Accessibility links

Breaking News

News

Iranian President Visits Tajikistan

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon (left) met with his Iranian counterpart, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, in Tehran in June.
Tajik President Emomali Rahmon (left) met with his Iranian counterpart, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, in Tehran in June.
Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad is set to start a two-day visit to Tajikistan at the invitation of President Emomali Rahmon.

Iran's ambassador to Tajikistan, Ali Asqar Sherdoust, told Iran's Fars news agency that Ahmadinejad would be accompanied to Dushanbe by the Iranian foreign, health, and energy ministers.

Officials said the Iranian president is expected to participate in the inauguration of the Iranian-built Sangtuda-2 hydroelectric power plant project on the Vakhsh River.

Reports say ownership and revenues from the plant are to be transferred to Tajikistan after 12 years.

The Iranian and Tajik sides are also expected to discuss a number of other economic cooperation projects.

compiled from agency reports

More News

Slain Iranian Protester's Father Sentenced To 6 Years In Prison

Mashalla Karami, the father of executed protester Mohammad Mehdi Karami (file photo)
Mashalla Karami, the father of executed protester Mohammad Mehdi Karami (file photo)

Iran’s judiciary has sentenced Mashallah Karami, the father of executed protester Mohammad Mehdi Karami, to six years in prison on charges of endangering national security and "propaganda against the regime."

The human rights groups HRANA and Hengaw reported the verdict, which was handed down by the Karaj Revolutionary Court.

His lawyer, Ali Sharifzadeh Ardakani, said Karami has yet to receive the court's decision officially.

Additionally, he rejected accusations of fraud against his client on social media platforms, noting that related charges of money laundering and acquiring illicit wealth are still under review with no verdicts rendered so far.

Mohammad Mehdi Karami was one of nine individuals executed by the Islamic republic in relation to the protests of 2022, which saw widespread unrest over governmental policies.

His execution in January 2023, which was tied to the alleged murder of a Basij militia member during the nationwide upheaval, drew international condemnation and highlighted the Iranian government's strict crackdown on dissent.

The sentence handed to Mashallah Karami also appears to be part of a pressure campaign on families of executed protesters.

Mashallah Karami has been a vocal figure in the protest movement, often seen at his son's grave in acts of remembrance that have symbolized the broader struggle for justice in Iran.

The government has been accused of stepping up the pressure on the victims' families through collective arrests and the summoning of grieving families by security agencies with the aim of keeping them from commemorating the lives of their loved ones, which the government fears will trigger further unrest.

Karami's arrest and subsequent sentencing also underline the risks faced by those who continue to oppose the regime.

Many Iranians took to the streets in 2022 to protest against declining living standards and a lack of freedoms.

The unrest grew after the death of Mahsa Amini in September of that year. The 22-year-old died under mysterious circumstances while she was in police custody for an alleged head-scarf violation.

The clampdown has resulted in the deaths of approximately 600 demonstrators, as reported by human rights groups, and thousands of arrests.

The Iranian judiciary has also executed several protesters, further inflaming public outcry against the regime's harsh tactics.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda

Popular Iranian Rapper Tataloo Sentenced To Prison On Undisclosed Charges

Amirhossein Maghsoudloo, aka Tataloo, (right) in court earlier this month.
Amirhossein Maghsoudloo, aka Tataloo, (right) in court earlier this month.

Amirhossein Maghsoudloo, a popular Iranian rapper known by his stage name Tataloo, has been sentenced to prison, his lawyer and Iranian judiciary media reported, although specific details about the length of his sentence remain undisclosed.

Tataloo's attorney, Elham Rahimifar, informed the semiofficial ISNA news agency that the rapper faces both short and long-term imprisonment based on a recent verdict, which is still subject to appeal.

The charges and the details of the conviction have not been disclosed by the judiciary media or his lawyer.

The proceedings against Tataloo were overseen by Judge Iman Afshari and took place over three sessions.

According to the Mizan news agency, which is affiliated with Iran's judiciary, the rapper was sentenced to three years in jail in relation to an older case of "insulting the sacred," a charge that can encompass a range of perceived offenses, from blasphemy to disrespecting Iran's Islamic values.

Mizan also noted that no private individuals have filed complaints against Tataloo in this particular case, although the agency had earlier claimed that there were "multiple complaints" against him, including from minors and their families.

Tataloo's trial began in March on charges of promoting "obscenity," publishing "propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran," and disseminating "obscene content."

In a statement last month, the case investigator mentioned Tataloo's expression of "regret," stating that the rapper had written a repentance letter while also expressing his desire to marry, start a family, and pursue music in a more accepted manner.

The rapper, known for blending rap, pop, and R&B, and for his distinctive tattoos, has been a polarizing figure in Iran.

He previously released a song in support of Iran's nuclear rights, which coincided with the breakdown of a nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

Tataloo, 36, had been living in Istanbul since 2018 but was extradited to Iran by Turkish authorities in December 2024. He has been detained in Iran since his extradition.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda
Updated

Georgian PM Says EU Commissioner Threatened Him, Mentioning Shooting Of Slovak Premier

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze (file photo)
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze (file photo)

TBILISI -- Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze said he was warned by a European commissioner that if his government goes ahead with a controversial "foreign agent" law, he should be "very careful" in light of the recent assassination attempt of Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico.

Kobakhidze did not name the EU commission who made what he said was a "threat," but later on May 23 EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi said he spoke with the Georgian prime minister by phone about the foreign agents bill and Kobakhidze took his comments out of context in his summary of the call.

According to Kobakhidze, "While listing these measures, [the commissioner] mentioned, 'You've seen what happened to Fico and you should be very careful."

Fico was shot four times while greeting citizens last week in the central Slovakian town of Handlova. He is recuperating, and his condition was described on May 20 as stable.

'An Attack On Democracy': Leaders Condemn Shooting Of Slovak PM Fico
please wait

No media source currently available

0:00 0:02:10 0:00

Varhelyi subsequently issued a statement saying that he had spoken with the prime minister by phone and part of the conversation had been “taken out of context.”

He said he told Kobakhidze that adopting the law "could lead to further polarization and to possible uncontrolled situations on the streets of Tbilisi."

"In this regard, the latest tragic event in Slovakia was made as an example and as a reference to where such a high level of polarization can lead in a society even in Europe," the enlargement commissioner said.

“Once again, I regret that one part of my phone call was not just fully taken out of context but was also presented to the public in a way which could give rise to a complete misinterpretation of the originally intended aim of my phone call,” he said.

He emphasized that he was still urging the Georgian authorities not to adopt the law and that he continues "to support Georgians working toward a European future."

Over the past few weeks, tens of thousands of Georgians have taken to the streets to protest the "foreign agent" law, amid fears it could be used to restrict civil society and free media. Under the proposed law, media outlets and NGOs that get more than 20 percent of their money from outside the country would have to register as "pursuing the interests of a foreign power."

The United States, the European Union, and rights watchdogs have all condemned the law and criticized the often violent crackdown by the authorities.

In his statement accusing the commissioner of threatening him, the Georgian prime minister said that "several high-ranking foreign politicians are not hesitating to use open blackmail against the Georgian people and their elected government."


In recent weeks, the EU and the United States have linked their relations with Georgia to the passing of the law.

In a May 15 statement, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and Varhelyi said that "the adoption of this law negatively impacts Georgia's progress on the EU path."

A bill that expected to be unveiled this week by U.S. lawmakers is aimed at convincing Georgia's government to repeal the contentious law. Under the proposed Mobilizing and Enhancing Georgia's Options for Building Accountability, Resilience, and Independence (MEGOBARI) Act, the United States would give Georgia more economic aid, lower trade barriers, and grant more access to U.S. visas if the law were to be repealed.

But if the "foreign agent" bill becomes law, the MEGOBARI Act would require the U.S. administration to impose sanctions on Georgian officials responsible for the legislation.

In his statement Kobakhidze said he felt obliged to inform Georgians about the “threat” and said the parallel drawn with the attempted assassination of Fico “reminds us that the Global War Party is an extremely dangerous force willing to do anything to bring chaos to Georgia."

In recent weeks, Georgian Dream leaders have ramped up their populist and conspiratorial rhetoric with increasing mention of the "global war party." Although it is not clear what or whom they are referring to, they have said the mysterious party is responsible for many of the country's ills.

British Police Charge Man With National Security Offenses Linked To Russia

British police arrested the suspect in central London. (file photo)
British police arrested the suspect in central London. (file photo)

British police have charged a 64-year-old man with suspected offenses under the National Security Act (NSA) following a counterterrorism investigation. A police statement on May 23 identified the suspect as Howard Michael Phillips and said the charge related to Russia. Phillips was arrested in central London and charged with violating a section of the NSA that relates to assisting a foreign intelligence service. The case was not connected to any other recent charges or investigations linked to NSA offences, police said. To read the original story on RFE/RL's Russian Service, click here.

Updated

UN Approves Srebrenica Genocide Resolution, As Some Serbs Remain Defiant

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic speaks at the UN General Assembly on May 23.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic speaks at the UN General Assembly on May 23.

The UN has approved a resolution to commemorate the 1995 Srebrenica genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina annually, over strong opposition from Serbs.

The vote on May 23 in the 193-member UN General Assembly was 84-19, with 68 abstentions.

The resolution designates July 11 as the International Day of Reflection and Commemoration of the 1995 Genocide in Srebrenica, thus establishing an annual day of commemoration for the massacre of more than 8,000 local Bosnian Muslim men and boys almost 30 years ago.

The resolution had sparked protests and a lobbying campaign by Serbia's president and the Bosnian Serb leadership to block the adoption of the resolution, which was sponsored by Germany and Rwanda with 32 co-sponsors, including the United States, France, Britain, and Italy.

The nonbinding resolution condemns "without reservation any denial of the Srebrenica genocide as a historical event." It also "condemns without reservation actions that glorify those convicted of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide by international courts, including those responsible for the Srebrenica genocide."

"Our initiative is about honoring the memory of the victims and supporting the survivors who continue to live with the scars of that fateful time," said German Ambassador to the UN Antje Leendertse.

Leendertse had noted earlier that there is an official official UN commemoration of the 1994 Rwanda genocide every year on April 7, and the Srebrenica resolution aims to do the same for Bosnia ahead of the 30th anniversary of the start of the genocide in 2025.

The July 1995 massacre, which was carried out by Bosnian Serb forces, has been ruled an act of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). So far, more than 50 individuals have been sentenced to some 700 years in prison for their roles in the massacre.

Radovan Karadzic, the first president (1992-1995) of Republika Srpska, one of the two entities that make up Bosnia-Herzegovina, was sentenced to life in prison by the ICTY for the Srebrenica genocide and crimes against humanity. Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serbs' military commander, was also sentenced to life by the same court for the part he played in the genocide

'We Are Not A Genocidal Nation'

Ahead of the General Assembly vote, the government of Republika Srpska planned to hold a special session in Srebrenica amid heightened security measures. Ethnic Serbs make up around 80 percent of the population of Republika Srpska.

About a dozen police vans and a police transporter were parked outside Srebrenica's local police station. A billboard leading into the town reads: "We are not a genocidal nation," a slogan that has become popular among Serb nationalists. The same poster featured prominently on a billboard in Belgrade as well.

Srebrenica's local government has welcomed the delegation, which includes Republika Srpska's pro-Russian president, Milorad Dodik, and urged residents to raise the entity's flag "as a sign of opposition" to the UN resolution. Dodik is under U.S. and U.K. sanctions for his alleged obstruction of the Dayton agreement and violating the legitimacy of Bosnia.

Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik (file photo)
Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik (file photo)

Dodik later repeated his threat that Republika Srpska would secede if the resolution was passed. He has repeatedly threatened secession.

Serbia's nationalist president, Aleksandar Vucic, and the Republika Srpska leadership vehemently opposed the adoption of the resolution, saying it brands Serbia as a "genocidal nation."

He also warned that if a day of remembrance for the genocide was created it would "open old wounds and that will create complete political havoc."

Vucic said the resolution should be subjected to a vote in the UN Security Council, not the General Assembly. Resolutions put to a vote in the Security Council can be vetoed by any of its five members.

Addressing the UN General Assembly ahead of the May 23 vote, Vucic asked, “Why is the resolution being adopted if we are talking about individual legal responsibility?”

Leendertse said the resolution was not directed against Serbia. She added that Montenegro's amendments that the crime of genocide is individualized and cannot be attributed to any specific group were included in the resolution to offset concern from Serbia.

Except for Serbia, all of the former Yugoslav republics voted for the resolution, while several EU nations, including Greece, Cyprus, and Slovakia, abstained.

On May 22, Vucic met with Russian UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya in New York, saying afterward on Instagram that he had "asked the friendly Russian Federation to, this time, stand in defense of the pride and dignity of the Serbian people."

In 2015, Russia vetoed the adoption of a UN Security Council resolution on the Srebrenica genocide, which was proposed by the United Kingdom and supported by the United States and European Union countries.

Russia on May 23 rejected the UN General Assembly resolution, with Nebenzya predicting afterward that it would push Bosnia “towards confrontation,” according to Russia’s state-run TASS news agency.

As expected, China also voted no. Fu Cong, China’s ambassador to the UN, said the resolution “does not serve reconciliation within Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also the countries of the region that want peace and stability in the Western Balkans.”

The families of victims of the genocide welcomed the result.

Nura Begovic of the Srebrenica Women's Association lost her brother and 18 family members in the Srebrenica genocide.

Relics Of A Lost Brother Join Memorial For Victims Of Srebrenica Genocide
please wait

No media source currently available

0:00 0:02:27 0:00


She and other families of the victims gathered to watch the UN proceedings at the Srebrenica-Potocari Memorial Center, where more than 6,700 of the estimated 8,000 victims have been buried.

Reacting to the vote, Begovic said she was grateful that some satisfaction had been given to survivors but expressed disappointment with Vuvic's speech at the UN General Assembly.

As expected, China also voted no. Fu Cong, China’s ambassador to the UN, said the resolution “does not serve reconciliation within Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also the countries of the region that want peace and stability in the Western Balkans.”

The families of victims of the genocide welcomed the result.

Nura Begovic of the Srebrenica Women's Association lost her brother and 18 family members in the Srebrenica genocide.

She and other families of the victims gathered to watch the UN proceedings at the Srebrenica-Potocari Memorial Center in Potocari, where more than 6,700 of the estimated 8,000 victims have been buried.

Reacting to the vote, Begovic said she was grateful that some satisfaction had been given to survivors but expressed disappointment with Vucc's speech at the UN General Assembly.

Kurt Bassuener, co-founder and senior associate of the Democratization Policy Council, a Berlin-based think tank, has said that Serbia should pay a price for lobbying against the resolution but doubted the West would take any punitive steps.

"I'm just not sure that there will be any, because the West's policy toward Serbia was very lenient, specifically towards Vucic, and he is taking full advantage of that. If he had expected serious consequences, he might not have done what he is doing," Bassuener told RFE/RL's Balkan Service.

James Ker-Lindsay, a professor at the London School of Economics and an expert on the Western Balkans, said the tragedy of Srebrenica was being politicized. "Everyone is using this policy to score their own political points, instead of acknowledging that this is a truly horrific event that has been classified as genocide," Kerr-Lindsay told RFE/RL.

According to Ker-Lindsay, Serbia needs to do more to tell Western countries, "Look, we accept what happened, and we can show it because that's what we teach our children in school now."

Natasa Kandic of the Belgrade-based Fund for Humanitarian Law argued that Serbia's denial that genocide occurred at Srebrenica has fueled nationalism and extremism in the country.

Kandic said Serbia's opposition to the UN resolution is putting it on the wrong side of history.

"After World War II, nothing this terrible has ever happened. It must be acknowledged, and this memorial day for the victims of genocide is the least that can be done," Kandic told RFE/RL's Balkan Service.

Putin Signs Decree Allowing For Use Of U.S. Assets To Compensate For Russian Property Seized By Washington

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin

In an apparent reciprocal move, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on May 23 allowing the use of assets, valuable papers, and property belonging to the United States or to U.S. citizens in Russia to compensate for damages caused by the confiscation of assets and property belonging to Russian tycoons and the Russian central bank in the United States. Last month, U.S. President Joe Biden signed into law the Rebuilding Economic Prosperity and Opportunity for Ukrainians Act, which allows Washington to seize about $5 billion in Russian state assets located in the United States. The legislation was included in the U.S. aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. To read the original story by Current Time, click here.

Russia Says Main Power Line To Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Plant Goes Down

The Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant in Ukraine (file photo)
The Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant in Ukraine (file photo)

Russia said on May 23 that the main power line supplying the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in Ukraine had gone down, but that there was no threat to safety and the plant was being supplied by a backup line. The six reactors at the Zaporizhzhya plant, held by Russia and located close to the front line of the conflict in Ukraine, are not in operation but the facility relies on external power to keep its nuclear material cool. The plant's Russian management said on Telegram that the reasons for the outage, which had not caused any change in the radiation level, were being investigated.

Belarusian Police Search Home Of Parents Of Athlete Who Defected To Poland

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya (file photo)
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya (file photo)

Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who defected to Poland after coaches attempted to force her to return home during the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, said on May 23 that police in Belarus searched her parents' home. Tsimanouskaya condemned the search, calling it "retaliation for my actions and decisions" and called on the Belarusian police to leave her parents alone. Tsimanouskaya, who now competes for Poland, told Belarusian authorities to come "to my new home for searches and talks." To read the original story by RFE/RL's Belarus Service, click here.

Kremlin Denies Contact With Trump After Claim About Journalist's Release

U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich, arrested on espionage charges, waits in a defendants' cage before a hearing to consider an appeal on his extended pretrial detention, at the Moscow City Court in Moscow on February 20.
U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich, arrested on espionage charges, waits in a defendants' cage before a hearing to consider an appeal on his extended pretrial detention, at the Moscow City Court in Moscow on February 20.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump, expected to be the Republican candidate in November's presidential election, claimed Russian leader Vladimir Putin would release detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich "almost immediately" after the vote if Trump wins. In a social media post, Trump gave no details on how he would facilitate Gershkovich's release, saying only that Putin would "do that for me." After the post, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Trump and Putin have had no contact and that "complete silence" is needed "to achieve results" in any prisoner swap talks. Gershkovich has been held in detention since March last year on spying charges both he and the newspaper vehemently deny, saying the 32-year-old was merely doing his job as an accredited reporter when he was arrested.

Kyrgyz Activist On Trial Says He Was Tortured While In Detention

Askat Jetigen sits in a defendants' cage in a courtroom on May 23.
Askat Jetigen sits in a defendants' cage in a courtroom on May 23.

Kyrgyz activist Askat Jetigen, who is on trial on a charge of calling for mass unrest which he rejects as politically motivated, said in a courtroom on May 23 that police tortured him with an electric shocker for one hour after his arrest on March 20. The chief of the State Center To Prevent Torture, Bakyt Rysbekov, confirmed that his entity is investigating a claim filed by Jetigen with the agency in early April. Jetigen, who is known for his criticism of Kyrgyzstan's government, was arrested days after his last video criticizing reforms by the Culture Ministry was posted online. To read the original story by RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, click here.

Airports, Industrial Facilities Closed In Tatarstan Over Drone Attack

Kazan International Airport
Kazan International Airport

Authorities in Russia's Republic of Tatarstan on May 23 suspended operations at several industrial facilities and airports in Kazan, the capital, and Nizhnekamsk "for security reasons" over "possible drone attacks." Last week, the two airports were shut for several hours after authorities said "a Ukrainian drone" was shot down over Tatarstan on May 15. Last month, drones hit an oil refinery in Tatarstan and a dormitory in the Alabuga special economic zone in Nizhnekamsk that hosts more than 20 industrial enterprises, including chemical, mechanical engineering, and metal treatment factories. It also reportedly houses a facility producing drones. To read the original story by RFE/RL's Idel.Realities, click here.

Detained Kazakh Activist Charged With Illegal Drug Distribution

People wearing camouflage lead Kazakh opposition activist Aidar Syzdykov toward an unmarked bus in Astana on May 16.
People wearing camouflage lead Kazakh opposition activist Aidar Syzdykov toward an unmarked bus in Astana on May 16.

Kazakh opposition activist Aidar Syzdyqov, who was detained last week, has been charged with "selling illegal drugs," his lawyer said on May 23. Meiirzhan Dosqaraev added that the charge is politically motivated. He said the charges against his client were based on a statement by a person who claims he had put money on Syzdyqov's debit card for drugs he allegedly received from him. Meanwhile, Dosqaraev said, all of his client's payment cards had been blocked after a court in Astana handed Syzdyqov a parole-like three-year sentence in 2021 over links with the banned opposition Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan movement. To read the original story by RFE/RL's Kazakh Service, click here.

U.S. Pushes Back On British Claim That China Sending Lethal Aid To Russia

U.S. national-security adviser Jake Sullivan said that "we have not seen that to date," in response to claims that China was providing Russia with lethal aid. (file photo)
U.S. national-security adviser Jake Sullivan said that "we have not seen that to date," in response to claims that China was providing Russia with lethal aid. (file photo)

In a split with Britain, U.S. national-security adviser Jake Sullivan said he had not seen evidence that China was directly sending lethal military assistance to Russia for its war against Ukraine.

British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said on May 22 that there was evidence that “lethal aid is now, or will be, flowing from China to Russia and into Ukraine.”

That claim, however, was contradicted by Sullivan hours later when he seemed to take issue with Shapps’ comments, saying that Washington did not share the assessment.

“We have not seen that to date. I look forward to speaking with the U.K. to make sure that we have a common operating picture,” Sullivan told reporters.

Shapp’s accusation, which was provided without evidence or details, made headlines when it appeared to indicate that Beijing had stepped up its level of support for Moscow by sending weapons, ammunition, and other lethal aid to Russia.

“Today I can reveal that we have evidence that Russia and China are collaborating on combat equipment for use in Ukraine,” Shapps said during his speech at the London Defense Conference.

“This is new intelligence which leads me to be able to declassify and reveal this fact today. I think it’s quite significant,” he added.

But Sullivan’s comments show that this assessment is not shared by the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden.

The U.S. national-security adviser said the possibility that China might “provide weapons directly – lethal assistance – to Russia” had been a concern earlier but said that it had not taken place.

Washington, Sullivan added, did have a “concern about what China’s doing to fuel Russia’s war machine, not giving weapons directly, but providing inputs to Russia’s defense industrial base.”

The United States has previously accused China of helping Russia with technology and sending militarily useful but nonlethal dual-use goods that have helped Russian forces on the battlefield, but stopped short of saying that Beijing was directly supplying arms.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin to Beijing in mid-May, where the two leaders put on a strong show of unity.

China has supported Russia economically through trade and purchasing oil and gas, and senior U.S. officials have said Beijing’s supply of dual-use goods has had a decisive impact in helping Moscow on the battlefield in Ukraine.

Independent analyses of Chinese customs data and a U.S. intelligence assessment show that in 2023 some 90 percent of “high-priority” dual-use goods used in Russian weapons production were imported from China.

Beijing has previously denied providing actual weapons and ammunition for Russia's war effort.

The Chinese Embassy in London told Reuters that Shapps’ comments were “totally groundless” and accused Britain of spreading “baseless accusations.”

With reporting from AP and Reuters
Updated

Investigative Group Confirms Russian Missile Carrier Ship Sank In Crimea

The Karakurt-class corvette had joined the Russian Black Sea fleet six months earlier. (file photo)
The Karakurt-class corvette had joined the Russian Black Sea fleet six months earlier. (file photo)

The investigative group Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT) confirmed on May 23 that a Ukrainian missile attack four days earlier on the port of Sevastopol hit a Cyclone missile carrier ship belonging to Russia's Black Sea Fleet.

CIT said that, after reviewing photographs of a sunken ship showing a mast sticking out of the water, it concluded that the vessel was the Cyclone missile carrier. The Karakurt-class corvette joined the fleet six months earlier.

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.

Russia has not confirmed the loss of the vessel and no information has been made public about possible casualties among the ship's crew.

British intelligence said that the Russian ship was "almost certainly" sunk by a Ukrainian strike on Sevastopol in occupied Crimea on May 19.

The attack likely involved a combination of drones and ATACMS missiles, British intelligence said. The Cyclone missile carrier was one of four Russian vessels of the Karakurt class. It was armed with Kalibr cruise missiles, which have been used against Ukraine.

Two of the Karakurt-class vessels were likely diverted to the Caspian Sea to safely complete sea trials following a series of successful Ukrainian attacks, British intelligence said. The fourth vessel was previously seriously damaged in a Ukrainian strike in November 2023.

British intelligence noted that, while it is unlikely to significantly change the impact the Russian Navy is having on Ukrainian operations, the strike "does highlight a continued danger to Russian forces operating in the Crimea and the Black Sea region and continued Ukrainian success when conducting coordinated strikes."

The CIT also referred to a minesweeper called the Kovrovets, which it said was not visible in the port as of May 21. The Ukrainian military reported on May 19 that the ship was destroyed in its attack on Sevastopol. The Ukrainian Navy did not give additional details.

According to the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Russia has lost 26 ships and boats and one submarine since it launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Moscow does not comment on the losses.

The Ukrainian Navy claims that Russia almost never sends its ships to the Black Sea in light of the damage and destruction that Ukrainian forces have inflicted.

Russian Teen Gets 13 Years In Prison For Distributing Leaflets

Free Russia Legion (illustrative photo)
Free Russia Legion (illustrative photo)

A court in Siberia on May 23 sentenced a teenager to 13 years in prison for distributing leaflets containing the symbol for the Free Russia Legion, which is fighting alongside Ukrainian armed forces against Russian troops. A military court in Novosibirsk sentenced Vladimir Belkovich, 19, after finding him guilty of treason, attempting to participate in a terrorist group's activities, and inducing an individual to commit terrorism. Belkovich was initially arrested in July last year and handed 15 days in jail for distributing leaflets propagating the Free Russia Legion, which comprises mainly Russian citizens. To read the original story by Siberia.Realities, click here.

Lukashenka Appoints New Chief Of Armed Forces' General Staff

Paval Muraveyka (file photo)
Paval Muraveyka (file photo)

Belarus's authoritarian ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka on May 23 appointed Major General Paval Muraveyka to the post of the chief of the Belarusian armed forces' general staff. Muraveyka's predecessor, Viktar Hulevich, 55, was relieved of his duties on May 10 for what was officially called "his age." Before the appointment, Muraveyka, 52, served as the First Deputy of the country's Security Council. Muraveyka has been under EU sanctions since December 2023 over Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Belarus has provided logistical assistance to Russia's armed forces to attack Ukraine. To read the original story by RFE/RL's Belarus Service, click here.

Updated

Senior Russian Military Official Held As Kremlin Continues Corruption Sweep

 Lieutenant General Vadim Shamarin, a senior military official, is suspected of accepting a bribe of an "especially large amount." (file photo)
Lieutenant General Vadim Shamarin, a senior military official, is suspected of accepting a bribe of an "especially large amount." (file photo)

A military court in Moscow has sent to pretrial detention Lieutenant General Vadim Shamarin, who is the latest top military official arrested in what the Kremlin has called its ongoing fight against corruption.

Representatives of the 235th Garrison Military Court told RBK news agency on May 23 that Shamarin, who also leads the armed forces' main directorate for communications, is suspected of accepting a bribe of an "especially large amount."

Also on May 23, several media outlets and news agencies in Russia quoted sources as saying that investigators detained Vladimir Verteletsky, a top official of the Defense Ministry's Department for Handling Armament Orders, on corruption charges. Those reports have yet to be officially confirmed.

"The fight against corruption is a consistent work. It is not a campaign; it is a constant ongoing work," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on May 23 after news spread of Shamarin's detention.

President Vladimir Putin recently relieved his close ally, Sergei Shoigu, of his duties as defense minister.

Shoigu had been accused of incompetence and corruption by mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, who in June last year attempted a mutiny while demanding the dismissal of Shoigu and the military chief of staff, General Valery Gerasimov. Prigozhin was later killed in a plane crash that many believe was retaliation by the Kremlin for the mutiny.

The move to detain Shamarin comes days after the former commander of Russia’s 58th Army, Major General Ivan Popov, was arrested on fraud charges reportedly linked to the alleged embezzlement of 100 million rubles ($1.1 million) allocated for military needs in Ukraine's Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhya region.

It also followed the arrest last week of Lieutenant General Yury Kuznetsov, who headed the personnel directorate of Russia's Defense Ministry, in an alleged corruption case.

In late April, police detained Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov on bribe-taking charges and a court later sent him to pretrial detention for at least two months.

Putin replaced Shoigu with former First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov, 65, a politician who specializes in economic matters. The move is seen as part of a strategy to make the armed forces more streamlined with Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine now in its third year.

On May 20, Putin appointed Oleg Savelyev, the former minister on Crimean affairs, to the post of deputy defense minister.

The 58-year-old Savelyev also served as deputy minister for economic development and as the auditor at the Audit Chamber, a parliamentary group that serves as a financial watchdog.

With reporting by Kommersant, RBK, TASS, and Interfax
Updated

Iran Buries President Raisi In His Hometown

The last day of funeral ceremonies for Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi commenced on May 23 in the eastern city of Birjand.
The last day of funeral ceremonies for Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi commenced on May 23 in the eastern city of Birjand.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was laid to rest in his home city of Mashhad on May 23 as many thousands of mourners packed the streets ahead of the burial ceremony.

Raisi was buried next to the mausoleum of the eighth Shi’ite Imam Reza, an important Shi’ite site, state broadcaster IRIB reported.

Ceremonies that preceded the burial commenced earlier in the eastern city of Birjand, where thousands of black-clad people marched along the main avenue holding portraits of the president and others killed in a weekend helicopter crash.

Throngs of mourners accompanied Raisi's casket draped in the Iranian flag and placed on a platform truck that also displayed a sign reading, "This is the shrine" before the ceremonies were to move to Mashhad.

Although thousands of people joined the procession, the attendance was lower than on other similar occasions, a likely indication of a deepening rift between the country's Islamic theocracy and ordinary citizens frustrated by the increasing repression of their rights and declining living standards.

New Pictures And Account Emerge Of Raisi Crash As Thousands Attend Funeral
please wait

No media source currently available

0:00 0:03:20 0:00

Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, who was also killed in the helicopter crash, was buried on May 23 in the Shah Abdul Azim shrine in the city of Rey, just south of Tehran. Ahead of the burial, Iranian officials and foreign diplomats paid their respects to Amir-Abdollahian at a ceremony in Tehran.

A day earlier, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei led funeral prayers in Tehran, where thousands attended a funeral procession.

Some reports said Tehran residents received mobile phone messages urging them to attend the funeral procession.

Khamenei presided over the start of the ceremony, where he delivered a traditional "death prayer" for Raisi and then left the ceremony without giving a speech. Iran's acting president, First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber, was also in attendance.

Several foreign dignitaries attended, including Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani, and a delegation from Afghanistan's Taliban rulers led by Foreign Minister Amir Khan Mutaqqi.

No Western leaders attended. Three former Iranian presidents -- Mohammad Khatami, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, and Hassan Rohani -- were also not seen among dignitaries in attendance.

A presidential election to determine Raisi's successor was announced for June 28. The election is to be organized by a council consisting of the speaker of parliament, the head of the judiciary, and the first vice president.

Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Baqeri Kani was appointed acting foreign minister.

Analyst Mehdi Khalaji, from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told RFE/RL's Radio Farda that no matter who will become the next president, Iran's future leadership will not be endured by one person, but the regime will try to form a "special joint leadership stock company."

The ceremonies marking the deaths of those involved in the crash started on May 21 in the city of Tabriz, the capital of Iran's northwestern province of East Azerbaijan where the crash occurred, and the Shi'ite clerical center of Qom.

Beyond the official display of public grief, many Iranians who have been victims of acts of repression by Raisi and the Iranian regime or had relatives who suffered from such acts were adamant in voicing their satisfaction at Raisi's death.

A woman who lost 11 relatives, including two daughters, in executions allegedly coordinated by Raisi in 1988 told RFE/RL that she was celebrating his death.

"Truly, I cannot express how limitless my happiness is," Esman Vatanparast said. "When Raisi became president, it was very difficult for us hurting mothers, the survivors of the massacres committed by him."

Raisi was elected president in 2021 and had tightened many restrictions on Iranians through the enforcement of morality laws and a bloody crackdown on anti-government protests spurred by the death of Mahsa Amini while in police custody for allegedly violating the Islamic dress code on head scarves.

Thousands of people, including protesters, journalists, lawyers, athletes, and artists have been arrested and at least 500 people have been killed in Iran's brutal crackdown on the protests.

Raisi also pushed hard in nuclear talks with world powers while also allowing the country to markedly increase its uranium enrichment program.

The director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Raisi's has pushed back nuclear negotiations to improve Iran's cooperation with the agency.

"Now Iran is in a period of mourning and it should be respected, but when this period is over, we want to re-engage with Iran to improve cooperation," Rafael Grossi said on May 22 in Helsinki.

With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters
Updated

At Least 8 Killed In 'Extremely Brutal' Russian Strikes On Kharkiv, Donetsk

A firefighter works at the site where a printing press was hit by Russian missile strikes in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on May 23.
A firefighter works at the site where a printing press was hit by Russian missile strikes in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on May 23.

At least seven people were killed on May 23 in Ukraine's second-largest city of Kharkiv in a wave of Russian strikes that President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called "extremely brutal" as he again appealed to allies for more air-defense systems for his embattled country.

Ukraine's State Emergency Service announced the increase in the number of dead and injured on Facebook in a post that included photos of emergency response workers extinguishing a fire and assisting victims.

Oleh Synyehubov, the governor of Ukraine's northeastern Kharkiv region, said earlier on Telegram that Russia launched at least 15 missiles at the city, killing six civilians and wounding another 16, while two more people were still missing after the attack. He said later that seven were killed, including five women.

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.

"All of them are civilians. All of them are employees of a well-known enterprise that printed magazines, newspapers, and other printing," he said, adding that about 50 people were working at the time of the strike.

Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said separately that one missile struck a printing press, triggering a large-scale fire.

Russian forces launched a surprise offensive on the Kharkiv region on May 10, shelling border settlements and attempting to capture Vovchansk, a small town just 5 kilometers from the Russian border.

More than 9,000 people have been evacuated from the area, although outgunned and outmanned Ukrainian forces have managed to keep the Russians at bay so far.

Kharkiv, a city of more than 1.4 million before the war, located at some 35 kilometers from the border, has been increasingly subjected to missile and drone attacks as Ukraine's lack of enough modern air-defense systems and ammunition became more evident by the day.

"An extremely brutal Russian attack on Kharkiv and [the nearby town of] Lyubotyn. According to preliminary data, Russia launched 15 missiles at once," Zelenskiy wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

"Russian terrorists are taking advantage of Ukraine's lack of sufficient air-defense protection and reliable capability to destroy terrorist launchers at their exact locations, which are close to our borders," Zelenskiy said.

"I am grateful to everyone who is helping us. But we need more determination, especially from world leaders," he said.

Separately, Donetsk regional Governor Vadym Filashkin said on May 23 that one person was killed and 26 others were wounded in Russian shelling of the town of Toretsk.

On the Russian side, two deaths were reported in occupied Crimea after explosions were heard on the peninsula.

Sergei Aksyonov, the Moscow-installed governor of Crimea, said on Telegram that a Ukrainian missile attack killed two bystanders near Simferopol, the peninsula's main administrative center. Aksyonov also said a Ukrainian missile struck an empty building near Alushta on the peninsula's Black Sea coast.

There was no comment on the attack from Ukraine.

The Russian Defense Ministry, meanwhile, said its air-defense systems repelled a large Ukrainian rocket and drone attack targeting Belgorod region on May 23.

"The air-defense systems on duty destroyed three Vilkha MLRS rockets, 32 Vampire MLRS rockets, and three UAVs over the territory of the Belgorod region," the ministry said in a message on Telegram.

Belgorod Governor Cyacheslav Gladkov said in a separate message that there were no casualties from the attack, but two children's camps were damaged by falling debris.

The claims could not be independently verified immediately. Ukraine has not commented.

In a separate development, the Conflict Intelligence Team investigation group said it had confirmation that the small Russian small missile corvette Tsiklon (Cyclone) was sunk following a Ukrainian attack on Sevastopol on the night of May 19. The Black Sea Fleet received this ship in the summer of last year.

Norway Slaps Further Restrictions On Russian Visitors

Norway-Russia border (file photo)
Norway-Russia border (file photo)

Norway has announced further restrictions for the entry of Russian citizens in the Nordic country in reaction to Moscow's ongoing war in Ukraine. Oslo first introduced restrictions on visas for Russian visitors in the spring of 2022, after the start of Russia's unprovoked full-scale invasion. Under the new restrictions, police can refuse the entry of certain Russian citizens, the Justice Ministry said in a statement. "The decision...is in line with the Norwegian approach of standing by allies and partners in the reactions against Russia's illegal war of aggression against Ukraine," it said. The new rules take effect on May 29.

UN General Assembly To Vote On Resolution To Commemorate Srebrenica Genocide

A woman prays amid the gravestones of Srebrenica victims at a memorial cemetery in Potocari.
A woman prays amid the gravestones of Srebrenica victims at a memorial cemetery in Potocari.

The UN General Assembly has scheduled a debate on a UN resolution to establish an annual day to commemorate the 1995 genocide of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims by Bosnian Serbs on May 23 to be followed by a vote.

The resolution would designate July 11 as the International Day of Reflection and Commemoration of the 1995 Genocide in Srebrenica.

The resolution has sparked protests and a lobbying campaign by Serbia’s president and the Bosnian Serb leadership to block its adoption by the 193-member General Assembly. Approval requires a majority of those countries that take part in the vote.

The draft resolution condemns “without reservation any denial of the Srebrenica genocide as a historical event.” It also “condemns without reservation actions that glorify those convicted of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide by international courts, including those responsible for the Srebrenica genocide.”

Sponsored by Germany and Rwanda, the resolution also asks the United Nations to prepare an outreach program and invites countries, organizations, civil society organizations, and others to observe July 11 with “appropriate education and public awareness-raising activities" in memory and honor of the victims.

The killings began near the end of the 1992-95 Bosnian War, which broke out after the breakup of Yugoslavia and pitted Bosnian Serbs against the country’s two other main ethnic populations, Croats and Muslim Bosniaks.

A Doctor Hid Bones Of Srebrenica Victims In His Garden. He's Still Practicing.
please wait

No media source currently available

0:00 0:02:49 0:00

On July 11, 1995, Bosnian Serbs overran a UN-protected safe area in Srebrenica and began targeting Bosniak men and boys. Those who tried to escape were chased through the woods and over the mountains around the town.

The International Court of Justice, the UN’s highest tribunal, determined in 2007 that the acts committed in Srebrenica constituted genocide, and the court’s determination is included in the draft resolution.

Germany’s UN Ambassador Antje Leendertse said the resolution “has the support of a large cross-regional group. She noted in a statement to the Associated Press last week that there is an official UN commemoration of the 1994 Rwanda genocide every year on April 7, and the Srebrenica resolution aims to do the same for Bosnia before the 30th anniversary of the start of the genocide in 2025.

Serbia’s nationalist president, Aleksandar Vucic, and the leadership of the Bosnian Serb entity, Republika Srpska, have vehemently opposed the adoption of the resolution, saying it brands Serbia as a “genocidal nation.”

Serbian Foreign Minister Marko Duric told the UN Security Council on April 30 that Serbia has consistently condemned the “horrific” Srebrenica massacre and other crimes committed during the Bosnian War. Duric called for the resolution to be withdrawn and replaced by one that honors all victims of the war.

Vucic said the resolution should be subjected to a vote in the UN Security Council, not the General Assembly. Those put to a vote in the Security Council can be vetoed by any of its five members, therefore allowing Russia and China to sink it.

Russia’s envoy to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, dismissed the resolution as “one-sided” and “politically charged” in his comments to the Security Council on April 30. Nebenzya said the move would not promote reconciliation among the peoples of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Milorad Dodik, Republika Srpska's Russia-friendly leader, has repeatedly threatened that if the resolution is adopted, the entity "will withdraw from the decision-making process in Bosnia."

Dodik, who has regularly reiterated his denial of the Srebrenica genocide, told supporters at a rally in Banja Luka last month that the actions of the Republika Srpska Army in Srebrenica in 1995 were "a mistake that left the crime," but he denied it was genocide.

With reporting by AP

Turkey Claims Its Drone Was Instrumental In Finding Wreckage Of Iranian Helicopter

An Akinci drone made by Turkey (file photo)
An Akinci drone made by Turkey (file photo)

Turkey says its Akinci drone deserves more credit for helping to locate the wreckage of the Iranian helicopter that crashed in a remote and mountainous area of Iran on May 19, killing President Ebrahim Raisi and other top Iranian officials, according to Turkish media reports on May 22.

The reports say that the Akinci drone was first to find the site of the wreckage and accused Iran of changing its narrative about the use of the Turkish equipment after it provided information about the location of the wreckage and then made counterclaims that its own drone found the site.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier this week that the Akinci drone was sent at the request of the Iranian government.

According to Erdogan, despite the bad weather conditions the drone was able to conduct search operations in the region for seven and a half hours and fly a total of 2,100 kilometers.

After the Turkish drone identified the helicopter wreckage and detected heat sources believed to be the crash site in Iran’s East Azerbaijan Province, the Iranian search team successfully located the downed helicopter and the bodies of Raisi and the others in the mountainous terrain, according to Turkish media reports.

However, Iran rejected the notion that there was foreign participation in the search operation despite data from the Turkish drone that revealed the coordinates of the crash, and confirmation of this data by some Iranian news agencies.

After the Akinci drone captured images of the wreckage using its night vision and thermal camera and released them on the Internet, Pirhossein Kolivand, the head of the Iranian Red Crescent Society, called foreign participation in the search a rumor.

“We did not stop the search in the dark, fog, and rain, and when we discovered the wreckage of the helicopter with our own drone, we moved to the exact place where the helicopter fell," Kolivand said.

He claimed that rescuers from the Red Crescent found the wreckage at an altitude of 2,500 meters and "it took 40 minutes from the time of finding the wreckage of the helicopter to reaching the accident site.”

New Pictures And Account Emerge Of Raisi Crash As Thousands Attend Funeral
please wait

No media source currently available

0:00 0:03:20 0:00

But during the overnight search, the Red Crescent said in a statement at around 4 a.m. local time on May 20 that after the Turkish drone identified two potential “hot spots” the Red Crescent rescue teams headed toward the sites.

The head of the East Azerbaijan Red Crescent also cited the Turkish drone report that a “burning spot” had been detected and said rescue forces were sent to that area.

The head of Turkey, Asia, and Indo-Pacific studies at the Institute for International Relations and Strategic Research (ULISA) said in an opinion piece published by the state news agency Anadolu that the drone’s role in finding the wreckage site demonstrated the need to recognize Turkey’s commitment to fulfilling its humanitarian responsibilities through its defense capacity.

Professor M. Nazmul Islam said that, after Iran accepted Turkey’s offer to send the drone, the Akinci took off from a Turkish base at around 11:30 p.m. local time and began searching nearly an hour later. Turkey claims that it transmitted the image of the wreckage of the helicopter at 3:06 a.m. Iranian time and shared the coordinates with the Iranian authorities.

But according to Iranian media accounts, an Iranian drone belonging to the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps found the remains of the helicopter at around 5:30 a.m. local time.

A statement issued by Iran's military said that, despite Turkey sending a drone equipped with night vision and thermal cameras, it "failed to accurately locate the crash site due to its lack of detection equipment and control points below the cloud," referring to the adverse weather conditions.

Iran Radio reported that it was “five o'clock in the morning when the correct coordinates were finally found with Iranian equipment and Iranian relief forces.”

Iran, whose military has its own drone program, was not able to deploy its drones because they were located in the northern part of the Indian Ocean at the time, the Iranian military said. Western powers have accused Iran of providing drones to Russia for its war in Ukraine.

With reporting by Anadolu and Reuters

Bulgarian Prosecutor Seeks Closure Of 2 Pro-Russian Paramilitary Groups

Pro-Russian demonstrators hold a rally in Sofia in May 2023.
Pro-Russian demonstrators hold a rally in Sofia in May 2023.

Two pro-Russian paramilitary organizations operating in Bulgaria should be closed because their activities violate the constitution, a district prosecutor’s office said on May 22.

The request to shut down BNO Shipka and the Vasil Levski Military Union was submitted to the district court in Varna by the local prosecutor’s office. The court is expected to schedule a hearing to consider the request.

The two paramilitary organizations are connected to one another and known for their pro-Russian rhetoric. They have been conducting combat training for years and oppose Bulgaria’s Euro-Atlantic affiliations, including its membership in the European Union and in NATO.

The request comes a year and a half after the state prosecutor’s office announced that it was investigating BNO Shipka for sedition.

Investigators found that the two paramilitary organizations violated the constitution’s prohibition of actions “against the sovereignty [and] territorial integrity of the country and the unity of the nation” and its prohibition of inciting hatred and creating "secret or paramilitary structures."

The Varna district prosecutor's office said members of both groups had made organized visits to the border with Turkey aimed at "catching illegal migrants."

In addition, the leaders of the two associations have maintained contacts with representatives of German political factions, including people known for their far-right beliefs, the investigators said.

The groups describe their activities as patriotic.

The leader and spokesman for the organizations, a man who introduces himself as Vladimir Rusev, has spread conspiracy theories against NATO and the European Union on social media for years. Rusev, who has gained fame in the past with the nickname Walter Kalashnikov, opposes COVID-19 vaccination, linking it to disinformation that circulated on social media during the pandemic.

Questions about the organizations were raised last year by investigative journalist Hristo Grozev, who reported that they were linked to a 2016 attempt by Russia to destabilize Bulgaria using a model deployed in Montenegro the same year.

Grozev’s investigation looked into a protest in Sofia in April 2016 organized by BNO Shipka and the Vasil Levski Military Union in front of the National Assembly. Many of the activists of the paramilitary organizations were preemptively detained before the protest.

A few months later members of the organizations beat protesters who demonstrated against the visit of the pro-Russian biker Night Wolves club to the Black Sea port city of Burgas. The Burgas district court in April 2019 convicted three people in the case.

Custody Extended For Russian Teen Jailed For Posting Ukrainian Poet

Darya Kozyreva in court earlier this year
Darya Kozyreva in court earlier this year

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- A court in St. Petersburg has extended pretrial detention by another two months for an 18-year-old activist who is charged with repeatedly discrediting Russian armed forces involved in Moscow’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The Petrograd district court ruled on May 22 that Darya Kozyreva must stay in pretrial detention at least until July 25.

Kozyreva was detained on February 24, the second anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, after she glued a poster on a monument to prominent Ukrainian writer, poet, and thinker Taras Shevchenko with an excerpt of a well-known poem from his book, My Testament:

Oh bury me, then rise ye up

And break your heavy chains

And water with the tyrants' blood

The freedom you have gained.

The poster was so strongly glued to the monument that police were unable to remove it and had to cover it with a black plastic bag.

Kozyreva was initially charged with vandalism in January last year after she left a comment in December 2022 on an art installation symbolizing "friendship" between St. Petersburg and Ukraine's city of Mariupol, which was destroyed by Russian bombs at the start of the invasion.

An investigation into that case is still under way.

On December 18, 2022, less than a week after the installation was unveiled in St. Petersburg's Palace Square, the words “Murderers, you bombed it to ruins yourselves!" appeared on the installation.

Kozyreva was expelled from St. Petersburg State University in January after she was found guilty of discrediting Russia's armed forces and ordered to pay a 30,000 ruble ($330) fine in December.

That charge stemmed from Kozyreva's online posts criticizing Russian laws on discrediting the country's armed forces, which were introduced shortly after Russia launched its full-scale invasion in late February 2022.

6 Kyrgyz, 4 Foreign Nationals Detained Over Mob Attacks In Bishkek

Pakistani students leaving Kyrgyzstan following mob attacks. Manas international airport in Bishkek. May 21, 2024
Pakistani students leaving Kyrgyzstan following mob attacks. Manas international airport in Bishkek. May 21, 2024

BISHKEK -- The Kyrgyz Interior Ministry said on May 22 that six Kyrgyz and four foreign citizens had been detained on suspicion of being involved in a brawl that sparked mob attacks on foreign students in Bishkek, triggering a mass exodus of Pakistani students from the Central Asian nation.

According to the ministry, nine investigations have been launched into hooliganism, robbery, mass disorder, and inciting ethnic hatred. Thirty-three people were injured in the violence, the ministry added.

Hundreds of Pakistani students have left Kyrgyzstan since the May 18 violence, which was triggered by the appearance on social media of a video purportedly showing a group of "people of Asian appearance" harassing foreign students on the night of May 13.

Pakistani Students Report Food Shortages While Sheltering At University In Bishkek
please wait

No media source currently available

0:00 0:02:09 0:00

The group then pursued the students to their dormitory, where at least one foreigner was assaulted by several men and dragged along the floor.

Kyrgyz officials said later that the foreigners involved in the brawl on video were Egyptians.

The Kyrgyz government has vowed to pursue those responsible for the violence.

Still, it appeared to lay the blame for the attack on illegal migrants, saying authorities had been taking "decisive measures to suppress illegal migration and expel undesirable persons from Kyrgyzstan."

On May 22, Kyrgyzstan’s State Committee for National Security (UKMK) said in a statement that five Egyptian citizens were arrested on charges of extortion, illegal drug possession, and violating immigration laws.

A day earlier, the UKMK said six Pakistani nationals were detained overnight while trying to illegally enter Kyrgyzstan from Kazakhstan.

Just three days before the violence, the UKMK detained 28 Pakistani nationals for "working illegally" in a sewing shop in Bishkek.

The same day, Bishkek city police shut down delivery services conducted by more than 400 foreign students, mostly from Pakistan, on motorcycles and scooters, citing traffic safety concerns.

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