The Russian Ministry of Justice formally designated Dmitry Muratov, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning internationally esteemed journalist, as a “foreign agent.” The label, reminiscent of the “enemy of the people” designation of the Soviet era, imposes harsh constraints on activities and requires sources of funding to be disclosed. The law has been widely used by the Kremlin to silence critics. Muratov is editor at Novaya Gazeta, one of the rare media outlets in Russia openly critical of President Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, a court in Belarus sentenced journalist and human rights activist Larysa Schchyrakova to three and a half years in prison on charges of “insulting” government officials, disseminating “false information,” and promoting “extremist” activities. Her organization, Gomelskaya Viasna, was aso ordered banned. The charges concern Schchyrakova’s advocacy and rights monitoring work during the 2020 anti-government protests in Belarus. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia reacted with outrage after China’s ambassador in Paris appeared to question the sovereignty not only of Ukraine, but all the former Soviet republics, saying they “do not have an effective status in international law.” Fearing diplomatic censure, Beijing’s Foreign Ministry backpedalled, releasing a statement saying: “China respects the sovereign status of former Soviet republics ” But such sentiments are fast gaining an alarming currency in Russian political circles. A commentator for pro-Kremlin newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda opined that “according to the Ukrainian scenario, we have an historical right” to Russian-inhabited lands of Kazakhstan. Former president Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, tweeted a call for Ukraine to “DISAPPEAR” (in caps), and referred to the country as “Malorossiya” (Little Russia)—a term from the empire of the czars for territories outside Great Russia (Russia proper). (Photo: Wikipedia)
The Russian Foreign Ministry has issued sanctions against 144 citizens of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Moscow accused the individuals of hostile acts against the Russian state. The alleged acts include lobbying for sanctions, interference with Russia’s internal affairs, and inciting “Russophobic” sentiments. The three Baltic states are particularly outspoken in their support of Ukraine, and calls for holding Russia accountable for war crimes and possible “genocide.” (Photo of Riga, Latvia, via Wikimedia Commons)
Tens of thousands of conscription-age Russian men have fled to neighboring countries since Vladimir Putin announced a mobilization of military reserve troops to fight in Ukraine. The tide has grown in recent days amid fears that the Kremlin will impose an exit ban. The sense of a closing window has led to chaotic scenes on Russia’s land borders with Georgia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia—countries that do not require a visa for visiting Russians. But Poland, Finland and the Baltic states have stopped issuing visas for Russians entirely. Among European Union countries, only Germany is offering refuge to Russians seeking to escape the war. Anti-war groups including War Resisters International, International Fellowship of Reconciliation and the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection have issued a petition calling on EU leaders to extend asylum for deserters and objectors to military service from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. (Photo: Verhniy Lars via Moscow Times)
As nations across the globe remain under lockdown, more sweeping powers are being assumed by governments in the name of containing the COVID-19 pandemic. Facing demands for relief from poor barrios running out of resources under his lockdown orders, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to shoot protesters in the streets. Police have opened fire on lockdown violators in Nigeria, Ghana and Peru. In Tunisia, remote-controlled wheeled robots have been deployed to accost lockdown violators. States of emergency, including broad powers to restrict movements and control the media, have been declared from the Philippines to Serbia. Amnesty International warns that the restrictive measures could become a “new normal.” (Photo: Pulse, Ghana)
Crimean Tatar leaders, forced into exile by Russian judicial orders, accuse Moscow of a campaign of raids and harassment aimed at driving Tatars from the peninsula.
Above Russian protests, NATO is beefing up its Baltic Air Policing program with more fighter jets—at the request of regional leaders, who cite Russian provocation.