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21.01.21 Mayor Eases Coronavirus Restrictions In Moscow
TASS
Moscow’s authorities are easing some of the city’s coronavirus restrictions, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced on Thursday. Colleges, sports schools, supplementary educational facilities and children’s leisure facilities administered by the city will reopen on January 22. However, universities will remain on remote learning until February 6. The Moscow authorities will make a decision on reopening them after consultations with the Russian Education Ministry. Moscow’s libraries, museums and other cultural facilities, as well as children’s entertainment centers, will also reopen on January 22 but will be limited to 50% capacity. Meanwhile, cafes and restaurants still have to close between 11:00 pm and 6:00 am. Read more 
21.01.21 6 Suspected Militants Killed In Russia’s Chechnya
AP
Chechnya’s Kremlin-backed leader said Wednesday that his forces have killed six suspected militants, including a warlord accused of organizing a 2011 suicide attack at a Moscow airport. Ramzan Kadyrov, the regional leader of Chechnya, said that troops under his command had tracked down the suspects in the village of Katar-Yurt and killed all of them on the spot. Kadyrov claimed that the raid marked the elimination of the last group of militants that remained in the region. “All underground bands in Chechnya have now been eliminated,” Kadyrov said on his blog. He added that the security sweep had been planned long ago and followed two previous unsuccessful attempts to hunt down the militants. Read more 
21.01.21 Russian Soldier Given Lengthy Prison Term For Mass Shooting Of Fellow Conscripts
The Moscow Times
A young Russian conscript has been sentenced to 24 and a half years in prison Thursday for gunning down eight fellow soldiers in what he said was retaliation to hazing, Russian media reported. Ramil Shamsutdinov, 22, was arrested in the fall of 2019 on murder charges at a military base where he had served in the closed Far Eastern town of Gorny. He reportedly testified at the time that he opened fire after months of bullying by his superiors that culminated in rape threats left him with no other choice. A jury convicted Shamsutdinov late last month, but asked the judge not to give him a life sentence.
Read more 
20.01.21 Russia ‘One Step Closer’ To Year-Round Sailing In Melting Arctic
The Moscow Times
A powerful Russian icebreaker has crossed the Northern Sea Route for the first time at this time of year as ice coverage shrinks in the rapidly melting Arctic. The liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker Christophe de Margerie made it through the Chukchi Sea and into the Bering Strait on Saturday, Jan. 16, after 10 days in thick sea ice. “It is a historical day for the development of the Northern Sea Route and national shipping,” Transport Minister Vitaly Savelyev said Monday. He said the voyage, which shows the shipping route can be used for an extra one to two months every year, is “a step toward year-round commercial shipments on the route.” Read more 
20.01.21 Russia: Gas Pipeline To Germany At Risk After US Sanctions
AP
Russian state gas company Gazprom acknowledged there is a risk that its undersea pipeline to Germany could be suspended or canceled after the U.S. on Tuesday imposing sanctions on a Russian ship involved in its construction. Germany’s Economy Ministry said it had been informed in advance of the new U.S. sanctions against the Russian pipe-laying ship Fortuna and its owner. “We take note of this announcement with regret,” the ministry said. The U.S. has said that the $11-billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline would make Europe more dependent on Russian gas and hurt European energy security. The Kremlin has responded by accusing the U.S. government of trying to promote sales of its own liquefied natural gas. Read more 
20.01.21 Putin’s Palace
Meduza
Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation has released a bombshell investigation into a $1.35-billion residence built for Russian President Vladimir Putin near a resort town on the Black Sea. Navalny’s team published the report the day after the opposition figure was put in pre-trial detention at Moscow’s notorious Matrosskaya Tishina prison. In addition to sharing the building’s floor plan and visualizations of the interiors, the anti-corruption activists recount the history of the construction project and dig into how it was financed by companies connected to members of Putin’s inner circle. “Meduza” sums up the highlights from the investigation. Read more 
19.01.21 Russia Ready For Quick Extension Of Last Arms Pact With US
AP
Moscow is ready for a quick deal with the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden to extend the last remaining arms control pact, which expires in just over two weeks, Russia’s top diplomat said Monday. Months of talks between Russia and President Donald Trump’s administration on the possible extension of the New START treaty have failed to narrow their differences. The pact is set to expire on Feb. 5. Biden has spoken in favor of the preservation of the New START treaty, which was negotiated during his tenure as U.S. vice president, and Russia has said it’s open for its quick and unconditional extension. Read more 
19.01.21 Two People Found Alive After Avalanche Hits Russia’s North Caucasus Region
TASS
Two people, who went missing after an avalanche cascaded down Mount Mussa-Achitara in the Karachay-Cherkess Republic, in the North Caucasus, have been found alive, the Emergencies Ministry’s regional branch told TASS. "Two people have been found in the village [Dombay], they are alive," a spokesperson said. Earlier, the Emergencies Ministry’s press service reported that the whereabouts of two people after an avalanche hit the region were unknown. According to the region’s head Rashid Temrezov, this was a couple that lost contact while visiting the resort area. Read more 
19.01.21 Kremlin Foe Navalny Jailed For 30 Days; Allies Plan Protests
AP
A Russian judge on Monday ordered opposition leader Alexei Navalny jailed for 30 days, after the leading Kremlin critic returned to Russia from Germany where he was recovering from nerve agent poisoning that he blames on President Vladimir Putin’s government. The ruling followed a hastily set up court hearing at a police precinct where Navalny was being held since his arrest at a Moscow airport on Sunday evening, which sparked sharp reactions both at home and around the world. A crowd of Navalny supporters outside the precinct shouted “Shame!” as the judge announced the ruling and Navalny’s allies immediately called for protests. His arrest had already prompted a wave of criticism from U.S. and European officials, adding to existing tensions between Russia and the West. Read more 
19.01.21 Telegram Moderators Blocked Hundreds Of Calls For Violence During Unrest In US
TASS
Moderators of Telegram Messenger blocked hundreds of public calls for violence during unrest in the US early in January, its founder Pavel Durov said on his official channel on Monday. "Early in January, the team of moderators of Telegram began to receive an increasing number of messages about public activity related to actions by US citizens. The team acted resolutely, cutting off American channels encouraging violence. Thanks to these efforts, our moderators blocked hundreds of public calls for violence last week," he said. Durov added that Telegram welcomed peaceful protests and debates, but the service’s terms of service explicitly banned the spread of public calls for violence. Read more 
19.01.21 Russian Police Officer Suspected Of Leaking Navalny Poisoners’ Data
The Moscow Times
A Russian police officer is under suspicion of leaking the travel data of security officers allegedly behind opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s poisoning, the RBC news website reported Tuesday. The arrest in the central city of Samara comes less than a month after a media investigation named several alleged Rusian Federal Security Service (FSB) chemical-weapons experts who had tailed Navalny for years before his poisoning with the Novichok nerve agent. The investigative outlet Bellingcat said it used flight manifests and phone records that can be obtained in Russia’s underground market of stolen personal data to trace the secret FSB team’s movements. Read more 
19.01.21 Moscow Court Sentences Grad Student Azat Miftakhov To Six Years In Prison
Meduza
Moscow’s Golovinsky District Court sentenced graduate student and anarchist activist Azat Miftakhov to six years in prison on Monday, January 18, after finding him guilty of attacking a United Russia office in 2018. Miftakhov, who studied in the mathematics faculty at Moscow State University, pleaded not guilty to the hooliganism charges. Two other suspects who earlier pleaded guilty in the case were given suspended sentences: Elana Gorban was sentenced to four years probation and Andrey Eykin to two years. These were the exact sentences that state prosecutors requested for the three defendants in the case. Read more 
19.01.21 Parler Partially Reappears With Support From Russian Technology Firm
Reuters
Parler, a social media website and app popular with the American far right, has partially returned online with the help of a Russian-owned technology company. Parler vanished from the internet when dropped by Amazon Inc’s hosting arm and other partners for poor moderation after its users called for violence and posted videos glorifying the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. On Monday, Parler’s website was reachable again, though only with a message from its chief executive saying he was working to restore functionality. Read more 
18.01.21 Four Die As Dry Cargo Ship Sinks In Black Sea Off Turkey
TASS
At least four crewmembers of the bulk carrier that sank on Sunday in the Black Sea off the Turkish coast have died, the local authorities reported. "The vessel sank because of the bad weather conditions. Four people died. Six crewmembers have been saved. The search and rescue operation at sea has been suspended because of high waves, with only helicopters continuing the search," Bartin Province Governor Sinan Guner told NTV. The vessel sank near Turkey’s Inkumu, Bartin Province. According Guner, six crewmembers have been saved. The Russian embassy in Turkey told TASS earlier, Russian diplomats have been seconded to Bartin to help Russian nationals who might have been aboard the ship. Read more 
18.01.21 Kremlin Critic Navalny Detained After Landing In Moscow
AP
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was arrested Sunday at a Moscow airport as he tried to enter the country from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from nerve agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. Navalny’s detention at passport control in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport was widely expected because Russia’s prisons service said he had violated parole terms from a suspended sentence on a 2014 embezzlement conviction. The prisons service said he would be held in custody until a court rules on his case. No date for a court appearance was immediately announced. The service earlier said that it would seek to have Navalny serve his 3 1/2-year sentence behind bars. Read more 
18.01.21 Number Of Russians Who May File For Bankruptcy In 2021 Rises
TASS
Experts from GRM consulting company forecast an increase in the number of applications for declaring individuals bankrupt to 260,000 in 2021, which is 65% more than in 2020, the company’s press service told TASS. "In 2021, GRM analysts predict that the 2020 trends will continue: an increase in the total number of applications within 65% against the level of 2020; maintaining the conversion rate of submitted applications to ongoing procedures at a rate of 94%; an increase in debt restructuring procedures to 10% of the total submitted applications," GRM reported. Read more 
18.01.21 Alexey Navalny Returns To Russia
Meduza
Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny flew home to Moscow from Berlin after recuperating from being poisoned with a weapons-grade nerve agent. Navalny had been away for more than four months, and federal prison officials say his absence constitutes a violation of the parole terms specified in a felony conviction in 2014 for embezzlement and money laundering. The Federal Penitentiary Service has asked a court to reinstate his sentence and change his probation to incarceration. The prison agency wants Navalny jailed until the courts hear its lawsuit. Read more 
18.01.21 Yulia Navalnaya, Kremlin Critic’s Wife, In The Spotlight
The Moscow Times
From hospitals to courtrooms to demonstrations, Russia's chief opposition figure Alexei Navalny is often flanked by his wife Yulia Navalnaya, who has been thrown into the limelight since his poisoning in August. On Sunday she flew back with her husband to Russia from Germany, where the couple had spent five months as the Kremlin critic recovered from the poisoning with the Soviet-era Novichok nerve agent. When police detained Navalny at passport control, Navalnaya embraced him, gave him a kiss, then stepped outside of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, addressing a gathered crowd. Read more 
17.01.21 Russian Cargo Ship Sinks In Black Sea Off Turkish Coast
TASS
Russian cargo ship sank off the Turkish coast in the Black Sea, the Anadolu news agency reported on Sunday. The incident occurred near the Bartin Province in northern Turkey. Turkey is carrying out an operation to rescue 15 crew members of the sunken vessel, Bartin Province Governor Sinan Guner said. "At the moment there is no data on the deaths. The rescue effort is complicated by bad weather conditions," he said, according to the news agency. Read more 
17.01.21 Swimming In Russia’s Icy Winter: Recreation, Religion, And Now A Record?
Forbes
In a country renowned the world over for the harshness of its winters, Russians are surprisingly eager to take to the water even at the coldest time of year: just for fun, for reasons of faith, or maybe to set a world record. It was that last one that drew 40-year-old Yekaterina Nekrasova to brave the waters of the world's deepest freshwater lake, Lake Baikal in Siberia. Nekrasova reportedly swam 85 meters (279 feet)—under the winter ice. As the Times of London reported, Nekrasova's back-up team cut holes in the ice so that she could get to the surface if she needed to. She completed the swim without needing them, and without wearing any special equipment: just a bathing suit. Read more 
17.01.21 Alexei Navalny To Fly Into Moscow In Challenge To Putin
The Guardian
The Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny is expected to return to Moscow on Sunday evening nearly five months after a suspected poisoning by Russia’s FSB spy agency left him fighting for his life. Navalny’s return is a direct challenge to Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin, which has sought to keep the opposition leader in exile by indirectly threatening him with prosecution and jail time if he comes back. Navalny is expected to land at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport at 4.20pm GMT on a flight from Berlin, where he has been recuperating from the poisoning attack since August. It appears likely that he will be taken into custody on arrival. Moscow’s prison service says that it has orders to detain him for parole violations that could lead to up to three and a half years in prison, and the Investigative Committee says it is investigating him for massive fraud in a separate case that could carry a decade-long sentence. Read more 
16.01.21 Russia Resumes Flights To Vietnam, India, Finland, Qatar On January 27
TASS
Russia will resume flights to Vietnam, India, Finland and Qatar on January 27, 2021, with several flights per week, the Russian anti-coronavirus crisis center told reporters on Saturday. "After discussing and taking into consideration the epidemiological situation in certain countries, the crisis center took a decision to resume reciprocal international air communication starting on January 27, 2021 with the following states, namely Vietnam (Moscow-Hanoi, twice a week), India (Moscow-New Delhi, twice a week), Finland (Moscow-Helsinki, twice a week, as well as St. Petersburg-Helsinki, twice a week) and Qatar (Moscow-Doha, twice a week.)," the center said. Read more 
16.01.21 Russia Initiates Procedure To Withdraw From Open Skies Treaty
Interfax
Russia is initiating the procedure to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday. "Due to a lack of progress in removing impediments to the further functioning of the treaty under the new circumstances, the Russian Foreign Ministry has been authorized to declare the initiation of domestic state procedures toward the withdrawal of the Russian Federation from the Open Skies Treaty. The relevant notice will be sent to the depositaries upon their completion," the statement said. The United States quit the Open Skies Treaty last year "under a far-fetched pretext," the statement said. "This action resulted in a substantial disruption of the balance of interests of the participatory states established by the conclusion of the treaty, the treaty's validity was seriously damaged, and the role of the Open Skies Treaty as an instrument building confidence and security was undermined," it said. Read more 
16.01.21 Germany Approves Resuming Russia Gas Pipeline Work
AP
German authorities gave permission Friday for work to resume on a subsea pipeline bringing natural gas from Russia that’s been the target of U.S. sanctions threats. The decision by the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency can be appealed, meaning there could be another halt to the construction on the Nord Stream 2 project, which has drawn major criticism from the United States, some other European countries and environmental groups. The U.S. government has argued that the Baltic Sea pipeline would make Europe more dependent on Russian gas and hurt European energy security. The Kremlin has responded by accusing Washington of trying to promote sales of its own liquefied natural gas. Read more 
16.01.21 Germany Says Answered Russia Call For Aid In Navalny Probe
The Moscow Times
Germany has transmitted to Russia transcripts of interviews with Alexei Navalny as part of its response to Moscow's request for assistance in its investigation into the poisoning of the Kremlin critic, Berlin said Saturday. Navalny was evacuated to Berlin in late August for treatment after he fell violently ill on a flight from Siberia to Moscow. Tests carried out by Western countries including Germany have concluded that he was poisoned by the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok. He has said he will return to Russia on Sunday, flying with Pobeda — Aeroflot's low-cost subsidiary whose name means "Victory" in Russian. Read more 
16.01.21 Collision Course: Russia Prepares For Alexei Navalny’s Return
The Independent
Of all the people who could have advised Alexei Navalny on his future in or out of Russia, his longtime adviser Vladimir Ashurkov was better placed than most. The financier himself fled to London in 2014 after the Kremlin dropped heavy hints of a likely arrest – a direct consequence of him coordinating fundraising for Mr Navalny’s Moscow mayoral campaign the year before. After four months of involuntary exile in Germany, Mr Navalny faced a similar question: risk almost certain arrest or worse in Russia, or enjoy the quiet life in Europe. Remarkably, the outspoken Putin critic opted for the former. Mr Ashurkov said he initially thought about advising his ally that “he had choices” that didn’t involve the danger of returning to Russia. But early enough he realised there was no point of even having the conversation. Read more 
15.01.21 Wallenberg Family Loses Case Against Russian Prosecutor General's Office
Interfax
The Second Cassation Court of Common Jurisdiction has fully upheld rulings which were challenged by the niece of Raoul Wallenberg in a lawsuit against the Russian Prosecutor General's Office and the Chief Military Prosecutor's Office, demanding that they submit documentation relating to the rehabilitation of the Swedish diplomat, human rights group Team 29, which represents the plaintiffs, said. "On January 13, the Second Cassation Court of Common Jurisdiction dismissed the complaint in the case of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg," Team 29 said. "The prosecutor's office asserts that the conclusion on Wallenberg's rehabilitation and the documents it was based upon constitute internal information. The courts supported it on this. However, there is no proof of that in the case. Besides, by law, the provision of documentation requested in such situations cannot be denied. No doubt the ruling will be appealed," senior lawyer with Team 29 Maksim Olenichev said, commenting on yesterday's decision. Read more 
15.01.21 Russia Prison Agency Warns Navalny He Faces Immediate Arrest
AP
Russia’s prison service said Thursday that top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny faces immediate arrest once he returns from Germany. Navalny, who has been convalescing in Germany from an August poisoning with a nerve agent that he has blamed on the Kremlin, said he will fly back home Sunday. He accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of now trying to deter him from coming home with the threat of arrest. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied a role in the opposition leader’s poisoning. At the end of December, the Federal Penitentiary Service, or FSIN, warned Navalny that he faced time in prison if he fails to immediately report to its office in line with the terms of a suspended sentence and probation he received for a 2014 conviction on charges of embezzlement and money laundering that he rejected as politically motivated. The European Court for Human Rights had ruled that his conviction was unlawful. Read more 
15.01.21 New START: Expiring Arms Accord Between Cold War Rivals
The Moscow Times
Russia and the United States have until Feb. 5 to prolong a key agreement to curb their nuclear arsenals, the last remaining arms reduction pact between the former Cold War rivals. Here are key details of the New START treaty, which expires a little over two weeks into U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's first term. Read more 
14.01.21 Moscow Extends Coronavirus Restrictions For Another Week
TASS
The Moscow authorities have decided to extend coronavirus restrictions for another week, until January 21, the city’s Mayor Sergei Sobyanin wrote on his blog on Thursday. According to Sobyanin, the city’s colleges, sports schools and supplementary educational facilities will remain on remote learning or on holiday breaks. "All other restrictions are extended until Thursday, January 21," the mayor said. In particular, elderly people and those from at-risk groups need to continue self-isolating and employers should make sure that at least 30% of their personnel continue telecommuting. Eating facilities should close at 11:00 pm. Read more 
13.01.21 Kremlin Foe Navalny Says He Will Fly Home Despite Threats
AP
Top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny says he plans to go home to Russia next weekend despite the authorities’ threats to put him once again behind bars. Navalny, who has been convalescing in Germany from an August poisoning with a nerve agent that he has blamed on the Kremlin, charged that Russian President Vladimir Putin was now trying to deter him from coming home with new legal motions. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied a role in the opposition leader’s poisoning. “Putin is stamping his feet demanding to do everything so that that I don’t return home,” Navalny said Wednesday while announcing his return on Instagram. “The people who tried to kill me got offended because I survived and now they are threatening to put me behind bars.” Read more 
13.01.21 Roskomnadzor Opens 8 Administrative Cases In Relation To Radio Liberty Projects
Interfax
Russian telecommunications watchdog Roskomnadzor has drawn up eight of 18 administrative offence reports with regard to four websites that are projects of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty corporation for not displaying markings denoting them as media outlets designated as foreign agents in Russia, and these will be forwarded to courts within the next three days. "The first eight reports have been drawn up under Article 19.31.1 of Administrative Violations Code with regard to media outlets functioning as foreign agents without complying with the law requiring that they duly mark the information they spread. In the presence of representatives of the media outlets acting as foreign agents, the reports were drawn up due to the absence of markings on four websites. The reports will reach a magistrates' court within three working days for decisions to be made on administrative penalties," Roskomnadzor said. Read more 
12.01.21 Russia Extends UK Flight Suspension Until February 1
TASS
Russia will keep flights to and from the United Kingdom suspended until February 1, 2021, the anti-coronavirus crisis center said in a statement on Tuesday. "The anti-coronavirus crisis center has decided to keep flights to and from the United Kingdom suspended. In order to protect public health, the suspension has been extended until 11:59 pm on February 1, 2021," the statement reads. Russia suspended flights to and from the UK on December 22. Read more 
12.01.21 4 Russian Soldiers Die, Over 40 Injured In Road Crash
AP
At least four Russian soldiers died and more than 40 others were injured Monday in a traffic crash near Moscow, officials said. The Defense Ministry said that a truck driver lost control of his vehicle and rammed into a convoy of military buses on a highway just northwest of the capital. Two of the victims were killed on the spot and two others died on their way to a hospital. Authorities said that more 40 servicemen were injured, and those in grave condition were rushed to hospitals by helicopters. Russian news reports said that the convoy of buses had stopped after the leading vehicle had a malfunction, and the truck crashed into them from behind. Read more 
12.01.21 Magnitude 6.5 Earthquake On Russia-Mongolia Border
Sputnik
The epicenter of the disaster was registered 277 kilometers southwest of the city of Angarsk, in the Russian Irkutsk region, and 30 km from the Mongolian city of Turt. The temblor was located at a depth of 10 km under a lake. Seismologists on Tuesday recorded a magnitude 6.5 earthquake on the Russian-Mongolian border, according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC). The epicenter of the earthquake is located in Mongolia, in the middle of a lake and between two volcanoes. The US Geological Survey (USGS) rated the earthquake at 6.8 magnitude. Read more 
12.01.21 Telegram Downloads Soar As Trump Supporters Deplatformed
The Moscow Times
Encrypted messaging app Telegram has become the second-most downloaded app in the United States after President Donald Trump and his supporters were deplatformed in the wake of last week’s deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol, The Daily Telegraph reported Monday. Telegram's downloads rose as Twitter and Facebook banned Trump while Google and Apple removed conservative social network Parler from their app stores. The tech giants said they took drastic actions — which were criticized by Russian pro- and anti-Kremlin figures as well as by Telegram co-founder Pavel Durov himself — over the outgoing president’s role in inciting last Wednesday’s U.S. Capitol riot that killed five people. Read more 
11.01.21 First Case Of British Coronavirus Strain Confirmed In Russia
TASS
The first case of the British coronavirus strain was confirmed in Russia at the end of 2020 and now the patient is no longer contagious, Anna Popova, chief of Russia’s sanitary watchdog, said on Sunday. "By the end of the last year, we saw that we had a variant of the British strain that is provoking serious fears now. It was found in only one person who felt and is now feeling well. He had no symptoms. Now, he is not contagious," she said in an interview with the Vesti news roundup on the Rossiya-1 television channel. Thirty-two out of more than 7,000 people who arrived from the United Kingdom in a period from late November to the day when air service between the two countries was suspended tested positive for the novel coronavirus infection, Popova, said. Read more 
11.01.21 Ivanova Gets Win, Geisenberger Extends Luge Points Lead
AP
Russia’s Tatyana Ivanova rallied to defeat series points leader Natalie Geisenberger of Germany in a women’s World Cup luge race Sunday. Ivanova finished two runs in 1 minute, 23.594 seconds. Geisenberger, who led after the first run, finished in 1:23.646. Russia’s Viktoriia Demchenko was third in 1:23.755. It was the eighth runner-up finish in as many races this season for Geisenberger, who extended her lead over fellow German Julia Taubitz to 29 points in the overall standings with four races remaining. Summer Britcher was 10th for the U.S., while Brittney Arndt was 12th and Ashley Farquharson was 14th. Read more 
11.01.21 Putin, Aliyev, Pashinyan To Hold Talks On Karabakh In Moscow
TASS
Trilateral talks of Russian President Vladimir Putin, his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev, and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan will be held on Monday, January 11, in Moscow at the initiative of the Russian head of state. The sides plan to review the implementation of the November 9, 2020 statement of the three leaders on Nagorno-Karabakh and discuss steps to resolve the regional issues, the Kremlin press service reported on Sunday. "At the initiative of the president of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, on January 11, 2021, in Moscow, trilateral talks will be held of the President of the Russian Federation, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan. It is planned to review the implementation of the November 9, 2020 statement of leaders of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia on Nagorno-Karabakh and discuss further steps on resolving the issues present in the region," the statement said. Read more 
11.01.21 Gorbachev Says Moscow Should Ask Biden To Reiterate Commitment Against Nuclear War
Sputnik
Russia should once again renew its proposal to the United States to reiterate both countries' commitment to the Gorbachev-Reagan statement against nuclear conflicts as the Joe Biden administration is about to take power, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said. "It is stated in the joint statement: 'a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. They [the sides] will not seek to achieve military superiority'. Russia, by the way, has recently offered the Americans to reiterate this formula. A new [US] administration is currently on its way, so this offer should be repeated", Gorbachev said. Read more 
10.01.21 Sluev, Nadyrshina Win Parallel Giant Slalom Contests During Snowboard World Cup Stage
TASS
Russian snowboarder Igor Sluev won the first place in parallel giant slalom during the FIS Snowboard World Cup stage in Scuol, Switzerland. Michal Nowaczyk from Poland was second and Tim Mastnak (Slovenia) captured the third position. Sofia Nadyrshina from Russia won the women’s parallel giant slalom contest. Ramona Hofmeister (Germany) was second and Julie Zogg from Switzerland came third. Read more 
10.01.21 7 Die In Fire At Nursing Home In Western Siberia
AP
A fire at a nursing home in Siberia killed seven people on Saturday, Russian authorities said. The fire took place at the private home for the elderly in the Tyumen region of western Siberia. The fire also injured a resident, according to the Investigative Committee, the nation’s top criminal investigation agency. Police detained the care home’s owner on charges of violating safety regulations. Local officials said the home in the town of Borovsky wasn’t registered with authorities. Read more 
10.01.21 Putin Offers Condolences To Indonesian President Following Jet Crash
TASS
Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed condolences to President of Indonesia Joko Widodo due to the fact of the passenger airplane crash in the Java Sea. The telegram has been posted on the Kremlin’s website on Saturday. "Please accept sincere condolences in view of the death of passengers and crewmembers of the airplane crashed near the Java coast. Please convey words of compassion and support to the nearest and dearest of the victims," the telegram says. Read more 
10.01.21 Making Life Difficult
Meduza
In the lead up to the close of the State Duma’s fall 2020 session on December 24, Russian lawmakers were working in “turbo mode.” In a matter of days, they submitted and successfully adopted — although sometimes only in the first reading — an array of bills that will seriously tighten the country’s legislation concerning “foreign agents,” public demonstrations, election campaigning, and “educational activities.” Generally speaking, lawmakers from the ruling party, United Russia, introduced these initiatives, though they were sometimes joined by their colleagues from nominal opposition parties. Politicians and experts alike told Meduza that the new legislation will make it much more difficult for opposition parties to nominate candidates, run campaigns, organize public rallies, and monitor the integrity of elections in Russia. All of which will affect the State Duma elections set to take place in 2021. Read more 
10.01.21 Kremlin Foe Navalny Decries Twitter Ban On Trump As Dangerous 'Precedent'
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
Exiled Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny has accused Twitter of "an unacceptable act of censorship" in a thread arguing against that powerhouse private social network's permanent ban on outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump after violence in Washington this week. The 44-year-old Kremlin foe warned in the 11-point thread that "this precedent will be exploited by enemies of freedom of speech around the world." Navalny, who is in Germany after being flown there for emergency medical care from a poisoning in Russia in August, said that during his four-year term Trump "has been writing and saying very irresponsible things...[a]nd paid for it by not getting re-elected for a second term." Read more 
09.01.21 Russia Suspends E-Visas Due To Coronavirus
The Moscow Times
Russia has suspended its electronic visa system until further notice because of the coronavirus pandemic, tourism authorities have said. Citizens of 52 countries, including EU member states, China and India, were expected to be able take advantage of e-visas from Jan. 1, 2021. However, most foreigners are still unable to enter Russia after it banned international flights in spring with the arrival of the first wave of the Covid-19 outbreak. An undated notice on the Federal Tourism Agency website’s e-visa section warns visitors that Russia has temporarily suspended issuing e-visas “to ensure state security” and prevent the spread of Covid-19. Read more 
09.01.21 Russian Government Sets Subsistence Level At $157.57 For 2021
TASS
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed a decree setting the size of the subsistence level for 2021 at 11,653 rubles ($157.57), the government press service said on Saturday. "Thus, the subsistence level per capita will be 11,653 rubles, for the working-age population - 12,702 rubles, for children - 11,303 rubles, for pensioners - 10,022 rubles," the statement said. In addition, the subsistence level in 2021 is set for a year, not a quarter. Read more 
09.01.21 3 Killed By Avalanche At Siberian Ski Resort
AP
At least three people were killed by an avalanche that hit a ski resort in Siberia, officials said Saturday. The avalanche swept over several buildings at the Otdelnaya Mountain ski complex outside the Arctic city of Norilsk just before midnight. About 250 rescuers who combed the area for hours in a snowstorm recovered the bodies of a married couple and their 18-month-old son. The couple’s second child, a 14-year-old boy, was found alive and hospitalized with serious injuries. Read more 
09.01.21 Moscow Arts Scene In 2021: A Spectacular Year Ahead
The Moscow Times
The year 2020 was not a good year for the arts. In Russia, as elsewhere, it was a year of closures, cancellations, postponements, broken contracts, checkerboard seating, air scrubbing equipment, performers and personnel with Covid, self-isolation regimes, and catastrophic loss of both lives and income. Planning was often useless. As Yelena Kovalskaya, director of the Meyerhold Center in Moscow told The Moscow Times, “In July we didn’t know what the requirements from the Mayor’s Office and the Consumer protection service would be for September, and in September we didn’t know what the situation would be in December.” 2021 is starting with much of the same uncertainty. But there is hope that current measures and vaccines will lead to a return to normality by the end of the year, and a combination of new skills and innovation will make this a richer year in the arts than anyone could have expected nine months ago. Read more 
08.01.21 The Recovery Year
Meduza
Thanks to the peculiarities of its structure, the Russian economy has been riding out the coronavirus pandemic more easily than many others. That said, Russia now faces a longer and more difficult recovery than many other countries around the world. And this will likely be felt already in the coming year. Meduza looks back on how the “coronavirus crisis” has affected the Russian economy and breaks down what might happen in the months ahead, as well as the government’s plans for handling the situation. Read more 
08.01.21 Russian Mid-Air Collision Kills Three
The Moscow Times
Three people have died in a mid-air collision between two light aircraft near St. Petersburg, Russian media reported Friday. One of the planes landed safely with its pilot unharmed. Interfax, citing Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry, said the crash occurred at an airfield that hosts regular competition aerobatics events next to the Leningrad region village of Gostilitsy. Out of the five people on board the two planes, one pilot and two adults reportedly died at the scene. A child accompanying them has survived, according to Interfax. Read more 
08.01.21 Ice Collapse At Waterfall In Kamchatka Kills One, Injures Three
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
Reports from Russia's Far East say a massive collapse of ice at a waterfall on the Kamchatka Peninsula has killed one tourist and injured three other people, including a 12-year-old boy. The Kamchatka regional government's website said the tragedy happened on January 7 as a group of tourists and a guide were visiting the Vilyuchinsk waterfall in the southern part of the peninsula. Two of the injured tourists were hospitalized. One of them, the 12-year-old boy, was listed in serious condition. Read more 
07.01.21 Four People Caught In Glacier Collapse In Kamchatka
TASS
Four people were caught in an ice glacier collapse in Kamchatka, one was killed, three were wounded, press service of the Russian Emergencies Ministry told TASS. "According to operational data, four people from the tourist group were under the collapse: three of them were injured, one was killed," the press service said. The Ministry of Emergency Situations noted that, according to preliminary information, other tourist groups who were at the waterfall left the scene in full. Press service of the regional government specified that there was a child in serious condition among the injured, and two more adults sustained minor injuries. Read more 
07.01.21 Putin Observes Christmas At 13th Century Island Church
AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin attended Orthodox Christmas services Wednesday at a small 13th century church on an island. During two decades in power, Putin generally has marked Christmas outside Moscow, often at relatively little-known provincial churches. The Russian Orthodox Church, like many other Orthodox churches, observes Christmas on Jan. 7, with main services starting late on Christmas Eve. Putin on Wednesday went to the Saint Nikolai on Lipno Church, on an island in the river delta near Veliky Novgorod, about 500 kilometers (300 miles) northwest of Moscow. The small stone church is a UNESCO-listed heritage site. Read more 
07.01.21 Russia In 2021: Will The Economy Recover?
The Moscow Times
Early last year, Russia quietly dropped its long-standing target to become one of the world’s five largest economies. The move came as part of a sweeping reset of more than 100 socioeconomic goals President Vladimir Putin had wanted to hit by 2024. Citing the unprecedented economic circumstances, authorities said 2030 was now a more realistic deadline for the ambitious agenda. Some goals, like the top-five target, were ditched altogether. The irony, analysts said, is that 2020 could be the first ever year that Russia comes close to actually breaking into the top 5 — at least when measured on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis, which takes into account differences in living standards Read more 
06.01.21 OPEC+ Agrees On Oil Production Cuts For February And March
TASS
The OPEC+ countries agreed on the parameters for cutting oil production in February and March, which will amount to 7.125 mln bpd, two sources in OPEC told TASS. Now the alliance countries are cutting production by 7.2 mln bpd. However, in February and March Russia and Kazakhstan will be able to increase it by 75,000 bpd, by 65,000 and 10,000 bpd, respectively. This increase in production will be offset by a proportional and voluntary production cut by Saudi Arabia, sources told TASS. "This compromise allows Russia and Kazakhstan to get what they wanted - an increase in production. Everyone else is also satisfied, because in the end the supply will not grow," said one of the agency's interlocutors. Read more 
06.01.21 Russia And West Clash Over Syria Chemical Weapons Sanctions
AP
Syria and close ally Russia clashed with the U.S. and other nations Tuesday over a Western initiative to suspend Syria’s voting rights in the global chemical weapons watchdog for failing to provide details of three chemical attacks in 2017 that investigators blamed on President Bashar Assad’s government. The confrontation in the U.N. Security Council foreshadowed a showdown when the 193 member states of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons meet in The Hague, Netherlands, in April to consider a French-drafted measure, on behalf of 46 countries, to suspend Syria’s “rights and privileges” in the body. The French proposal was a response to Syria’s failure to meet a 90-day deadline set in July by the OPCW’s executive council for Damascus to declare the nerve agent sarin and chlorine, which OPCW investigators said last April were dropped by the Syrian air force on the central town of Latamneh in late March 2017. Read more 
06.01.21 Russia In 2021: A Corporate Reckoning?
The Moscow Times
For Oleg Voronin, co-founder of upmarket fashion chain I Am Studio, the most difficult period of 2020 wasn’t the two months when Moscow’s quarantine restrictions forced him to shut his stores. “It was fall,” he told The Moscow Times, “when we had to find the funds to start making next year’s spring and summer collections, but trade had still not returned to pre-crisis levels,” and cash was running low. “Since September, traffic and revenue have fallen markedly, yet we have the same — even higher — costs,” he added. The post-lockdown spending spree he had hoped for failed to materialize, while landlords were unwilling to extend rent discounts given that Russia has not reintroduced any formal restrictions on businesses opening. Read more 
05.01.21 Russia In 2021: Looming Elections Dominate The Domestic Scene
The Moscow Times
Elections to the State Duma look set to be the focus of Russian domestic affairs this year after a turbulent 12 months dominated by succession, constitution and opposition. Even before the coronavirus upended the world, 2020 had been an extraordinary year for Russia’s usually staid politics. In January, ex-president Dmitry Medvedev abruptly resigned as prime minister, a position he had held for eight years, to be replaced by Mikhail Mishustin, a politically obscure tax chief. The shock departure of a key member of President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, albeit one tarnished by allegations of serious corruption, prompted speculation that Russia’s longtime president was planning his own transition out of office. Read more 
05.01.21 Russian Ice Hockey Juniors Lost Semi-final Game To Canadian Team
TASS
The Russian ice hockey team lost the semi-final game to the Canadian time with the 0:5 score during the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship. The goal netted by Russia’s Mikhail Abramov was revoked because of the offside after the video replay. Two and a half minutes later goalie Yaroslav Askarov turned aside a penalty shot. The Canadian team will play its final with the winner in the game between the US and Finland scheduled on Tuesday. The Russian team will be the party to the bronze medal match. Read more 
05.01.21 Putin, Merkel Discuss Possibility For Joint Production Of COVID-19 Vaccines
Sputnik
Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have discussed cooperation in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, putting an emphasis on possible prospects of joint production of vaccines against the virus, the Kremlin said on Tuesday. Read more 
04.01.21 Moscow Metro Hires First Female Train Drivers In Modern History
The Guardian
The Moscow metro has hired female drivers for the first time in its recent history, following changes in Russian legislation prohibiting women from many professions. The Russian capital’s transport system, which oversees the sprawling metro network, said in a statement that “the first female electric train drivers in modern history started working for the Moscow metro.” Built in the Soviet era as a communist showpiece, the metro’s trains were historically operated by men because the work was listed on the government’s register of jobs deemed harmful to women’s health. Read more 
04.01.21 Foreign Policy Experts Map Russia’s Plans For 2021
The Moscow Times
Russia had to tread a fine foreign policy line in 2020. The country’s near abroad was rocked by unprecedented unrest as uprisings in Kremlin-friendly Kyrgyzstan and Belarus and war in the Caucasus challenged its influence in the region. In the U.S., the election of Joe Biden is set to fundamentally change the course of American foreign policy toward Russia, while the poisoning of Kremlin-critic Alexei Navalny strained relations with Europe. Russia also extended its global footprint by approving a naval facility in Sudan clearing the way for Moscow’s first military foothold in Africa since the fall of the Soviet Union. Read more 
04.01.21 Pakistan To Start Building Gas Pipeline With Russia
Bloomberg
Pakistan will start building a 1,100 kilometer (684 miles) pipeline in July with Russia that will allow the South Asian nation to operate more liquefied natural gas terminals. The South Asian nation will have a majority share of 51% to 74% in the project, while Russia will own the remainder, Nadeem Babar, petroleum adviser to the prime minister, said in an interview on Dec. 14. Pakistan’s gas distribution companies Sui Southern Gas Co. and Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd., which have started acquiring land for the pipeline, will be a part of the project, while a Russian consortium will lead construction. Read more 
03.01.21 Russian Women To Watch In 2021
The Moscow Times
The Moscow Times has compiled a list of the most impressive Russian women in 2020. It includes movers and shakers across different parts of Russia, generations, and occupations. However, all of these women have one thing in common — they were able to use their platforms to tackle the new and old challenges of 2020 and will most likely continue to do so in 2021. Read more 
03.01.21 Opposition Leader Navalny Faces Dilemma As Big Political Year Dawns For Russia
Forbes
New Year is Russia's biggest public holiday: a time when gifts are exchanged, and families and friends celebrate and look to the future. For opposition leader Alexei Navalny—in Germany where he received hospital treatment for a poison attack he has blamed on the Russian security services—there was an unpleasant surprise. The Kremlin's most vocal critic was warned that he must return to Russia December 29—or face jail. Navalny did not comply with the order to hand himself in to the authorities in Moscow—but his understandable desire to avoid prison leaves him with a big question: how effectively can he continue his political campaigns against the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, from outside Russia? Read more 
03.01.21 Military ‘exile’ Is The Punishment For Russia’s Opposition
The Independent
On a desolate archipelago in the Russian Arctic – so far from civilisation that it was a Soviet nuclear bomb test site in the 1960s – sits a leaky metal hut shaped like a barrel with an icon and a photograph of the president, Vladamir Putin, on the wall inside. There are no trees, no internet, no landline or mobile phone connection and no water on site except for melted snow and ice. Hungry polar bears are all around. So the outpost at Cherakino seems a perfect place to revive the practice of political exile in Mr Putin’s Russia, opposition leaders contend. It’s here that Russia’s military sent one of the country’s most promising opposition politicians, Ruslan Shaveddinov, after security agents in black masks broke down his door and seized him from his home in December 2019. Read more 
02.01.21 Serbia Opens Pipeline For Russian Gas, Ignores US Opposition
AP
Defying U.S. calls to reduce its dependency on energy supplies from Russia, Serbia on Friday officially launched a new gas link that will bring additional Russian gas to the Balkan country via Bulgaria and Turkey. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic attended a ceremony Friday for the opening of the 400-kilometer (250-mile) section of the Turkish Stream pipeline, saying that Serbia has become “much richer” thanks to the new Russian energy supplies. “Serbia has managed, with the help of our Russian friends and partners, to secure supply on its territory with gas,” Vucic said. “From our territory, gas will go towards Hungary, Bosnia-Herzegovina, we will look at what other territories and countries (will be included) in the future. It’s an important and great day for our country.” Read more 
02.01.21 As Climate Crisis Rages, Scientists Fear The Worst Is Yet To Come
The Moscow Times
Russia came under siege from climate change in 2020, and experts warn that Arctic heatwaves, fires and melting permafrost could be worse this year. The year began with the warmest winter in 140 years of recorded meteorological data, leaving Moscow — a city usually covered in snow for four months of the year — entirely snow free for the month of February. In the summer, Siberia suffered its worst ever forest fires, which had burned through an abnormally warm winter to emit in three months roughly as much carbon as Egypt does in a year. Read more 
02.01.21 The Latest Case Against Mr. Navalny
Meduza
In the late evening hours of Tuesday, December 29, Russia’s Federal Investigative Committee announced felony fraud charges against Anti-Corruption Foundation founder Alexey Navalny and “other individuals.” The opposition figure and his colleagues are suspected of embezzling hundreds of millions of rubles in donations to their organizations “to buy property and valuables” for themselves. Pro-Kremlin bloggers have circulated these same allegations for years without ever presenting convincing evidence. Meduza examines the biggest questions about the Russian authorities’ new case against Navalny, which comes just weeks after he accused President Putin of personally ordering his assassination. Read more 
02.01.21 Russia's Bolshoi Ballet Show Goes On Despite Pandemic
ABC News
In a rare sight in the pandemic era, the grandiose auditorium of the Bolshoi in Moscow started filling up with people arriving to see the legendary "Nutcracker" ballet on a December night. The number of seats has been capped to 25%, and neither staff nor spectator can enter the building without a body temperature check and a face mask. But the enthusiasm of dancers and ballet lovers is unbridled. "We are happy people because we have the opportunity to work today," Makhar Vaziev, Bolshoi Ballet director, told ABC News. He said that the anxiety and the feeling of danger persist, but would be worse if his dancers had to stay home. Read more 
01.01.21 Law Governing Remote Work In Russia Comes Into Effect On January 1
TASS
The law governing remote work has come into effect in Russia on Friday, January 1. President Vladimir Putin signed the law in early December 2020. The document was written by a group of lawmakers from both houses of the Russian parliament - the State Duma and the Federation Council. The new law specifies the provisions of Chapter 49.1 of Russia’s Labor Code, which covers specifics of regulation of distance worker’s labor, such as working time and off-work time, types of remote employment (permanent, temporary and combined), grounds for their application, rules of interaction between an employer and an employee. Read more 
01.01.21 Putin Wishes Russians Brighter New Year, ‘return To Normal’
AP
President Vladimir Putin wished Russians a brighter new year Thursday as he praised the nation for its courage and resilience amid the coronavirus outbreak. In a televised address broadcast just before midnight in each of Russia’s 11 time zones, Putin said that a year ago “no one could imagine the challenges that we would face.” Russia has recorded more than 3 million confirmed infections and over 100,000 deaths, according to government figures. “It feels like that the past year carried a load of several years,” Putin said. “It was hard for each of us, with worries, serious material problems, anxieties and, for some, the loss of dear ones.” Read more 
01.01.21 2020: The People Russia Lost
The Moscow Times
In 2020 the number of deaths in Russia of prominent and beloved public figures was devastatingly high, many from the coronavirus, but some from other causes as well. The performing arts were particularly hard hit by Covid-19, since by the nature of the professions, people at work cannot be masked or socially distant. We honor the memories of the many people who passed away this year. Read more 
01.01.21 The Telegram App Gives Voice To The Oppressed In Belarus And Russia.
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
In a year marked by tightened restrictions and unrest, Telegram sent a clear message to authoritarian governments who tried to keep it quiet in 2020. But as the app, which has earned a reputation as a free-speech platform, looks to spread the word in Iran and China, its popularity among messengers of violence and hate remains a concern. Telegram has emerged as an essential tool for opposition movements in places like Belarus and Iran and won a huge victory when the Russian authorities gave up on their effort to ban the app after two fruitless years during which senior officials continued to use it themselves. But protesters and open media are not the only ones who find sanctuary in a tool like Telegram. Terrorists, hate groups, and purveyors of gore also see the benefits of encrypted group chats that can reach large audiences without censorship. Read more 
01.01.21 ISIL Claims Deadly Chechnya Knife Attack
Aljazeera
ISIL (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for a knife attack on police, in which one officer died, in the capital of Russia’s southern Chechnya region. The group’s claim, reported in the al-Naba newspaper on Friday, was made without providing any evidence. The al-Naba newspaper is affiliated with ISIL. The attack, which took place on Monday, saw two assailants kill one policeman and injure another in Grozny, according to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. Read more 
31.12.20 Search And Rescue Operation After Sinking Of Onega Fishing Vessel In Barents Sea Completed
Interfax
The active phase of the search and rescue operation in the Barents Sea following the sinking of the Onega fishing vessel has been wrapped up, the Federal Agency for Sea and Inland Water Transport (Rosmorrechflot) told Interfax on Wednesday. "The active phase of the search and rescue operation in the aftermath of the sinking of the Onega vessel was completed at 3:00 p.m. Moscow time on December 30," the agency spokesperson said, adding that the vessels taking part in the search effort are now returning to base. The Onega fishing vessel, built in 1979, sank on December 28 in the Barents Sea near Novaya Zemlya in the Arkhangelsk region. Two of the boat's 19-strong crew were rescued. According to the Federal Agency for Fishery (Rosrybolovstvo), the Onega was owned by the Arkhangelsk region's Kalinin fishery enterprise. Read more 
31.12.20 Russia Slaps More UK Nationals With Entry Bans Over Navalny
AP
Russia has decided to expand the number of British nationals barred from entering the country in response to the “unacceptable and unfounded” U.K. sanctions over the poisoning of top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced Wednesday. In October, the European Union and the U.K. imposed sanctions on six Russian officials and a state research institute over what German authorities said was a poisoning in Russia with a nerve agent. The penalties consisted of asset freezes and entry bans. In a statement, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the decision to expand the number of British nationals was made in response to “unconstructive and unfriendly actions of the British authorities.” Read more 
31.12.20 Melting Permafrost Reveals ‘best Preserved’ Woolly Rhino In Siberia
The Independent
Scientists have discovered one of the best-preserved Ice Age woolly rhinos from the melting permafrost in Russia’s extreme northern region. The extinct species that likely roamed in the country’s diamond-producing region of Yakutia some 20,000 to 50,000 years ago has many of its internal organs still intact. The carcass was found in August with most of its soft tissues, including intestine, lumps of fat and other parts such as limbs, hair, tooth and horn, scientist Valery Plotnikov was quoted as saying by Yakutia 24, a local media outlet. Read more 
31.12.20 Russia In Review: The Biggest Stories Of 2020
The Moscow Times
From a global pandemic that rattled its healthcare system and economy to massive protests and conflict in its "near abroad," 2020 was a year of unprecedented challenges for Russia. All year long, Russia grappled with the Covid-19 pandemic as it became one of the world's most-infected countries and raced to develop a vaccine against the virus. Meanwhile, popular uprisings in post-Soviet allies Belarus and Kyrgyzstan — as well as a six-week war between Armenia and Azerbaijan — brought instability to Russia's periphery. Read more 
31.12.20 New Year, New Rules
Meduza
Heading into the new year, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been busying signing a flurry of new legislation into law. As a result, in 2021, there will be updated rules governing everything from NGOs and protests, to the Russian Internet and more. Meduza sums up the most important pieces of legislation, in a nutshell. Read more 
31.12.20 The Week In Russia: New Year, New Era, New Exile?
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
In the Soviet era, and particularly during dictator Josef Stalin’s purges, one of the many fears was of a knock on the door when no guests were expected. Night or day, it could mean that agents of the state had come for you -- and that you could be arrested, condemned in a cursory trial, and sent to the Gulag. In a bizarre reversal of sorts, one that may be emblematic of this particular moment in the long era of President Vladimir Putin, a Kremlin opponent was arrested after knocking on a door -- or ringing a doorbell, to be precise. Lyubov Sobol, a lawyer and ally of Putin’s most prominent foe, Aleksei Navalny, was detained after ringing the bell at the apartment of a man whom a report by the open-source research group Bellingcat and its partners identified as a Federal Security Service (FSB) officer allegedly involved in Navalny’s poisoning with a nerve agent in the Siberian city of Tomsk in August. Read more 
30.12.20 Moscow City Court Gives 15-year Term To Former Inter RAO Top Manager Tsurkan For Espionage
Interfax
The Moscow City Court has given a 15-year prison sentence to former Inter RAO top manager Karina Tsurkan after convicting her of spying for Moldova. "Karina Tsurkan shall be sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment. She shall serve her sentence in a standard-security penal colony," according to the Moscow City Court's judgement pronounced on Tuesday. Since the files of Tsurkan's case are classified and the trial was held in camera, the court made public only the title part and the operative part of its judgement. Under the Russian law, women cannot be ordered to serve their sentences in high-security penitentiaries. At the same time, since the crime committed by Tsurkan was recognized as very grave, the time she spent in pre-trial custody was counted as one day in custody equaling one day in a penitentiary instead of a day and a half. Tsurkan was found guilty of espionage. Read more 
30.12.20 Russian Investigators Open New Fraud Probe Involving Navalny
AP
Russian authorities on Tuesday ramped up the pressure on top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny by leveling new fraud accusations against him. The Investigative Committee, Russia’s main investigative agency, said it has opened a new criminal case against Navalny on charges of large-scale fraud related to his alleged mishandling of some $5 million in private donations to his Anti-Corruption Foundation and other organizations. Navalny, who is convalescing in Germany after an August poisoning with a nerve agent that he blamed on the Kremlin, ridiculed the new accusations as a sign of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s despair. Read more 
30.12.20 Moscow Expands List Of UK Officials Banned From Russia
The Moscow Times
Moscow on Wednesday expanded a list of UK officials banned from entering Russia in a tit-for-tat response to British sanctions imposed over the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that in response to "unconstructive and unfriendly" UK penalties it had "decided to expand the number of British citizens who are denied entry to our country." In October the British government announced it would follow the European Union in adopting sanctions targeting Russian officials over the attack on Navalny with the Novichok nerve agent.
Read more 
30.12.20 Russian COVID-19 Cases Three Times Higher Than Reported, Official Says
UPI
Russia released new figures this week showing it had nearly 230,000 extra deaths through November compared with the same period in 2019, indicating the country's COVID-19 death toll is likely three times higher than reported, the deputy prime minister said. Rosstat, the country's statistics agency, said 229,700 more people died in the first 11 months of 2020 compared with the first 11 months of 2019. Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova told state-run Interfax news agency that most of those extra deaths -- 186,000 -- are due to the novel coronavirus. Read more 
30.12.20 Moscow Extends School Holidays To Limit Spread Of Coronavirus
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
Moscow authorities say they will extend the winter school holidays by one week until January 17 to limit the spread of the coronavirus and avoid new restrictions. Russian schoolchildren will be on holiday starting January 1. Russian officials have resisted imposing a strict lockdown as they did earlier this year, relying on such targeted measures instead. Authorities are betting on a mass vaccination program using Russia's Sputnik-V coronavirus vaccine to get the outbreak under control. In a statement on December 29, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said the extended school holidays will help stabilize the daily rate of COVID-19 infections "at a lower level than at present." Read more 
29.12.20 Russian Fishing Trawler Sinks In Barents Sea, 17 Missing
AP
A Russian fishing trawler sank Monday in the northern Barents Sea and 17 of its crew are still missing, emergency officials said. Two other crew members have been rescued. According to a statement by the Russian Investigative Committee, the vessel with 19 crew members on board capsized and sank on Monday morning. A criminal probe into the incident has been launched and a search operation is underway. Several vessels and an aircraft have been deployed to look for the missing crew members, Russian news agencies reported. Russia’s Emergency Ministry initially suggested that an accumulation of the ice on the trawler could have caused it to sink, but later said the vessel was more likely to have heeled over while pulling up the fishing nets, “scooped up water and sank.” Read more 
29.12.20 Former Russian Monk Detained After Taking Control Of Urals Monastery
TASS
Father Sergiy, a former Russian monk who denied the coronavirus existence and took control of a women’s monastery in the Urals, has been detained and is being questioned, a source in the law enforcement agencies told TASS. "The law enforcement agencies are carrying out an investigation at the Sredneuralsk monastery. Romanov [Father Sergiy] has been detained for questioning," the source said. Father Sergiy will be sent to Moscow. "Yes, there are plans to send him to Moscow," the source said. The former monk was detained after posting a video on YouTube encouraging his followers "to die for Russia," according to the source. Father Sergiy was twice fined for inciting hatred and hostility and spreading fake socially important information during his sermons. In particular, he called on people to go to church despite the lockdown and described the coronavirus situation as a "fake pandemic." Read more 
29.12.20 Animal Medicine Vitalang-2 Proves Effective In Fighting SARS-CoV-2
Interfax
cientists from the Novosibirsk-based Federal Research Center of Fundamental and Translational Medicine confirmed the effectiveness of the animal medicine Vitalang-2 for treating SARS-CoV-2, the causative virus of Covid-19, during the first stage of preclinical trials, Olga Dorokhova, secretary of the interagency working group for coronavirus of the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), told Interfax. "The results of the first phase of the preclinical trials aimed at confirming the specific antiviral effectiveness of the amphiphilic RNA of the medicine Vitalang-2 while treating the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection were presented at the latest meeting of the interagency working group for the coronavirus infection of the RAS Siberian branch," she said. The animal antiviral medicine Vitalang-2 was selected and forwarded to the Russian government within the first package of developments by institutes of the RAS Siberian branch and small innovative enterprises of the Novosibirsk Scientific Center with a recommendation to carry out fast-track clinical trials in order to authorize its use on humans, Dorokhova said. Read more 
29.12.20 Officer, 2 Suspects Die In Attack On Police In Chechnya
AP
Two brothers attacked police with knives Monday in Chechnya, killing an officer and injuring another before being shot dead, the Russian republic’s leader said. Ramzan Kadyrov, the strongman head of Chechnya, said the men attacked road police in the center of the provincial capital, Grozny, in an attempt to seize their weapons. Kadyrov said the brothers came from the neighboring region of Ingushetia and were working at a bakery. The Kremlin has relied on Kadyrov to stabilize Chechnya after two separatist wars in the 1990s and has provided generous subsidies to help rebuild the region. Read more 
29.12.20 Nord Stream 2 Segment In German Exclusive Economic Zone Completed
TASS
Construction work on the 2.6-km long segment of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the exclusive economic zone of Germany has been completed, DPA news agency reported on Monday, citing Nord Stream 2 AG company. The pipelay of two parallel strings of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in the exclusive economic zone of Denmark is expected to start in mid-January, the news agency said. Nord Stream 2 AG will inform about further plans in due course, DPA added. Construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline resumed on December 11. Read more 
29.12.20 Baring Vostok Founder Michael Calvey Back To Work
Interfax
U.S. businessman, founder and senior partner of Baring Vostok Michael Calvey told Interfax he is now back to work. "I am back to work, yes," Calvey said on Monday. Responding to a question from the agency as to whether he will continue investment activities in Russia after the trial, the businessman said he would answer this question later. On November 12, the Russian Supreme Court released Calvey and the other people implicated in the so-called Baring Vostok case from house arrest, however, banned each of them from going out between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., from talking to other defendants, and from receiving and sending correspondence. The Supreme Court also banned all the Baring Vostok defendants from visiting the premises of Vostochny Bank and First Collection Bureau. Calvey said after the hearing he would go back to work soon, but at the same time he said he was looking forward to his trial, where he intended to prove his innocence. Read more 
29.12.20 Russia’s Prison Service Tells Navalny To Appear Or Face Jail
AP
Russia’s federal penitentiary service on Monday gave top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny one day to report to its office or face imprisonment, if he comes back to Russia after the deadline. Navalny is convalescing in Germany after his August poisoning with a nerve agent, which he has blamed on the Kremlin. Russian authorities have denied their involvement. The Federal Penitentiary Service issued a statement Monday saying that an article by doctors from Berlin’s Charite hospital and published in medical journal The Lancet indicated that Navalny has fully recuperated. The prison service demanded that Navalny report to its office in line with the terms of a 3 1/2-year suspended sentence he received for a 2014 conviction. If he misses the deadline, he could be imprisoned, the statement said. Read more 
29.12.20 Russia Admits To World's Third-worst Covid-19 Death Toll
The Guardian
Russia said on Monday that its coronavirus death toll was more than three times higher than it had previously reported, making it the country with the third-largest number of fatalities. For months, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has boasted about Russia’s low fatality rate from the virus, saying earlier this month that it had done a better job at managing the pandemic than western countries. But since early in the pandemic, some Russian experts have said the government was playing down the country’s outbreak. On Monday, Russian officials admitted that was true. The Rosstat statistics agency said that the number of deaths from all causes recorded between January and November had risen by 229,700 compared with the previous year. Read more 
29.12.20 What You Need To Know About Russia’s Updated ‘foreign Agent’ Laws
Meduza
On December 25, Russian senators approved a law that allows for ordinary citizens and informal organizations (ones not registered as legal entities) to be deemed “foreign agents” if they are involved in political activity in Russia and receive assistance from abroad. The new law refers to more than just financial assistance and offers a broad interpretation of what constitutes political activity. What’s more, potential foreign agents are responsible for registering their status themselves and, under yet another law, failure to do so can threaten not only a fine, but also up to five years in prison. Now, all that’s left is for Russian President Vladimir Putin to sign these new measures into law, which he undoubtedly will. Meduza breaks down why this new legislation puts almost everyone at risk of being labeled a foreign agent. Read more 
28.12.20 Fishing Boat Sinks Off Russia’s Novaya Zemlya, Two People Rescued
TASS
A boat has sunk near Russia’s Novaya Zemlya Archipelago, the Russian Emergency Ministry told TASS Monday. "At 07:30, information was received that the Onega vessel <…> had sunk in the Barents Sea near Novaya Zemlya in the Arkhangelsk Region. The crew had 19 people. Two people were rescued," the ministry said, adding that searches are underway. The vessel was fishing, freezing is noted to be the reason Onega sank. A TASS source in emergency services clarified that five boats were sent to look for potential survivors. One of them saved two sailors alive, they were wearing wetsuits, there is no connection with the rest. Read more 
28.12.20 More Than Half Of Russians Don’t Want The ‘Sputnik V’ Coronavirus Vaccine
Meduza
More than half of Russia’s residents (58 percent) don’t want to be immunized with the “Sputnik V” coronavirus vaccine and only 38 percent are willing to get the shot, according to the results of a new poll from the independent Levada Center shared with Meduza. Similar opinion polls that the Levada Center has conducted over the last four months have shown comparable results. In August, 54 percent of respondents had no interest in receiving the coronavirus vaccine, while 38 percent said they were prepared to get vaccinated. In October, these figures had shifted to 59 percent and 36 percent, respectively. According to the results of the latest survey, 30 percent of those who aren’t willing to get vaccinated said that they want to wait until the end of the vaccine trials, approximately the same number (29 percent) fear the vaccine’s side effects, and 12 percent have contraindications. Another 12 percent of respondents said they see no reason to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, while 10 percent said they oppose vaccines in general. Read more 
28.12.20 Russia Developing Psychological Support System To Help Teenagers Online
Sputnik
Researchers at Moscow State University of Psychology & Education (MSUPE) have looked into the impact of the internet and social networks on adolescents. According to the authors of the study, the data obtained will help establish a monitoring system to prevent problematic behaviour online. The results have been published in the International Journal of Cognitive Research in Science, Engineering and Education journal. MSUPE researchers say the number of people using the internet and social networks is rising sharply. In 2019, 57 percent of the global population used the World Wide Web and 45 percent used social networks. Read more 
27.12.20 Russians More Often Denied Foreign Travel Due To Unpaid Credits, Alimony, Utilities
TASS
Over 4 mln Russians are listed as debtors barred from leaving Russia before winter holidays, more often this is caused by unpaid credits, alimony, or utility bills, the press service of the Federal Bailiffs Service told TASS in response to the agency’s inquiry. "As of December 1, 2020, 4.1 mln decisions on a temporary restriction of a debtor’s right to leave the Russian Federation were in effect," the Federal Bailiffs noted. This is 700,000 (or 20%) more than a year ago (as of December 1, 2019, 3.4 mln people were listed as barred from leaving the country) and 2.5 times more than three years ago (as of December 1, 2017 such lists included 1.7 mln people). "The restriction on a debtor’s right to leave the Russian Federation is applied the most often regarding individuals who have alimony debts, credit debts and debts for housing and public utilities," the Federal Bailiffs Service reported. Read more 
27.12.20 British Double Agent George Blake Dies In Russia At 98
AP
George Blake, a former British intelligence officer who worked as a double agent for the Soviet Union and passed some of the most coveted Western secrets to Moscow, has died in Russia. He was 98. Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, known as SVR, announced his death Saturday in a statement, which didn’t give any details. Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences, hailing Blake as a “brilliant professional” and a man of “remarkable courage.” As a double agent, Blake exposed a Western plan to eavesdrop on Soviet communications from an underground tunnel into East Berlin. He also unmasked scores of British agents in Soviet bloc countries in Eastern Europe, some of whom were executed. Blake has lived in Russia since his daring escape from a British prison in 1966 and was given the rank of Russian intelligence colonel. Read more 
27.12.20 Russia Tops 3 Million Covid-19 Infections
The Moscow Times
Russia on Saturday passed 3 million confirmed coronavirus infections, as authorities hold out against reimposing a national lockdown while the country is battered by a second wave. Official figures showed that a total of 3,021,964 cases have been detected, with 54,226 deaths. In the past 24 hours, 29,258 new infections and 567 deaths were registered in Russia, fourth on the list of hardest-hit countries worldwide. Since winter began, each week has brought new records for new cases and deaths, with epicenters in capital Moscow and second-largest city St. Petersburg. Read more 
26.12.20 Bus Crash In Western Russia Kills 4, Leaves 11 Injured
AP
An intercity bus veered off a road in western Russia, killing four people and injuring another 11, authorities said Friday. The bus driving from Moscow to Volgograd veered into a ditch and overturned in the Ryazan region, about 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Moscow. At least four people, including the bus driver, died and at least 11, including several children, were hospitalized with injuries after the overnight crash, authorities said. Police said the driver may have lost control of the bus after falling asleep. Read more 
26.12.20 Historian Sokolov Sentenced To 12.5 Years In Prison For Murdering Post-grad Student
Interfax
The Oktyabrsky District Court in St. Petersburg has found historian Oleg Sokolov guilty of murdering post-graduate student Anastasia Yeshchenko and illegally possessing a weapon, an Interfax correspondent reported from the courtroom on Friday. "The court ordered [...] to sentence Oleg Valeryevich Sokolov to 12 years of imprisonment under Part 1 Article 105 (murder) and to one year and six months of imprisonment under Part 1 Article 222 of the Russian Criminal Code (illegal possession of a weapon). The cumulative sentence is 12 years and six months in a high-security penitentiary, without a fine," Judge Yulia Maximenko said on Friday. When handing down a sentence to Sokolov, the court took into account as extenuating circumstances his remorse, his active cooperation with the investigators, his apologies to the young woman's family, his positive characteristics, his chronic illnesses and young children, his contribution to historical studies and reenactment activities, and his awards and certificates of appreciation. At the same time, the court disregarded his full confession as he only wrote it after his detention. Read more 
26.12.20 Russian Covid Art And Online Culture Highlights Of 2020
The Moscow Times
When the pandemic hit Russia in the spring and the city went under an almost complete lockdown, communication and creativity did not stop. Cultural institutions launched in record time a huge variety of online activities that were different but not always worse than in-house events. And they had one great advantage: they had a rapt and captive audience. Theaters played to empty seats but enormous at-home audiences. From small plays to recorded large-scale performances and real time theater shows, everything is available online on mos.ru. Read more 
24.12.20 State Duma Adopts Internet Censorship Law
Interfax
The high-profile bill prohibiting web portals from censorship passed the third and final reading at the State Duma meeting on Wednesday; as reported earlier, the law will apply to YouTube and Facebook. In accordance with the bill, the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) is authorized to block, either fully or partially, access to websites censoring significant information in the territory of Russia for reasons of nationality, language, origin, material or official status, profession, place of residence or work, attitude to religion, and/or political or economic sanctions imposed by foreign states on Russia and Russian citizens. In particular, a website might be blocked for "discrimination of materials of Russian media outlets." The bill enables the use of technical means envisaged by the previously adopted "sovereign Internet" law to deter such threats. Read more 
24.12.20 Russia Hands Opposition Politician 2-year Suspended Sentence
AP
A Moscow judge on Wednesday convicted a local opposition politician of multiple protest violations and imposed a two-year suspended sentence in a case seen by many as politically motivated. Yulia Galyamina, 47, was found guilty of repeatedly violating Russia’s strict protest regulations — a criminal charge since 2014. The court said she organized rallies, during which participants “called for unlawful actions, created threats to... the health of the citizens, interfered with pedestrians and transport.” Galyamina, who serves as a municipal council member in Moscow, has said she was being persecuted for her political activities. Read more 
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