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Date: 14.07.2019

Russia News



1) Weekly podcast - The Moscow Times' weekly news podcast will be back soon! 

2) Moscow Protesters Rally for Fair Elections

Thousands gathered outside Moscow’s City Hall to protest a decision to remove prominent opposition candidates from the ballot for elections to the city’s legislature this September.

— Police detained 39 protesters during the rally, among them opposition figures Ilya Yashin, and Navalny allies Lyubov Sobol and Ivan Zhdanov. 

— Sobol and Zhdanov led protesters from City Hall to Moscow’s election commission building chanting for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin to resign.

Read more

3) Russia Starts Deliveries of Its S-400 Defense System to Turkey

Russia confirmed that it has started to deliver parts for its S-400 surface-to-air missile system to NATO member Turkey, ramping up tensions between Turkey and NATO ally the United States. 

— A report published by U.S. intelligence firm Stratfor called Russia’s S-400 the “best all-around” system out there, but added that it is severely limited when operating alone. 

 — President Trump responded to the deliveries by saying that Turkey won’t be able to buy the U.S. F-35 fighter that it helps to build.

Read more

4) Russia Denies Visas to Moscow’s Anglo-American School Teachers

Thirty foreign teachers due to start work in the new school year at the Anglo-American School in Moscow were denied visas by Russia’s Foreign Ministry.

— The school was founded by the U.S., British and Canadian governments and is mainly attended by children of diplomats. 

— The visa denials could be the result of diplomatic tensions between Russia and the United States and Britain, and could also be aimed at pressuring the United States into returning two Russian diplomatic compounds it seized in New York and Maryland.

Read more

5) Meanwhile...
The Communists of Russia Party called for two of Georgia’s tastiest and most iconic dishes — khachapuri and khinkali — to be banned in response to protests that erupted last month in the South Caucasus nation over the visit of a lawmaker from Moscow. 

Read more here.
Editor’s picks
As the world commemorates the fifth anniversary of the shooting down of flight MH17, Mark Galeotti considers the various ways the Kremlin could extricate itself from the mess. 

Russia is treating its S-400 missile deal with Turkey as one big PR stunt, says military expert Pavel Felgenhauer.

Authorities are planning to build a major highway next to a radioactive nuclear waste dump not far from central Moscow. Residents fear the construction could result in “Moscow’s Chernobyl” Evan Gershkovich reports.
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Muscovites will hold another protest against the removal of opposition candidates from the ballot in the upcoming City Duma elections.


Ukraine’s new president, former TV comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy, looks set to win a snap parliamentary election. 

The Russian Premier League has kicked off its 2019-2020 season with eight matches across the country. Almost two hundred thousand fans made the games become the most-watched first round of football in the country since the league began in 1992. View our selection of photo highlights here. 
Have a good weekend!


1) Weekly podcast - The Moscow Times' weekly news podcast will be back soon! 

2) Radiation 100K times higher than normal at Soviet nuclear sub wreck

Norwegian scientists measured the radiation levels at the wreck of the Komsomolets submarine, which sank in a key fishing area of the Barents Sea in 1989.

— Days earlier, Russia memorialized the 14 sailors killed in last week's nuclear submarine fire by saying the victims had sacrificed their lives to avert a “planetary catastrophe.”
Read more

3) Bombshell report looks at Russian attempts to fund Italian far-right

Russian operatives sought to funnel $65 million into the European election campaign of Matteo Salvini, the Italian politician they described as the “European Trump,” according to a leaked recording published by BuzzFeed.

— The plan would have reportedly involved a major Russian oil firm selling to Italy’s Eni energy company at a discounted rate.

— Salvini denied the report, saying he had "never taken a ruble, a euro, a dollar or a liter of vodka in financing from Russia." 
  Read more

4) Georgian's Putin insults reignite Russia tensions 

A Georgian television host stirred controversy with graphic profanity-laden remarks against Russian President Vladimir Putin live on air.
— Russia called the “verbal attack” on Putin “unacceptable” and said that Georgian authorities were failing to pacify radical anti-Russian forces.

— Russia's parliament urged the government to pass tough sanctions against Georgia, which Putin later said he opposed.

Read more

5) Meanwhile... 
A pond in Siberia has caught influencers' attention for its Instagram-ready turquoise color, earning it the name "Russia's Maldives" — but it's actually an ash dump at a coal plant. Read more here.

Editor’s picks

Viktor Lukyan, sentenced to six years for murder, had little chance of a fair trial under a system that presumes defendants are guilty. Evan Gershkovich takes an in-depth look into how Russians become trapped in their country's criminal justice system.

Russia's military media outlets have ramped up their coverage in recent years — but they still lack the coherent information policy needed to be effective, Pavel Luzin argues.

Activists in Russia's north have rallied for months against a landfill that would take in 2.3 million tons of Moscow's trash annually, which opponents call "The Dump of Death." Yelena Solovyova reports on why they're still not backing down.
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Russia will launch its Proton-M carrier rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The launch will send the Spektr-RG telescope into space to observe the universe for four years.


Muscovites will hold a protest urging the city's election commission to allow independent candidates on the ballot in the upcoming City Duma elections.
Seventeen unique architectural monuments in the northwestern Russian city of Pskov were among the latest cultural gems to join UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. Click for our gallery, or watch more below.
Have a good weekend!


1) Weekly podcast - The Moscow Times' weekly news podcast will be back soon! 

2) Nuclear submarine fire kills 14

A fire broke out on one of Russia’s nuclear-powered military submarines on Monday, killing 14 crewmen on board.

— The incident was not disclosed until late on Tuesday, and officials were slow to release further details. After three days, the Defense Ministry confirmed the submarine was nuclear-powered.

— The accident is far from the first deadly submarine incident to take place in Russia, where such tragedies have a long history.

Read more

3) Historic floods hit Siberia

Widespread flooding in Siberia’s Irkutsk region has led to at least 21 deaths. More than 300 people have been treated in hospitals and thousands across the region have been evacuated.

— Homes inhabited by 32,000 people in almost 100 settlements were swept away by the severe floods, which began late last month.

— Workers from a local animal shelter have been searching the wreckage in an amphibious tank to rescue pets and farm animals left behind.
Read more

4) Investigating Russia's funeral mafia

Russia's independent media teamed up to publish Meduza journalist Ivan Golunov's investigation into Moscow’s funeral mafia. 
— Golunov had previously reported that he was threatened while writing the piece, and his colleagues say the investigation was tied to his shock arrest last month. He was released days later after a massive public outcry.

— A team of 16 reporters and editors representing seven different publications worked with Meduza to help complete the investigation after Golunov was arrested.

Read more

5) Meanwhile... 

Acts like the British trip-hop band Massive Attack are reviving the Soviet-era practice of pressing banned Western music into used X-ray film to raise awareness toward censorship. Massive Attack’s contribution includes a cover of Soviet punk rocker Yegor Letov's anti-Soviet anthem “Everything Is Going According to Plan.”

Editor’s picks

Given that Russophobia suggests an irrational fear of Russia’s “Otherness,” how much of this is really about Russia? Sean Guillory examines the paradox of American Russophobia.

This year's International Tchaikovsky Competition brought some of the world's most talented young musicians to Russia. Read our recap and watch highlights from the competition.

A week after Putin heralded the end of liberalism, Leonid Ragozin argues that the Russian president’s ideological flexibility gives him the upper hand in a post-modern world.

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Russia's Armed Forces mark the naval victory over Turkey in the Battle of Chesma in 1770.

Russia's ban on flights to and from Georgia by Russian airlines comes into effect, a response to anti-Russian protests that rocked the former Soviet republic late last month.
A wave of mass protests in Georgia's capital of Tbilisi has shone a spotlight on tensions between the country and Russia, its neighbor to the north. The Moscow Times asked Georgians in Moscow how they feel about the protests. Watch more here.

Have a good weekend!


1) Weekly podcast - Listen here - Russia Returns to the Council of Europe. And the Kremlin Puts the Squeeze on Georgia as 'Anti-Russian' Protests Continue in Tbilisi

We speak to Bloomberg columnist Leonid Bershidsky about how the decision to restore Russia to the Council of Europe has divided European allies and delighted Russia.

And we talk to Thomas de Waal of the Carnegie think tank about why President Vladimir Putin is lashing out at Georgia.  
2) Putin slams 'obsolete' liberalism

Putin heralded the end of Western liberal ideas and the growth of national populism in an exclusive interview with The Financial Times newspaper. 
— "The migrants can kill, plunder and rape with impunity because their rights as migrants must be protected," the president said in critique of Germany's liberal immigration policy.

— Putin also expressed hope for improving ties with Britain during his upcoming meeting with outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May: "All this fuss about spies and counterspies, it is not worth serious interstate relations."

Read more

3) Russia returns to Council of Europe

Europe’s top human rights body restored Russia's membership following a five-year suspension over its annexation of Crimea.

— The members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) voted 116-62 (with 15 abstentions) to confirm the Russian delegation’s return.

— While it approved Russia's readmission, the PACE resolution also ordered the country to take concrete steps to remedy its rights infringements.
Read more

4) Putin faces off with G20 counterparts

Putin arrived at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, for discussions with fellow leaders of the world's largest economies.

— U.S. President Donald Trump sardonically asked Putin to please not meddle in U.S. elections ahead of their meeting, drawing a laugh from his Russian counterpart.

— Ahead of British Prime Minister Theresa May's meeting with Putin, she said she would demand for Russia to stop flouting international conventions and to hand over the suspects behind the Skripal poisonings.

Read more

Russia's Defense Ministry unveiled a combat surveillance drone intended to resemble a menacing owl — but an up-close glimpse reveals eyes permanently affixed with an unimpressed expression and a gaping hole where a beak should be.
Editor’s picks

As the world marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York today, Russian journalist and TV host Pavel Lobkov recalls his personal story of LGBT resistance during his "treatment" for homosexuality in the Soviet Union.
A state-approved homeless shelter was temporarily relocated outside central Moscow ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. A year later, the shelter has yet to return to its original location, Loretta Perera reports.
Pro et contra: Russia's reinstatement to the Council of Europe is a grave mistake, Stewart McDonald argues — while Vladimir Ryzhkov says the decision should be welcomed. 
Save the date 


Putin will meet several world leaders at the G20 summit in Japan, including Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Germany's Angela Merkel, Egypt's Abdul Fattah al-Sisi and Saudi Arabia's Mohammad bin Salman.

A Moscow court will rule on charges filed against opposition leader Alexei Navalny for organizing an unauthorized rally. He was among hundreds detained on June 12 at a rally in support of journalist Ivan Golunov.
One year after Russia hosted the 2018 FIFA World Cup, what’s the legacy of the event in Russia — and how has Russia changed? We headed to the tournament's popular places to ask Muscovites about their World Cup memories. Watch more here.
Have a good weekend!


1) Weekly podcast - Listen here - What to Make of Putin's Annual Call-In 'Ritual.' And Are We Closer to Justice for MH17 Victims?
We talk to Alexander Baunov of the Carnegie think tank about whether President Vladimir Putin's ability to rattle off facts about Russia’s success during his annual phone-in impressed the public.

And we speak with Dutch journalist Gert Jan Dennekamp about Dutch prosecutors charging three Russians and one Ukrainian for the downing of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014.

2) Russians charged over MH17 downing

The Dutch-led team investigating the 2014 crash of MH17 has named four “top” suspects in the downing of the plane, which killed all 298 people on board.

— The Joint Investigation Team opened criminal cases against three Russians and one Ukrainian.

— President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s Foreign Ministry denied the accusations, calling the findings “groundless.”  Read more

3) Putin and the public

Putin held his annual marathon phone-in with the public amid rising dissatisfaction with his leadership at home and stormy relations abroad. 
— With his trust ratings at their lowest levels since 2006, Putin promised Russians that real wages and living standards would soon recover from their years-long downturn.

— The president discussed topics including Western sanctions, corruption and Russia's law on disrespecting the authorities.
Read more

4) Roma relocated amid ethnic conflicts

A recent spate of ethnic flare-ups across Russia has drawn comparisons to anti-Jewish pogroms at the turn of the 20th century. 
— A mass brawl between Roma and Russians resulted in the death of one Russian and left another in a coma and three others in the hospital.

— Days later, locals set fire to a Roma house in a nearby village, and hundreds of Roma reportedly left the village.  
Read more


A malnourished polar bear strayed hundreds of kilometers south from its Arctic habitat, ending up in Russia’s industrial city of Norilsk. It is the first polar bear seen in the city in more than 40 years, according to local environmentalists.

Editor’s picks
Hundreds of people in Moscow protested murder charges against three teenage sisters who stabbed their father to death after he had abused them for years. Loretta Perera reports on the divisive case.

Security chiefs from Russia, the U.S. and Israel are set to meet in Jerusalem on Monday. Vladimir Frolov argues the meeting is doomed to fail.

As the question of who will succeed Putin at the end of his term grows increasingly urgent, Oleg Kashin writes that the Russian people hold the key to their president's succession.

Save the date


Russia marks the Day of Memory and Grief, held on the anniversary of Nazi Germany's 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union.


Scarlet Sails, Russia's most elaborate high-school graduation celebration, takes place in St. Petersburg. A historical ship fitted with red sails glides into the city for an event that features concerts, fireworks and more.

Young people in Moscow like to spend their Friday evenings drinking, dancing and having fun in the city’s public parks. A vigilante group calling itself “Lev Protiv” is trying to put an end to this phenomenon. Watch more here.

Have a good weekend!


1) Weekly podcast - Listen here - A Journalist's Arrest Shows the Cracks in Putin's Regime

The shock arrest of investigative journalist Ivan Golunov — and his even more unexpected release — is revealing the unpredictability of late Putinism.

We speak with Alexei Kovalev, Ivan’s editor, about what it took to get him free, and with Daily Beast reporter Anna Nemtsova about how the authorities tried to manage the outcry.

2) Journalist freed after outcry, hundreds detained at protest

Russia’s Interior Ministry dropped drug trafficking charges against Meduza investigative journalist Ivan Golunov after an unprecedented public backlash. 
— Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev suspended the police officers involved in Golunov's arrest and President Vladimir Putin sacked two high-ranking police generals.

— The next day, police detained more than 500 people at an unauthorized rally in support of Golunov in Moscow.  
Read more

3) Chechen rights leader released

A Russian court granted early release to Oyub Titiyev, a prominent human rights leader in the republic of Chechnya. 
— Titiyev was sentenced to four years for possessing illegal drugs. His supporters say he was framed in retaliation for collecting evidence of abuses by Chechen authorities.

— Human Rights Watch welcomed Titiyev's early release.  
Read more

4) Kadyrov threatens to break fingers, tear out tongues

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov threatened to break the fingers and tear out the tongues of anyone who leaves offensive comments about his subjects online. 
— His comments came after residents of the neighboring republic of Dagestan expressed outrage over a new sign installed near their border that marked the area as Chechnya.

— Chechen police and intelligence agencies "will come and knock on the doors" of anyone found to have insulted the people of Chechnya online, Kadyrov said.  
Read more

A long-dormant volcano in Russia's Far East has reawoken — and scientists say it could unleash destruction not seen since the ancient Roman city of Pompeii was destroyed by volcanic eruption nearly 2,000 years ago.

Editor’s picks

1) That Ivan Golunov's arrest elicited such a strong response speaks both to the person Golunov is and the work he has done in uncovering rampant corruption, Evan Gershkovich writes in his profile of the now-freed journalist.

2) Moldova is the one thing Russia and the West agree on as the Eastern European country's political crisis continues, Leonid Bershidsky argues.

3) Ivan Golunov's spectacular case showed that Putin is at once invulnerable and impotent, Mark Galeotti writes.

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An authorized rally in support of Ivan Golunov will take place in Moscow.


Putin holds his annual Direct Line call-in session where he'll take questions from Russian citizens in a live television broadcast.

Irina Volronova, a neurologist at a public hospital north of Moscow, earns approximately $365 per month, less than half of what she should be earning. She's just one of many doctors across Russia who are organizing to demand fair pay and better working conditions.

Have a good weekend!


1) Weekly podcast - Listen here - The Kremlin Woos Foreign Investors at 'Russian Davos.' And What's Behind the Roaring Success of HBO's Chernobyl

This week on From Russia With News, we talk with Ann Simmons of the Wall Street Journal about what Russia is doing to shore up its image and find new trading partners at its flagship economic conference.

We also speak with writer Michael Idov about why HBO’s roaring hit "Chernobyl" has struck a chord in the U.S. and a nerve in Russia.

2) Xi visits 'best friend' Putin in Moscow

Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a visit to his Russian counterpart President Vladimir Putin.  
— The leaders promised to deepen military-technical cooperation, while Russian and Chinese businesses signed an array of deals.

— Xi unveiled two pandas at the Moscow Zoo after talks with Putin, whom he called his "best friend."

— Observers said both powers are eager to show they are strengthening ties amid strained relations with the U.S.
Read more

3) Yandex pushes back against FSB pressure

Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) has asked Yandex to hand over its encryption keys, a move which would allow them to easily access people's communications. 
— Yandex, which has not yet complied with the FSB's request, said it wanted to abide by the law but not to violate its users' privacy.

— Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov said the Russian government will do "everything in its power" to protect Yandex from FSB pressure.  Read more

4) 'Russia's Davos' kicks off

The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, the Kremlin’s premier economic showcase, opened on Thursday. 
— The shadow of detained U.S. investor Michael Calvey, who had wanted to attend the forum, loomed over the event.

— Russia's top auditor Alexei Kudrin blasted corruption in the country's legal system at the event, calling Calvey's arrest "a shock to the economy."
Read more

A newly announced game offers players the experience of getting to know Soviet leader Josef Stalin a little too intimately. The BDSM-themed game "Sex With Stalin" has drawn a range of reactions, including the ire of Russia’s communists. 

Editor’s picks

1) HBO's miniseries "Chernobyl" has viewers in both the U.S. and the former Soviet Union raving — but the fact that an American, not a Russian, TV channel told the story is a source of shame for pro-Kremlin media, Ilya Shepelin writes.

2) Loretta Perera goes inside Kinky Party, a series of sex parties in Moscow that aims to create an open, tolerant environment for Russians to explore their sexuality.

3) Chinese President Xi Jinping’s meeting with Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg happens at a critical moment in the relations between the two countries, Bruno Maçães writes.

Save the date


Peter the Great was born Pyotr Alekseyevich on June 9, 1672 in Moscow.


Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev joins German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron at the International Labor Organization's annual conference. 


Russia celebrates Russia Day, a national holiday devoted to adoption of the country's first constitution after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

As many as 300,000 Muslims gathered at the Cathedral Mosque on Prospekt Mira, one of the largest mosques in Europe, to celebrate the end of Ramadan in Moscow.

Have a good weekend!

1) Weekly podcast - Listen here - Don't Insult the President. And Why Rural Russian Doctors Are Striking

This week on From Russia With News, we talk to Moscow Times editor Daniel Kozin about Russia's new law against insulting the authorities.

We also speak with Andrew Kramer from The New York Times about how doctors in rural Russia are speaking up against low wages.

2) Russians fined for 'disrespecting' Putin

Two more Russians have been charged for online posts that "disrespect" President Vladimir Putin.
— Leonid Volkov, an aide of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, was charged for a tweet saying “Putin is an unbelievable dumb***,” while blogger Sergei Komandirov was charged for a social media post that contained an insulting rhyme.  Read more

3) Journalists stabbed over Stalin article

Four journalists in southern Russia were attacked after they refused to publish a newspaper article on Stalin. 
— The 72-year-old suspect attacked the journalists after demanding that the chief editor publish his article on Stalin.

— The editor-in-chief was hospitalized, a regional lawmaker said.  
Read more

4) Trust in Putin hits 13-year low 

Public trust in President Vladimir Putin has dropped to 31.7 percent, its lowest level since 2006, a state-run poll said. 
— Another state survey published this week said that less than half of Russians would vote for Putin in a new presidential election.  Read more


Video showing a 9-year-old Russian boy playing on a swing set near a raging fire has gone viral on social media, with users drawing comparisons to a widely shared meme of a cartoon dog saying “This is fine” inside a burning house

Editor’s picks

1) Is Russophobia real or is it an invention of a revanchist Kremlin? The answer, surprisingly, is both, Natalia Antonova writes.

2) Amid bomb threats and protests, the Side by Side LGBT International Film Festival in Moscow powered through, Loretta Perera reports.

3) Evan Gershkovich reports on efforts to integrate the children of immigrants into Russian society and tackle one of the country's demographic challenges. 
Save the date


The annual Red Square Book Fair begins and will run through June 6.


Moscow's annual Color Run — the largest in Russia — will be held. 
We took a ride with bike activist Valery Larionov to see how safe and comfortable it is for bicyclists in Moscow's city center. Put on your helmet and enjoy the ride.

Have a good weekend!


1) Listen here A New Censorship Scandal Rocks the Media. And Russia's Dirty Oil Crisis

This week on From Russia With News, we talk to a reporter from Kommersant who was fired for a government scoop, and to Russian journalist Alexei Kovalev about how this latest incident fits into the worsening media landscape in Russia.

We also speak with Bloomberg reporter Jake Rudnitsky about the fallout from Russia's tainted oil scandal, which has caused frictions between Russia, Belarus and the West.

2) Kommersant firings spark censorship scandal

The firing of two journalists over a government scoop led to accusations of censorship at Russia’s Kommersant business daily. 
— The journalists claim they were dismissed for reporting on a reshuffle of government officials by Kommersant’s owner, Kremlin-aligned billionaire Alisher Usmanov.

— The newspaper’s entire political desk resigned Monday in solidarity with the two journalists.

— More than 200 Kommersant employees called the firings “an obvious clampdown on freedom of speech in Russia” in an open letter.

Read more

3) Zelenskiy’s first week

Ukraine’s newly inaugurated President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called for an end to the war with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine as he took office Monday.

— The new president’s administration said it is considering holding a referendum on a preliminary peace deal with Russia.

— Zelenskiy also asked U.S. officials to step up sanctions against Russia.

— Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said President Vladimir Putin had no plans to congratulate Zelenskiy on his inauguration.

Read more

4) Russia sees shifting attitudes toward LGBT people

Russians' support for LGBT rights reached a 14-year high, according to a Levada Center poll released this week.
— Forty-seven percent of Russians support equal rights for members of the LGBT community, an 8 percent increase from 2013.

— At the same time, Russians named LGBT people as their least-desired neighbors in another Levada poll released this week.

Read more

5) Meanwhile, drivers in Russia's "culture capital" of St. Petersburg came to a stop on a busy road to allow a couple of ducks to safely cross the street, presumably for some well-deserved fun in the fountains of the Summer Garden.

Editor’s picks

Austria faces snap elections after a mysterious video showed its far-right vice chancellor promising government contracts to an alleged Russian in return for support — but Moscow alone isn’t the cause of corruption and populists, Mark Galeotti argues. Read more here.

As nostalgia for the Soviet Union swells, the Soviet Visuals project aims to show what life was like for ordinary citizens in the U.S.S.R., Samantha Berkhead writes. Read more here.

Word's Worth columnist Michele Berdy teaches us how to tap into our snarky, sarcastic side when speaking Russian. Read and listen here.

Save the date


The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea will deliver its verdict on Russia's capture of Ukrainian sailors in the Kerch Strait.


St. Petersburg celebrates the 316th anniversary of its founding. 


Two Russian cosmonauts will take an approximately six-hour spacewalk at the International Space Station.

HBO's new miniseries “Chernobyl” is not an easy show to watch — but its depiction of the worst nuclear accident in history has Russian reviewers raving for its true-to-life accuracy and exploration of the importance of truth and the nature of self-sacrifice, Jennifer Eremeeva writes.

Have a good weekend!



1) Listen here Yekaterinburg Revolts. Pompeo Meets Putin. And Joshua Yaffa on a Village Doctor Turned Writer
This week on From Russia With News, we talk to Radio Free Europe reporter Matthew Luxmore and political scientist Yekaterina Schulmann about the larger forces at play in Yekaterinburg’s revolts against a new church.

We also speak with foreign policy analyst Fyodor Lukyanov about what U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Russia means for U.S.-Russia relations.

2) Russians revolt against church construction

Thousands of people in Russia's fourth-largest city of Yekaterinburg took to the streets in growing protests against a controversial plan to build a new cathedral in a riverside park.

— Protesters toppled a fence surrounding the construction site, leading to clashes with vigilantes in riot gear and MMA fighters.

— Dozens of protesters were detained, with police using violence in some cases.

— On Thursday, Yekaterinburg's mayor announced construction would be halted until a poll of city residents is conducted.

Read more

3) Pompeo visits Putin

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Russia for talks with President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday.

— Pompeo, Putin and Lavrov expressed a mutual desire to improve their countries’ battered ties.

— At the same time, Pompeo and Lavrov reportedly clashed on a number of foreign policy issues.

Read more

4) Russia to introduce "fake news" database

Russia plans to launch a public database of news it flags as “fake,” the head of its federal media regulator announced Thursday.

— The titles of outlets spreading fake news and their authors’ last names will be posted on the website.

— Offending online news outlets and posts could be legally blocked if the “fake news” is not voluntarily deleted.

Read more

5) Meanwhile...

Scientists in Russia's Amur region captured video of an endangered white stork sitting calmly in its nest while wildfires devastated the landscape below. This week, the number of wildfires across Russia grew, covering tens of thousands of hectares of land.

Editor’s picks

The recent meeting of the Arctic Council showed that the U.S. — not Russia — is the new spoiler in the Arctic, Elizabeth Buchanan writes. Read more here

Maxim Trudolyubov examines why Russia's struggling middle class has become critically dependent on the government. Read more here

The Russian word for a group of men committed to the same cause, братство, literally means "brotherhood." But when it comes to talking about "sisterhood," things get complicated, Michele Berdy says. Read and listen here.

Save the date 

May 18 marks the 151st anniversary of Tsar Nicholas II's birth. 


Ukrainian President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy will be sworn into office at his inauguration.

Have a good weekend!