lie in a mass grave in a former Czarist-era estate about 32 kilometers outside Moscow. Some were gassed to death in the back of trucks that transported them in their underwear to the killing grounds during Stalin’s “Great Terror” of 1937-38. Read more 
14.02.20 Russia Alarmed By U.S. Air Force Visit To Norwegian Island
Reuters
ussia said on Thursday it was alarmed by a trip to a Norwegian outpost in the Arctic by a U.S. Air Force unit and urged Oslo to refrain from what it said were de-stabilizing moves in the strategic region. A squadron of U.S. Air Force staff visited Norway’s air base on the island of Jan Mayen in the North Atlantic in November to test the airfield and to see whether U.S. C-130J Super Hercules military transport planes can land there. Read more 
14.02.20 Russia Says It Prevented ‘Escalation’ Of U.S.-Syria Clash
The Moscow Times
Russian forces have mediated an armed conflict between pro-regime and U.S. troops in northeastern Syria, the Russian military said Wednesday following a deadly incident. U.S. soldiers killed one person in Syria’s Hasakah region after their vehicles were stopped at a checkpoint, according to Syrian and Turkish media. The shooting was reportedly followed by U.S. airstrikes on a village in rural Qamishli near the Turkish border. Read more 
14.02.20 Russia Coronavirus: Woman Who Fled Hospital Defies Police
BBC News
A Russian woman who was put into a coronavirus quarantine but escaped is resisting attempts by officials to bring her back to hospital by force. Alla Ilyina, 32, is currently in her flat in the city of St Petersburg, refusing to open the door to police. Ms Ilyina, who returned from China last month, says she tested negative for the virus on 6 February but was told to remain quarantined for two weeks. Frustrated, she disabled an electronic lock at the hospital and fled. Read more 
14.02.20 Private Shareholders Exercise Option To Buy State's 30.5% Stake In Moscow Airport
Reuters
Private shareholders in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport have exercised a call option to buy the Russian state’s 30.5% stake in the airport, a representative of the Sheremetyevo Holding company told Reuters on Thursday. Sheremetyevo, Russia’s largest airport and main international transit hub, had traffic of 49.9 million people in 2019, an 8.9% increase on the previous year, and is the base of national carrier Aeroflot. Read more 
13.02.20 Russia Discharges Second Chinese Man To Recover From Coronavirus
Reuters
Russia discharged a Chinese national from hospital in the Siberian city of Chita on Wednesday after he recovered from a coronavirus infection, local authorities said. He was the second of Russia’s two confirmed cases of coronavirus to recover. The other victim, also a Chinese national, was said by authorities on Tuesday to have recovered and been released from quarantine in Siberia’s Tyumen region. Read more 
13.02.20 Russian Former Prison Official Kills Himself In Court
BBC News
A former Russian prison service official has killed himself in court after he was sentenced to three years in jail, Russian media report. Viktor Sviridov was at one time the head of the federal prison service's motor transport department. He was convicted of extorting 10m roubles (£121,000; $155,000) from the service's former deputy director. Moments after the judge ordered he be taken into custody, Sviridov shot himself in the head. Read more 
13.02.20 Russia Puts Jailed Baring Vostok Executives Under House Arrest
Reuters
A Russian court on Wednesday released three men who were taken into custody last year in an embezzlement case against the Baring Vostok private equity group, placing them under house arrest instead, the RIA news agency reported. The men, including two Baring Vostok executives, were detained a year ago along with their colleagues, U.S. investor Michael Calvey and French national Philippe Delpal. All five deny wrongdoing and say the charges against them are being used to pressure them in a business dispute over control of mid-sized bank Vostochny. Read more 
13.02.20 Russia: Turkish Army Is Aggravating Situation In Syria's Idlib
Reuters
Russia said on Wednesday that the presence of Turkish troops and armor in Syria’s Idlib region was making the situation there much worse as was the transport of weapons and ammunition across the Syrian-Turkish border. Russia’s Defense Ministry made the complaint in a statement after President Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey’s military would strike Russian-backed Syrian forces by air or ground anywhere in Syria if another Turkish soldier was hurt as the Assad government tried to regain control of Idlib province. Read more 
13.02.20 Russians Escape Coronavirus Quarantine ‘Cages’
The Moscow Times
After two days of solitary confinement, freedom tasted sweet to Alla Ilyina. The 32-year old housewife had been quarantined in St. Petersburg’s Botkinskaya clinic since she went for a check-up after returning from China’s Hainan seaside resort with a sore throat. She tested negative for the coronavirus three times, and decided to take matters into her own hands when doctors insisted she had to stay. Read more 
13.02.20 Prague To Risk Russian Wrath By Naming Square After Boris Nemtsov
The Guardian
Prague councillors are to risk the wrath of the Kremlin by renaming a square in front of the Russian embassy after the murdered opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, a vociferous foe of Vladimir Putin. The Czech capital’s municipal leaders are preparing to honour Nemtsov in a ceremony provisionally scheduled for 27 February, the fifth anniversary of his death, in the currently named Pod Kaštany Náměstí (Under the Chestnuts Square) in the affluent Bubeneč neighbourhood. His daughter Zhanna is expected to attend. Read more 
12.02.20 Russia Eyes Making Former Presidents Senators For Life
Reuters
Russian presidents could be made senators for life when they leave office under a proposed reform, a senior lawmaker said on Tuesday, a status that would give them immunity from prosecution. The initiative, drawn up by a government commission, follows sweeping changes to Russia's political system proposed last month by President Vladimir Putin. Read more 
12.02.20 Coronavirus Prankster Faces Five-years' Jail For Moscow Metro Stunt
BBC News
Police in Moscow have arrested a man suspected of imitating a coronavirus victim and collapsing on a metro train as a prank, officials say. In footage posted online, passengers are seen trying to assist a man in a mask as he stumbles and falls to the floor of a busy train carriage. They then rush away when he appears to suffer serious convulsions. The suspect was detained on suspicion of criminal hooliganism and faces up to five years in prison if convicted. Read more 
12.02.20 Putin Meets 'energy Tsar' Sechin As Russia Considers OPEC+ Proposal
Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin met Igor Sechin, his “energy tsar”, on Tuesday, the Kremlin said, but it gave no indication on whether Moscow is willing to accept an OPEC+ proposal to further curb oil production. Energy Minister Alexander Novak said that Russia was still studying proposed deeper oil output cuts by OPEC and non-OPEC nations, known as OPEC+, floated as oil prices were hit by concerns about demand following the coronavirus outbreak in China. Read more 
12.02.20 Russian Couple Tried For Treason Over ‘Photobombing’ Secret Agent
The Moscow Times
A couple from Russia’s western exclave of Kaliningrad is on trial for treason over the appearance of a secret agent in their wedding photographs, the Kommersant business daily reported Tuesday. Baltic affairs expert Antonina Zimina and her husband Konstantin Antonets were arrested in 2018 on suspicion of sharing secret information with neighboring Latvia’s intelligence agencies, according to Kommersant. Authorities concluded the investigation in late 2019 and formally indicted Zimina and Antonets, Russian news agencies reported Monday. Read more 
12.02.20 Senior Appointments In Moscow And Kiev Point To Tentative Thaw
Reuters
New senior appointments in Moscow and Kiev on Tuesday pointed towards a tentative thaw in ties, after the Ukrainian president's new chief of staff offered guarded praise for the man put in charge of the Ukraine file in the Kremlin. While there was no indication whether the timing of the announcements was intentional, the simultaneous appointments in the two capitals were seen in both countries as signs of a new approach to a conflict that has killed over 13,000 people. Read more 
12.02.20 Driver With 2,000 Traffic Violations Arrested In Moscow
BBC News
Traffic police in Moscow were in for a surprise when they stopped an expensive car in the Russian capital's most exclusive suburb of Rublyovka. It turned out that the driver's licence had expired, but it was only one of the 2,000-plus violations he had committed. The driver was reluctant to leave his car as the officers required, and they had to break a window to get him out - as can be seen in a video the Interior Ministry posted online. Read more 
12.02.20 Kremlin To Turkey: Help Stop Attacks On Syrian And Russian Forces In Idlib
Reuters
The Kremlin said on Tuesday that all attacks on Russian and Syrian government forces in Syria's Idlib province should stop and that agreements it had struck with Turkey on the conflict had to be upheld. Moscow made its comments, which underscore rising tensions over Syria between Russia and Turkey, after Syrian government forces took control of a highway in northwest Syria for the first time since 2012. Turkey and Russia this week held talks in Ankara aimed at trying to dial down confrontations between Ankara and Damascus that have killed 13 Turkish soldiers in Idlib province in the past week. Read more 
12.02.20 The Harrowing Testimonies Of Jailed Russian Anti-Fascists, In Quotes
The Moscow Times
On Monday, seven members of a Russian anti-fascist activist group were jailed for up to 18 years on terrorism charges in a case that observers have compared to a Soviet-era show trial. The members of the group Set — Russian for “Network” — were detained in the city of Penza in 2017. Investigators claimed they were planning attacks during the 2018 presidential election and the football World Cup, and Russia later added Set to its list of banned terrorist groups. Read more 
11.02.20 Russia Extends House Arrest Of U.S. Investor Calvey Until May 13
Reuters
A Moscow court decided on Monday to extend until May 13 the house arrest of U.S. investor Michael Calvey, an executive at private equity group Baring Vostok who faces charges of embezzlement, an official at the firm said. Calvey and other executives at the group were detained in February 2019. They have denied wrongdoing and said the charges against them are being used to pressure them in a business dispute over control of Vostochny Bank. Read more 
11.02.20 Russian Anti-Fascists Jailed On Terror Charges Despite Outcry
The Moscow Times
A court in central Russia has jailed members of an anti-fascist activist group for up to 18 years on terrorism charges, the Mediazona news website reported Monday. Seven members of the group Set — Russian for “Network” — were detained in the city of Penza along with four other members in St. Petersburg in 2017. Investigators claim that they planned attacks during the 2018 presidential election and the football World Cup, while rights groups say that the case is “fabricated” and based on testimonies obtained through torture. Read more 
11.02.20 Russia Quarantines Chinese Diplomat As Coronavirus Precaution
Reuters
Russian authorities have quarantined a Chinese diplomat as a safety precaution against the coronavirus outbreak, the Interfax news agency reported on Monday. Consul General Cui Shaochun arrived in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg on Thursday to take up his new post but was told to stay at home for two weeks, Russian foreign ministry official Alexander Kharlov was quoted as saying. The Chinese consulate in Yekaterinburg did not answer calls on Monday. Read more 
11.02.20 Journalist Wants Russians ‘to Believe In Possibility Of Change’
The Christian Science Monitor
Ivan Golunov spent the bulk of his career toiling in obscurity. But now, people often stop him in the street to ask him how he’s holding up, or to engage him on politics. This kind of face recognition is all new for the 30-something investigative journalist, who has worked mostly for critical news outlets on the opposition-leaning fringes of Russia’s media spectrum. But he exploded into the public eye when he was arrested and clumsily framed by Moscow narcotics police last June – and inadvertently created a teachable moment for politically aware Russians and his fellow journalists. Read more 
11.02.20 Moscow Metro Coronavirus Prankster Faces Prison Time
The Moscow Times
Police in Moscow have detained a prankster over a video showing imitated coronavirus seizures on a crowded metro car, authorities told Interfax on Monday. A video attributed to blogger “Kara.prank” depicted a passenger in a face mask collapsing and convulsing as fellow passengers scrambled out of the wagon at the next stop. The video disappeared from the user’s social media accounts by Monday. Read more 
11.02.20 Russia Quarantines Top Chinese Consul As Coronavirus Precaution
Reuters
Russian authorities have quarantined a top Chinese diplomat as a safety precaution against coronavirus shortly after he arrived in Russia to take up his new post, the Interfax news agency reported on Monday. Consul General Cui Shaochun arrived in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg on Thursday to start his new job, but instead of having scheduled meetings he was told to stay at home for two weeks, Russian foreign ministry official Alexander Kharlov was quoted as saying. Read more 
11.02.20 Russia Jails Members Of 'non-existent' Terror Group Set
BBC News
Seven Russian anarchists and anti-fascist activists have been handed lengthy jail terms on terror charges. A court in the city of Penza sentenced the men - said to be part of a group known as Set, meaning Network - to between six and 18 years in penal colonies. Russian authorities say they were plotting to overthrow the government. But rights groups and lawyers say the charges were fabricated, and the men were tortured into confessing. Read more 
11.02.20 Russia Proposes Banning Foreign IT For Critical Infrastructure
Reuters
A Russian government agency has proposed banning the use of foreign information technology for critical national infrastructure, a draft government order shows, as Moscow moves to step up its control over the internet within its borders. The Federal Service for Technical and Export Control (FSTEC) has proposed increasing the technological sovereignty of critical infrastructure, systems and networks that are crucial to the functioning of the economy, the document said. Read more 
11.02.20 Putin’s Power Play May Hinge On New Premier’s Economic Revival
Bloomberg
If Vladimir Putin plans to keep power in Russia beyond 2024, he must solve a more immediate problem. How can he keep his iron grip on parliament at elections next year when the ruling party is so unpopular? United Russia is near a historic low in opinion polls after five years of economic stagnation. The Kremlin faces the task of retaining the party’s constitutional super-majority in the lower house of parliament without resorting to the sort of tactics that ignited protests in the past against alleged mass fraud. Read more 
11.02.20 Ukraine Minister Sees No Preparations For New Russia Talks, Has Low Expectations
Reuters
Ukraine’s foreign minister said on Monday he saw no preparations taking place for a promised summit over the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, adding that he had little hope it would make any progress even if it goes ahead. The leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany met in Paris in December to discuss the long-running Ukraine crisis and agreed to get together again within four months to keep the dialogue open. “I am confident that when leaders say they will meet in April then they will ... what I don’t see though is the preparation,” Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko told reporters during a visit to Italy. Read more 
11.02.20 Russia Scraps Criticized Restrictions On Scientists’ Foreign Contacts
The Moscow Times
Russia has scrapped highly criticized restrictions on its scientists a year after issuing them, the Education and Science Ministry's newly appointed chief was quoted as saying Monday. The February 2019 order that was made public months later had advised government-affiliated scientists to seek formal approval before meeting foreign colleagues and to bring companions to such meetings. The Education and Science Ministry had said the rules should be seen as recommendations, while the Kremlin said that it was concerned about foreign espionage. Read more 
10.02.20 Boeing Plane Makes Hard Landing In Northwest Russia, No Injuries
Reuters
A Boeing 737 airliner with 94 people on board made a hard landing in northwestern Russia on Sunday, carrier UTair said, but no one was badly hurt. It said the airliner, arriving at Usinsk airport in the Komi Republic about 1,500 kilometers from Moscow, made the hard landing because of wind shear — a sudden change of wind velocity and/or direction. Read more 
10.02.20 Russian Pro-Putin Leader Praises ‘brave’ Trump And Offers To Fly Entire Political Party To Mar-a-Lago
The Independent
The leader of a nationalist party in Russia has offered to fly his members out to Donald Trump’s private Florida residence in order to celebrate the US president’s impeachment “victory”. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, head of the pro-Putin Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), made the offer in a Saturday morning tweet in which he also offered his congratulations to Mr Trump, whom he described as “brave” and the “strongest” president in US history. Read more 
10.02.20 Azeris Head To Polls As President Moves To Modernize Parliament
Reuters
Azeris voted in a snap parliamentary election on Sunday seen as the next step by President Ilham Aliyev to consolidate power and speed economic reforms by replacing the old guard associated with his father with younger legislators. Aliyev, who has been in power for 17 years, called the election in December, nine months before it was formally due. Officials from his ruling Yeni Azerbaijan party said the move was “to support the president’s policy on reforms and personnel changes”. Read more 
10.02.20 He Combs The Web For Russian Bots. That Makes Him A Target.
The New York Times
In August 2017, Ben Nimmo was declared dead by 13,000 Russian bots on Twitter. “Our beloved friend and colleague Ben Nimmo passed away this morning,” read the epitaph, which was manipulated to look as if it were from a co-worker’s Twitter account. “Ben, we will never forget you.” The message was immediately shared thousands of times by the network of automated accounts. Notes began pouring in from worried friends and colleagues — even though Mr. Nimmo was very much alive. Read more 
10.02.20 Azerbaijan Likely To Support Deeper OPEC+ Oil Output Cuts
Reuters
Azerbaijan is likely to support further oil output cuts by OPEC and its allies, the ex-Soviet country’s energy minister said, should the move be necessary to balance demand fears after a coronavirus outbreak in China. A technical panel that advises the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies led by Russia, the group known as OPEC+, proposed this week a provisional cut of around 600,000 barrels per day (bpd). Read more 
09.02.20 Mexico In Talks With Russia To Buy New Batch Of Military Helicopters
Reuters
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday said Mexico was in talks to buy a batch of Russian-made military helicopters. Mexico has long-standing military ties with Russia and the Mexican armed forces use an extensive fleet of Russian-made helicopters. Lavrov, on a visit to Mexico, said a new supply agreement with Russia’s Rosoboronexport arms exporter could follow an earlier purchase of about 50 Russian helicopters. Read more 
09.02.20 Russia Repatriates 26 Children From Syrian Refugee Camp
The Associated Press
Russia has repatriated 26 Russian children from Syria and plans to take dozens more home in the future, a Kremlin official said Friday. Presidential children’s rights ombudswoman Anna Kuznetsova visited Syria to organize the effort and met with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s wife, Asma, in Damascus. Kuznetsova said Friday the children aged between 2 and 15 were taken from the al-Hawl refugee camp in northeastern Syria near the border with Iraq. A further nine children from the same camp will be flown to Russia shortly after the necessary formalities are completed, she added. Read more 
09.02.20 Russian Sisters Reunite 78 Years After Wartime Separation
The Guardian
Two Russian sisters have been reunited 78 years after being separated during the second world war, thanks to a television show and a police search. In footage of their meeting late last month provided by the interior ministry, Yulia and Rozalina Kharitonova, now 92 and 94, hugged and kissed as their family members watched in tears. “I was searching for her, I was always searching for her,” said Rozalina, holding her sister’s hand. Read more 
09.02.20 Luring Russians To Avant-Garde Art
The Moscow Times
Zelfira Tregulova, the director of the Tretyakov gallery, vividly recalls the first time she saw Kazimir Malevich’s iconic 1915 painting "Black Square." "It was in 1974, I remember the shock.” As an art history student at Moscow State University, she first encountered the painting in the Tretyakov Gallery, albeit not hanging in the airy exhibition halls, but locked away in the dark storage vaults. The painting was unlike anything she’d ever seen. “I couldn’t have imagined that such things existed, that art could be like that.” Read more 
09.02.20 Ukraine's Teen Bullying Drama That Shattered Taboos And Stirred A Nation
BBC News
It has become a TV hit, a drama that has shattered taboos and given Ukraine's teenagers the courage to open up about their lives. Early Swallows tells stories about teenagers struggling with bullying and online harassment; they question their sexual identity and even consider taking their own lives. Issues like these are rarely dealt with in Ukraine in public. Six million viewers watch the show on TV and millions more have seen it online. Read more 
08.02.20 Russia Foreign Minister Slams U.S. Sanctions During Visit To Venezuela
Reuters
Russia’s foreign minister on Friday slammed U.S. sanctions against Venezuela during a visit to Caracas, providing a public show of support for President Nicolas Maduro as Washington mulls ramping up pressure on the South American nation. Sergei Lavrov arrived in Caracas on Thursday, only hours after the U.S. State Department suggested its Venezuela sanctions program could begin targeting Russia, whose oil companies have helped Maduro by buying much of the OPEC nation’s crude. Read more 
08.02.20 Prominent Russian Journalist, Lawyer Attacked In Chechnya
The Moscow Times
A group of men and women attacked an investigative journalist and a human rights lawyer in Russia’s republic of Chechnya overnight, the independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper which employs the journalist said Friday. Yelena Milashina and lawyer Marina Dubrovina arrived in the Chechen capital of Grozny to attend the trial of a disabled blogger who was jailed after publishing a video of the alleged estate of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s family. Milashina had broken the story of alleged gay purges in the conservative, predominantly Muslim region in 2017. Read more 
08.02.20 Russia To Boost Venezuela Ties Amid US Pressure
BBC News
Russia has pledged to boost military and economic co-operation with Venezuela to help the South American nation deal with growing US pressure. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's comments came after his meeting with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas. Mr Lavrov said any attempts to remove Mr Maduro's government by force were unacceptable. The US accuses Mr Maduro of leading a corrupt and brutal regime. Read more 
08.02.20 Russia May Reveal Stance On Oil Output Cuts Next Week
Reuters
Russia needs a few more days to assess proposals for deeper oil output cuts and could formulate a response possibly next week, Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday. “I can’t tell you about my position right now, maybe we will say it next week,” Novak said in response to a question about Russia’s stance. “Russia needs a few days for market analysis,” Novak said. A technical panel that advises the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies led by Russia on Thursday proposed a provisional cut of 600,000 barrels per day (bpd), three sources told Reuters. Read more 
08.02.20 Russian Jury Acquits Gay Man’s Murder Suspect
The Moscow Times
A Moscow jury has acquitted a man accused of killing a gay man last year, the LGBT rights group Stimul reported Thursday. Security cameras captured 40-year-old Roman Yedalov’s stabbing death near central Moscow’s Kursky train station in June 2019. His boyfriend Yevgeny Yefimov, who survived the attack, recounted that the suspect had shouted homophobic slurs. Read more 
08.02.20 Russian Reporter Milashina, Who Exposed Chechen Gay Purge, Attacked In Grozny
BBC News
A well-known Russian journalist and a lawyer have described being beaten up by a gang in a hotel in the Chechen capital, Grozny. Yelena Milashina, who exposed the kidnap and torture of gay Chechen men, was in Grozny with Marina Dubrovina for the trial of a local blogger. She said the pair were set upon by a gang of men and women in the lobby of the Kontinent hotel. Police were investigating the incident, the local human rights council said. Read more 
08.02.20 Russia Finalizes ‘Revolutionary’ Dual Citizenship Bill
The Moscow Times
Russian lawmakers expect to vote on legislation that would allow dual Russian citizenship for foreigners as soon as this month, the Kommersant business daily reported Friday. Under current Russian law, foreigners wishing to become Russian citizens must first renounce their other citizenships. Authors of the bill expect the new amendments relaxing these rules to help attract between 5 million and 10 million new Russian citizens, primarily from Russian-speaking populations in post-Soviet states. Read more 
08.02.20 Russia, Belarus To Continue Oil Talks After Fruitless Summit
Reuters
Russia and Belarus will continue talks on oil supplies, a senior Kremlin official said, after a meeting between their leaders on Friday failed to resolve a politically charged dispute. Russian oil flows to Belarus have dwindled to a trickle since Jan. 1 after the two countries failed to agree on supply terms for 2020. Oil exports via Belarus to Europe have so far been stable. Read more 
08.02.20 The Teenager Who Drew Billie Eilish For Vogue
BBC News
A portrait of Billie Eilish drawn by an aspiring Russian teenage artist is featured on one of four covers of the March edition of digital Vogue. Anastasia Kovtun, a 16-year old from a small town in the Urals, some 900 miles east of Moscow, was overwhelmed when the magazine contacted her to tell her that the singer herself picked out one of her drawings. Read more 
07.02.20 Russia Says Alarmed By U.S. Deployment Of Low-yield Nuclear Missiles
Reuters
Russia is alarmed by the U.S. Navy’s decision to deploy low-yield nuclear missiles on submarines since they heighten the risk of a limited nuclear war, a Russian official said on Wednesday. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the deployment of the W76-2 warhead in the name of strengthening deterrence had caused Russia great concern over U.S. nuclear strategy, Russian news agencies reported. Read more 
07.02.20 Russia To Offer Free E-Visas To 53 Countries, Snubs U.S. And Britain
The Moscow Times
Citizens of 53 countries will be able to apply for free and simplified electronic visas to visit Russia starting next year, a senior official has said in an interview published Thursday. The 16-day e-visas will go into effect Jan. 1, 2021, for citizens of the European Union and different countries in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. Read more 
07.02.20 Russia's Novak Meets U.S. Envoy, Says Moscow Ready For Energy Cooperation
Reuters
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak met newly appointed U.S. ambassador to Russia John Sullivan on Thursday and told him that Moscow was ready to renew an energy dialogue, including conducting an analysis on oil and gas markets, the ministry said. It also said in a statement Novak told Sullivan that sanctions, imposed by Washington against Moscow, hinder “mutually beneficial” cooperation and cited them as an example of “unfair competition”. Read more 
07.02.20 Russian TV Runs Conspiracy Theory Blaming Trump For Coronavirus
The Moscow Times
A Russian state television show has run a conspiracy theory which blames the coronavirus outbreak on none other than U.S. President Donald Trump. During Wednesday evening’s edition of “Vremya” on Channel One, host Kirill Kleimenov recounted the theory that the highly contagious virus didn’t originate in a cave of Chinese bats, but was actually manufactured in an American laboratory on Trump’s orders. Read more 
07.02.20 Russia Says Coronavirus Vaccine Will Take 8-10 Months To Develop
Reuters
Russia said on Wednesday it will take between eight and 10 months to develop a vaccine against coronavirus, the Interfax news agency cited health minister Mikhail Murashko as saying. “Today the process of developing a vaccine is not a short period of time. A vaccine is being developed for at least eight to 10 months, this is just the initial stage without clinical trials,” said Murashko. Read more 
07.02.20 Russian Military Specialists Killed In Syria
The Moscow Times
Russian and Turkish "military specialists" were killed by militants who staged more than 1,000 attacks in the last two weeks of January in the de-escalation zone in Syria's Idlib province, Russia's Foreign Ministry said Thursday. Russia’s rare admission of casualties comes as the UN Security Council meets to discuss the violence in Idlib, the last major rebel stronghold in Syria’s nine-year war. A number of ceasefire efforts, including a Jan. 12 deal arranged by Turkey and Russia, have so far failed to stop the escalation in violence. Read more 
06.02.20 Moscow Outlines $231Bln Plan For Arctic Oil Development
The Barents Observer
A new $231 billion tax regime for the Russian Arctic is to provide for an unprecedented wave of investments in icy drilling. The new legislation was hammered through the government on Jan. 30. It will give national oil companies incentives for major investments in Arctic oil, the country’s new Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin says. "These laws will create favorable conditions for Arctic investments, the development of unique fields and consequently the accelerated development of the Northern Sea Route," the premier underlined as his cabinet approved the legislation. Read more 
06.02.20 Russia Voices Concern Over New US Nuclear Weapon
The Associated Press
A senior Russian diplomat raised concern Wednesday about the United States deploying a new submarine-launched nuclear weapon, saying the move signaled Washington’s belief that it could wage a limited nuclear conflict. The Pentagon’s top policy official told The Associated Press this week that a a nuclear warhead of reduced destructive power had been fitted onto a Trident II intercontinental ballistic missiles carried by nuclear submarines. Read more 
06.02.20 Italian Assets Linked To Putin Ally Frozen In U.S. Investor Feud
Bloomberg
An Italian court froze assets belonging to a Kremlin adviser’s sister as part of his ownership dispute over a Russian bank with Michael Calvey, a prominent American investor who’s awaiting trial in Moscow on embezzlement charges. A judge in the Tuscan city of Lucca ruled last month that Artem Avetisyan’s sale of real estate holding Immobiliare Roma S.r.l to his sister didn’t protect the asset from a potential seizure under a case in Cyprus, according to court documents. The judge rejected Avetisyan’s claim that he’s not a legal resident in Italy, giving the court jurisdiction. Read more 
06.02.20 At Moscow University, A Debate: Ban Politics Or Risk The Kremlin's Wrath?
The Christian Science Monitor
Russia’s second-largest and most progressive state-funded university is facing a dilemma. On one hand, the Higher School of Economics (HSE), which has openly modeled itself on Western university traditions, generally espouses freedom of speech, and its spacious, modern downtown Moscow campuses are a known bastion of liberal moods. But as Russia heads into a period of potential political turmoil with a constitutional shake-up in the works, anything that looks like destabilizing political activity could bring the wrath of officialdom down upon the school. Read more 
06.02.20 Will Russia Deliver The S-400 To Iran After Ukrainian Passenger Plane Downing?
The Moscow Times
Russia needs to decide whether or not to supply Tehran with air defense equipment in 2020. The decision became problematic at the start of the year after Iran mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane in the aftermath of the U.S. killing of top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani. Marginal politicians, including nationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, have called for fast agreements in the defense supply sphere, despite the UN arms embargo, which does not formally prohibit the implementation of contracts for defensive military equipment. Read more 
06.02.20 Russian Para-athlete's Delivery Job Prompts Criticism
BBC News
A Russian para-athlete who started working as a food delivery courier has unwittingly put state support for athletes with disabilities under the spotlight amid speculation that he is trying to raise money to participate in sporting events. Videos on social media showing Mikhail Astashov, who's been missing parts of his upper and lower limbs since birth, wearing a delivery service uniform, prompted a flurry of support and praise for the athlete, as well as criticism for state authorities. The food service, based in the city of Yekaterinburg said Mr Astashov was "very motivated to work". Read more 
05.02.20 Russia Accuses Norway Of Restricting Its Activities On Arctic Islands
Reuters
Russia on Tuesday accused Norway of restricting its activities on a remote chain of islands in the Arctic and said it wanted talks with Oslo to have the issue resolved. The archipelago of Svalbard, about 850 kilometers (500 miles) north of mainland Norway, is seen as a potential flashpoint between Moscow and the West as climate change has opened up the region and Russia has built up its military presence. Read more 
05.02.20 Chechen Dissident Killed In France Amid Series Of High-Profile Murders Abroad
The Moscow Times
A Chechen emigre and vocal critic of the southern Russian region’s ruler has been stabbed to death in the northern French city of Lille, Agence France-Presse reported Monday. Local media initially reported that the body of an as-yet-unidentified man with multiple stab wounds was discovered in a hotel room last Thursday. An unnamed source close to the murder investigation told AFP that the victim was Imran Aliyev, 44, who criticized Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov under the alias “Mansur Staryi” (Mansur the Elder) on his YouTube page. Read more 
05.02.20 Russia To Quarantine Citizens Evacuated From China's Wuhan
Reuters
Russia will set up a quarantine area in Siberia's Tyumen region for Russians being evacuated from the epicenter of China's coronavirus outbreak, Interfax cited Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova as saying Tuesday. She said that the Russians would be held in quarantine for 14 days, but that they are thought to be healthy. Read more 
05.02.20 The Abandoned Soviet-era Resort Refugees Call Home
BBC News
Georgia plans to spend millions turning an abandoned Soviet-era spa town into a tourist attraction. But Tskaltubo's decaying sanatoriums are also home to refugees from a past civil war, and their future is uncertain. Read more 
05.02.20 Russian Priests Should Stop Blessing Nukes
Reuters
Russian priests should refrain from the practice of blessing nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction that can inflict indiscriminate loss of life, according to new guidelines being discussed by the Russian Orthodox Church. During two decades in power, President Vladimir Putin has aligned himself with the Orthodox Church, which has also developed closer ties with the Defense Ministry. Read more 
05.02.20 Russia Sends Lavrov To Venezuela To 'counteract' U.S. Sanctions
Reuters
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will visit Venezuela on Friday in a show of support for President Nicolas Maduro, a socialist who Washington wants out of power. Russia has helped Maduro weather a political crisis as the United States has targeted Caracas with sanctions and, like dozens of other countries, recognizes opposition politician Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate interim leader. Read more 
04.02.20 Russia May Deport Foreigners With Coronavirus, Halts Trains To China
Reuters
Russia said on Monday it may deport foreigners who test positive for coronavirus as Russian military planes flew in to evacuate its citizens from the Chinese province at the epicenter of the outbreak which has killed 361 people. Russia, which has a 4,300km (2,670-mile) land border with China, reported its first two cases of the virus last week in the Siberian regions of Tyumen and Zabaykalsk. Both involved Chinese nationals. Read more 
04.02.20 Russia GDP Growth Almost Halves In 2019
The Moscow Times
The pace of growth in the Russian economy fell by almost half last year, fresh economic data released Monday has shown. Russia’s GDP grew by 1.3% in 2019, the Russian state statistics agency, Rosstat said. That compares with an official expansion rate of 2.5% recorded in 2018, and is the weakest annual growth since Russia emerged from economic crisis in 2016. Read more 
04.02.20 Turkey Informed Russia Of Developments In Syria's Idlib
Reuters
Turkey informed Russia of developments in Syria’s Idlib region, a spokesman for President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party said on Monday, denying Moscow’s assertion that it was not informed of movements before six Turkish troops were killed by Syrian shelling. Russia, which supports Syrian government forces, later said the Turkish personnel came under fire because it was not warned about Turkey’s operations in Idlib beforehand. Read more 
04.02.20 Ukraine MP's Advice To Sell Dog To Pay Bills Causes Outcry
BBC News
Pictures of dogs flooded Ukrainian social media after an MP advised a pensioner to sell her pet, so she could pay her utility bills. The shaggy dog story began on Friday when Lyubov Kolyucha, 66, called in to the 112 Ukrayina TV channel, to complain that her small pension of 2,000 Ukrainian hryvnias ($79; £61) was not enough to live on. But MP Yevgeniy Brahar's suggestion about how to raise the money led to jokes and memes, including one stating: "First they came for the dogs, and I did not speak out. Because I was not a dog." Read more 
04.02.20 Russia Postpones Annual Investment Forum Over Coronavirus Fears
Reuters
Russia is postponing an annual investment forum in the Black Sea city of Sochi that had been scheduled to take place next week due to coronavirus concerns, a government order said on Monday. The Russian Investment Forum, which is attended by a string of high-ranking officials and foreign investors, had been set to take place Feb. 12-14. The government order did not say when it will be held instead. Read more 
04.02.20 4 Russian Special Forces Officers Killed In Syria
The Moscow Times
At least four members of Russia’s special forces have been killed in Syria on Saturday, the investigative website Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), which monitors Russian military activity, has reported. Makeshift memorials said that the four FSB Special Operations Center officers were killed on the same day “while performing special tasks in the Syrian Arab Republic,” photographs of the memorials posted by the CIT on Sunday showed. Read more 
04.02.20 Yalta: World War Two Summit That Reshaped The World
BBC News
In February 1945, three men met in a holiday resort to decide the fate of the world. Nazi Germany was on its knees. Soviet troops were closing in on Berlin, while Allied forces had crossed Germany's western border. In the Pacific, US troops were steadily but bloodily advancing towards Japan. As their armies poised for victory, the so-called Big Three - US President Franklin Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin - agreed to meet in Yalta, a Soviet resort on the Black Sea. Read more 
04.02.20 Russian Firm Sues Over French Far-Right Leader’s $11M Loan
The Moscow Times
An obscure Russian company is suing the French far-right leader’s political party to recover an $11 million loan, the investigative website Open Media reported Monday, citing court documents. Marine Le Pen’s party took out 9.4 million euros ($10.8 million at the time) from the Moscow-based First Czech-Russian Bank in 2014. Two years later, the bank lost its license and the loan was sold to a little-known Russian company called Konti. Read more 
03.02.20 Russian Railways Suspends Passenger Trains To China
Reuters
State-run Russian Railways said on Sunday it would halt passenger trains to China from midnight until further notice due to the coronavirus epidemic. The Beijing-Moscow route is among the suspended trains. The operator said it would fully reimburse the fare for unused tickets bought in Russia. Read more 
03.02.20 Russian Mystery Of Drummer's Death In Siberia
BBC News
He was 25 and an aspiring drummer with an eye on a career with the band he formed with his college friends. Dmitry Fyodorov was also planning to marry his girlfriend in the Siberian city of Omsk. But last month, police broke the news to his family that he had been decapitated by an oncoming train because he had ignored a driver's warning signal to get off the tracks. His friends do not believe a word of it and say he would never have taken his own life. Read more 
03.02.20 Russian Oil Output Up To 11.28 Million Bpd In January, Highest Since August
Reuters
Russian oil and gas condensate output C-RU-OUT rose to 11.28 million barrels per day (bpd) in January, from 11.26 million bpd in December, Interfax news agency reported on Sunday, citing Energy Ministry’s data. This is in line with what sources told Reuters last week and the highest since it reached 11.29 million bpd in August. In tonnes, oil output rose to 47.72 million versus 47.63 million in December. Reuters uses a 7.33 conversion ratio in its calculations when converting tonnes to barrels. Read more 
03.02.20 Russia Questions Feasibility Of U.S. Peace Plan For Middle East
Reuters
A Middle East peace plan presented by U.S. President Donald Trump contravenes several United Nations resolutions, Russian news agencies cited a Kremlin spokesman as saying on Sunday, questioning the plan’s feasibility. The Palestinian Authority has cut all ties with the United States and Israel, including those relating to security, after rejecting the Middle East peace plan put forward by Trump. Read more 
02.02.20 Russia Suspends Visa-free Tourist Travel To And From China Over Virus
Reuters
Russia said on Saturday it was suspending visa-free travel for tourists to and from China to help contain the outbreak of a new coronavirus that emerged in China. A bilateral visa-free regime for tourist groups agreed on in 2000 will suspended from Feb. 2, a government decree said. Russia will also temporarily stop accepting and issuing documents for work visas to Chinese nationals. Read more 
02.02.20 Between Two Fires: How Putin Rules Russia
The Guardian
The last couple of years have produced a lot of books about Russia. Many, if not most of them, argue that Donald Trump’s election was a plot by Vladimir Putin, and feature a Russian stereotype or three on the jacket – St Basil’s Cathedral, a nesting doll, letters turned round – to make the connection between the two presidents visual. Many cover the same ground, blaming Trump on the Kremlin’s omnipotent and steely-eyed dictator, rather than on any deep currents in American society. This book is not like that. Read more 
02.02.20 Russian Armed Forces Aircraft To Evacuate Citizens From China
Reuters
Russia’s aerospace defence forces, part of the armed forces, will start evacuating Russian citizens on Saturday from China due to the coronavirus outbreak, news agencies reported, citing the Kremlin spokesman. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters the evacuation would take place in regions that had been most affected by the outbreak, Interfax and TASS news agencies reported. Russia joins other countries in evacuating their citizens from China, where the number of cases of the new virus is rising. Read more 
02.02.20 Pompeo Offers Belarus Oil In Rare Visit
BBC News
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has told Belarus that Washington can provide it with all the oil it needs. Belarus is currently in a row with main ally Russia about oil supplies. No US secretary of state has visited Belarus for more than 25 years, due to frosty relations with authoritarian ruler Alexander Lukashenko. Ties have improved in recent years, as relations between Belarus and Russia soured. But Mr Pompeo stopped short of lifting sanctions on top officials. The sanctions were imposed in 2006 amid concerns about the fairness of elections and rights violations. Read more 
02.02.20 Pompeo Visits Belarus As Minsk's Ties With Moscow Fray
Reuters
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Belarus on Saturday, seeking to “normalize” ties at a time when relations between Minsk and its traditional ally Russia are under strain. The United States and the European Union have been frequent critics of authoritarian rule and the human rights record in Belarus, where President Alexander Lukashenko has been in office since 1994. But Western powers have lifted most sanctions on Belarus since Lukashenko released political prisoners and showed more tolerance for political opposition. Read more 
01.02.20 Russia Reports First Coronavirus Cases
Reuters
Russia reported its first two cases of coronavirus on Friday and said the infected people were Chinese citizens who had been quarantined. The two cases were discovered in different parts of the country, one in Tyumen region in west Siberia, the other in Russia's Far East, Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova said. Read more 
01.02.20 Russia Reacts To First Cases
The Moscow Times
Russia reported its first two cases of coronavirus on Friday and said the infected people were Chinese citizens who had been isolated. As the new coronavirus that has killed more than 200 people in China continues to spread around the world, Russia has stepped up measures to tackle the health risk, including closing most entry points along its 4,200-kilometer border Friday. In a bid to contain the outbreak, Russia has closed its Far East border with China, banned Chinese tour groups from coming to Russia and stopped issuing e-visas to Chinese citizens. Demand for face masks in Russia has risen thirteenfold over the past week. Read more 
01.02.20 Russia's VTB Halts Business Trips To China, Other Asian Countries Over Virus
Reuters
Russian state lender VTB said on Friday it had temporarily suspended all business trips by its employees to China and several other Asian countries over fears of the coronavirus outbreak in China. Russia, which has no confirmed cases of the virus, but which has close ties with its neighbour, has imposed border restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus that has now claimed the lives of 213 people in China. Read more 
01.02.20 Russia Threatens Facebook, Twitter With $100K Fines
The Moscow Times
Russia’s communications watchdog said Friday it has launched fresh proceedings against Facebook and Twitter over their failure to comply with local data laws. The social media giants “have not provided information on the localization of Russian users’ database inside Russian servers on time,” the watchdog, Roskomnadzor, said. Roskomnadzor had issued a Jan. 31 deadline for Facebook and Twitter to report their compliance with a law that requires all servers that store Russians’ data to be relocated into Russia. Read more 
01.02.20 Russia May Drop Murder Charge In Khachaturyan Sisters Case
BBC News
Three Moscow sisters accused of murdering their father are likely to have the charges reduced to "necessary self-defence", their lawyers say. The decision by Russia's chief prosecutor could lead to their criminal prosecution being dropped, lawyer Alexei Parshin told the BBC. In July 2018 the teenage Khachaturyan sisters stabbed and battered their father to death in his sleep. He had beaten and sexually abused them, so many Russians urged their release. Read more 
01.02.20 Stadium Roof Collapses In St. Petersburg, Killing Worker
The Moscow Times
The roof of the SKK ice hockey stadium in St. Petersburg collapsed during dismantling work on Friday, killing one worker who was dragged down into the rubble. Dramatic footage of the collapse, in which a worker is seen running and failing to grab onto a man cage suspended by a crane as the structure crumbles, was posted by the Fontanka news website. Read more 
01.02.20 Worker Dies In Russian Sport Stadium Roof Collapse
BBC News
A demolition worker has been killed when a sports complex roof collapsed prematurely in the Russian city of St Petersburg, officials say. Dramatic drone footage shows the man with a blow torch cutting through metal supports at the SKK Peterburgskiy when the massive structure disintegrates. He is seen trying to scramble to the safety of a cage suspended from a crane, but does not appear to make it. The body of a 29-year-old man was found later in the rubble. Read more 
01.02.20 The Many Ways To Censor Cutting-edge Art In Russia
The Economist
Anastasia patlay thought something was amiss when she checked the young man’s id. He seemed a couple of years below the strict 18+ requirement for this performance of “Out of the Closet”, a play adapted from interviews with gay men and their families. That restriction was not the choice of Ms Patlay, the director, but a demand of Russian federal law, which since 2013 has banned the “promotion of non-traditional sexual relationships” to minors. A photocopy of his passport, which Ms Patlay snapped on her phone, suggested he had recently turned 19. Read more 
31.01.20 Russia Closes Far East Border Over Coronavirus
The Moscow Times
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has ordered the closure of the country's Far East border to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus, the state-run TASS news agency reported Thursday. “The order was signed today and has taken effect,” Mishustin said as quoted by TASS. “We’ll inform everyone today about the border-closure measures in the Far East region and other activities taken by the Russian government [on coronavirus prevention],” he said. Read more 
31.01.20 Europe Evacuates Citizens From China, Russia Shuts Border
The Associated Press
European countries stepped up efforts Thursday to contain the virus sweeping through central China, sending a chartered airliner there to evacuate hundreds of European citizens, scrapping more commercial flights to Chinese destinations and keeping some 7,000 people on a cruise ship while one possibly infected passenger got tested. Signaling intensifying international concern, the World Health Organization in Geneva declared the viral outbreak that has sickened more than 7,800 people and caused 170 deaths in China as a global emergency, while Russia closed its long border with the Asian giant. Read more 
31.01.20 Coronavirus Forces McDonald’s To Cancel Moscow Birthday Plans
The Moscow Times
McDonald’s has been forced to cancel plans for a bargain Big Mac promotion celebrating 30 years since the opening of its first restaurant in Russia due to coronavirus fears. The U.S. fast food chain had been planning to sell Big Macs for the symbolic price of 3 rubles ($0.05) all day Friday at its first Russian restaurant on Pushkin Square in central Moscow. Three rubles represents the price of a Big Mac when the restaurant first opened on Jan. 31, 1990 — around half a day’s wages for the average Soviet worker at the time. Read more 
31.01.20 Russia To Drop Murder Charge Against Sisters Who Killed Dad
The Associated Press
Investigators in the case of three sisters accused of killing their abusive father have been ordered by Russia’s Prosecutor General’s office to drop the murder charge against them and instead classify their actions as self-defense, their lawyer said Friday. The case elicited widespread outcry after reports emerged that the sisters — 17, 18 and 19 years old at the time — acted after years of being beaten and raped. In December, Russia’s Investigative Committee charged Maria, Angelina and Krestina Khachaturyan with premeditated murder, despite their lawyers arguing that young women acted in self-defense. Read more 
31.01.20 Russia Seeks Fugitive Billionaire Boris Mints’ Arrest
The Moscow Times
Russian authorities have issued an arrest warrant on embezzlement charges for Boris Mints, the billionaire businessman who now lives in London, the state-run TASS news agency reported Thursday. Mints and his three sons left Russia for Britain in 2018 amid court disputes over bank dealings. In 2019, the High Court in London blocked $572 million worth of assets belonging to Mints and his three sons. Read more 
31.01.20 US-Israeli Woman Released From Russian Prison
BBC News
Russia has released a dual US-Israeli national who was detained on charges of drug trafficking last year. Naama Issachar, 26, was arrested in Moscow in April 2019 after more than nine grams of marijuana were found in her luggage. She was later sentenced to more than seven years in prison. President Putin pardoned Issachar on Wednesday. The decision came ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Moscow on Thursday. Read more 
31.01.20 Moscow Museums Mark 75th Anniversary Of Auschwitz Liberation
The Moscow Times
This week the world has been commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration and death camp. In Moscow, the solemn date was observed with the opening of two exhibitions that make the past vividly real with stories, artifacts, and art. Envisioned and realized by photographer Richard Wiesel and historian Robert Sommer, this photo exhibit features items once owned by Holocaust victims, curated from the private Ravensbrück and Sachsenhausen memorial collections. Read more 
30.01.20 Russia And China Are Working On Virus Vaccine
Reuters
Russia and China are working to develop a coronavirus vaccine and Beijing has handed over the genome of the virus to Moscow, a Russian diplomatic mission in China said on Wednesday. The death toll in China from coronavirus rose to 132 on Wednesday with the number of confirmed cases now at nearly 6,000. “Russian and Chinese experts have begun developing a vaccine,” the Russian consulate in Guangzhou city said in a statement. Read more 
30.01.20 Russia Looks To Extend Tourist Visa Stay Period To 6 Months
The Moscow Times
Russia is considering extending the maximum length of tourist visas from 30 days to six months to attract tourism, the pro-Kremlin Izvestia newspaper reported Wednesday, citing the Foreign Ministry. The relaxed visa rules would allow visitors from anywhere in the world to apply with a hotel reservation, the ministry was cited as saying. Current legislation only allows tourist visas for those who apply with an invitation letter from a tour agency listed in the Russian government’s database. Read more 
30.01.20 Russia Screening All Russian Tourists Returning From China
Reuters
Russia has begun screening all Russian tourists returning from China to catch any potential cases of coronavirus, Russia’s consumer safety watchdog said on Wednesday. The watchdog began conducting the medical checks on Tuesday, it said. Russia has not had any confirmed cases of the new virus. Read more 
30.01.20 Russia Arrests 5 Ex-police In Reporter’s Planted Drugs Case
The Associated Press
Russia’s Investigative Committee on Wednesday detained five former police officers involved in a controversial drug arrest of a prominent investigative journalist last year and said they will be charged with fabricating evidence. Ivan Golunov, 37, was arrested in June 2019 in Moscow on drug-dealing charges that he rejected as a sham. The journalist argued the drugs found in his backpack and his apartment were planted by the police in revenge for his investigations of corruption in Moscow’s law enforcement community. Read more 
30.01.20 Russia Blocks Encrypted Email Service ProtonMail
Reuters
Russia said on Wednesday it had blocked the Swiss email service ProtonMail, popular among journalists and activists for its focus on user privacy and high level of encryption. Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor said ProtonMail, which uses end-to-end encryption to protect user data, had been used to send fake, anonymous bomb threats. Such threats have frequently led to mass evacuations of public buildings across Russia. Roskomnadzor said that ProtonMail had refused to provide Russian authorities with information on the owners of email accounts allegedly associated with fake bomb threats. Read more 
30.01.20 Fears As Russian Beauty Contest Winner Gets Trip To China
BBC News
There's dismay and mockery online after the winner of a beauty contest in Russia's Far East received a trip to China as her prize. Tatiana Ostapenko became "Tatiana of the Year" in Khabarovsk, a region that borders China, but social media users argued that now may not be a particularly good time to go there because of the coronavirus outbreak. The contest was held to mark Tatiana Day, a holiday marked by students in Russia on 25 January. The Khabarovsk regional government's website announced that Miss Ostapenko would see "Far Eastern holy sites of military glory" as part of her trip. Read more 
30.01.20 Putin Pardons U.S.-Israeli Woman Jailed In Russia On Drug Charges
Reuters
President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday signed a decree to pardon and free a U.S.-Israeli woman jailed in Russia on drug charges, receiving acknowledgement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the eve of their bilateral meeting. Naama Issachar, who was born in New Jersey, was arrested in April last year after police found nine grams of cannabis in her bags during a stopover at a Moscow airport, en route from India to Israel. Read more 
30.01.20 Putin Sacks Russian Governor Over Key-Dangling Video
The Moscow Times
A Russian governor is facing expulsion from the country’s ruling party following two weeks of controversial actions and comments, the Kommersant business daily reported Monday. Mikhail Ignatyev, who heads the republic of Chuvashia 680 kilometers east of Moscow, made national headlines for saying critical journalists should be “wiped out” on Jan. 18. Ignatyev sparked fresh criticism Friday after video showed him dangling a set of keys to a fire engine above a firefighter, forcing him to jump in order to retrieve them. Read more 
30.01.20 Russia Limits Rail Service With China From Jan. 31 Over Coronavirus
Reuters
Russia will limit railway service with China from Jan. 31, leaving only direct trains between Moscow and Beijing, in response to the coronavirus crisis, Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova said on Wednesday. “Under a decision of the emergency response center, we will limit railway service from midnight of (January) 31st, that is from Thursday to Friday. Trains will follow the Moscow-Beijing, Beijing-Moscow route,” Golikova said. Earlier on Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin, speaking about the coronavirus at a meeting with Golikova and Health Minister Mikhail Murashko, said he assumed that the government and Russia’s consumer rights watchdog would do everything possible to be ready for unexpected developments. Read more 
30.01.20 Russia Rescues 536 Fishermen Stranded On Giant Ice Floe
The Associated Press
In a nearly seven-hour operation, Russia’s emergency services rescued 536 ice fishermen after they got stranded on a giant ice floe that broke off the island of Sakhalin in eastern Siberia, officials said. Around 60 more people were able to get back onto the shore on their own Tuesday evening, emergency officials said. Footage of the incident showed groups of people using smaller pieces of ice as rafts and trying to row to the Russian coast on them as the giant ice floe with the stranded fishermen slowly drifted further away from the land. Read more 
30.01.20 How Is Russia Preparing For The Coronavirus?
The Moscow Times
As the coronavirus outbreak spreads around the world and the number of cases rises, Russia has stepped up measures to prevent the deadly virus from crossing its borders. Russia has not had any confirmed cases of the new virus, which has killed 132 people mostly in China and infected more than 6,000 worldwide. Read more 
30.01.20 Russia's Yakutia Governor Says Alrosa's Flooded Mine Will Be Re-opened
Reuters
The world’s biggest diamond producing company, Russia’s Alrosa, will restart production at Mir, a mine in the Yakutia region of the far east, shut since a deadly 2017 flood, the region’s governor Aysen Nikolaev said in an interview. Yakutia, the world’s biggest province by area, comprising half of Russia’s vast far east, derives much of its revenue from a 33% stake in Alrosa, and Nikolaev sits on the firm’s board. Prior to the flooding which killed eight miners, the Mir mine accounted for around 9% of Alrosa’s annual diamond output. Alrosa has said around $1.3 billion would be needed to restore the mine if it decides to reopen it. Read more 
29.01.20 Russia Ramps Up Controls, Shuts China Border Crossings Over Virus Fears
Reuters
Three Russian regions in the Far East have closed their borders with China until Feb. 7 amid fears over the outbreak of coronavirus there, the TASS news agency cited the governor of Khabarovsk region as saying on Tuesday. In Moscow, authorities said they had put in place special safety measures at hotels and tourist sites as the death toll from the flu-like virus rose to 106 in China with more than 4,500 cases confirmed. Russia has not had any confirmed cases of the new virus, but has direct daily flights to several Chinese cities and officials said last year they expected more than 2 million Chinese tourists to visit in 2019. Read more 
29.01.20 Russia Blocks Chinese Tour Groups, Closes Border Crossings As Coronavirus Spreads
The Moscow Times
Russia is blocking organized tour groups from China over a coronavirus outbreak that has claimed more than 100 lives, the state-run TASS news agency cited Russia’s travel industry union as saying Tuesday. The coronavirus outbreak that began in the central city of Wuhan has killed 106 people in China and infected more than 4,520 globally, most of them in China. China’s National Immigration Administration encouraged citizens Tuesday to reconsider the timing of overseas travel to reduce cross-border movement and help contain the new coronavirus. Read more 
29.01.20 Israel's Netanyahu Will Fly To Moscow On Wednesday
Reuters
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Washington for the unveiling of a U.S. plan for Middle East peace, will fly to Moscow on Wednesday, an Israeli official said. The official said Netanyahu wanted to brief Russian President Vladimir Putin on the peace plan. Israeli media suggested that Netanyahu may also hope to repatriate Naama Issachar, an Israeli-American woman imprisoned by Russia on a drug conviction that the Netanyahu government has contested as too harsh. Read more 
29.01.20 Moscow Orthodox Church Prays For Salvation From Coronavirus
The Moscow Times
A Russian Orthodox church in Moscow has held a service to seek Russia’s salvation from the fatal coronavirus epidemic that continues to spread across China. The outbreak that began in the central city of Wuhan has killed more than 100 people in China and infected more than 4,520 globally, most of them in China. Russia has not had any confirmed cases of the new virus but has direct daily flights to several Chinese cities. Read more 
29.01.20 Do Russians Care What President Does Next?
BBC News
Two weeks after Vladimir Putin announced a radical overhaul of the constitution, loyal officials in Moscow have been moving at lighting speed to implement his changes. Deputies in parliament have already passed the amendments in a first reading even as protesters insist the move is a smokescreen to allow Mr Putin to retain influence, or even power, beyond 2024, when he is due to step down as president. But as analysts argue over his real intentions, just a short drive from the capital many people are either unaware of what's happening or indifferent. Read more 
29.01.20 The Distortions Of Holocaust History By Russia And Poland Are A Disgrace
Bloomberg
75 years ago today — the Red Army liberated Auschwitz, the concentration camp that stands for the worst crimes ever committed, by Germans or anybody in history. It was already hard enough to find the right tone to mark this occasion — sensitive to Holocaust survivors and descendants of the victims and yet exhortative to all people, including the descendants of the perpetrators, to ensure that nothing like this can ever happen again. But now some people are making it so much harder, by deliberately choosing cynical words intended not to commemorate and reconcile, but to distort and divide. Read more 
28.01.20 Russia Expels Japanese Journalist In Military Espionage Row
Reuters
Russia said on Monday it had expelled a Japanese journalist for trying to obtain secret information related to Russian military capabilities in the Russian Far East, the RIA news agency reported. The journalist, whom it didn’t name, was given 72 hours to leave Russia and had already left after being detained by police in the Russian Pacific port city of Vladivostok last month, the Russian Foreign Ministry was quoted as saying. The ministry summoned a Japanese embassy official to make an official diplomatic protest over the incident. Read more 
28.01.20 How Mikhail Mishustin Rose To The Top
The Moscow Times
Mikhail Mishustin was struggling. Drenched in sweat and tripping over himself, he wasn’t a natural ice hockey player. “I don’t know whether he’d played before, but it was clearly very hard for him,” Dimitri Elkin, CEO of Twelve Seas Investment Company, said of the man just named Russia’s new prime minister. “He’s not the most athletic guy; he’s a bit on the heavy side. But he just kept going, and I was like: Wow, this guy has some willpower.” Read more 
28.01.20 Russian Operators Stop Selling Tours To China Over Coronavirus
Reuters
Russian tour operators have stopped selling package holidays to China due to the coronavirus outbreak there and are only bringing Russian tourists home, Dmitry Gorin, vice president of the Association of Russian Tour Operators, said on Monday. The move was taken at the recommendation of Rosturizm, Russia’s state tourism agency, he said, as the death toll from the new virus in China rose to 81 with more than 2,740 people infected. Russia, which does not have any confirmed cases of the new virus, has direct daily flights to several Chinese cities and has ramped up sanitary and quarantine control at all entry points. Read more 
28.01.20 At Least 140 Russians In China’s Virus-Stricken Province
The Associated Press
At least 140 Russian citizens are currently in the virus-stricken province of Hubei in central China, the state-run TASS news agency cited Russia’s Embassy in China as saying Monday. The coronavirus outbreak that began in the city of Wuhan in late December has killed 81 people in China so far and infected more than 2,750 globally, most of them in China. The virus has caused alarm because it is still too early to know how dangerous it is and how easily it spreads, and humans have not been able to build immunity to it. Read more 
28.01.20 The Distortions Of Holocaust History By Russia And Poland Are A Disgrace
The Moscow Times
On Jan. 27, 1945 — 75 years ago today — the Red Army liberated Auschwitz, the concentration camp that stands for the worst crimes ever committed, by Germans or anybody in history. It was already hard enough to find the right tone to mark this occasion — sensitive to Holocaust survivors and descendants of the victims and yet exhortative to all people, including the descendants of the perpetrators, to ensure that nothing like this can ever happen again. But now some people are making it so much harder, by deliberately choosing cynical words intended not to commemorate and reconcile, but to distort and divide. The main culprits are the presidents of Russia and Poland, Vladimir Putin and Andrzej Duda. Read more 
27.01.20 Israeli Woman Jailed In Russia Asks For Pardon
Reuters
Naama Issachar, a U.S.-Israeli woman jailed in Russia on drug charges, has asked for a pardon, Interfax reported, citing a statement by her lawyers. Israel has called on Russia to release Issachar, who was sentenced by a Russian court to seven-and-a-half years in jail for drug offences in October. The Kremlin said earlier that it was impossible for Issachar to be granted a presidential pardon without her first formally requesting one. Read more 
27.01.20 Putin Decides Low-Growth Russia Could Use Some Help From Keynes
The Moscow Times
With time running out on his final term as president, Vladimir Putin evidently wants to end it with a boom. Putin has been a cautious steward of Russia’s $1.7 trillion economy, partly to shield it against blowback from his more adventurous foreign policy. For the last five years, he’s imposed some of the world’s toughest budget austerity. Combined with high interest rates, that’s made Russia a favorite of carry-trade investors — but it’s left living standards mired at 2012 levels and economic growth stuck below 2%. Read more 
27.01.20 Israeli Backpacker Jailed In Russia Files For Pardon
The Associated Press
An Israeli woman jailed in Russia on drug charges has submitted a petition to be pardoned by President Vladimir Putin. State news agency Tass reported Sunday that Naama Issachar’s lawyer said the request was filed following a statement by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov that she couldn’t be pardoned without making a personal appeal. The 26-year-old backpacker was arrested in April at a Moscow airport, where she was transferring en route from India to Israel. Russian authorities said more than nine grams of hashish were found in her luggage. She was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appealed to Putin to pardon Issachar. Read more 
27.01.20 Young People Take Back Soviet 'Kommunalkas'
The Moscow Times
During the Soviet era, it wasn't uncommon for people in big cities to share a single apartment with up to 20 other people — often sharing just one bathroom and kitchen. Half a century later, with rents in central Moscow and St. Petersburg soaring, some people still live in these kommunalka apartments out of necessity. We took a look at everyday life inside one of them. Sergey, 24, removes a plate caked in sausage grease from an overflowing sink before he starts brushing his teeth. Bugs skitter over the forks and spoons left in the bottom. He rinses his well-used toothbrush and shoves it in the back pocket of his shorts. Read more 
26.01.20 Russia In Talks With China To Help Its Citizens Leave Wuhan
Reuters
Russia is consulting with China about possibly evacuating Russian citizens from the Chinese city of Wuhan and Hubei province, the center of an outbreak of a new flu-like virus, the RIA news agency cited the Russian embassy as saying on Saturday. There are no Russians infected with the new coronavirus, RIA quoted the embassy's press attache in China as saying. Flights to Moscow from the Chinese city of Wuhan had been suspended Friday over fears about the spread of a previously unknown coronavirus strain, Interfax news agency cited an unnamed source as saying on Friday. Read more 
26.01.20 U.S. ‘Intercepted’ Russian General In Syria
The Moscow Times
U.S. forces intercepted an unidentified Russian major general in northern Syria during deconfliction operations, the U.S. State Department’s special envoy for Syrian engagement and the anti-Islamic State coalition said Thursday. James Jeffrey’s remarks follow news of U.S. troops “blocking” a Russian military patrol from accessing an oilfield in northeastern Syria’s province of Hasakah on Saturday. The envoy’s revelations also come two years after U.S. airstrikes killed between five and 200 Russian mercenaries attempting to take over an oil refinery in eastern Syria’s Deir Ezzor region. Read more 
26.01.20 Stand-up Comedian Flees Russia Over Religious Joke
The Independent
For comedian Alexander Dolgopolov the hints were far from subtle. First came news authorities were investigating footage of a stand-up gig the 25-year old gave in St Petersburg last February. Then came online threats about his supposedly “sacrilegious” comedy. And then, on Wednesday, two state investigators turned up to one of his shows. That, Mr Dolgopolov says, was the signal to leave. Read more 
26.01.20 Putin Orders Prosecutor General To Review Moscow Protester's Conviction
Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the Prosecutor General to investigate if a guilty verdict for Moscow protester Konstantin Kotov was lawful, the Kremlin said. A Moscow court sentenced Kotov, a 34-year-old programmer, to four years in prison in September for "repeated" participation in unauthorized rallies, under a widely criticized law that has made non-violent protests a criminal offence. Read more 
26.01.20 Activists Urge Russians To Vote Against Putin’s ‘Constitutional Coup’
The Moscow Times
A group of prominent activists and political figures has called on Russians to vote against President Vladimir Putin’s proposed constitutional changes, which they describe as a “coup.” “We’re convinced that the goal of this coup is to keep Vladimir Putin and his corrupt regime in power for life,” the activists wrote in an open letter they called a “manifesto” in Russia’s Novaya Gazeta newspaper Thursday. “If such a vote is set, we call on everyone to come and say ‘no’ to a constitutional coup and the usurpation of power,” they said. Read more 
26.01.20 Flights To Moscow From China's Wuhan Suspended Over Coronavirus Fears
Reuters
Flights to Moscow from the Chinese city of Wuhan have been suspended over fears about the spread of a previously unknown coronavirus strain, Interfax news agency cited an unnamed source as saying on Friday. The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday declared the new coronavirus an emergency for China but stopped short of declaring the epidemic of international concern. Prior to the suspension, Russian airports stepped up screenings of travelers from China after hundreds of people were infected in an outbreak of the virus, with 17 reported deaths. Russia’s deputy health minister called the disease a biological threat to the country earlier this week. Read more 
25.01.20 U.S.-Israeli Woman Jailed In Russia Has Not Yet Sought Pardon
Reuters
The Kremlin said on Friday that the possible release of Naama Issachar, a U.S.-Israeli woman jailed in Russia on drug charges, was being held up because she had not yet formally asked to be granted a pardon. Israel has called on Russia to release Issachar, who was sentenced by a Russian court to seven-and-a-half years in jail for drug offences in October. During a trip to Israel on Thursday, President Vladimir Putin told Issachar’s mother that “everything will be okay” for her daughter. Read more 
25.01.20 Neo-Nazi Rinaldo Nazzaro Running US Militant Group The Base From Russia
BBC News
The American founder of US-based militant neo-Nazi group The Base is directing the organisation from Russia, a BBC investigation has found. Rinaldo Nazzaro, 46, who uses the aliases "Norman Spear" and "Roman Wolf", left New York for St Petersburg less than two years ago. The Base is a major counter terrorism focus for the FBI. Seven alleged members were charged this month with various offences, including conspiracy to commit murder. Read more 
25.01.20 ?omedian Who Joked About Church Leaves Russia, Fearing Police Probe
Reuters
A popular stand-up comedian has temporarily left Russia for security reasons after police opened an investigation into one of his performances in which he cracked crude jokes about Jesus and the Orthodox Church, his lawyer said on Thursday. Comedian Alexander Dolgopolov this week posted a picture of an Interior Ministry notice sent to St. Petersburg’s HopHead Tap Room, where he performed last February, that asked the establishment to provide information about him. Read more 
25.01.20 Belarus’ Leader Blasts Russia For Pushing Merger Of 2 States
The Associated Press
The president of Belarus on Friday accused Moscow of pressuring his country to merge with Russia and vowed not to let it happen. Talking to workers of a paper plant in eastern Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko lambasted Russia, the country’s main provider of cheap oil and gas, for halting oil supplies in order “to dissolve Belarus ... in the brotherly Russia.” Read more 
25.01.20 Russia Says It Missed U.N. Deadline To Repatriate North Korean Workers
Reuters
Russia said on Thursday it had missed a United Nations deadline to repatriate North Korean workers due to what it called objective difficulties, but said it was scrupulously complying with U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang. A 2017 U.N. Security Council resolution demanded that all countries send home all North Korean workers by Dec. 22 last year to stop them earning foreign currency for North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Read more 
25.01.20 Russian Bedroom Camera In Aircon 'spied On Activist'
BBC News
A year after opposition activist Anastasia Shevchenko was placed under house arrest, she has discovered a spy-camera had been installed in her bedroom and secretly filmed everything for months. Investigators showed her the footage. It includes images in her underwear, gathered as they sought incriminating evidence of political activism. Her family, who also had their conversations tapped, have described their upset at what they call a "very low move" by the authorities. Read more 
25.01.20 Russia Recommends Suspension Of Travel Package Sales To China Over Virus
Reuters
Russia’s tourism watchdog said on Friday it was recommending that travel operators stop sales of packages to China due to the new coronavirus. It recommended that Russians refrain from visiting China until the “epidemiological situation stabilizes”. China is taking measures to contain the coronavirus, which has killed 26 people and infected more than 800. Read more 
24.01.20 Putin Opens Leningrad Siege Memorial In Jerusalem
The Moscow Times
Russian President Vladimir Putin inaugurated a new monument in Jerusalem dedicated to the defenders and victims of the Siege of Leningrad on Thursday. More than 800,000 people died during the Nazi encirclement of Leningrad — now called St. Petersburg — from starvation, disease and bombardment, making it one of the most devastating episodes of World War II. An estimated 1,300 survivors of the 872-day siege currently live in Israel. Read more 
24.01.20 Russia And Poland Are Playing Political Games With The Holocaust
Washington Post
International leaders have already started marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Soviet troops captured the camp and freed its prisoners on Jan. 27, 1945. The Nazis had founded Auschwitz on the soil of occupied Poland in May 1940, not long after invading the country. It’s estimated that around 1 million Jews (many of them Polish citizens) were murdered there. Soviet prisoners of war as well as Polish priests and intellectuals died in the camp, too. Read more 
24.01.20 Bulgaria Charges 3 Russians Over Poisoning Possibly Linked To Skripal Case
Reuters
Bulgarian prosecutors have charged three Russians with the attempted murder of three men whose poisoning is being investigated by Sofia for possible links with the 2018 nerve-agent attack on ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal. The prosecutors did not name the three Russians, but said European arrest warrants had been issued and that they would seek their extradition to Bulgaria. Read more 
24.01.20 LGBT Israelis Barred From Adopting Russian Children
The Moscow Times
Israel and Russia have signed a new adoption agreement that will effectively block LGBT Israelis from adopting Russian children, Israel’s Channel 12 news outlet reported Wednesday. Russia banned adoption by LGBT couples and individuals from countries that allow gay marriage in 2013. Israel has been complying with this law through a de facto arrangement in the years since it passed, the Haaretz news outlet reported in 2017. Read more 
24.01.20 Russia Says U.S. Nord Stream Sanctions Are Attack On Europe's Energy Transition
Reuters
Russia called on Europe on Thursday to give full support to its Nord Stream gas pipeline, saying the United States would undermine Europe’s transition to greener energy if its sanctions delayed the project. “We are not very happy with sanctions on Nord Stream-2 because we believe those are sanctions on Europe’s transition to a more ecologically safe energy market”, the head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, Kirill Dmitriev, told the World Economic Forum in Davos. Read more 
24.01.20 Does Russia's New Culture Minister Hate The Arts?
BBC News
Russia's new culture minister, Olga Lyubimova, has experience of film and TV production but she apparently once wrote "I'm not bloody cultured at all". She is part of the new government team under Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. The blunt views on culture were summed up in a 2008 blog which complains "I simply can't stand going to exhibitions, museums, opera". BBC Monitoring says the details match Ms Lyubimova's biographical data and appear to be genuine. Ballet and classical music were also listed among her pet hates. Read more 
23.01.20 Who Made It Into Russia’s New Cabinet?
The Moscow Times
President Vladimir Putin confirmed a new government Tuesday following last week’s shake-up of the political system which led to Dmitry Medvedev’s resignation as prime minister. Despite Putin describing the new government as a break with the past, many senior ministers held on to their positions. Read more 
23.01.20 Putin: Russia Has To Be Strong Presidential Republic
Reuters
Russia must remain a strong presidential republic, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday when asked about a possible transitional period once he steps down in 2024. Last week Putin, who under the constitution cannot run for another presidential term, proposed constitutional changes that would give him scope to extend his grip on power after leaving the presidency. The suggestions include reducing the powers of the presidency and beefing up those of the prime minister, prompting speculation that Putin might be eyeing a return to a job he held from 2008 to 2012. Read more 
23.01.20 Russia Suspects First Coronavirus Case
The Moscow Times
At least one person has been hospitalized after arriving at St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Airport on Wednesday with symptoms of the coronavirus, Russian media have reported. Russian airports stepped up screenings of travelers from China after hundreds of people were infected in an outbreak of the virus, with at least 9 reported deaths. Russia’s deputy health minister called the disease a biological threat to the country earlier this week. Read more 
23.01.20 Russia Is Developing Vaccine Against Coronavirus
Reuters
Russia is working to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus strain in China, Rospotrebnadzor, the country’s consumer safety regulator said on Wednesday, the RIA news agency reported. “Yes, of course, the development of a vaccine is underway. Every time we have a mutation (of a virus), we start developing a vaccine immediately,” Anna Popova, the head of Rospotrebnadzor, was cited as saying. RIA cited Elena Yezhlova, head of Rospotrebnadzor’s Epidemiological Surveillance Department, as explaining the process. Read more 
23.01.20 Young Russian Tries To Sue Over Violent Lesbian ‘Exorcism’ In Chechnya
The Moscow Times
A young woman from Russia’s conservative republic of Chechnya is seeking criminal charges against her parents, one of their acquaintances and a psychiatric clinic for allegedly torturing her based on her sexual orientation, a Russian LGBT support group said Tuesday. The latest incident comes after widespread reports of anti-gay abuse, including torture and killings, in the majority-Muslim region in recent years. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has denied the existence of gay people in Chechnya, a claim that Russia has also submitted to the UN. Read more 
22.01.20 Russian ‘Plumbers’ Questioned At Davos
The Moscow Times
Two Russians who identified themselves as plumbers despite carrying diplomatic passports were checked in Switzerland on suspicion of espionage ahead of this week’s World Economic Forum (WEF), the Tagez Anzeiger newspaper reported Monday. Held annually in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, the WEF gathers world leaders such as U.S. President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel with thousands of figures in business, NGOs, academia and more. Read more 
22.01.20 Saudi Energy Minister Welcomes Russia's Novak Reappointment
Reuters
Saudi Arabia’s energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said he welcomes the reappointment of Alexander Novak as Russia’s energy minister adding it was important for Saudi and Russian cooperation within the OPEC+ group. “I’m so happy his term was extended,” he told Reuters after meeting Kirill Dmitriev, the head of Russian Direct Investment Fund on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Read more 
22.01.20 U.S. Troops ‘Block’ Russian Soldiers In Syria
The Moscow Times
U.S. troops have “blocked” Russian soldiers from accessing an oilfield in northeast Syria, Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News outlet has reported, citing the state news agency Anadolu. News of the standoff appeared two years after an incident in which anywhere from five to 200 Russian mercenaries were killed by U.S. airstrikes while attempting to take over a Syrian oil refinery. As of mid-December, U.S. forces were deployed at 11 bases and military posts in northeast Syria, including five in the province of Hasakah, four in Deir ez-Zor and two in Raqqa, Anadolu reported last month. Read more 
22.01.20 Swiss Police 'exposed Russian Spies In Davos'
BBC News
Police apprehended two suspected Russian intelligence agents in Davos last August, a Swiss newspaper reports. Tages-Anzeiger says the men, who had diplomatic passports, may have been preparing a spying operation targeting the World Economic Forum (WEF). It adds that the pair, one of whom was posing as a plumber, were subsequently released. Swiss police confirmed to the BBC that two Russians were "checked" in August 2019. Read more 
22.01.20 Chinese Dreams, Russian Realities
The Moscow Times
Some autocrats grow their economies; other autocrats destroy their economies. For every China, there is a North Korea. For every Singapore, there is a Zimbabwe. After twenty years in power, Russian President Vladimir Putin has performed better than Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, but has accomplished nowhere near what Deng Xiao Peng has in China or Lee Kwan Yew in Singapore. As Putin now proposes institutional changes to lock himself into power even longer, only the most hopeful should assume that the next ten (or twenty?) years of Russian dictatorship will perform any better than the last 20 years. Read more 
22.01.20 Potanin Buys Partner's Stake In Copper And Gold Mine Near China
Reuters
Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin has bought his partner Grigory Berezkin’s stake in the Bystrinsky mine in Russia’s Far East, representatives for the two businessmen said on Tuesday. Russian mining giant Norilsk Nickel, known as Nornickel and which is co-owned by Potanin and holds a 50% stake in the remote copper and gold mine, has been looking for a partner in the ambitious project for several years. Read more 
22.01.20 Big Changes? Or Maybe Not. Putin’s Plans Keep Russia Guessing.
The New York Times
Is he setting the stage to lead Russia for years to come? Is he planning to step down? The confusion may be part of President Vladimir Putin’s strategy. Nobody knows what’s going on inside the Kremlin right now. And perhaps that’s precisely the point. President Vladimir V. Putin announced constitutional changes last week that could create new avenues for him to rule Russia for the rest of his life. But will they? How? And will he? Read more 
22.01.20 New China Coronavirus Poses ‘Biological Threat’ To Russia
Reuters
Russian airports have stepped up screening of travelers arriving from China to try to identify people infected with the new coronavirus, airport officials said Tuesday. The World Health Organization has said that the coronavirus outbreak, which the mayor of the Chinese city of Wuhan says has killed six people, was likely to spread. The virus poses a threat to Russia's biological security, Deputy Health Minister Sergei Kraevoi was cited as saying by the state-run RIA news agency. Read more 
22.01.20 Maria Sharapova Set To Drop Out Of Top 350 After Defeat
BBC News
Maria Sharapova is not sure if she will be at the Australian Open next year, with a first-round exit meaning she is set to drop out of the world's top 350. The five-time Grand Slam champion, who won at Melbourne Park in 2008, lost 6-3 6-4 to Croatian 19th seed Donna Vekic. It was only the Russian's second competitive outing since September's US Open because of a shoulder injury. Asked whether this might be her last appearance at the tournament, she said: "I don't know. I don't know." Read more 
21.01.20 In Wake Of Putin’s ‘Coup,’ Russia’s Top Opposition Leader Refrains From Action
The Moscow Times
There was deathly silence from Russia’s most prominent opposition politician for days after President Vladimir Putin sent shockwaves through the establishment last Wednesday by proposing a clutch of constitutional amendments that could allow him to stay in power beyond the end of his term in 2024. Just hours later the silence became even more deafening when Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced that he and his entire government would be resigning, citing the need to allow the president room to push through the changes, and little-known tax chief Mikhail Mishustin was named as his successor. Read more 
21.01.20 Belarus To Import Oil From Norway's Johan Sverdrup Field
Reuters
Belarus oil company BNK will import crude from Norway’s Johan Sverdrup field via Lithuania’s Klaipeda port this month because of a supply row with Russia, Belarus state company Belneftekhim that controls BNK told Reuters on Monday. Russia suspended oil supplies to refineries in Belarus from Jan. 1, though it partially restored them on Jan. 4, after both countries failed to agree terms on supplies for 2020. Some 80,000 tonnes of Johan Sverdrup oil will be supplied by rail to Belarus’s Naftan refinery, Belneftekhim said. Read more 
21.01.20 Russian Official Walks Back Call To ‘Wipe Out’ Critical Journalists
The Moscow Times
A Russian official has apologized Monday for remarks suggesting that journalists should be “wiped out” for criticizing the authorities. Mikhail Ignatyev, who heads Russia’s republic of Chuvashia 680 kilometers east of Moscow, made the controversial remarks Saturday at an event commemorating the local press. Read more 
21.01.20 Russia Bomb Hoaxes: Thousands Evacuated As Campaign Targets Moscow
BBC News
More than one million residents of Moscow have had their everyday lives disrupted as Russia remains gripped by a spate of hoax bomb threats that have led to mass evacuations. On Monday, Russian media reported that all of the stations on the Moscow metro had been checked after receiving hoax bomb threats, as were more than 100 schools and nurseries, and 20 shopping centres. Read more 
21.01.20 Russian Hotel Pipe Bursts, Killing Five In Perm
BBC News
At least five people have died after a basement hotel in the Russian city of Perm was flooded with boiling water, officials say. They say another three people with burns were taken to hospital. The overnight incident at the mini-hotel Caramel was the result of a burst hot water pipe in the city, close to the Ural mountains east of Moscow. A criminal case has been opened on the grounds of failure to meet health and safety requirements. The victims' bodies were found after the water was pumped out of the hotel. Read more 
21.01.20 Russia Prepares For A New Tandemocracy
The Moscow Times
President Vladimir Putin’s state of the nation address on Jan. 15 made it quite clear that he will step down from the presidency in 2024 — or earlier — as the Russian constitution requires, but only after he has put in place a system enabling him to influence his successor. This means a return to a tandemocracy like that seen in 2008–2012, when Putin stood down and served as prime minister under Dmitry Medvedev to adhere to the constitutional ban on more than two consecutive presidential terms. Read more 
21.01.20 Russian Prosecutor General Chaika To Leave Post
The Moscow Times
Russia's Prosecutor General Yury Chaika is leaving his post, Interfax reported Monday, citing the Kremlin. President Vladimir Putin proposed that the Federation Council appoint Igor Krasnov, deputy head of the Investigative Committee, as the new prosecutor general, the Vedomosti business daily reported.
According to officials, Chaika, 68, will leave the post he has occupied since 2006 for another unnamed job. Read more 
20.01.20 Moscow Protest Over Putin's Political Shake-up Fails To Gain Traction
Reuters
Over 1,000 people marched through Moscow on Sunday in an event a Kremlin critic tried to turn into a protest against a constitutional shake-up by President Vladimir Putin, but many demonstrators chose to voice dissent about other issues instead. Yulia Galyamina, a Moscow city councillor, had urged people to take to the streets to speak out against Putin’s proposed political changes by joining an authorized rally already due to be held to mark the murder of a journalist, Anastasia Baburova, and a lawyer, Stanislav Markelov, 11 years ago. Read more 
20.01.20 ‘We Are Building Capitalism!’
The Moscow Times
“Do you want to go to Russia?” When Robert Stephenson, a senior civil servant in the U.K. was asked this question in February 1992, he had no idea how it would change his life. But he immediately said, “Yes” and only after a moment asked the more important question: “Why?” The “why” turned out to be a job as a consultant to the new Russian Federal Employment Service. Stephenson moved to Moscow and worked for five years in the capital with many trips around the country. He continued to work abroad for another 15 years heading international programs to support civil service development and reform around the world. Read more 
20.01.20 Putin: Don't Lose Hope That Libya Conflict Will Be Solved
Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday said he hoped that the Berlin summit on Libya could bring further progress and that Moscow’s peace efforts had yielded first results. “We don’t lose hope that dialogue will continue and the conflict will be solved,” Putin said before meeting Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the conference. Read more 
20.01.20 Orthodox Christians Brave An Icy Dip To Mark Epiphany
BBC News
Worshippers across Russia and Eastern Europe have been braving icy waters for Epiphany, one of the most important holidays in the Orthodox Christian calendar. Celebrated on 19 January, Epiphany commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan. To mark the event many Orthodox Christians submerge themselves in holes of icy water. They may dip themselves three times in the water to honour the Holy Trinity. Read more 
20.01.20 Putin Rejects 'President For Life' Model
Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday he did not want Russia to return to the late Soviet-era practice of having lifelong rulers who died in office without a proper succession strategy. His comments, made to World War Two veterans in St. Petersburg, came days after he unveiled a sweeping shake-up of the political system which led to the resignation of Dmitry Medvedev as prime minister along with his government. Putin, in a surprise move, picked Mikhail Mishustin, the low-profile head of the country’s tax service, as the country's next prime minister. Russians are now waiting to hear which ministers will keep their jobs in a new government. Read more 
20.01.20 No Normalization In Relations Yet, UK PM Johnson Tells Putin
Reuters
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday there would be no normalization of the two countries’ relations until Moscow ends its “destabilizing activity” that threatens security. A spokeswoman from Johnson’s Downing Street office said the prime minister met Putin on the sidelines of a summit on Libya in Berlin, where the two discussed the need to address security issues in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Iran. Read more 
19.01.20 Despite Shake-up, Putin Rejects Idea Of Soviet-style Leaders For Life
Reuters
President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday he did not want Russia to return to the late Soviet-era practice of having lifelong rulers who died in office without a proper succession strategy. His comments, made to World War Two veterans in St Petersburg, came days after he unveiled a sweeping shake-up of the political system which led to the resignation of Dmitry Medvedev as prime minister along with his government. Putin, in a surprise move, picked Mikhail Mishustin, the low-profile head of the country’s tax service, as the country’s next prime minister. Russians are now waiting to hear which ministers will keep their jobs in a new government. Read more 
19.01.20 ‘They Will Destroy You’: In Putin’s Russia, How Far Can An Artist Go?
The Guardian
A decade ago, a new spirit of tolerance of the avant garde blossomed in Russia. But these days, it’s impossible to know where the lines are – as the country’s most celebrated director discovered to his cost. One Saturday evening in December 2017, as it has regularly for nearly 200 years, the stage of the Bolshoi Theatre, draped by its famous scarlet-and-gold curtain, featured the long-anticipated premiere of a new ballet. Tickets had sold out almost instantly. The Bolshoi’s capacious hall, ringed by teetering loggia boxes, was filled with so many members of the ruling elite that the event seemed an updated version of an old Communist party central committee congress. Read more 
19.01.20 Russia's Rosneft Ups Its Stake In Germany's Bayernoil Refinery
Reuters
Russian oil producer Rosneft said on Saturday that its German subsidiary Rosneft Deutschland GmbH had completed the deal to acquire a 3.57% stake in Germany’s Bayernoil Raffineriegesellschaft mbH from BP. The deal increased Rosneft’s stake in the Bayernoil refinery to 28.57% from 25%, Rosneft said in a statement, adding that the deal also increased its share in the refinery’s capacity to almost 3 million tonnes a year and strengthened its marketing presence in Germany’s Bavaria and Austria. Read more 
19.01.20 'Only Eyes': Auschwitz Liberator Recalls Death Camp Inmates 75 Years On
Reuters
His jacket sparkling with war medals, 96-year old David Dushman holds back the tears as he remembers the eyes of emaciated prisoners at the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz which he helped liberate 75 years ago this month. A Russian Jew, Dushman is one of the last surviving soldiers to have taken part in the liberation of the camp in January 1945 and he still struggles to explain how such a catastrophe could happen. Dushman, who later became an Olympic fencer, joined the Red Army in 1941 after Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union. Read more 
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