Accessibility links

Breaking News

News

EU Leaders Gather To Talk Egypt, Euro

EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton said that a start to dialogue between Egypt's authorities and the opposition was "absolutely essential."
EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton said that a start to dialogue between Egypt's authorities and the opposition was "absolutely essential."
European Union leaders are gathering in Brussels for an informal one-day summit expected to discuss the Egypt crisis and approve a package of measures to support the common currency, the euro.

According to a draft statement, EU leaders are expected to "deplore the degradation" of the situation in Egypt and call for "substantial democratic reform with full respect to human rights and fundamental freedoms, and...free and fair elections."

EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton today said that a start to dialogue between Egypt's authorities and the opposition was "absolutely essential."

Speaking as protesters gathered in Cairo to force President Hosni Mubarak to step down, Ashton said the EU wanted to see the transition process move ahead now that Mubarak had pledged not to run for election again.

"We've been very clear in everything we said. It's for the Egyptian people and the Egyptian government to move forward together," she said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said today that Egyptian security authorities must guarantee "free and peaceful" protests, as pro-democracy activists gather in Cairo.

EU leaders are also set to criticize last year's crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Belarus, and warn that the bloc is "ready to consider" expanding its sanctions against the regime of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka if necessary.

compiled from agency reports

More News

Serbian Soccer Fans In Custody After Clashes Ahead Of Euro 2024 England Match

Supporters arrive prior to the UEFA Euro 2024 Group C soccer match between Serbia and England at the arena in Gelsenkirchen on June 16.
Supporters arrive prior to the UEFA Euro 2024 Group C soccer match between Serbia and England at the arena in Gelsenkirchen on June 16.

Seven fans of Serbia's national team were taken into custody on June 16 after scuffles broke out in the German city of Gelsenkirchen ahead of the team's Euro 2024 match against England, police said. A complaint of dangerous bodily harm was filed against one of the fans, a police spokesman told AFP. Details of any injuries and what happened in the scuffle were still unclear, the spokesman said. Police earlier reported having to separate England and Serbia fans after clashes between the two sets of supporters. The spokesman said no England fans had been taken into custody.

Russian Journalist Killed In Drone Attack In Ukraine's Donetsk Region

Residents of the village of Shebekino rest at a temporary accommodation center in Belgorod Arena in a photo taken last year by News.ru correspondent Nikita Tsitsagi, who was killed in part of Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region controlled by Russian forces.
Residents of the village of Shebekino rest at a temporary accommodation center in Belgorod Arena in a photo taken last year by News.ru correspondent Nikita Tsitsagi, who was killed in part of Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region controlled by Russian forces.

A Russian journalist was killed in a drone attack in the Russian-controlled part of the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, his news organization said on June 16.

"Our correspondent Nikita Tsitsagi was killed during an attack by Ukrainian Army drones," News.Ru said on Telegram.

The editors reported that the journalist died in the area of St. Nicholas Monastery near Vuhledar in southern Donetsk region, the scene of fierce fighting for the past three months. No other details were provided.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said a Ukrainian drone had "purposefully hit the Russian journalist preparing a report in the area."

The death of Tsitsagi was confirmed to TASS by the pro-Russian authorities of the region.

The journalist collaborated with TASS, the online magazine New Tab, and the Russian-language online newspaper Lenta.ru. He received an award last year for his reporting for New Tab from the city of Shebekino in the Belgorod region.

Tsitsagi’s death came to light three days after a cameraman with the Russian television channel NTV was killed when his film crew came under fire in the in the area around Horlivka, which lies north of Donetsk city in part of the region controlled by Russian troops.

Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported that cameraman Valery Kozhin died in the hospital, citing Ivan Prikhodko, the Russian-installed head of the Horlivka administration.

Russian authorities in the region reported that Kozhin and another NTV journalist, correspondent Aleksei Ivliev, were severely injured in an explosion. Ivliev's condition, according to NTV, is stable.

There has been no comment from Ukraine.

Kozhin previously covered military conflicts in which Russian forces participated, including in Syria, Russian media reported.

Two other Russian correspondents -- Rostilav Zhuravlev of RIA Novosti and Boris Maksudov of the Rossiya-24 TV channel -- were killed in separate incidents last year in Ukraine's Zaporizhzhya region while covering Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

More than 10 Ukrainian journalists have been killed in the war.

With reporting by AFP

Ukraine Coach Asks For Continued Support Ahead Of Opening Match In Euro 2024

Head coach of the Ukrainian national soccer team Serhiy Rebrov (file photo)
Head coach of the Ukrainian national soccer team Serhiy Rebrov (file photo)

Ukrainian national soccer coach Serhiy Rebrov asked Europe to keep supporting his country in the war against Russia ahead of Ukraine's Euro 2024 opener against Romania on June 17. "Football is not the top priority in our country," Rebrov said on June 16. "The war continues. We need continued support. We are fighting for peace, we are fighting for peace in Europe," he added, saying this will be an "extra tick of motivation." Ukraine managed to qualify for the European Cup despite the war preventing any home games. Rebrov said Ukrainians are proud of their players and the players are proud of the people back home. Defender Illya Zabarnyi added: "There's a lot of pressure on everyone, but it's also a great motivation to get out on the pitch." The first game will be a "very emotional moment," he said.

Afghan Taliban Delegation To Attend Next Round Of UN Talks In Qatar

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid (file photo)
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid (file photo)

Taliban authorities will attend the third round of United Nations-hosted talks on Afghanistan in Doha, Qatar, a government spokesman said on June 16. The Taliban-led government's participation in the conference of foreign special envoys to Afghanistan had been in doubt after it was not included in the first round and then refused an invitation to the second round. Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP a delegation from Afghanistan will participate in the Doha conference scheduled for June 30 and July 1. Mujahid told Afghan media that a delegation would attend because the talks' agenda appeared "beneficial to Afghanistan." The agenda includes "topics such as aid for Afghanistan and creating opportunities for investors in Afghanistan."

Updated

First Pride Rally Held In Kyiv Since Russia's Full-Scale Invasion

People take part in the annual Pride parade under the protection of riot police in Kyiv on June 16.
People take part in the annual Pride parade under the protection of riot police in Kyiv on June 16.

Several hundred LGBT activists and their supporters, including Ukrainian soldiers, marched in central Kyiv on June 16 to demand the government grant them more rights as they took part in the first Pride march in the Ukrainian capital since Russia launched its full-scale invasion more than two years ago.

Protected by riot police, demonstrators demanded the legalization of civil unions and harsh penalties for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Staff from the U.S. Embassy and several European embassies attended the rally on one of the central streets of Kyiv as participants shouted slogans such as, "It's always time for human rights."

Ukrainian soldiers and LGBT community activists take part in Kyiv Pride 2024 on June 16.
Ukrainian soldiers and LGBT community activists take part in Kyiv Pride 2024 on June 16.

In addition to seeking legal reforms to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples, campaigners are seeking changes in the law to allow people in those partnerships to make medical decisions for wounded soldiers and bury victims of the war.

Viktor Pylypenko, a Ukrainian soldier who has served as a rifleman and paramedic in the Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Donetsk regions, told RFE/RL his group brought two messages to the march, each one displayed on banners.

One called on the world to "stop procrastinating" and send Ukraine more weapons and air-defense systems, he said. The other demanded the Ukrainian president and parliament "stop procrastinating" on the implementation of European values and on the introduction of human rights for groups that face discrimination.

Soldiers and activists place Ukrainian flags with an LGBT coat of arms in tribute to fallen LGBT soldiers at a makeshift memorial on Independence Square on June 16.
Soldiers and activists place Ukrainian flags with an LGBT coat of arms in tribute to fallen LGBT soldiers at a makeshift memorial on Independence Square on June 16.

Others said LGBT soldiers serving in the military are fighting the same as others and only want equal treatment under the law in their relationships and other aspects of their lives.

"We are ordinary people who are fighting on an equal footing with everyone else, but deprived of the rights that other people have," Dmitriy Pavlov, an army soldier who used a cane to walk, told the Associated Press.

Many of the soldiers displayed rainbow patches on their uniforms and showed off the medals they had received.

Participants carried rainbow flags or wrapped themselves in them. Undeterred by rainy weather and a heavy police presence, many participants wore colorful clothing and gawdy accessories as they marched. The event lasted about 20 minutes and ended without provocations when participants went to the nearest metro station and dispersed.

Parade attendees carry a banner bearing photographs of fallen soldiers in Kyiv on June 16.
Parade attendees carry a banner bearing photographs of fallen soldiers in Kyiv on June 16.

Organizers faced difficulties ahead of the event. City authorities turned down a petition to allow it to be held at a metro station.

Police set up cordons in central Kyiv to keep the marchers clear of a counterdemonstration in which protesters carried posters with anti-gay slogans as they joined a march to a memorial for fallen soldiers in the center of the city.

The Pride march was condemned by one of the main branches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

"This action is part of a left-wing radical political movement and is aimed at imposing a political ideology, and also aimed at destroying the institution of the family and weakening Ukrainian society in the conditions of war and repelling Russian aggression," the church said in a statement.

With reporting by AP

4 Killed In Roadside Bombing In Pakistan's Restive Northwest

Activists in Kurram, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, staged a protest against insecurity on on June 15. Carrying white flags, they demanded peace and condemned harassment by both militants and security forces.
Activists in Kurram, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, staged a protest against insecurity on on June 15. Carrying white flags, they demanded peace and condemned harassment by both militants and security forces.

Four passengers were killed and two others wounded in a roadside bomb explosion in Pakistan’s northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on June 16. The incident occurred in the restive tribal district of Kurram. District emergency service officials told Radio Mashaal that all the victims were members of one family. The two wounded are being treated at a military hospital in Peshawar. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Kurram has a history of sectarian violence. To read the original story by Radio Mashaal, click here.

Iran Rebukes G7 For Statement On Nuclear Program Escalation

An Iranian underground nuclear site (file photo)
An Iranian underground nuclear site (file photo)

Iran called upon the Group of Seven (G7) on June 16 to distance itself from "destructive policies of the past," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said, referring to a G7 statement condemning Iran's recent nuclear program escalation. On June 14, the G7 warned Iran against advancing its nuclear enrichment program and said it would be ready to enforce new measures if Tehran were to transfer ballistic missiles to Russia. "Any attempt to link the war in Ukraine to the bilateral cooperation between Iran and Russia is an act with only biased political goals," Kanaani said.

Updated

Security Forces Storm Russian Detention Center To End Hostage Drama

(Illustrative photo)
(Illustrative photo)

Two corrections officers at a Russian detention center in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don were freed on June 16 by Russian special forces who stormed the facility after several inmates took the officers hostage.

Russia's Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) confirmed that the two corrections officers had been released and the inmates who had taken them hostage killed.

"During a special operation to free hostages in pretrial detention center No. 1 of the Main Directorate of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia in the Rostov region, the criminals were eliminated," FSIN said on Telegram. "The employees who were held hostage were released and were not injured."

Residents of Rostov-on-Don reported hearing the sounds of gunfire in the area of the detention center around noon local time. The FSIN confirmed soon afterward that riot police had stormed the building.

According to the Baza Telegram channel, one of the hostages was slightly wounded. He was treated at the scene and his life was not in danger, the report said.

Some local news outlets reported that some prisoners had also been killed.

Baza reported that six inmates managed to knock out the bars over the windows of their cells and enter the duty station, where they took the two corrections officers hostage, demanding weapons, a car, and free passage.

Videos distributed on social media showed the hostage-takers armed with knives and sharp objects.

The six had been accused of terrorist activities and some were reported to have links to the Islamic State (IS) extremist group. Among them were natives of Ingushetia and Chechnya who were convicted of terrorism charges in December, according to Kavkaz.Realii, citing preliminary information.

IS has carried out a number of attacks on Russian soil in recent years, including most recently in March when gunmen opened fire on a crowd at a concert hall in suburban Moscow, killing 145 people.

Residents of the Rostov region noted that Governor Vasily Golubev did not comment on reports about the hostage-taking incident while it was ongoing despite a number of central streets having been blocked, and questions from residents about the situation were deleted from Golubev's Telegram channel.

The governor said after the hostages were release that it had been the work of "provocateurs with obvious anti-Russian sentiments and an attempt to stir up an interethnic theme."

Updated

80 Countries Back Ukraine's 'Territorial Integrity' At Swiss Peace Summit

In holding the summit, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy seeks to rally a greater number of countries behind Ukraine's cause, especially those from the so-called Global South, and maintain world attention on Russia's brutal invasion.
In holding the summit, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy seeks to rally a greater number of countries behind Ukraine's cause, especially those from the so-called Global South, and maintain world attention on Russia's brutal invasion.

Eighty countries have called for the "territorial integrity" of Ukraine to be the foundation of any peace agreement to end Russia's war in a communique issued on the second and final day of their gathering at a Swiss resort on June 16.

Russia's absence at the Ukrainian-initiated Global Peace Summit has dampened hopes of any breakthrough, as has China's decision to stay away.

Participants India, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates were among those that did not sign the final document, which focused on issues of nuclear safety, food security, and the exchange of prisoners.

Live Briefing: Russia's Invasion Of Ukraine

RFE/RL's Live Briefing gives you all of the latest developments on Russia's full-scale invasion, Kyiv's counteroffensive, Western military aid, global reaction, and the plight of civilians. For all of RFE/RL's coverage of the war in Ukraine, click here.


The final statement said the UN Charter and "respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty…can and will serve as a basis for achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine."

"We believe that reaching peace requires the involvement of and dialogue between all parties," it also said.

Viola Amherd, the Swiss president who hosted the event, told the final news conference that the fact that the "great majority" of participants agreed to the final document "shows what diplomacy can achieve."

On the eve of the summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued harsh terms for a cease-fire, including that Ukraine hand over control of four regions in areas not only occupied by Russian invading forces, but Ukrainian-controlled regions as well, demands immediately rejected by Kyiv and its Western backers.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said the conference was "rightly" titled "Path to Peace" because such a goal will not be achieved in a single step.

"It was not a peace negotiation because Putin is not serious about ending the war. He is insisting on capitulation. He is insisting on ceding Ukrainian territory -- even territory that today is not occupied by him," she said. "He is insisting on disarming Ukraine, leaving it vulnerable to future aggression. No country would ever accept these outrageous terms."

Ukrainian Peace Summit Wraps With Pledge To Invite Russia To The Table
please wait

No media source currently available

0:00 0:03:54 0:00

Speaking at the end of the two-day meeting in Burgenstock, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the support of Western and other leaders demonstrates that the rule of international law can be restored.

"I hope that we can achieve results as soon as possible," Zelenskiy said. "We'll prove to everyone in the world that the UN Charter can be restored to full effectiveness."

Responding to a question from RFE/RL at the final news conference, Zelenskiy said more countries may join the final communique.

"First of all, [the term is] not signing but joining [the final communique]. This is an important difference, because joining the communique means that the communique is open," he said. "Even countries that are now thinking to join it have consultations ongoing in their respective countries."

Russian political scientist Aleksandr Morozov told Current Time, a Russian-language network run by RFE/RL in cooperation with Voice Of America, that countries such as South Africa and India that did not join the communique are reserving space for their own peace initiatives. He said that while these wouldn't be bad, they would only prove that Putin's demands are unrealistic because they disrespect Ukraine's territorial integrity and thus go against the UN Charter.

In holding the summit, Zelenskiy had been seeking to rally a greater number of countries behind Ukraine's cause, especially those from the so-called Global South, and maintain world attention on Russia's brutal invasion. That has become more urgent amid some global fatigue with the 28-month war, fighting in the Middle East, and growing concern about Chinese aggression toward Taiwan.

The June 15-16 summit was the culmination of Zelenskiy's efforts over the past 19 months to engage global leaders in helping end the biggest war in Europe since World War II.

Switzerland agreed to host the summit with the hope it would pave the way for a future peace process that includes Russia. Zelenskiy did not want Russia to participate at this stage.

International Summit Debates Ukrainian Peace Deal In Russia's Absence
please wait

No media source currently available

0:00 0:02:52 0:00

At their meeting on June 16, delegates agreed on a final summit declaration that focused on three issues: a call for the need for nuclear and food security and the return of prisoners of war and children removed from Ukraine during the conflict.

Ihor Zhovkva, Zelenskiy's deputy chief of staff, told reporters on the sidelines of the summit that Kyiv decided to focus on these three issues "because the majority of the international community is united around these positions today."

"The text is balanced. All of our principled positions on which Ukraine had insisted have been considered," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters on June 16 about the final communique.

"Of course we...understand perfectly that a time will come when it will be necessary to talk to Russia," he said. "But our position is very clear: We will not allow Russia to speak in the language of ultimatums like it is speaking now."

The conference was expected to decide the host country for a follow-up conference, but the meeting in Switzerland closed with the location of a second meeting undetermined.

Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis said it was conceivable that a follow-up summit could be held before the U.S. presidential election in November.

Zelenskiy Adviser: Putin's Conditions 'Attempt To Hijack' Peace Summit
please wait

No media source currently available

0:00 0:00:22 0:00

Saudi Arabia was believed to be one of the leading candidates, and Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said on June 15 that the kingdom was ready to assist the peace process, but he warned a viable settlement would hinge on "difficult compromise."

China, which backs Russia, joined scores of countries that sat out the event. Beijing has said any peace process would require the participation of both Russia and Ukraine, and has put forward its own ideas for peace.

Ukrainian security analyst Alina Hrytsenko told Current Time that China is trying to position itself as a peacemaker and doesn't believe that either side can achieve a military victory. She pointed out that that Putin's "peace offer" included a refusal to consider Zelenskiy legitimate, making it unclear under China's peace initiative who could be Putin's counterpart in peace talks.

On June 15, on the first day of the Swiss summit, many Western leaders condemned Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, citing the UN Charter in defense of its territorial integrity, and rejecting Putin's demands for Ukraine to cede land for peace.

"One thing is clear in this conflict: There is an aggressor, which is Putin, and there is a victim, which is the Ukrainian people," Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said.

"Russia should realize that it has borders, like any other state, and that it has neighbors, like any other state. This international community, the new security architecture, can exist only when the big countries, the biggest of the biggest, recognize their neighbors, respect their neighbors and their territorial integrity," Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili said.

"Sovereignty, territorial integrity, and discrediting aggression as a tool of statecraft are crucial principles that must be upheld in case of Ukraine and globally," Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas told the opening session on June 15. "That is why I'm concerned about so-called peace plans and initiatives that ignore the core UN Charter principles. We cannot treat Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty as somewhat secondary," Kallas added.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, representing the United States while President Joe Biden attended a fundraiser in California, said Putin's June 14 “peace” proposal was not a call for negotiations but a call "for [Ukraine's] surrender."

Harris also reiterated America's full backing for Ukraine and announced $1.5 billion in new U.S. assistance for multiple projects, including energy infrastructure and civilian security.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated that "peace in Ukraine cannot be achieved without involving Russia" but noted Russia has refused all collective calls for peace.

Ahead of the summit, leaders from the Group of 7 major industrial nations announced a $50 billion loan package for Kyiv that will leverage interest and income from the more than $260 billion in frozen Russian assets.

Biden and Zelenskiy this week signed a security agreement that commits the United States over 10 years to continued training of Ukraine's armed forces.

Biden, who decided not to attend the summit despite pleas from Zelenskiy, also approved sending Ukraine a second Patriot missile system and imposed another round of financial sanctions on Russia.

The White House also eased restrictions that kept Ukraine from using American weaponry to strike inside Russia, allowing strikes into Russia for the limited purpose of defending Kharkiv.

Last month, Russia launched a small-scale offensive in the northern Kharkiv region, seeking to stretch Ukraine's outgunned and outmanned forces across the roughly 1,200-kilometer front line. The effort has slowed, as Ukraine rushed new units to the area, reinforced positions, and fired on Russian positions across the border.

Armenia Proposes 'Joint Mechanism' With Azerbaijan To Investigate Cease-Fire Violations

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian speaks in the parliament in Yerevan on June 12.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian speaks in the parliament in Yerevan on June 12.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has proposed the establishment of a mechanism to investigate allegations of cease-fire violations with Azerbaijan.

His suggestion for a "joint mechanism" on June 15 came days after the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry claimed Armenian soldiers had opened fire on Azerbaijani troops in Baku's Naxcivan exclave.

The Armenian military dismissed the allegation, describing it as "misinformation," and EU observers in Armenia said they had not recorded unusual activities along the border.

Addressing members of his Civil Contract party, Pashinian said allegations of cease-fire violations were either true or meant to escalate tensions between the neighbors.

The embattled prime minister said the launch of a joint investigation committee could help determine whether claims of cease-fire violations were true.

Azerbaijan on June 13 accused Armenian troops of targeting Azerbaijani positions in the village of Khavush in the Sharur region, the village of Nurgut in the Ordubad region, and Guney Gyshlag village in the Shahbuz region. Baku said it had responded.

The Armenian premier's popularity has taken major hits in recent years, in large part because of the loss to Azerbaijan in the 2020 Second Nagorno-Karabakh War and the subsequent Azerbaijani military recapture of Karabakh in 2023.

Protests have gripped Yerevan since April, when authorities agreed to hand back to archrival Azerbaijan territory that Armenia had controlled since the 1990s.

Residents of nearby settlements say the move cuts them off from the rest of the country and accuse Pashinian of giving away territory without getting anything in return. Pashinian has defended the move as part of efforts to secure peace with Azerbaijan.

Led by Archbishop Bagrat Galstanian, protesters have been calling for Pashinian’s resignation as his government nears a controversial peace deal with Azerbaijan.

Secretary Of Russia's Ruling Party Steps Down

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) appointed Andrei Turchak (right) as the governor of the Altai Republic, which is seen as a demotion by observers. (file photo)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) appointed Andrei Turchak (right) as the governor of the Altai Republic, which is seen as a demotion by observers. (file photo)

Andrei Turchak on June 15 resigned from his post as secretary of United Russia. Accepting the resignation, party Chairman Dmitry Medvedev appointed Vladimir Yakushev, the presidential envoy in the Urals Federal District, as the acting secretary of Russia’s ruling party. Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed Turchak as the governor of the Altai Republic -- a move seen by observers as political exile for a man once described as Putin's star student. Turchak also serves as the first deputy chairman of the Federation Council. To read the full story by RFE/RL’s Siberia.Realities, click here.

Belarusian Journalist Facing Extradition Says Fighting To 'Save My Life'

Andrey Hnyot photographed on June 14 at home in Belgrade, where he is under house arrest and fighting extradition to Belarus.
Andrey Hnyot photographed on June 14 at home in Belgrade, where he is under house arrest and fighting extradition to Belarus.

Belarusian journalist and opposition activist Andrey Hnyot, who is being held in Serbia, told RFE/RL's Balkan Service on June 14 that he is fighting extradition to "save my life." Hnyot was detained at the Serbian capital's airport at the request of Belarus last October. Last week, he was transferred to house arrest. Belgrade's Higher Court on June 13 upheld his extradition ruling, but it can still be appealed. Hnyot is wanted by Minsk for tax fraud, a charge he said was "ridiculous" and politically motivated. An EU spokesman has expressed concern to RFE/RL that Hnyot will face "political repression and ill-treatment" if extradited. To read the full interview by Nevena Bogdanovic of RFE/RL’s Balkan Service, click here.

Olympic Committee Approves 25 Russian, Belarusian Athletes For Paris Games

Russian and Belarusian athletes were initially banned from the Olympics after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. (file photo)
Russian and Belarusian athletes were initially banned from the Olympics after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. (file photo)

The Olympics governing body on June 15 approved 14 Russians and 11 Belarusians with neutral status to compete at the Paris games this summer. The athletes compete in four sports: cycling, gymnastics, weightlifting, and wrestling. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) did not clear any Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in taekwondo. After initially banning the two countries' athletes from world sports following Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the IOC adjusted its regulations to allow their participation under a neutral banner subject to strict conditions and excluding team events. The summer games kick off on July 26 and conclude on August 11.

Updated

Former Iranian Prison Official, Swedish EU Diplomat Released In Prisoner Exchange

Hamid Nouri was convicted by a Swedish court of human rights violations in Iran against political prisoners. (file photo)
Hamid Nouri was convicted by a Swedish court of human rights violations in Iran against political prisoners. (file photo)

A former Iranian prison official who was sentenced to life in a Swedish prison for crimes committed during the mass execution of political prisoners in 1988 was released by Sweden, officials said, in a prisoner swap that also saw Tehran release an EU diplomat.

A third man, a dual Iranian-Swedish citizen, was also released as part of the June 15 deal, which was hailed as a breakthrough in long-strained relations between Tehran and Stockholm.

Hamid Nouri was arrested at a Stockholm airport in 2019 and was charged with the mass execution and torture of political prisoners at Iran's notorious Gohardasht prison. The killings targeted members of a political-militant organization known as the MKO that advocated the overthrow of Iran's clerical regime.

Sweden's prime minister, Ulf Kristersson, meanwhile, said in a video posted to social media that Johan Floderus and Saeed Azizi were en route to Sweden "and will soon be reunited with their families."

All three returned to their countries on June 15.

The exact conditions or circumstances of the swap were not immediately clear, although it appeared to have been negotiated with the help of the Gulf state of Oman, according to a statement published by the Oman state news agency.

Floderus, a Swedish national, had been visiting Iran in the spring of 2022 on a private trip. He was detained at Tehran airport on April 17, 2022, as he prepared to leave the country. He was later accused by Iranian prosecutors of espionage.

He had been employed as a diplomat with the EU's External Action Service, the bloc's foreign policy arm.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell hailed the release of Floderus and Azizi, adding that the bloc "will continue to work" to secure the release of other EU citizens "arbitrarily detained in Iran."

Azizi, a dual Swedish-Iranian national, was taken into custody on November 12, 2023, at his residence in Tehran shortly after arriving from Sweden. He was convicted of "colluding to act against national security" and sentenced to five years in prison.

Azizi’s lawyer, Reza Shefakhah, wrote on X that neither he nor his client's family had been made aware of the prisoner exchange.

At least three other Swedish citizens are currently held in Iran.

Amnesty International welcomed the release of Floderus and Azizi but questioned why Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian-Swedish doctor and academic who is sentenced to death in Iran, was not among the prisoners released.

"The circumstances confirm our earlier fears that Iran is holding Swedish citizens hostage to use in a prisoner swap," the rights group said in a statement posted to X.

Djalali was detained in 2016 and subsequently sentenced to death for allegedly spying for Israel -- a charge that his family denies.

Simon Kasper Brown and Stephen Kevin Gilbert, who were detained in 2021 and later convicted of drug trafficking, receiving eight and five years in prison, respectively.

Other Europeans held in Iran include French citizens Cecile Kohler and her partner, Jacques Paris, as well as a man identified only by his first name Olivier. Kohler and Paris are accused of spying, but no details have been released about Olivier's case.

The Islamic republic is also holding German-Iranian Nahid Taqavi, who was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison, and Jamshid Sharmahd, a German citizen of Iranian descent sentenced to death.

An unnamed Austrian national was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in jail in Iran last year for spying, according to Vienna.

With reporting by AFP

Iran Installing, Starting Cascades Of Advanced Centrifuges, Says UN Watchdog

A student looks at Iran's domestically built centrifuges in an exhibition of the country's nuclear achievements in Tehran in February 2023.
A student looks at Iran's domestically built centrifuges in an exhibition of the country's nuclear achievements in Tehran in February 2023.

The UN nuclear watchdog said Iran has started up new cascades of advanced centrifuges and planned to install others in the coming weeks. The June 14 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was met with strong criticism by the United States and other Western nations. "We remain committed to a diplomatic solution preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon," the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement cosigned by Germany and Britain. The IAEA said its inspectors verified that Iran had begun feeding uranium into three cascades of advanced centrifuges at its Natanz enrichment facility. Its report, however, did not include any suggestion Iran planned to go to higher enrichment levels.

Sweden Says Russian Tactical Bomber Violates Airspace, Intercepted By Jets

A Russian Su-24 Bomber in the sky over the Black Sea during 2021 Sea Breeze exercises
A Russian Su-24 Bomber in the sky over the Black Sea during 2021 Sea Breeze exercises

Sweden’s military said a Russian tactical bomber was intercepted by fighter jets after the bomber briefly violated Sweden's airspace. The June 14 incident occurred roughly three months after Sweden shed its decades-old neutrality policy and joined the NATO. In a statement released on June 15, Swedish Air Force chief Jonas Wikman said two Gripen jets were sent to meet the Su-24 after it failed to respond to radio warnings near the Baltic Island of Gotland. Russia’s military made no immediate statement about the incident.

EU Considering Visa Restrictions, Sanctions In Response To Georgian 'Foreign Agent' Law

Tbilisi has been roiled by street protests for weeks by people opposed to the proposed "foreign agent" law.
Tbilisi has been roiled by street protests for weeks by people opposed to the proposed "foreign agent" law.

The European Union will consider reimposing visa requirements for Georgians, according to a leaked document, in response to a widely criticized "foreign agent" law passed by parliament despite street protests and international warnings.

In addition to suspending the visa-free EU regime in place since 2017, the document, seen by RFE/RL’s Georgian Service, also calls for considering sanctions on top Georgian government officials, the suspension of financial assistance and other measures.

Georgian government officials could not be immediately reached by RFE/RL for comment.

Georgia's parliament, which is controlled by the Georgian Dream party, last month gave final passage to the so-called foreign agent law, overriding a veto by President Salome Zurabishvili.

The law requires nongovernmental organizations and media groups that receive at least 20 percent of their funding from outside the country to register as organizations "pursuing the interests of a foreign power."

Violations could result in fines of the equivalent of more than $9,000.

Georgian Civil Activist Bruised And Bloodied, Opposition's Homes, Offices Vandalized
please wait

No media source currently available

0:00 0:03:09 0:00

The law is modeled on a similar measure in Russia, which was initially passed in 2012 and has been gradually expanded and toughened to encompass civil society groups, human rights activists, media organizations, and others. The law has forced the closure of dozens of organizations and individuals in Russia, and forced activists and reporters to flee the country.

RFE/RL, its Russian-language TV network Current Time, and specific parts of its editorial services were designated foreign agents by the Russian Justice Ministry in 2017. RFE/RL closed its Moscow bureau in 2022.

In Georgia, lawmakers pushed through the legislation in the face of increasingly dire warnings from the European Union and the United States.

Protesters staged near nightly demonstrations outside parliament building in Tbilisi, often clashing with riot police.

According to the document, the European Commission, the EU's executive body, will consider initially reimposing visa rules on Georgian government officials and diplomats.

In case of "further deterioration of the situation," such as "use of violence against protesters" or "intimidation or major irregularities in the electoral process," the document proposes other harsher measures, including imposing visa rules for all Georgians.

The initial measure will be considered more seriously later this fall ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for the end of October. Georgian Dream will be seeking to hold onto or expand its hold in parliament.

The additional measure will be considered "in case of election falsification and serious misconduct of the electoral process," according to the document.

Updated

World Leaders Converge For Ukraine Summit Shadowed By Putin's Hard-Line Demands

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks with Swiss Federal President Viola Amherd after a press statement at the Summit on Peace in Ukraine, near Lucerne, Switzerland, on June 15.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks with Swiss Federal President Viola Amherd after a press statement at the Summit on Peace in Ukraine, near Lucerne, Switzerland, on June 15.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed a large gathering of world leaders at a Swiss alpine resort, tasked with developing a roadmap to end Europe's biggest war in eight decades, as a historical moment. However, the absence of Russian and Chinese officials dampened prospects for a major breakthrough.

Zelenskiy told reporters that representatives from 101 countries and international organizations have gathered in Burgenstock, a mountain resort near the Swiss city of Lucerne, for two days of talks about how to end Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine that has killed or wounded hundreds of thousands of people on both sides.

Live Briefing: Russia's Invasion Of Ukraine

RFE/RL's Live Briefing gives you all of the latest developments on Russia's full-scale invasion, Kyiv's counteroffensive, Western military aid, global reaction, and the plight of civilians. For all of RFE/RL's coverage of the war in Ukraine, click here.

"We have succeeded in bringing back to the world the idea that joint efforts can stop war and establish a just peace," Zelenskiy, flanked by Swiss President Viola Amherd, said in remarks on June 15 opening up the talks.

In holding the summit, Zelenskiy is seeking to rally a greater number of countries behind Ukraine’s cause, especially those from the so-called Global South, and maintain world attention on Russia’s brutal invasion. That has become more urgent amid some global fatigue with the 28-month war, fighting in the Middle East, and growing concern about Chinese aggression toward Taiwan.

Swiss officials hosting the conference said more than 50 heads of state and government, mostly from Europe, would attend the gathering. Other nations were sending lower-level delegations. European bodies and the United Nations were also expected to send representatives.

Vice President Kamala Harris and White House national-security adviser Jake Sullivan are representing the United States as President Joe Biden returned home to hit the campaign trail following a week in Europe, where he met with Zelenskiy twice.

China, whose economic and political ties with Russia have flourished over the past decade, driven in part by their opposition to the U.S.-led global order, declined to participate with Moscow's presence. India and Brazil, who along with China and Russia are members of BRICS, sent nonministerial officials.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, who is attending the summit, said getting the Global South onboard is crucial to forging a roadmap toward peace and called the participation of Indian and Brazilian representatives a “first glimmer of hope.”

Nehammer said that “without parts of Asia, Africa, and South America, we will not be able to get the Russian Federation to change its mind."

Russia has turned for support to countries in the Global South, a bloc that makes up the majority in the UN General Assembly, amid isolation from the West and parts of Asia following its invasion of Ukraine.

In a possible attempt to undermine the Swiss gathering to which his nation was not invited, Russian President Vladimir Putin promised on the eve of the event to "immediately” order a cease-fire and begin negotiations if Kyiv gave up territory seized by Moscow and renounced plans to join NATO.

In an interview with RFE/RL on June 15, Mykhaylo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelenskiy, called Putin's statement "an attempt to hijack” the summit’s agenda. He said Putin’s plan was “nothing new” and “unrealistic.”

The June 15-16 summit is the culmination of Zelenskiy’s efforts over the past 19 months to engage global leaders in helping end the biggest war in Europe since World War II.

Switzerland agreed to host the summit with the hope it would pave the way for a future peace process that includes Russia. Zelenskiy did not want Russia to participate at this stage.

International Summit Debates Ukrainian Peace Deal In Russia's Absence
please wait

No media source currently available

0:00 0:02:52 0:00

The Ukrainian leader first presented his 10-point peace formula virtually at the Group of 20 meeting held in Indonesia in November 2022. That was followed by four meetings between national security advisers of several nations, including Ukraine.

Zelenskiy’s plan calls on Russia to end hostilities, withdraw its troops from occupied Ukrainian territory, including Crimea, and restore Ukraine’s 1991 borders, something many experts say is ambitious considering Russia appears to have the upper hand on the battlefield.

But with Russia not present, only three themes will be on the table at this summit: nuclear safety, including at the Russia-controlled Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant; the exchange of prisoners of war and the return of Ukrainian children taken by Russia, which has resulted in International Criminal Court charges against Putin; and global food security.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine, one of the world's largest exporters of grain, caused food prices to surge, hurting impoverished countries, especially in Africa and the Middle East.

Ihor Zhovkva, Zelenskiy’s deputy chief of staff, told reporters on the sidelines of the summit that Kyiv decided to focus on those three issues "because the majority of the international community is united around these positions today."

Zelenskiy Adviser: Putin's Conditions 'Attempt To Hijack' Peace Summit
please wait

No media source currently available

0:00 0:00:22 0:00

In response to a question by RFE/RL, Andriy Yermak, head of Zelenskiy’s administration, told reporters on June 15 that the two-day gathering will conclude with a joint statement that would be presented to Russian representatives invited to the next summit.

The next summit could be held in Saudi Arabia, a nation that maintains good ties with Russia. Zelenskiy visited Saudi Arabia in the days leading up to the summit.

As summit participants gathered in Switzerland, Russia’s all-out war on Ukraine showed no signs of abating despite Moscow losing at least 350,000 troops to death or injury since 2022.

Ukraine’s General Staff said on June 15 that there had been more than 60 clashes with Russian forces over the past 24 hours.

Last month, Russia launched a small-scale offensive in the northern Kharkiv region, seeking to stretch Ukraine's outgunned and outmanned forces across the roughly 1,200-kilometer front line. The effort has slowed, as Ukraine rushed new units to the area, and reinforced positions.

But a lack of weaponry from the United States -- whose supplies stalled for months due to congressional infighting -- gave Russia a battlefield advantage, along with Ukraine’s inability to bring large numbers of fresh troops into the fight.

The recent battlefield setbacks have made Zelenskiy’s peace proposal look increasingly ambitious, experts have said.

Ahead of the summit, leaders from the Group of 7 major industrial nations announced a $50 billion loan package for Kyiv that will leverage interest and income from the more than $260 billion in frozen Russian assets.

Biden and Zelenskiy this week signed a security agreement that commits the United States over 10 years to continued training of Ukraine’s armed forces.

Biden, who will not be attending the summit despite pleas from Zelenskiy, also approved sending Ukraine a second Patriot missile system and imposed another round of financial sanctions on Russia.

The White House also eased restrictions that kept Ukraine from using American weaponry to strike inside Russia, allowing strikes into Russia for the limited purpose of defending Kharkiv.

Analysts say that is a contributing factor for Ukraine’s recent efforts in halting the Russian offensive there.

With reporting by AP, Reuters

Ukraine's Military Claims Hits On Concentrated Russian Troops; Moscow Says 5 Dead In Belgorod

Ukrainian troops fire a BM-21 Grad multiple-launch rocket system toward Russian troops on the front line in the Donetsk region.
Ukrainian troops fire a BM-21 Grad multiple-launch rocket system toward Russian troops on the front line in the Donetsk region.

Ukraine fired missiles and artillery at 15 areas where Russia troops were concentrated on June 14 as Russia tried to use its advantage in manpower, equipment, and air support to seize territory in eastern Ukraine, Kyiv's General Staff said.

"Despite the intense enemy onslaught, the Ukrainian soldiers fought back hard and effectively," the General Staff said in its late summary of the day's fighting.

Live Briefing: Russia's Invasion Of Ukraine

RFE/RL's Live Briefing gives you all of the latest developments on Russia's full-scale invasion, Kyiv's counteroffensive, Western military aid, global reaction, and the plight of civilians. For all of RFE/RL's coverage of the war in Ukraine, click here.

The Ukrainian military said there were 81 combat clashes during the day, while the Russian military said its troops seized about a dozen settlements, and the governor of the Belgorod region said five people were killed in attacks on the region.

In the area around Kharkiv, Russian forces supported by air power, tried to storm the positions of Ukrainian units in the Vovchansk and Tykhoy districts three times. All enemy attacks were repelled, Kyiv said.

At the same time, 10 combat clashes took place near Kupyansk, and Russian forces also tried to improve their positions in several towns in the Dnipropetrovsk region. The Ukrainian military said all enemy assaults near Sinkyvka were repulsed, while battles were still going on elsewhere.

Russian troops also attacked towns near Lyman in the Donetsk region. The General Staff described the situation as under control, saying four clashes had ended, while five were still ongoing.

The armed forces also noted that the Russian Army was "intensively" attacking in the Pokrovskiy area, where Ukrainian defenders repelled 17 attacks. At least a dozen other clashes were ongoing.

"The situation is difficult, but controlled by the defense forces," the General Staff said. Ukrainian soldiers "are making efforts to prevent the enemy from advancing deep into Ukrainian territory."

The claims could not be independently verified.

In the Russian region around the city of Belgorod, regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said Ukrainian attacks killed five people on June 14.

Gladkov said on Telegram that two bodies had been pulled from an apartment building hit by Ukrainian shelling in the border town of Shebekino.

Emergency services, quoted by news agencies, said a third body was later found in the rubble after shelling caused a stairwell to collapse.

A drone also struck a car in a village near Shebekino, killing the driver, and a woman was killed in her home when it was struck by rocket fire in the village of Oktyabrsky.

With reporting by Reuters

G7 Leaders Hammer Out Details Of Loaning Ukraine Billions Using Profits From Frozen Russian Assets

U.S. President Joe Biden (center), Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni (left), and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak attend a working session during the G7 summit hosted by Italy.
U.S. President Joe Biden (center), Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni (left), and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak attend a working session during the G7 summit hosted by Italy.

Group of Seven (G7) leaders affirmed their decision to make available around $50 billion to Ukraine by using frozen Russian assets as they wrapped up their two-day summit in Italy on June 14.

The leaders said in their final communique that by leveraging "the extraordinary revenues" of Russian assets frozen in Europe, they are sending "an unmistakable signal" to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"We are working together and with others to address the pressing challenges of our time," the G7 leaders said in the communique, noting their solidarity with Ukraine as well as support for a deal that would lead to an immediate cease-fire and release of hostages in Gaza, investment in sustainable infrastructure in Africa, and commitments to address climate change and migration.

A senior U.S. administration official, meanwhile, provided details about the sovereign-assets deal, telling reporters on a conference call on June 14 that the proceeds will flow to Ukraine through multiple channels.

Every G7 country -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States -- will do its part in the deal, the senior U.S. official said.

The United States has committed to loan up to $50 billion while Canada has committed to loan $5 billion, the official said, adding that the European Union and Japan were considering whether to join the loan syndicate.

As part of its deliberations, the Europe Union is currently discussing a loan that would be up to $25 billion, the official said.

Britain is considering guaranteeing repayment of loans, while the European Union is expected to provide the income generated from some $280 billion in frozen Russian foreign exchange reserves in the bloc, most of it in Belgium.

Those assets, which are generally invested in short-term government bonds of Western governments, are generating income amounting to a few billion dollars a year.

The senior U.S. administration official said Ukraine will not have to pay back anything and the loan would not change Ukraine's debt-to-GDP ratio, which financial agencies like Moody's use to assign ratings to government debt.

The lenders will be repaid from the profits accrued on the frozen Russian assets or through the countries that guarantee the loans.

Before the EU can take part in the loan syndicate or disperse the profits it must get all 27 members to commit to the continued freeze on the Russian reserves.

"We fully expect the EU27 will meet this moment [and] authorize continued immobilization of Russia’s sovereign assets," the senior U.S. official said, citing comments made by the leaders of Italy, France, and Germany as well as senior EU officials as encouraging.

G7 leaders turned their attention on June 14 to other matters, including discussions on migration, artificial intelligence, economic security, and the Indo-Pacific region, stressing their determination to meet global challenges "at a crucial moment in history."

Pope Francis also became the first pontiff to address a G7 summit, delivering a speech on artificial intelligence.

With reporting by AP

Flight To Chisinau Makes Emergency Landing In Bucharest After Alleged Bomb Scare

A FlyOne plane (file photo)
A FlyOne plane (file photo)

A plane en route from Moscow to Chisinau made an emergency landing in Bucharest on June 14, Moldovan authorities and a pro-Russian member of parliament said.

Romanian press reports said the plane made the emergency landing because of a bomb threat.

One report said a suspicious package was found, while another said a call was placed to the emergency-response number advising that a bomb was on the aircraft.

After the emergency landing at Bucharest's international airport in Otopeni, the Romanian SRI intelligence service checked the aircraft and determined that the bomb threat had been a false alarm, Romanian media reported.

Vladimir Cebotari, founder of FlyOne, the low-cost carrier that operated the flight, also said the bomb alert was false. Cebotari told ProTV Chisinau that several people were detained.

There was a different story, however, from Moldova's Civil Aviation Authority, which said on Facebook that the airline failed to notify aviation authorities about flight schedule changes three days in advance, as required by law.

As a result, the flight did not receive the necessary approval from Moldova and was diverted.

There were more than 170 passengers on board the aircraft, most of them Moldovan citizens, according to a Moldovan media report.

Lawmaker Marina Tauber of the Shor Party said that the plane was carrying members of the Moldovan opposition political bloc Victory and that the flight originated in Moscow.

"Chisinau airport refused to allow a flight from Moscow via Yerevan carrying participants in the congress of the Moldovan opposition political bloc 'Victory' to land," she said on Telegram. "The aircraft was diverted to Bucharest."

Moldovan pro-Russian opposition parties gathered in Moscow in April to announce the formation of the Victory political bloc ahead of the presidential election and an EU membership referendum in October.

The pro-Moscow Shor Party was founded by oligarch Ilan Shor, who fled Moldova following pro-Western President Maia Sandu's election in 2020.

Moldovan authorities confirmed on May 16 that Shor had obtained Russian citizenship and identity documents. Moldovan authorities said Russia failed to officially notify Chisinau that Shor, a fugitive wanted in Moldova, had become a Russian citizen.

Shor was sentenced in Moldova to 15 years in June 2023 for his role in a $1 billion bank fraud and other illicit schemes.

Also in June 2023, the Shor Party was declared unconstitutional by Moldova's Constitutional Court and dissolved after it organized months of anti-government protests.

With reporting by AFP

Hungarian, Slovak Embassies In Sarajevo Vandalized After UN Srebrenica Resolution

The number 8,372 was scrawled on the buildings of the Hungarian and Slovak embassies in Sarajevo in apparent reference to the number killed in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide.
The number 8,372 was scrawled on the buildings of the Hungarian and Slovak embassies in Sarajevo in apparent reference to the number killed in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide.

Red graffiti reading 8,372 -- the official number of victims of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina -- has been scribbled on the walls of the Hungarian and Slovakian embassies in Sarajevo.

The graffiti appeared on June 14, three weeks after the United Nations approved a resolution to commemorate the Srebrenica genocide. Hungary was among 19 countries that joined Serbia in voting against the resolution adopted by the General Assembly on May 23. Slovakia was among the 68 countries that abstained from the vote.

The resolution designates July 11 as the International Day of Reflection and Commemoration of the 1995 Genocide in Srebrenica, establishing an annual day of commemoration for the massacre of 8,372 local Bosnian Muslim men and boys.

The Sarajevo Canton police on June 14 confirmed to RFE/RL that its investigation into the graffiti scrawled on the two embassies had been completed and that the incident had been classified as vandalism.

Police also carried out an investigation on June 14 into the word "genocide" written in red letters on a residential building not far from the Serbian Embassy in Sarajevo, Sarajevo Canton police confirmed to RFE/RL.

The law enforcement authority in charge of securing diplomatic missions in Bosnia barred RFE/RL from photographing the graffiti, but photos of it were published online by the Public Service of Republika Srpska.

Graffiti indicating the number of people killed in the genocide in Srebrenica appeared on the buildings of the Hungarian and Slovak embassies in Sarajevo.
Graffiti indicating the number of people killed in the genocide in Srebrenica appeared on the buildings of the Hungarian and Slovak embassies in Sarajevo.

Neither embassy would comment on the incident.

"We do not want to comment. You have seen the pictures. Of course we noticed, but we have no comment," the Hungarian Embassy said in response to RFE/RL's request for comment.

The nonbinding UN resolution sparked protests and a lobbying campaign by Serbia's president and the Bosnian Serb leadership to block it.

The resolution condemns any denial of the Srebrenica genocide as a historical event and condemns actions that glorify those convicted of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide by international courts.

The genocide was carried out by members of the Republika Srpska Army and was labeled in 2007 as a genocide by the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

More than 50 people were sentenced in connection to the genocide. Among them were the wartime president of Republika Srpska, Radovan Karadzic, and the commander of its army, Ratko Mladic.

Putin Lays Out Already Rejected Conditions For Talks On Eve Of Ukraine Peace Summit

Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded a commitment from Ukraine to abandon plans to join NATO. (file photo)
Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded a commitment from Ukraine to abandon plans to join NATO. (file photo)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered an immediate cease-fire with Ukraine, setting out conditions that Kyiv has already rejected just a day before a peace summit in Switzerland from which he was excluded.

During a speech at the Foreign Ministry in Moscow on June 14, Putin laid out the terms of his proposal: the withdrawal of Ukrainian forces from its territories of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhya, which Russia has claimed, and an end to Kyiv's NATO aspirations.

“We will do it [end Russia's offensive] immediately,” Putin said.

The terms Putin laid out, which have been mooted by Russian officials several times in the past, were once again rejected by Ukraine, while NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg slammed the conditions as a path to "more aggression, more occupation."

"There is no novelty in this, no real peace proposal, and no desire to end the war," Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said in a post on X.

"But there is a desire not to pay for this war and to continue it in new formats. It's all a complete sham. Therefore -- once again -- get rid of illusions and stop taking seriously the 'proposals of Russia' that are offensive to common sense."

Putin presented his conditions ahead of a June 15-16 Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland, to which he was not invited.

Leaders and representatives of more than 70 countries are scheduled to meet in the Swiss resort of Burgenstock to chart a way forward to end the war in Ukraine.

Ukraine hopes to win broad international backing for its vision of the terms needed to end the war with Russia.

Live Briefing: Russia's Invasion Of Ukraine

RFE/RL's Live Briefing gives you all of the latest developments on Russia's full-scale invasion, Kyiv's counteroffensive, Western military aid, global reaction, and the plight of civilians. For all of RFE/RL's coverage of the war in Ukraine, click here.

A draft of a communique for the peace summit seen by RFE/RL says future peace negotiations should involve "representatives of all parties" in the conflict.

The United States will be represented by Vice President Kamala Harris and national-security adviser Jake Sullivan, while French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will also attend the summit.

Russia has dismissed the significance of the summit, saying it “makes no sense” to hold discussions on ending the hostilities without Moscow.

"This is not a proposal made in good faith," Stoltenberg said of Putin's offer following a meeting of defense ministers in Brussels on June 14. "This is a proposal that actually means that Russia should achieve their war aims by expecting that Ukrainians should give up significantly more land than Russia has been able to occupy so far."

Putin also restated a demand for Ukraine's demilitarization and said an end to international sanctions must be included in a peace deal.

He also repeated his call for Ukraine's "denazification," a nod to his often voiced but baseless slur against Kyiv's leadership.

Russia has blamed Ukraine's preliminary steps to joining NATO as one of the main reasons it launched what it calls a "special military operation" against Ukraine in February 2022.

NATO leaders will hold a summit in Washington next month, though Kyiv is not expected to receive a full invitation to join the alliance.

The alliance stated in the final declaration of last year's summit in Vilnius that "Ukraine’s future is in NATO," though U.S. President Joe Biden has Ukraine will not join NATO while it is at war.

Italian Police Reportedly Arrest Russian In Connection With 2023 Artyom Uss Escape

The United States has offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Artyom Uss.
The United States has offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Artyom Uss.

Italian authorities say they have arrested a Russian businessman living in Switzerland in connection with the March 2023 escape of Artyom Uss, a Russian man who fled Italian house arrest just prior to extradition to the United States.

The arrest of the man, identified by Italian media as Dmitry Chirakadze, 54, is the latest twist in the winding mystery of how Uss, the son of a powerful former Russian governor, managed to elude Italian authorities and secretly return to Russia.

Italian prosecutors previously identified six people as being accomplices in Uss's escape; three are in custody in Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia. The man held in Croatia, Vladimir Jovancic, is awaiting his own extradition to the United States.

Chirakadze was arrested on June 14 as he arrived at Rome's Fiumicino airport from Sardinia, according to Italian media.

Milan prosecutors and police did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Italian media identified Chirakadze as the founder of a Russian legal-services website called Pravo.ru and married to a Russian woman named Lyubov Orlova.

He's reportedly the owner of a a luxury resort in Sardinia and a hunting estate in Krasnoyarsk, the Siberian region where Uss is from originally. Uss's father was the governor of Krasnoyarsk until resigning last year, around the time that Uss escaped.

He also served as former deputy governor of Kemerovo, located in the heart of Russia's coal-mining Kuzbas region.

Uss was indicted by a U.S. grand jury in 2022, charged as part of an alleged scheme to smuggle dual-use technologies to Russia, evading Western sanctions imposed in punishment for Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

He was arrested at the Milan airport in October 2022, and ordered held, pending hearings to decide on his extradition to the United States.

Italian authorities agreed to let him wait out the proceeding under house arrest, with an electronic monitoring bracelet -- a decision that was publicly criticized by U.S. officials.

In March 2023, Uss escaped from the villa in Milan's southern suburbs, breaking off his monitoring bracelet, and driving east. About three weeks later, he announced his presence back in Russia.

The incident embarrassed the Italian authorities and even drew criticism from Italy's prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, who said the decision to release him from house arrest had "anomalies." One Italian lawmaker said Italy had "embarrassed itself internationally."

The United States later announced a $5 million reward for information leading to Uss's arrest.

After Uss's return, his father Aleksandr publicly thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for his help in securing his son's release.

Kyrgyz Activists Protesting Border Deal With Uzbekistan Acquitted

Tears And Joy As Kyrgyz Court Acquits 27 Activists Charged Over Protest
please wait

No media source currently available

0:00 0:01:15 0:00

A court in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, has acquitted all members of a group facing 20 years in prison for protesting a border deal with Uzbekistan. The judge ruled on June 14 that were was insufficient evidence to convict the 27 activists. Earlier this week, prosecutors asked for lengthy sentences for each member of the group for protesting a deal that saw Kyrgyzstan hand over the Kempir-Abad reservoir to Uzbekistan. On June 12, several international rights groups demanded the immediate release of the protesters and said the request for lengthy sentences for each activist "compounds an already shocking miscarriage of justice." To read the full story by RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, click here.

Load more

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

If you are in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine and hold a Russian passport or are a stateless person residing permanently in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine, please note that you could face fines or imprisonment for sharing, liking, commenting on, or saving our content, or for contacting us.

To find out more, click here.

XS
SM
MD
LG