Regional News • Americas • United States
United States close remaining consulates in Russia
United States close remaining consulates in Russia
Credit: / Kevin Lanceplaine

The administration of outgoing US President Donald Trump wants to close the two remaining US consulates in Russia. As the U.S. State Department confirmed to the AFP news agency, the U.S. representation in Vladivostok is to be closed and the consulate in Yekaterinburg will cease operations for the time being. After that, the embassy in Moscow would be the last U.S. diplomatic representation in Russia.

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
Airline fires top manager after pilots flew penis-shaped flight route
Airline fires top manager after pilots flew penis-shaped flight route
Credit: Courtesy of Flightradar

Pilots of the Russian state-controlled airline Pobeda have chosen a route that traces the contours of a male sexual organ during an unauthorized maneuver with an aircraft with 100 passengers on board.

The airline's supervisory board has now drawn the consequences in this case: The head of the company was warned and his deputy fired, as the Moscow newspaper "RBK" reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, the pilots wanted the maneuver to be understood as a solidarity action for the Russian soccer player Artjom Dsjuba. As the captain of the national team, Dsjuba had been excluded from the games in November after an intimate video of him was widely viewed on the Internet.

The departure from the route, which was dangerous for passengers, was said to have occurred on a flight from Moscow to Ekaterinburg on November 11. Pobeda is a subsidiary of the Russian airline Aeroflot.

Regional News • Europe • Russia
Offices of poisoned Russian opposition leader Navalny raided

According to reports masked uniformed security forces raided the Moscow offices of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Authorities charged one of his key aides with contempt of court. FBK director and Navalny’s lawyer Ivan Zhdanov tweeted that "I’m being told these are bailiffs looking for 29 million rubles ($375,000) as part of enforcement proceedings".

Regional News • Asia
Armenia and Azerbaijan will engage in peace talks

Both the Armenian and the Azerbaijani government have announced that they will join peace talks in Moscow.

Regional News • Europe • Russia
Navalny: Russian apartment seized and bank accounts frozen
Alexei Navalny
Alexei Navalny Credit: Evgeny Feldman (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Russian opposition figured Alexei Navalny had his Russian apartment seized and his bank accounts frozen after a court order while recovering from suspected poisoning in a Hospital in Berlin, Germany, so his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh.

"They seized the assets and the apartment of a person who was in a coma," Yarmysh said. "This means the flat cannot be sold, donated or mortgaged."

The move comes after a lawsuit was filed by the Moscow Schoolchild catering company, which is owned by Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin who is known as "Putin's chef".

Regional News • Europe
Vladimir Putin promises a €1.26 billion loan to Belarus at Lukashenko meeting
Vladimir Putin promises a €1.26 billion loan to Belarus at Lukashenko meeting
Credit: Kremlin

During a visit of Alexandar Lukashenko to Sochi, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow would grant a loan worth €1.26 billion to Belarus. Putin also supported Lukashenko's initiative to reform Belarus's constitution.

Putin told Lukashenko, at the joint press conference: "I am sure that, considering your political experience, the work in this direction would be organised on the highest possible level."

Russia announced they would also continue the pre-planned joint military drills. At the same time, Putin emphasised that Russian soldiers would "return to their permanent deployment locations" after the routine ends.

Regional News • Asia
China and India pledge to de-escalate Himalayan border standoff
India's Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and China's State Councillor Wang Yi
India's Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and China's State Councillor Wang Yi Credit: Russian Foreign Ministry (Public Domain)

The foreign ministers of China and India announced an agreement to ease tensions after recent clashes on their contested Himalayan border.

Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi and Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar met in Moscow on Thursday and issued a five-point statement aimed at ending a simmering confrontation.

Wang Yi said, "it is normal for China and India to have some differences as two neighbouring powers, but to put the differences in the proper place in bilateral relations."

S. Jaishankar stated "India does not want to see an escalation of tension in the border areas between India and China. India’s China policy has not changed, and I believe China has not changed either."

Regional News • Europe • Russia
Russian parliament drafts ban of same-sex marriage after constitutional change
Russian parliament drafts ban of same-sex marriage after constitutional change
Credit: unsplash/Thomas AE

During the Russian constitutional referendum, voters backed a constitutional change that would ban same-sex marriage by defining marriage as a union of a woman and a man only. Lawmakers in the Russian parliament have now introduced a legislation draft to implement this change.

In addition to explicitly banning same-sex marriage, couples of the same sex will be prohibited from adopting children. While this is no explicit change in the current practice,s it explicitly outlaws the option. According to one of the Senators, Yelena Mizulina, the changes will also affect transgender people.

Climate & Environment
Highest Arctic temperature recorded in Siberia
Temperature anomaly 2m Arctic Analysis, 20 June 2020
Temperature anomaly 2m Arctic Analysis, 20 June 2020 Credit:

The northeastern Siberian town Verkhoyansk has hit a new record temperature high at 38°C (100.4°F) in the Arctic Circle on Saturday. The town is located at 67.5 degrees north latitude and 3,000 miles (4,828 kilometres) east of Moscow with an average June temperature of 20°C (60°F).

The town with a population of 1,300 has a significant temperature range, with temperatures below -45°C (-50°F) during Winter. Saturday's data has not been verified by another entity yet but, as Sunday's temperature was recorded at 35.2°C (95.3°F), it does not seem likely that the Saturday reading was a mistake.

Regional News • Americas • United States
The US won’t use Russian ventilators sent to it by Russia after deadly hospital fires

U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) stated it would not use the Russian ventilators sent to it by Moscow while an investigation is carried out into their safety.

Faulty “Aventa-M” ventilators are the suspected cause of a fire at the Saint George's Hospital in St Petersburg in which five Covid-19 patients died.

Regional News • Europe • Russia
Moscow goes into lockdown

Mayor Sergei Sobyanin declared the 13 million residents of the Russian Capital, Moscow, are to stay home, exceptions made for medical emergencies and run to nearby shops.

The city will enforce this rule using a system of special passes and electronic surveillance -- cameras with facial recognition and cell phone location data.

Moscow announces: People that don't self-isolate after returning from Covid-19 countries could face time in prison

The Moscow healthcare department announced that people who return from countries with increasing infection rates such as China, South Korea, Iran, France, Germany, Italy and others should self-isolate themselves for 14 days inside their own homes. Not following this could be punished by up to five years in prison.